When The Art-Thief Calls: Flattery, 'Exposure,' and Cold Hard Cash
I create art.
It's a kind of mediation to me, it soothes me, satisfies me and leaves me feeling pleased with the results, and I'm warmed by the responses of my 81 followers. (I follow 49 other artists)
I'm also an art-thief, in as much as I frequently reference the characters and works of others. But I go further than that - I lift their faces, poses, sometimes entire groupings off the internet. I also take entire artworks from dead people; the likes of da Vinci, Waterhouse, Veermer, and Botticelli, and I mash it up with other characters from other corners of history.
But I honour my suppliers, every one of them. Credit where credit is due. I claim nothing that isn't actually mine, and I make no money from the result.
The Worm Turns.
But how did I feel when I started to discover my works popping up elsewhere on the internet? Mostly flattered. A little tingle of "Is this going turn into my 15 minutes of fame?" And pleased that the user had been kind enough to credit the image to its originator - me.
It's obvious they found my work via an image-search; the same way I discovered their 'theft'.
All good. I created the images to amuse and/or delight. But not to educate or confront. They're getting a wider audience. "Yay! *Exposure!*"
Then this happened:
Yup: it happened right here on The Hub, & that's why I joined the Hub, and why I'm writing this. I don't know who did this... No, wait; someone by the name of Inkhand.
Dear Inkhand, I'm flattered that you used my art to headline your article. 'FUNNY' - yup, I guess that is a wacky version of the Mona Lisa. *MY* Mona Lisa.
Sure: thousands of people have produced parodies of da Vinci's famous painting. It's a free-for-all. And once you dig into the technicalities (if I have it right) referencing the works of others to create a *new and original artwork* - sufficiently and noticeably removed from the original but still relying on the source for meaning - well that ain't theft, Bro, it's Art.
But lifting someone's work, without permission and without the bare minimum of acknowledging the source artist ... I believe the technical term is: It Sucks.
What to do? What to say? I sent Inkhand a bill for using my original artwork: five years at $5 per week. It came to $1,340. Then I wrote this.
Let's see if I get an answer, eh? Stay tuned.