First of all, I want to begin this post by making it clear that the lettering you see above is not mine. It was created by the gifted designer Marian Bantjes, and when I came across this article from FastCompany it was the perfect image to represent the creation, or actually destruction of the day.
You see I had intended to write today about spending a lovely day with my children, and catching the film Chimpanzee – a beautiful tale of when a leader and highest ranking chimp steps in to help the most helpless member of the pack. This leader, who is often challenged by other adult males for domination of the pack, adopts, grooms and mentors a baby chimpanzee abandoned when his mother is killed. Yes, it’s a touching story, but today’s post is a battle of another sort.
Just before beginning to write this evening’s post, a former student of mine sent me a message asking for advice on an issue he had with his artwork. In the past couple months, one of his student posters went viral and began spreading about the internet like wildfire. One Tumbler account spread to another, then to another and before he knew it over 750 sites have spread his poster around the blogosphere. Great right? – let the art speak for itself and the fans will support and market it themselves. Well, that’s all good and said, but somewhere along the line, the artwork was credited to another designer. I find it completely shameful when the author, originator of any artwork is not properly credited. It’s sloppy, egotistical and irresponsible publishing. It’s happened to me on more than one occasion too, and it’s painful. I mean rip-your-heart-out-of-your-chest painful…especially when it comes from a colleague you trust. But that story is for a future date when it won’t sting as much. In this instance, I coached the student through a few options on how to handle the issue. My best advice – take the high ground and make a few strategically placed comments thanking the publisher/s for featuring his work and linking back to his own site. The REALLY sad news is the story doesn’t end here.
Through the course of our conversation, and my own Google search engine investigation of his artwork, I discovered another piece of artwork…stolen by another artist. This time the perpetrator isn’t a faceless, nameless internet art stalker. It’s someone I know, with a project I’m very familiar with and it cannot be ignored or swept under the rug. It’s an issue I will deal with personally and on my terms.
My question to any of you who may be reading this…why do human beings feel the need to steal creativity from another? Do they not believe in their own creative gifts? Is it laziness? Is there a false belief that as long as one can recognize creativity, it can be duplicated without discretion? Are the human egos so veraciously hungry for praise that we’ll steal from another’s plate of talent to get it. Why are so many easily seduced by this? This is an important topic and I would love to hear what other artists and authors have to say.