Monday, September 22, 2008

Yours or theirs?

With the current controversy over potential copyrighted subject matter and authenticity of artwork in major art competitions around the world, it reinforces the need for artists to ensure that they are transparent in both their sources of inspiration and their techniques of creating work.

I have used 'royalty free' images for practice pieces and occasionally have placed one in a show, but interestingly, it is only my own images and compositions that sell with regularity. I have literally hundreds and hundreds of photos, many of which are still in need of cataloguing - another rainy day task. If I want to draw a particular piece, I can still reference many online photos and use portions of them to make an entirely different end product. The context of my reference is to view structure, colouring, values, placement, etc. How a portion of that piece ends up in my drawing will depend on the exact need that I have at the time. Perhaps the time will come when artists, like writers, will need to provide a bibliography of the various reference pieces they viewed to make the composite piece if the entire work is not from their own references or life studies.

Art societies and the buying public want to ensure that work is unique and that if they pay a considerable sum for a piece, they won't see the same subject repeated by another artist with a different medium at a later date. The only way to achieve this is to always take and use your own reference photos or work from life. I still have no qualms about doing practice pieces from online free photo galleries but they won't be competition material.


Rose Welty said...


I've recently decided to make the same sort of choices you have. Although, I am certainly going to have to improve as a photographer!

What's your cataloguing system? Mine is pathetic and beginning to get unruly. I'd love to know a better way to do it. Currently I just go by subject...subjects like "vacation photos", not all that helpful.

Hope the teaching is fun!

Jo Castillo said...

Good post, thanks.

We sure have thousands of photos. I already have about 2000 on my new computer. I must average 2-5 a day. Wow.

Jeanette said...

I use a fairly simply categorizing method.

I break things down into overall subject directories, such as flowers, landscapes, portraits, etc. I also have them categorized by year. Then I break those down further into more folders within the directories, such as colours, varieties, animal types, etc.

Its time consuming to do initially, but once you get into the habit, it makes it easier to find things.

Stacy said...

I've been working from my own photos for some time. Although I occassionally use some of my Dad's because he has an even bigger collection than I do. I organize them like Jeanette does in general categories - flowers, animals, skies, people, get the idea. When I start to have a large number of a specific reference (ex. daffodils) I make a sub-category with its own folder. I try to rename the digital files so all the like images are together, but I admit that I am not very thorough with that step. :)