Saturday, January 2, 2010


I need more pages for my book. Because I usually make things up as I go along, I often find myself in this predicament. I have some lovely rusted paper which I made in an Adele Outteridge workshop. This will be great as a basis for my pages but as I am using my printer to transfer the images, I'm a bit wary of what the rust may do to my printer....hmmmm, so I guess I need to go wash the paper with soap and water then dry it and iron it flat again. Yes, I have 'joined' pieces together with tissue paper to make them long enough for my book. Somehow the book pages ended up 30cm long, and the rusted bits are only about 26cm. Just as well [or maybe this is why] I am into wabisabi.

I have also been waiting for my daughter to contact me regarding using some of her photos in this book. I have exhausted the possibilities with the postcard image, so I want to add a few other pics from Paris. I am scanning my old slides from the 80's but I have very few interesting pics from Paris. As well as the prohibitive cost of taking slides, I was into 'recording the sights accurately' in those days, and 'arty' shots were a real luxury. I am super proud of Eliza for taking lots of 'arty' shots [some just for my benefit]. She thinks she is not arty, but I beg to differ. Take a look at these....

Arc de Triumph

Glass Pyramid at the Louvre

the Seine?

and the stairwell inside the Arc de Triumph.
This is a bit of a 'hot potato' in the art world. The legal eagles who know our predicament have set guidelines for us and those who buy/copy/learn from us, but unfortunately enforcement is expensive and impractical. Just look at the 'McDonalds' battles. Who wants to go there?
If someone takes a photo, the intellectual property rights remain with that person unless he/she gives permission for the photos to be used. The pics may or may not be used for commercial gain, but the photographer needs to know the intent of the 'user'. The 'user' should then acknowledge the photographer if photos are used. This is especially important if the photographer uses photos as part of his/her arts business. Otherwise it is just plain good manners to do so. The same applies to photos of art works [paintings, quilts etc] but usually galleries or exhibition curators have an appropriate clause built into their contracts.
The really tricky issue comes with workshops. I have had to face this problem many times as I often teach at the large 'summer school' style conferences in Australia. Students will often copy tutor's styles and even specific art works. This is the nature of learning and teaching. However, the work made in workshops should NOT be offerred for sale and if it is exhibited [which I believe is also a bit dodgy], then the tutor should be given credit for teaching the techniques. Ideally, the student will leave the workshop with new ideas to incorporate into his/her own work. The work may be seen as being INFLUENCED by the tutor, but not looking like it was MADE by the tutor. I had a situation where a student produced work very similar to mine, even used the same framing style, AND exhibited in the same gallery as me!! In my early career, I was making fabulous 'up market' personalised hand appliqued and painted windcheaters for a ski resort. A couple of years later, the same design appeared as a screen print in all the local shops. Thank goodness I could laugh about it then as I had moved on to other creative things.
It's all a bit of a grey area, but I believe that tutors should state their personal beliefs at the start of classes, students should respect the tutor's skills, knowledge and experience by not profiteering from same, and galleries and institutions should support and encourage their artists and not 'rip them off'. Yes, I'm an optimist and can be very naive at times!!
Getting back to my 'Postcards from Paris' book, I won't sell this one, because the photos are not mine, and  it's very special [and as I have said, I am new to bookmaking and it will probably not be up to scratch technically]. I may use it as a general teaching aid, or may even exhibit it [NFS], but I will make sure that I credit Eliza's photos, probably by hand writing somewhere on the prints. Maybe I'll even give it to Eliza if she likes it.

This is not the end of the story, because what do I do about the original post card image? The card was paid for, there is no copyright logo [not that that means much], and the photographer, who is credited on the card, died in 1994. I am using an art work [photo] which is not mine though I am changing and distorting it to suit my own style of artistic expression. Is this ethical? If the photographer was still alive and I was producing multiples of the book [ie hundreds] I may feel morally obliged to ask his permission, or give him a cut of the profits. The legal eagles say that if you change the design in even a small way, you are not breaching copright, so legally I'd be OK, but I'm not sure how I'd feel morally. Maybe I'll just credit the photographer in text somewhere as this will add to the 'story' anyway, and then just go and bury my head in the sand.
What do other artists think about this issue? I'd love to get some feedback.

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