Monday, May 4, 2009
Some thoughts about copyright
I wasn't planning on writing a post on copyright but felt compelled to do so. Just to make it clear, this is not about any particular issue or person, these are just my thoughts over watching what has been happening in the art world the last year or so.
With the internet, and our access to so many art sites, we are becoming paranoid about what we can and cannot paint. We are so fearful that we may be accused of copying an idea that someone else had, that we go out of our way to change our art until it becomes unnatural to us. If someone has added stripes to a folk art angel, we are afraid to add stripes to our folk art angel in case we get accused of copying them. I am not talking about blatant copying of an artist's work, obviously that is copyright infringement and should not happen. But a true artist wants to find their own style. They will take what they learn from classes and books, and put their own spin on it.
There is nothing that hasn't been done before. For instance, I created a series of ACEOs more than a year ago with a very specific subject matter and style(I won't give details here). These can be found online so I can prove when I did them. Last month, I saw 2 separate artists with the exact same idea as me, and one even used the same title I used for their series. One is a hugely successful Ebay artist, and I would never accuse her of copying me! Of course her skill level is much higher than mine, but the point is, nothing is truly original. I do not for one second think she was surfing the net, came across my amateurish art, and copied it. It was simply a co-incidence. She came up with the exact same idea as me. Now what worries me is if I continue this series which I plan to, someone may start harassing me and accusing me of copying her!!! Holding our cards side by side, you will know which ones are mine, and you will recognize hers easily, but she came up with this idea a year after I did mine. So what do you think of this little problem? If we have to constantly worry about stuff like this, we will feel stifled, and lose our love of creating.
How on earth do we get around this?
Let me repeat again, this post is not about any specific person. I only wrote this after seeing discussions over the last year about copyright.
Good Lord this is a long post, forgive me!
(the painting of Dorothy and Toto is one of my older works, I need to get back to that series soon!)
***UPDATE: After reading some comments, I'm afraid my post wasn't very clear. I was not complaining that someone copied me. As far as I know, no one has done this.
I have no problem with people copying other artists when they are learning, teachers tell you to do this. So you new budding artists out there, practice practice practice! learn from all sources, but make it your own. If you work on it enough, you will see your own style developing. Just don't copy one artists style completely, and try to sell it off as your own, this is where you will get yourself in trouble. I'm not an authority on this, so if you have any questions, please check out copyright laws. I promise no more confusing posts from me :-D