Monday, October 24, 2011

Jean Haines

Original oil painting  28x22"
by Susan Roux

I'm sure you remember the post I did a short while ago on modern-day pirates where Hugo Diaz Mapi was selling images copied from other artists. This post was carried by several other artists (thank you) in hopes of getting the word out. Copied art is a real problem and unfortunately it strikes many artists. Usually the pirating has been going on long before the artist becomes aware of it.

Artists are kind people as a whole. We move from our soul and we pour ourselves out for all to see. It's a complete exposure and when you come to actually know the artist, you can clearly see them in their work. We're often so involved in our own creative process that imagining other artists aren't moved the same way, seems unfathomable. Why would a creative person be satisfied copying another's work when so many of our own ideas want to explode out of us? Because of this we're probably far more trusting than we ought to be.

 I recently came upon a post by Jean Haines where she's being affected by a copying issue. Her post is very well written and I recommend you take a few minutes to go read it. It's about an encounter with a personal collector. Imagine her surprise meeting him at an opening and the conversation turned to copying! He was very concerned about original art he had purchased from her at a lofty price, that was now being mimicked by another. How original was his painting now?

I'm certain it was an interesting conversation, though not one you're expecting at your art opening.

As the UK artist points out, the problem with copying hurts more than just the artist being copied. Though there may exist an ounce of flattery involved, the effects carry on to representing galleries and buyers. Does this raise the value of your art or is it cheapening it? A good question that I'm not equipped to answer.

What do we do about it?

I've stopped posting high resolution photos of my art. It's too bad to have to resort to these changes, when there are so many artists out there interested in seeing work up close. Sometimes I add detailed clips to offset this, but I know for myself that when I find art I really like, I enjoy scrutinizing every inch of it. For that I apologize. Haines is taking it a few steps further. Her art has been evolving in a new direction and she'll be eliminating images of it altogether. It's really a shame to have to resort to such severe measures.

We spend so much of our art life getting as much exposure as possible. Art inspires people. It can have a very powerful effect on viewers, even to the point of changing someone's life. It's impossible to know how yours has affected others. So how terrible is it that an artist is moved to stop exposing any current work? It really saddens me. I hope I never get to the point where I want to hide my art from the masses. I'm not blaming Jean. As her career escalates, she feels it necessary to protect herself and her buyers.

I don't know what the solution is. Perhaps there really isn't one. Copying an artist's work to understand art with intensions of improvement is one thing. Copying art with intensions of sales is a whole different ball game...

How are you dealing with this problem? How are you protecting yourself from the few unethical ones?