When Copying Work Is Not A Compliment

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The neat thing about being an artist is we do not have to pay for anything; electricity we get free along with food. Our kids get everything they need free. When I fill my gas tank up I just tell the clerk I’m an artist and he waves me on.
I wish this were true – that we artists need not pay our bills, but like everyone else, I have to pay for the things I need to care for my family. The other day I posted a picture that was reproduced in China without my permission. I did not go all crazy, and at first, was just going to let it pass by. I decided to do a little standing up to this form of theft, and theft is what it is. I really did not put myself all out, just posted what had happened on Facebook.
What bothered me more than having the Chinese reproducing my work without my permission for a profit, was being told in a comment that having my work copied is a good thing, a compliment. What this teacher could not see is the difference between inspiration to work from a piece and simply reproducing that piece. So many people do not truly know just what an artist does. Every artist is different, with different goals, every painting is a piece of the artist who created it. Shakespeare wrote one Hamlet, most people accept that concept of Hamlet belonging to Shakespeare, Michelangelo created one David, somewhere along the way artists have lost the respect these great masters had. The line between artist and simple picture maker has blurred. I myself am lost at times when I pick up my brush or pencil without a clear vision as to what it is I want from art. To pay for that tank of gas and that electric bill I need to work every day. My conscious is always telling me each piece I create has to be my best and as original as possible. I’m inspired by others but in no way am I going to reproduce their work and call it my own or reproduce their work and sell it to pay my bills.

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