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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not made in China!

At a recent show I met a great couple who were wearing these T-shirts whilst selling their locally made wall-hangings. Chatting to galleries as well, it seems like cheap Eastern imports are posing a real threat to certain sectors of the art market. When you can land a 'painting' here for less than the equivilant sized blank canvas would cost me, I get their point. I am tired of people taking photos of my work, in many cases to make prints of it no doubt. I caught a woman with a Hasselblad (seriously high-end camera) shooting images of my work the other day not, as she told me, because she "likes taking photographs" I'm sure. I've even had monks in orange robes snap away merrily, not to mention the endless i-phone snapping others. To add insult to injury overheard two woman walk into my stand and say: "these of course all are copied art from China."
Gallery owners report people coming to their galleries at night and shooting paintings through the windows no doubt to be send overseas and turned into cheap production line replicas, which no artist could hope to compete with price wise.
Point is if the practise continues, it could seriously affect creativitity - what's the point if every idea/style you have gets stolen from you and replicated in 1,000s before your paint has had time to dry? Most of the work I've seen is seriously bad 'decor' type work, so not giving me sleepless nights yet, but at the lower end of the market ie. for people wanting to break into the affordable art scene it could have a very negative effect.

The Good, the Bad and the extremely Ugly - ripp-off artists

Tales of artists being taken advantage of abound, as do stories of artist's work being copied. Here's a true example of both:
The Good: Take a quaint tourist town, a gallery owner and an artist. Things initially go well.
The Bad:Then the gallery owner starts stalling payments to the artist, his rent falls into arrears etc. Enter the sherrif of the court who seizes the gallery and its consigned contents. The artists are unable to retrieve their works, which get auctioned off to reimburse the landlord. Fleeing debt and disgrace, the gallery owner dissapears to a foreign country.
The Ugly: A few years later a new, flashy gallery opens in the same town, the owner (now bouyant it is said from family $$), being the self same badass. Only there is now a twist:- he is the artist as well as the gallery owner. His 'inspiration' none other than the artist whose work he had previously hung. This is not just 'similarity' but straight ripp-offs, however not being an artist, his lack of skill does embarrasingly come through to even the vaguely skilled eye. (Unfortunately it must be said vaguely skilled eyes are not always common in the general public.) The true artist does not have the funds to sue (as is the case with most artists), so our parasitic pal continues his practice. Given the art though, I doubt it will be for long - such people have a way of parting with their money.
As an aside, neither party is known personally to me, was just one of the worst cases of artistic abuse I've come across.