Happy Friday, y’all! Don’t forget to check out my new video blog channel called, “Art Teacher Says What?” where I’ll highlight the daily goings on in my art room Monday through Friday along with some funny stories that inevitably happen along the way.
Something has been weighing on me pretty heavily so, I’d like to share my thoughts on plagiarism and ownership in the art world, in light of some recent events. So… humor me.
There have been mixed opinions on this subject in regards to art over the years.
Salvador Dali said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing. “
Wu Guan-Zhong said, “If you plagiarize others’ techniques, you steal their emotions and tell your spectators a lie with your work. Works as such equal zero.”
Plagiarism is defined as the close imitation and publication of another’s work, ideas, or expressions and representing them as your own.
I would also like to start by clearly stating that I believe imitation is the highest form of flattery and when I see my viewers and friends try their hand at a painting inspired by one I’ve created it brings me great joy. The first goal of my channel is to spread my passion for art and show how accessible the medium of Acrylic Pouring can be. I love the open, generous and sharing nature of this community and hope it remains that way. We grow and learn when we are open with our techniques, materials and recipes. I have and always will share my recipe, pigments and ratios used in the description of every single video because I want you the viewer to try it at home.
However, something happened to a fellow artist that I had to speak up about. There is a new trending technique called the “ghost pour” by Julie Cutts over at Pouring Your Heart Out.
I became aware of this term when people started referring to my paintings with my middle swipe as ghost pours in the comments of my videos. I thought it very strange to all of a sudden have my paintings, with my signature composition start to be referred to by some new trendy name I’d never heard of. I searched the term, landing me on the PYHO page. I saw several thumbnails with the swipe in the middle, her earliest being the beginning of September. I have done this middle swipe composition since last winter as most of you guys know and as you can see in my video from early December of 2018.
BUT her work reminded me much more of a fellow artist’ work, Cathleen Ozmore at Coz Creations. Cathleen has been a supportive viewer of my channel and has even visited and purchased one of my paintings back in September. Cathleen learned from me and was inspired to try the technique but she took it in her own direction, chose her own colors, added her own embellishments and changed my approach to an alternating swipe that had great results! She named them “Ripple Swipes”. She doesn’t have a channel yet but a strong following on facebook and is working hard to promote herself on social media. Her ripple pours got a HUGE response.
When I noticed the resemblance to her work on Julie’s channel, I texted Cathleen and she shared her story. And it goes like this;
Julie at PYHO contacted Cathleen asking for the info on her technique and recipe. Cathleen was honored to share as she, like most of us, does not have a problem with sharing. Artists have copied other artists for centuries to learn from them and to grow. That is not the problem. Cathleen was excited that this big channel admired her “Ripple Swipe”, that they wanted to learn from her and take it in their own direction. Cathleen recorded a demonstration video just for Julie Cutts explaining everything she did to produce her Ripple Swipe paintings and shared it to Julie’s PYHO facebook page.
But Julie Cutts renamed Cathleen’s technique as “Ghost Swipe” with little or no mention of her in the resulting PYHO YouTube videos despite using Cathleen’s colors, her composition, and her technique down to a T. So now this technique is out there on this huge channel with much more exposure and Julie Cutts “forgets’ to mention Cathleen at all in subsequent quote unquote “ghost pour” videos, UNTIL Karen at “Waterfall Acrylics” and a few others call her out on it. Cathleen posted her painting on facebook, freely sharing all the info and the very next day Julie copied the painting and made a video, renaming the technique. She did this five times! Mentioning Cathleen minimally.
For Karen at Waterfall Acrylics to call Julie Cutts out took guts considering the loyal viewership Julie has on her PYHO channel vs Karen’s own channel. PYHO put out an emotionally charged video, not apologizing but tugging at her viewers heart strings over being the victim of a hateful attack from Karen at Waterfall Acrylics and within days, Karen’s channel lost 800 subscribers.
I understand the risk that I am taking here today. The same thing might happen to me. I might lose a lot of subscribers by putting this information out here, but I have to speak out when I see something that is not right. We have to stand up for each other.
It reminds me of a scene from a movie I can’t quite recall; The assistant is trying to scramble up the ladder at a big corporate office, working her butt off to get there. She has the heart and the talent to get there but is looking for the next big break. Then the Junior Vice President, assigns her a research report to be done at the last minute to be presented at the big meeting. The assistant stays up till the crack of dawn pouring over the data, producing the best research report this company has ever seen. She misses the taxi and runs to work, getting splashed by a bus and breaking a heel, finally passing off the report to the JuniorVP, only for the cover page to be ripped off and replaced by one with the JuniorVPs title and credit of authorship and passed along to the Executive Committee with little to no mention of the assistant’s contribution.
It is an abuse of power. That is what it is. It is an abuse of power. Julie at PYHO changed the name of someone else’s technique, taking ownership of it and it’s not right! That’s where I have the problem. She changed the name “Ripple Swipe” to “Ghost Pour”. She came back in later videos and begrudgingly named Cathleen and myself but never acknowledged that she changed the name of the technique.
Maybe you’ve gotten to this point and you’re thinking what’s the big deal? Ghost Pour / Ripple Swipe, who cares? But if this happened to you, as you were trying to scramble up the social media ladder (which many dismiss as meaningless but is a legitimate form of marketing and promotion these days), thinking about starting your own channel and working towards potential extra income, sharing your work freely and someone not only copies you but renames it and “forgets’ to give you credit, wouldn’t you think it a big deal? If you truly care about this community of artists then you want everyone to improve and succeed. There are videos on YouTube with over a 100 million views. We don’t have to steal the credit from each other. When someone is at the top with over 100k subscribers and still steps on the little guys to stay there, it’s not right and I’ve got to point that out.
In closing, I want to make clear that I share my recipe, brands, ratios and pigments freely because I want people to try this themselves. I want people to learn to be artists. I am an art teacher! I am a public school art teacher! That’s my full time job. I am here to teach and spread my passion and to show that art is fun, cathartic and easy. So please continue to send me your pictures of your lovely paintings. If you are using my exact colors, technique and recipe, GREAT! That’s how you learn! If you have a huge channel, plenty of success, fishing for new ideas, come on! That’s fine too. Just don’t rename my work and take ownership of it or anyone else’s.
I love to see what you guys are making. I am super excited that this composition with a swipe in the middle is taking off so well. It is a strong composition because it uses pouring as a process towards abstract landscape, that’s why it’s appealing to everyone. This has been my personal goal as an artist for over a year now, to move towards Abstract Landscape. I wasn’t expecting it to take off as an actual trending technique though. It is not a new technique though. It’s just a swipe, a swipe starting in the middle. Swipes have been around forever, y’all. Swipe Away! Learn from each other and treat each other well.