How To Steal Like An Artist

November 18, 2018 | 2 Comments |

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Copying isn’t bad; it depends on how and why you do it. I recommend you try copying – and be clear about why you’re doing it. Though I rarely share these kinds of studies with anyone, I make them frequently – and I learn a lot.

I’m not fond of phrases like, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” (That phrase itself has a history that borders on theft. Read it here.) They can be interpreted as a legitimization of plagiarism, as long as your sources are unknown or you hide them well. A lot is lost when this happens; the original author goes unfairly unappreciated; the plagiarist tragically passes up the opportunity to find something of their own; readers are deceived; we all lose. The biggest trouble with phrases like this is that so many fail to go further after pronouncing them.

The best thing about phrases like this is that they memorably raise an important set of questions about the wide variety of purposes for copying: forgeries rob money (except the ones museums and collectors commission as insurance policies for exhibition); plagiarism robs intellectual property and content; studies educate the development of artists; appropriation references culturally important touchstones (best done with attribution like a quote); working in the manner of someone can be both a sign of respect (homage) and a way of fanning those flames of inspiration; and making new authentic work after being inspired by another strikes new sparks carrying the torch further.

Follow phrases like these with a rich conversation about the possibilities and you will be richly rewarded every time.

Here are a few resources that will help enliven your future discussions.

30 Quotes On Stealing

Copying Is How We Learn

Study Finds Copying Other People’s Art Can Boost Creativity

Why Artists Are Allowed To Copy Masterpieces From The World’s Most Prestigious Museums

From Craft to Art – Leaving Dafen

Kleon – How To Steal Like An Artist

Things get really gray with appropriation.

When Does An Artist’s Appropriation Become Copyright Infringement?

Appropriation In The Digital Age – Richard Prince Instagram & The $100,000 Selfies

Who Actually Shot Richard Prince’s Iconic Cowboys?

Forgery has a fascinating history.

A Brief History of Art Forgery From Michelangelo To Knoedler & Co

How Museums Handle Forgeries In Their Collections

Orson Welles Movie F Is For Fake

 

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Writing an artist’s statement is something I initially resisted. For years I’d heard all of the excuses from many great artists, “Pictures should be seen and not heard.””If I could say with words what I want to say with images, I’d have become a writer.””Those critics got it all wrong.” But, did you ever notice how the people who write about other people’s art always have to address what the artists wrote about their work? Van Gogh’s and Edward Westons’ journals are both excellent examples of this – and worth reading.

I broke down and wrote my first artist’s statement when a gallery insisted they needed one for their exhibit and the response was positive. (A professor at Stanford later asked permission to share it as an example of how to do it well.) I was surprised not only by the positive response to my writing but also by how much I learned about my images while I was writing about them. I knew how to make the work – physically, emotionally, subconsciously –  but did I understand what I had done fully. My conscious mind had some catching up to do … and in the process, I found new ideas. Now I make writing about my images a regular practice. Why? I understand them better. Other people connect with them more. And I find new ideas.

I’ve collected some valuable resources that will help you write about your images.

Start with my free PDF.

9 Ways Of Writing About Your Images

Then move to this collection of quick tips.

6 Tips for Artists on How to Talk about Their Art

4 Tips for Writing a Good Artist Statement

How to Write an Artist Statement

4 Ways to Write an Artist Statement

An Authentic and Easy Artist’s Statement | 10 Powerful Tips

Want even more? Try these three information-packed resources.

What Should An Artist’s Statement Contain?

The Language of an Artist’s Statement

Examples Of Artist’s Statements

There’s even an entire website dedicated to helping you write better artist’s statements.

Artist’s Statement.com – Resources To Help You Write A Good One

It’s easy to make fun of artists statements when they’re done poorly or for the wrong reasons –while you’re doing it just be clear about what makes them funny and you’ll learn a lot while you’re having fun. You can learn a lot about how to write well by looking at examples of bad writing. So, don’t use this to write your artist’s statement, instead, use it to figure out what and how not to write. And don’t forget to laugh along the way.

Artists Statement Generator

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

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Plus check out The Complete Guide To Writing Your Amazing Photography About Page

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Want to be more creative? Whether you can’t seem to get going, find yourself stuck in a rut, or you want to break through to your next level, you’ll find these articles both inspiring and useful.

7 Simple Ways to Be More Creative in 2018

Why Exercise Makes You More Creative

Need a Creative Boost? Take a Look at Your Diet

Want to Be More Creative at Work? Take a Vacation

Why Meditating Might Make You a Better Artist

Some People Can See Sound, or Taste Color. Does It Make Them More Creative?

When Timothy Leary Got Artists to Take LSD

Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives 

The Creative Learning Spiral Envisioned

How Creativity is Measured—And Why It’s So Difficult

Pour your favorite drink, relax, and enjoy.

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