Painting Studio

I read this post on Artworld Salon and had to do some heavy thinking. The post concerned the fact that there are groups such as the Oil Painting Studio that exist in China that are experts at copying oil paintings. It really didn't hit home how upsetting this could really be until I read this in the comments...

"This Just in from Andrea Claire in New York.

I am a painter but work part-time for a large-ish design firm in NY that specializes in hospitality, casinos, restaurants etc. I was working on a 5 billion (yes, that’s a B) dollar project recently in the office: a casino in Singapore. My firm was contracted to do the interiors. There is an art consultant on the project but as the interior designers we can suggest what we are interested in seeing in the spaces. As an artist I was excited about this, thinking that I could have some input, maybe get some good art in the place. However, what I learned, with a wink and a nod, was that the “art consultant” would be taking the images we suggested and have the work copied by art factories like this one in China, at a fraction of the cost to the client…"

WoW. That opened my eyes. Immediately I thought of the people that are creating DVD's and CD's, our film and musician cousins. They have been facing this same kind of mentality for awhile now in Asia. It's a common thing and something in the news constantly. It really sucks to think that you can spend all sorts of time, energy and creativity coming up with a really interesting oil painting, and someone skilled on the other side of the world can so easily steal your thunder...and in a roundabout way your bucks, too. Paint is paint, and canvas is canvas. If 2 artists are compared, one way to compare them is by their technique. Certainly, techniques can be replicated. So what remains to set the 2 apart? The idea is what will be unique to the individual and that's just the gray area we are always discussing here in the United (Commercial) States.
Makes me think of how collage fits into this paradigm. The myriad of objects and ephemera that are used in a professional or fineart collage are not so easily mirrored and copied. It would be much more difficult task for one to replicate the textures of century old documents, vintage photos, rusted metals, and Spencerian handwriting! I am comforted by this, but not by much. I love to appropriate things, but I really do question myself about how I would feel if a Chinese group copied my work verbatim. I would probably be pissed off.

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