Monday, February 09, 2009

What I Think About The Shepard Fairey Copyright/Fair Use Issue

Actually, I've done my best to avoid thinking about it at all. But judging by the number of dire emails I've received, containing links to incendiary articles which I have not read, and the number of art blogs weighing in, and Facebook friends on the case, and random headlines passing across my field of vision, it doesn't seem that I can get away from it.

So here it is: I. Don't. Care. I don't care what the overarching issues are; I don't care that My Rights As An Artist May Be In Danger. This whole thing, as little as I know about it, appears to me to be cheap and asinine, for the simple reason that Shepard Fairey has already gotten mind-boggling amounts of attention and publicity for opportunistically generating a two-bit piece of propaganda in the right place at the right time. Whatever happens to him, positive or negative, is so wildly disproportionate to his original creative output that expecting me to care about his fate is to add onus to insult.

Listen: I generate my own source material. Back in the days when I worked from photographs, I took my own photographs, stacks and stacks of them. When I work from designs and drawings, they're done either from life or out of my head. I don't rip off wallpaper patterns, stock images, stencils, or other people's cultures. On the rare occasions when I generate a Celtic knot for a Christmas card, I draw it from scratch without resorting to the photocopier.

Partially because of my insistence on making original art from scratch, cheap publicity has never come my way. In this age of politically correct arts institutions favoring multicultural projects, I persist in writing artist statements and making paintings which emphasize direct personal experience, unexcused by references to Tibetan mandalas or Indian miniature painting or Chinese aesthetic theory. So far, these artist statements and accompanying portfolios have gone directly into the trash, when people making work similar to mine, which does reference these things, earn Fullbright fellowships and appear in major galleries. I don't begrudge these artists their success; many of them are my favorite artists. I merely note that they're sort of cheating.


Spatula said...

I really need to think of a way to make myself controversial. Never had a good mind for that sort of thing, sadly. Ideas?

Pretty Lady said...

Sorry, Spatch, my mind doesn't work that way either. The best you can do is paint beautiful pictures of shampoo bottles, and wait for the traditionalist backlash.

k said...

Oh dear. Back in the day, working, it seemed I always ended up making myself controversial without ever wanting to, trying to, or benefiting from it in any way. Nope. Instead it always ended up biting me in the butt.

Spatula, perhaps if we put those parts of ourselves in a bottle, shook it up, and poured the bubbles out into two heaps, it might come out rearranged? A little better of a fit?

Spatula said...

K, perhaps we should consider forming a small collective? :D

BoysMom said...

I've never heard of this guy before--Wikipedia makes him sound like an ass. It reads like everyone who would be interested in the topic would know he was the creater of the first artwork anyway, and I can't see how he could possibly have been harmed in the whole situation.
My only comparason is in the music field, and does anyone really think that Saint-Saens needed to provide some sort of attribution when he borrowed Offenbach's CanCan for his Turtles?
It's a compliment to the original composer, or maybe an in-joke among friends, depending on the circumstances, when one composer uses another's melody.
When did we become such a petty people that this is now an issue?