Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pet Peeve of the Week

Blog: So, Thursday, tell about your pet peeve.

Me: This started off much, much earlier this week and I'm glad I've had some time to cool and calm down a little. I am torn between trying to feel somewhat flattered and thinking that every line that will ever be drawn has already been drawn, every brush stroke that will ever be made has already been made. We are inspired by other people's art all the time. At least I am. And I am sometimes inspired to incorporate a little of it here and there. Like a colour or a shape or a theme.

Recently, working with a group of other artists, I shared one of my paintings. It wasn't a great painting but it was a deeply personal one. It spoke of an event that has had a part in making me who I am right now. A few days after sharing this painting, a group member shared one of her own which, as I saw it, was pretty much a duplicate of mine. The composition, the colours, most of the details. It was missing two small details and she qualified it with her own story behind it (very different from my story). At first I couldn't believe my eyes. It looked like my painting, re-painted by someone else. With some time to digest it, I realized what I really felt was violated. That someone took my story, and turned it into her story. Of course all of this went on in my head and not in reality. And naturally this other artist is not benefitting monetarily from the image. Still, deep in my heart, it feels like a robbery. It's childish, and I'm trying to not beat myself up for not being a better person about it. I have been working hard on non-attachment, who knew I would be so challenged to work on non-attachment to what is inside me at the same time? So, is it "stolen art" as I earlier wrote, or "stolen me"?


Sherry Smyth said...

When people say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (paraphrased) I understand what they mean. However. When someone hasn't the originality to create something of their own (any medium, in any facet of life) it makes me sad. For that person. To have so little faith in oneself and so little confidence in your own ability is frightening.

It was you who was stolen Kim -- your thoughts, your story and the way your told it and portrayed it. If you are ever with these women again, I would make it a condition of participation that this same women goes before anyone else with her work to avoid anything like this happening to you in future.

You are right to be peeved, annoyed, angry and upset. xoxox

Cheryl said...

How horrible! Give me a few minutes, I'll boil a huge pot of wet noodles and you can pour them over the woman's head. That kind of action is disgusting!

oreneta said...

It seems so odd. Did no one else notice? Is the woman completely self-delusional? weird weird weird. So sorry.

Karen said...

i am so sorry. i'm with your friend cheryl there :)

Jade said...

No you have every right to feel angry. It is indeed a violation. Just as much as it is a violation to plagiarize text by copying and tweaking a few words here and there and calling it your own. Plagiarism is rife these days and people seem to have no compunction about it at all. I think it's important to call it out where it is found.

Did anyone else notice or say anything?

The only thing I could possibly imagine is if she was not copying but actually reappropriating...but that would be pretty dang hard to justify: why she would reappropriate your work in particular, and what message she was giving in reappropriating it. And even then, it's pretty hard to imagine a situation in which that wouldn't be an asshole thing to do (pardon my French).

It's a serious issue. It's not just rude or annoying. It's a transgression against you and it's dishonest towards everyone else.

Jade said...

I should also mention (being of Buddhist persuasion myself), I don't believe that non-attachment means you shouldn't stand up for yourself. Letting go of anger without truly feeling forgiveness is not really letting go. It's more like retreating. I think an important part of the process is being honest with those who hurt us (in a calm way, without anger), and then finding forgiveness so we can let go.

I think the point of non-attachment is to let go of external things so that you can get to your core self. In this case, it's not your painting so much as you (your ideas, your heart, your story). It is your core self.

I hope that helps some. :)

magpie said...

it isn't childish at all and you don't have to "be a better person" about it. you're right to feel violated and i think the perpetrator should be confronted, albeit politely.

i hate to sound like a curmudgeon but there seems to be very little understanding, much less respect, for intellectual property these days. in the world of music artists even have a word to make stealing seem respectable. They don't steal they "sample". here on the 'net lots of folks seem to think anything they see is up for (screen) grabs.

i'm always astonished and pleased when someone actually emails to ask permission to use my work.

i love sherry's idea: have the woman go first next time!

you're right to be angry.

Snap said...

Both ... stolen art and stolen me. Unfortunately, also a fact of life. I'm with Sherry ... let the woman go first ... always! :D :D

Lis said...

OMG - I just wrote an epic here and blogger lost it!!!!

Okay, so i've been thinking about this for 24 hours ... i have to agree that this woman is suffering in some way if she believes so little in herself and in her art ...

i also cannot believe others didn't notice, but chose not to comment? is this a group that meets in person? or online?

you have every right to feel violated. if it were me, i would have to say something to this woman. At the very least, she needs to understand the impact of her actions. She didn't just borrow a raincoat or umbrella, she took a piece of your creative self and your experience.

there is the famous story of a snake hearing a spiritual teacher talk about nonharming. The snake went off to practice and a year later, when the swami returned the snake slithered up all battered and bruised. "this is what happened when i did what you told me to do!" he informed the swami. And the teacher replied "I told you to do no harm - i did not tell you to lose your hiss." so i would hiss ... as lovingly and compassionately as possible ... but i would hiss.

okay, any other pearls of wisdom are lost in cyberspace ...

xo lis