22 January, 2014

Moving On in 2014, and A(nother) Copyright Rant

"Swinger," acrylic on canvas, shown in buyer's home. Photo courtesy of buyer, used with permission.

FINISHING THE OLD YEAR ON A GOOD NOTE

The above photo is from December 2013. I participated in the outdoor Phoenix Festival of the Arts mural project.  Each artist had a 6 x 3 ft canvas, and the event set the price of $300.  Before the event, participating artists and others built and stretched over 100 of these!  Much of the credit for making the canvas stretching happen goes to event organizer Hugo Medina who does much for the arts in this area. The event sold the paintings for $300 each, with 80% of that being paid to the artists. I like projects that contribute to the arts while still valuing artists and their work. There was no fee for artists to participate. It was really nice to have it sell so quickly, (within hours of my posting an iPhone pic on Facebook). 

A NEW LOCATION, MY FIRST DEDICATED STUDIO SPACE, FIRST PAINTING OF THE NEW YEAR

A tiny bit of a work in progress is visible on the work table. Essentials are there, more organizing to do!

We moved to Tempe, from Phoenix, over the holidays.  Discovering the advantages of our new area is fun. I should be able to get back into ceramics this year.  It's great having indoor space big enough to work on more than miniatures. I do love making miniatures and painting outside, but there are times I want to work big, or the weather isn't conducive to art making!

Right now, I'm working on a large commissioned pet portrait painting.  I accepted the commission back in December. After we moved, I got my new studio-room well enough in order to begin the painting.  I'm enjoying it, as it's right up my alley. (Birds!) As soon as it's done, I will be finishing the organization of my studio. THEN I may have some prettier pics of my working space!

I love the light in this room. It's true about a North facing window being the best.

Can you believe I worked on everything from a bed to a kitchen table in the past?

A series of miniature paintings that I began in 2013 is almost done. They got put aside to look for a new place and then move, last year. I see now that the last painting in the series of 5 is about half done. Sometimes it's that last little bit that seems to take forever!  Of course, I might think of another piece to add to the series and then it'll be longer.  So far I'm sticking to my decision not to display any of them until the series is done. Not sure if that will win out in the end.





THE RANT

First, I want to express thanks to people who respect copyrights. Those who ask permission, read and honor artist's copyright policies, take the time to learn copyright truths instead of perpetrating myths, and 'share' correctly. They are a breath of fresh air.

More artists watermarking their images

I enjoyed several articles and blog posts recently on copyrights. The following two are by artists who've had to deal with increasing infringements like I and so many artists have.

http://awapara.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/copyright-visual-arts/

http://monawildgal.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/let-the-great-watermarking-begin/

Many artists welcome, or used to welcome, true 'sharing,' (a link, often accompanied by a thumbnail, that provided automatic attribution to us). I am not alone in noticing a correlation between certain types of so-called sharing sites and search engine changes, and the jump in damaging infringements. These sites enable infringement and mislead members about what's really ethical or even legal.

Users adopted a sense of entitlement. Sites adopted Terms that hold members accountable for legal costs if sued for members' infringements.

The myth of 'Public Domain'

Public domain refers to items that are off copyright due to age, or source (like govt documents), or owners voluntarily giving up rights. Being publicly viewable is not the same thing. Read: http://library.case.edu/copyright/cmyths.html

Images are products

We talk about not wanting to deface our images to protect them. I also cringe in doing it. But then, (screeching wheels sound effect), I thought, "Wait a minute!" 

These images are a tool to market what we are selling.  We're not in the business of giving away work any more than plumbers or doctors. Even food stores only give out samples, not the whole box. The fact we promote online like other professions is irrelevant.

Not sure when the idea took hold, that we had to put our art images out there unprotected. Sounds like an idea hatched by people who just want free stuff!  Even before the internet, ads for art prints were often on cheap paper, small, cropped, marked, or in some way NOT near as good as the real reprint being advertised.  Given that the reprints for sale were often mass produced and on cardboard, you can imagine that the ad was not frame-worthy. 

That's how our internet images need to be thought of; a sample, not the product itself.  

A digital image is by it's very nature a product. Even small ones are very usable as ads, etc, online, or as small products like keychains and cards.  Sold in volume, loss of sales of those things adds up! A mark effectively makes the image the sample that it should be.  A real problem exists for those who sell on PODs, (Print On Demand sites).  They can't upload a marked image, because reprints and products would then bear a big watermark.  And if they upload a clean image, it's easily infringed.  

That is exactly why I stopped selling reprints on a POD, and that is money damage to me due to infringement.

Infringement can be as costly or even more costly than theft of actual artworks.

Read one artist's story: http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/11/04/62592.htm

Marketing info on art needs to be updated to address copyrights

You will still see posts or articles saying watermarking is 'unprofessional,' but IMO that opinion is losing ground fast. One of my measuring sticks for marketing info is whether or not it's up to date on this subject. A marketing expert should be among the first to recognize that copyrights (essentially, reproduction rights), can be worth more financially than the actual artwork.  To be able to devote full time hours to creating art, artists have to be able to make a profit, and reproduction/licensing are often a big part of that income. Unauthorized uses can damage an artist's ability to profit from their own work. 

Watermarking can't prevent all infringements, but it seems to prevent, (or at least minimize the damage of), the majority.  That translates to a lot more time and mental energy to make new art.