Saturday, June 25, 2016

Are Master Copies Clogging the Internet?

Painting copies of master paintings is an great way to learn. It's a good idea to produce them. But is it a good idea to post them?

Will the real Lady Agnew please stand up?
Have you ever searched for a famous painting and found a lot of other peoples' copies come up in the results? This can create confusion if you mistake the copy for the original.

The artist that posted the copy may have learned a lot by doing it. It might be a good copy, but honestly it's unlikely anyone else will be impressed by your work when they run across it online. No matter how good it is, it will never match the original.


So if you must share your master copies on the Internet, may I suggest the following practices:

1. Add a black border around the image area and write "COPY of [original artist + title] by [your name]." under the image.
2. Title the file name in the same way.


3. OR put the original adjacent to your copy and label it below. That way we can see immediately how the two compare, and no one will mind you posting it.

19 comments:

David Wooddell said...

Jim - I think you have a great point. I often consult the internet to see how artists have handled a theme or character out of fiction, before I write or before I create a studio photograph on the same subject. Having the copy artist's name with the title, and clearly labeled copy painting or famous artist would help. However, If it isn't in the caption information as live text, it won't be indexed properly by the search engines.

Tom Hart said...

Excellent point and suggestions. I don't post individual copies per se, but I do include some on my website. They have always been clearly labeled as such, but I just now went to the site to beef up the labels.

Question: What causes any image to be pulled in the type of web search you're referring to?

zoe said...

This post is a valuable public service!

Daroo said...

Great post -- I agree.

I even make a clear " after" or "apres" label when I copy something small in my sketchbook, that I have no intention of posting -- like a sketch or a composition. I don't want to look at it years later and forget that I was quoting somebody else.

Jono Doiron said...

Agreed, thank you. It's frustrating because sometimes you want to reference the original and you see multiple versions of the same painting - with different colors or values - and it becomes ambiguous which is the version the original artist labored over.

Tom Hart said...

How common is it that one cannot determine that a particular image is a copy when doing an internet search? (I'm not trying to be argumentative, just wondering.) I just did a VERY quick search of Lady Agnew, and for the obvious copies that I checked, clicking on "Visit Page" brought me to the original site of that image which (again on the limited number I checked) were all labeled as copies, or "after".

Kevin Mayes said...

Thank you for posting this, James. This is a topic that every artist should consider in my opinion. We, as artists, often assume or take for granted that EVERYONE knows art, who the famous painters were and are and know their works! Those looking for a famous work are not always knowledgeable enough to know what they are seeing, only that that is what came up on a Google search. Shouldn't we as artists take a position and help educate or point out which is the original as James suggested in this post?

Neave Lifschits said...

What are your thoughts on animation studies?
I've recently started doing many 2d studies of incredible shots but I do not post the original next to it, nor do I mention the name of the animator. It would be hard to find the animator who did the shot so I'm not sure that's a solution.

John Jacobsen said...

Long time reader and fan of James and this blog, but I respectfully disagree with the idea that people should annotate their image files in the suggested way.

I think it's obvious that one wants to indicate when one's images are copies, but in general I'd rather people do it in the text of their post rather than on the image itself. I'm happy to do the work of actually clicking on the image link to get the full story (and maybe get a higher-resolution image as a bonus). And, as someone who has been doing a detailed Rembrandt copy for the last few weeks (and posting the results for friends and family), I'd hate to see other artists who are exploring this sort of learning to be discouraged from sharing their results. The purpose of the Internet is not merely to impress potential collectors or to optimize Google's search results, but it also serves as a way for individuals to share their own journeys as artists with the (usually very limited) number of people who care.

Pedro said...

And to add something to this subject, I think that Mr Gurney can do or REALLY can make a better copy than he shows us here. His books on Dinotopia and others have better paintings, that is for sure! LOL, Mr Gurney, you know you do more and better (say, a better copy, that is).

James Gurney said...

Have to agree with you there, Pedro. I did that copy back in the early 1980s. It's just 5 x 9 inches, just a color thumbnail, not really a "copy."

Dorine M Gross said...

Excellent. As a student I was taught to always credit the master from whom I copied. I taught my students to always do the same. The idea, composition and masterful painting belongs to the original creator.

Dorine M Gross said...

Excellent. As a student I was taught to always credit the master from whom I copied. I taught my students to always do the same. The idea, composition and masterful painting belongs to the original creator.

Dorine M Gross said...

Excellent. As a student I was taught to always credit the master from whom I copied. I taught my students to always do the same. The idea, composition and masterful painting belongs to the original creator.

Maywyn Studio said...

Not attaching its a copy with the original artist's name to the image itself may not violate copyright given the date of older works in the public domain, but ethically its not cool to appear to take credit for work that isn't one's own original. If no artist's name is given, then either don't use the image or site the source after you ask permission from the website owner. Better yet, Search the Internet for the artist's name. Not clearly labeling a copy as a copy puts one's integrity into question, IMHO.

When I've sketch public domain artwork I labeled it on that paper as a study of the original artist name, date and other pertinent information.

Unknown said...

I think this is a fantastic idea, instead of many masterwork copies by themselves and trying to sift for the actual painting- you'll be able to tell at a glance that it is a copy. I'm going to try this with my future master studies!

Felicity Shoulders said...

I've run across this with Renaissance works, which are often titled post-facto, and where the same artist may have done several similar works and/or several works that are all called something similar (Madonna with...Noun. Rocks, Pomegranate, Child, whatever.) It can be hard enough sorting out which is which without copies (or photoshopped versions removing elements people dislike!) clogging up the works.

Nap Tuning said...

Amen. Personally, I see no reason to post them at all.

Bekah said...

There is a Master Copy Group on Facebook. Wet Canvas also has a master copy page. I find these pages valuable. Self study, which should include, in my opinion, a vigorous amount of master copying, can be a lonely enterprise. Having a place to post and receive critique and encouragement can be a good motivator. On the Facebook page postings include the copy followed by the original artwork, so viewers can compare. I'm not sure when you post something on Facebook that it would have any kind of describer that would make it appear in a google search.