Friday, May 24, 2013

your own ideas

"We are not here to do what has already been done."
Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

It's all over the internet and in books and newspapers and professional journals. I'm sure you have read something about the subject in the last year. The artist holds copyright on his/her artwork (even after it's sold, unless other arrangements have been made and paid for). When someone copies another artist's work and signs it and tries to sell it or show it as if it is their own original work, IT'S WRONG.

Most of us don't need to be told this. We understand that it is cheating. Immoral. Illegal.

I have read good articles by artists whose work has been copied and used by someone else without permission. It's easy to understand the outrage of the person who is the victim of theft. You will want to read this article, an excellent example of how an artist discovered the theft and what she did about it. "This is a Post About Plagiarism" by Sarah Moon on her blog "Clear Eyes, Full Shelves."

Here's another, by Lori McNee, about an artist who discovered a copycat who stole her work off of her Facebook page.  "How I Stopped a 'Copycat Artist' on Facebook."

My work has not been stolen. But, I still feel passionately about the issue. I believe that artists and art groups have an obligation to hold one another accountable and to hold one another to the highest standards of professional practice and ethics.  From my standpoint, when artists do nothing about a copyist in their group, they are saying, in effect, that it is okay with them. When they hang in art shows with that copyist, they are endorsing that person as a respected peer.

My grandmother used to say, "You are known by the company you keep."

What would you do if you discovered an art friend copying artwork and passing it off as his/her own? Have you had any experience with this issue in a personal way?

Robert Henri got it right. Let's do it right.


Susan Roux said...

I couldn't agree with you more. An artist's creativity is a very personal thing, a reflection of their soul. When another steels any part of that to pass off as their own, they are in essence steeling another's soul. So wrong on many levels...

The act of creating is in my estimation one of the most enjoyable, fulfilling things that exist. Why would anyone cheat themselves out of that experience by copying another's creation?

Thanks for speaking out and reminding artists how wrong this act is.

Sharri said...

Stealing another persons work is not only an outrage, it is illegal. The minute you put that work out into the public domain it is copyrighted. However, you can only sue to have that person stop selling your image. In order to sue for damages it must be registered with the copyright office.
We are all climbing on the backs of those who have gone before, but that means we use them for inspiration, not to make a recognizable copy!

Suzanne said...

Excellent, Katherine! Your grandmother and Robert Henri said it right.
Your painting is worth a thousand words.

Jonita said...

"Don't play nice with plagiarists" Well said Sarah!

No one should take credit for your work, not any way, any time or any how.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Susan: thank you so much for your comment. You have never shied away from exposing the right and wrong of artists' practices. You are an inspiration! Thank you.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Sharri: thank you for commenting! I recognize that part of art practice includes "copying" the masters. It is far different when artists copy living artists, sign it, represent it as their own original work, and sell it. That is stealing, as you say.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Suzanne: thank you!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Jonita: Seems to be a black and white issue, right?

Alex said...

Seems to me art is about sharing something personal.

Copying someone else's work is... Inefficient. Seems like a photocopier would do a quicker job. And if someone wants to churn out copies, let them go work at Kinko's (at least then they'd be honest about it)!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Alex: thanks for your comment. I don't think HONESTY is big among those who copy and then pass it off as their own. Maybe those who copy don't really want to share something personal.