And by cheating I really mean they are missing some of the best things about becoming an artist. I know there is a very broad definition of art and being an artist. And I don't have any intention of getting into that here.
Lately it has come up quite often about artist that enter competitions and sell their work that they have copied from others published photographs. And the second issue has been the use of a projector to copy the photos onto the canvas or paper. It has come to my attention that this is done by a lot of artist in the interest of time and getting the prospective correct, etc.
I am sure that many of you are writing your comments to defend the use of both photos and projectors. I agree that there is certainly a time and place in preparing your art for the use of both of these tools. I have done both. I use photos as reference for both portrait and landscape. I have used a projector for enlarging and placement. They are both great tools. I am not saying the use of them is cheating. (but to what extent they are used as a crutch instead of a tool.)
I recently went to see a watercolor show at a museum. It was one of the area's most active watercolor society. Of all the work, there was only two or three that seemed to be painted from the heart and soul of the artist. All the others had been "drawn" precisely with even the small little circles of highlights and shadows. Shapes that always give away the fact that the drawing was projected. And then carefully staying within the lines with the proper color. Crisp and clean. Now this is my opinion (it's my blog and I can do that), but it just seemed to miss the connection of artist and subject. And therefore it missed a connection with me the viewer.
Drawing from life gives the artist a connection with the subject that can not be duplicated in working from a photograph. I had rather see a drawing that is a little off, but with great feeling and expression. It allows me to experience more of the artist as well as the subject.
When using a photograph that was taken by someone else, you may think you are relating to the emotion or expression, but you are really only relating to the photographer's conception of the subject.
Get your own conception and it will tell so much more. Don't copy because it was beautiful or touching and you wanted to paint it. Let it stand as the art it is and create your own. You will be greatly rewarded when you do. Draw often from life, take a sketch book with you instead of a camera. Use the camera to take images of all those wonderful paintings that will come from observing the world in living color around you.
Here are a couple of articles about the subject of plagiarism in art. I just hope I can encourage young artist to not "cheat" themselves.
Note: If you are going to copy, at least give credit to the original artist or photographer by signing "after name" and then your signature.
From Campus Life and Leadership Berkeley University
WHAT IS PLAGIARISM?
Plagiarism means using another’s work without giving credit. You must put others’
words in quotation marks and cite your source(s). Citation must also be given when
using others’ ideas, even when those ideas are paraphrased into your own words.
“Work” includes original ideas, strategies, research,”1 art, graphics, computer programs,
music and other creative expression. The work may consist of writing, charts, pictures,
graphs, diagrams, data, websites, or other communication or recording media, and may
include sentences, phrases, innovative terminology,”2 formatting or other representations.
The term “source” includes published works (books, magazines, newspapers, websites,
plays, movies, photos, paintings, and textbooks) and unpublished sources (class lectures
or notes, handouts, speeches, other students’ papers, or material from a research service).
From Campus Life and Leadership Berkeley Universityto read the full article: click on link below
From the Painters Keys (link below article)
Am I plagiarizing?
November 9th, 2004
Yesterday Isabel Belfort, email , wrote: "I'm trying to make paintings that use the works of dead artists. The paintings do not look like the originals. For instance I change the position of the person and alter the dress and change the face--but I follow the same line. Would this still be considered plagiarism? I sell them inexpensively—mostly to friends. My dream is to become a well-known artist. I took some classes but have been mostly my own teacher. Can you advise me?"
Thanks Isabel. What you're doing is called "appropriation." It's one of the least offensive of the copying arts. Outright plagiarism and counterfeiting can get you into the slammer--but you should be free for a while yet--providing you don't wander into exactly copying some dude, dead or alive. Legally, your painting needs to be 10% different from that which you are imitating. That's hard to quantify but you should keep it in mind.
You might also ask yourself why you need to lean on dead masters. With all the great reference that we can get ourselves, all the stuff yet to be made, and all the pride you can take in a personal vision--there's plenty left to play with. Your urge to replicate may come from a natural reverence for the works of perceived "stars." You might give some thought to being your own star.
While some might consider it an "homage," appropriation of style or subject can have the effect of banalizing and trivializing existing work. Over-appropriation and market-glutting cycles regularly attack wildlife, native American, faux-primitive, and other art genres. The path that leads to a unique vision is uphill and rocky, but it's the stellar route to the dream of becoming "well-known."
There are exceptions. A few years ago I was on a jury when a piece was chosen and then a juror pointed out that it was a knockoff of a demo in American Artist magazine. After a discussion the choice was upheld--the majority of jurors agreed that "we all use each other's stuff anyway." The excellent copy came in for a $25,000 prize and I was disgusted. I'm not sure of the best advice I've ever given, but this comes close: "Do something that others will have the desire to plagiarize--but will find it difficult to do when they try."
PS: "Imitation is the sincerest of flattery." (Charles Caleb Colton) "If I plagiarize, it's because I like someone's idea better than mine and I want credit for it." (Anna Chin-Williams)
Esoterica: Louis Vuitton's Murakami bag costs in the art-stratospheric range of $1500--generating about 300 million in sales last year. The Chinese knockoffs, practically identical, cost about $35 and sell to a crowd that still needs to look good but never pays the big prices. Louis Vuitton will spend over ten million dollars this year retaining lawyers and scouts to fight "brand devaluation by overexposure." Two questions: "Is a bag art?" and "Who's running the better racket--Louis or the Chinese?"
Artists' Responses to Am I plagiarizing? by Robert Genn
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