From a range of persepctives, several speakers at SOFA Chicago (including Susan Cummins, Garth Clark, Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos) emphasized that critical writing and dialogs are vital to raise the consciousness of craft media and that visual communication with quality photographic images is an essential component.
The importance of great photographic images for your art or craft along with adequate documentation was stressed by Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos, authors of the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. When starting the book they thought they would be overwhelmed by the quantity of images and the task of deciding which photos to use in their very important book Makers.
However, it turned out that the images in the book were often chosen from which images were available and acceptable, rather than from an excess of images. How can it be that an artist's or maker's entire body of work, a lifetime of artistic exploration, is represented solely by which image can be found? @%!#!!!!
During the same day of lectures, Garth Clark raised the problem of some artists not allowing images of their work to be used in print or lectures out of concern that such use might negatively affect their branding or identity as an artist. I recommend you read the previous two posts:
I believe that it should be a shared responsibility for artists and makers to support growth and "the free exchange of ideas in a visual culture"* by allowing images of our work to be used for critical writing and lectures (without requesting monetary compensation). By far most critiques are net positives. But if not, Oscar Wilde said it best, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."
So always have great photos ready. The quality of photographic images of your work often reflects the quality of the work itself.
To obtain the maximum mutual benefits, support the arts community by freely sharing your great images for inclusion in writing, discertations, lectures, books, and magazines. Let's help make valuable contributions to the community with the very best of photographic images of our work.
P.S. More information about the issues surrounding photographic images in digital age will be presented on May 28, 2010 during the Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG Conference. Stay tuned for more information about Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.
DATE: May 28, 2010 TIME: 9:00 to 12:00 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion) LOCATION: The Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Ave, Seattle, WA.
I love Thanksgiving. No presents, no guilt, no religion -- just food, friends, and family (my children home from school). It all begins by selecting the freshest produce, buying the turkey and trimmings. Then baking the pies, or in my case, a special birthday cake every year for my daughter.
The turkey goes in early Thanksgiving morning and people begin arriving early afternoon while the fragrant cooking smells permeate the house. My favorite tradition is creating a theme for the Thanksgiving table. It's kind of a temporary and fleeting artwork. This year it is green, offset with grey, black, silver, and white.
To see pictures of my Thanksgiving table for 2010, be my friend on Facebook. I've posted the new photos for this year in the Thanksgiving 2010. Look for other albums of other Thanksgiving themes from the past few years.
This is the one day that I truly feel grateful for my family and friends, and giving thanks for being able to work as an artist.
On November 18th I wrote to Garth Clark via email to thank him for his comments about the previous post on ASK Harriete. We were discussing the issues surrounding the importance of photographic images in creating a dialog and critical discourse within the arts and crafts community.
Many issues surround the use of photographic images. So in an effort to bring this discussion into a more public forum, Garth Clark agreed to a post of our email conversation.
Garth Clark is a noted author and lecturer who has lectured across the U.S. I have listed a few of his many books on the right column of this blog as affiliate links for your convenience.
HARRIETE email text is in black. GARTH Clark's email text is in steel blue.
HARRIETE: Thanks for your comment [on the previous post on ASK Harriete]. I am glad to hear your point of view directly rather than filtered by my notes and memory.
Trying to be organized here …. It seems that there are three issues: Issue#1. Hampering versus encouraging ”legitimate scholarly or critical usage.” Publishing books and articles including images for “legitimate scholarly or critical usage” should definitely be encouraged. This is the reason I wrote the previous post about this topic. The arts and crafts will grow and develop by expanding such discourse. I would like to encourage authors, publishers, artists and makers to all cooperate in this endeavor. We all benefit.
GARTH: Encouragement is not enough. See comments below. It has to be a legal option for the writer.
HARRIETE: Issue #2. Copyright protection and artists’ rights to control images of their work. I could never endorse that artists abdicate their rights of ownership of the work they created. If they don’t see a benefit to themselves or their community for participating in someone's “usage” it is a loss for them. That is their right, whether anyone else agrees with them or not. Yet, I hope that it is clear that in the vast majority of situations, I firmly believe that the artists benefit by granting permission (even without direct payment) and being included in a publication.
GARTH: I agree but with an exemption. My free speech as a critic should enable me to voice my opinion and illustrate the object of my criticism with or without the artist's permission so long as it does not constitute commercial usage. It cannot be "by permission only" because my experience in real life is that artists are into free speech for themselves but not when someone wants to question their work. So to think that they will just cooperate is naïve.
HARRIETE: Issue #3. Use of images for commercial enterprise. While the premise of books and articles may be “legitimate scholarly or critical usage,” my understanding is that someone is selling those publications. Whether or not anyone makes a profit, such use is a commercial enterprise. For example, book publishers sell educational textbooks but are still required to obtain permission to publish copyright images. Even if profit is not the primary motivation, the author or publisher is still benefiting from the use of artists' images in the publication.
GARTH: This defeats the whole purpose. The craft world is so concerned that someone might be slipped a buck or two and they will not. How can criticism be disseminated without someone being paid, a publisher, a critic, a photographer. The point is whether one was making a critical statement about the art or trying to exploit it for profit.
Do you know what a reviewer gets paid by a daily newspaper for a review, $130. In many cases what the writer gets for writing a piece is less than what the artist receives for copyright fees. Current fair usage already mandates limited use of the imagery. If I were to write an entire book on an artist, pro or con, that would be a violation. But if in a text with 200 images I needed to reproduce two photographs that were essential to the critical argument, that is fair usage.
And that does not give wholesale permission for anyone else to use the image thereafter. No primary right has been lost. And it's not that artists use this to control copyright in a fair and open manner but often to control content (i.e. smother dissent with threats of lawsuits). I find that antidemocratic and an affront to the supposed open exchange of the aesthetic experience for which the art world purports to stand.
What this has resulted in is that independent book publishing is on its way out. Over 90% of the books you see on artists today are artist sanctioned volumes (often with fees waived because its to their benefit) that are paid for upfront and in full by their gallery, a sponsor, collector or their estate. Publishers are too scared to cross this line, so all we get now is coffee table PR. Don’t you think something has been lost?
I would warn younger artists in trying this ploy. Publishers simply exchange images for which a fee is requested with those of artists who make no charge. So unless you are crucial to the document, you could find yourself edited out by the accounting department.
But before you get your crafters smock in a twist, bear in mind this applies ONLY to LEGITIMATE critical writings. And there are already some guidelines. Books such as Lark are not critical studies and would not be exempt. I am arguing for a very narrow exemption on the correct side of free speech.
HARRIETE: So an exchange of benefits seems like an opportunity. Let the two parties negotiate. Hopefully, both sides see the mutual benefits of working together (with or without cash compensation), but if they don't agree, both must walk away empty handed. I think it would be heavy handed to "amend the law" to assure that one side always wins.
GARTH: And as so often happens in the arts with “enlightened” legislation to protect the artists such as 5% resale fee to artists, 99% of the benefit goes to the superstars. If you are going to pay for photographs, the bulk of that budget is kept for the Koon's and Hirsch’s of the world because they have the greater bargaining power. (Although Koons was very gracious in allowing me to include his work in my recent Metalsmith piece without cost.)
And it gets worse because in some cases one has to pay the museum that owns the piece, the photographer who shot it, and the artist. Three charges! That bill can come to over $1500 per image! Bear in mind that almost nobody makes big money off art books. So while it may fit into your commercial use bracket, neither the publisher nor the author earns enough for a week in Monaco. And what books do in developing audience for artists is immense. Copyright fees are now strangling the independent book publisher. Major artists will not feel any pain because they self-publish. Lesser artists (financially speaking) will become invisible.
Thanks for giving this subject some air.
HARRIETE to the readers: This discussion is just beginning.
Do you have any comments or questions that you would like to add?
Does this issue impact only the rarefied artist or the entire community?
If you are paid for using images of your work, is your photographer going to expect additional compensation?
I personally wonder who decides what author or document fits into the category of "LEGITIMATE critical writings."
Are we opening a Pandora's box with this discussion or can we arrive at a broad consensus?
The previous post discussed the lecture by Garth Clark at SOFA Chicago and his tour of Metalsmith Exhibition in Print: Neo-Palatial(published by SNAG). Clark concluded his talk by commenting on a hot button topic. He suggested that images of art and craft should be made available copyright free for the purpose of supporting and expanding critical writing and discourse.
A rather radical idea. But as I understand it, artists sometimes deny use of their photos to writers. Such artists commonly rationalize this behavior for two reasons:
1) ARTIST CONTROL OF BRANDING OR IDENTITY Some artists don’t want photos of their work used in a non-approved context. In other words they want to control how their work is seen, who is writing about their work, what is written about their work, which publications the article will be in, etc. The artists want complete and absolute control over their identity (or "brand") as an artist or maker. I have heard that this is a small, but growing problem.
2) ARTISTS EXPECT PAYMENT FOR IMAGES Some artists want to be paid for the use of photos. However, writers rarely have much of a budget for an article or book, much less extra money to pay for the use of an image. Yet some artists are asking upwards to $1,000 per image -- and consequently, end up with no deal at all.
This problem was described by Garth Clark as hampering writers, authors, and lecturers to generate a dialog and critical thinking within the art and craft media. I see his point, and agree with his intent. However, I don't see a need to stop using the fundamental copyright law that protects artists' work.
It would be much better for the arts and crafts community to share images of our work with our permission and free of charge. We collectively have much more to gain by fostering greater awareness within and beyond our community. It is unproductive to worry about the minuscule possibility that your reputation might be impacted by one writer's point of view. You may be surprised, but normally, both you and the community generally benefit from free flowing dialog. Open the door to the possibilities.
There have been plenty of times when I've been surprised by the comments of an author. It may or may not have been negative comments or critical evaluation. Misrepresentation of my work with an incorrect interpretation or description is a common problem.
Get over it! Anytime your work goes out into the public forum, this is a risk. It may be annoying, but it is not fatal. It is more valuable that people see and hear your name and the discussion. They wouldn't remember slight errors, or recognize mistakes. So I suggest that you be bold, brave and ready for an adventure.
Next week: The importance of quality images and documentation of your work to expand the critical dialog.
Garth Clark spoke early on Friday morning at SOFA Chicago 2010 presenting an audio visual excursion into his recent curatorial tour de force Metalsmith Exhibition in Print: Neo-Palatial. The lecture was titled, "Peering Over the Palace Wall: The Neo-Palatial Aesthetic in Contemporary Art."
If you aren't familiar with Exhibition in Print it is a special annual issue of SNAG's Metalsmith Magazine that is supposed to be a virtual exhibition. I have always loved the idea of this annual issue. Considering the effort and cost of sponsoring a physical exhibition (e.g. staff, storage, insurance, shipping, and installation), Exhibition in Print is a fabulous altenative.
Exhibition in Print can present a "no holds barred" theme with minimal risk and travel anywhere with no limits. Sometimes it's great, especially when it takes a risk. Other times it is boring if it follows the status quo. It has been a little bit of everything over the past fourteen years.
The most recent Exhibition in Print was a remarkable issue. As guest curator, Garth Clark actually structured the magazine text and images like a tour of an exhibition. Through his words and images you can find yourself immersed in a virtual palace.
But, beyond looking at the images on the magazine pages and reading between the lines in the text, every artist and maker can learn an important insight. Garth Clark approached the the complete layout, text and content as a bold, inventive adventure. All previous issues of Exhibition in Print were simply catalogs of work. In contrast, Clark shaped an entire experience. He had an idea and he brought it to fruition without precedent. Nothing selected in this issue was average or ordinary.
And THAT is just the point. So much around us is ordinary, average, mere reinterations of other people's ideas, following the status quo. To really stand out and create excellance, we need to create some- thing never seen before, something that breaks the bonds of self-imposed limits. You must step out of your comfort zone. A really simple idea, so much harder to BE, yet so liberating once achieved.
At the end of his lecture Clark said that it was now going to be an actual exhibition. Wow! Maybe even a book! Garth Clark creates magic one more time.
Garth Clark raised one more issue...a real hot button topic about copyright of images. Stay tuned for Thursday's post.....
Were you at the lecture? Did you read the Metalsmith Exhibition in Print: NeoPalatial? Please feel welcome to leave your comments.
In the effort of full disclosure, Emiko Oye has worked for me as a studio assistant for 13 years, and Elliot Gaskin was a summer intern 2009.
The first lecture event at SOFA is almost always the SNAG Emerging Artists Series. It is worth getting up early, before the regular SOFA show opens, to see this series of three short lectures. Most likely the names and work will be unfamiliar, literally an "introduction" to three emerging artists new to the art jewelry scene, just like the title says.
The works of all three clearly deserve recognition, but, Adam Grinovich gave a fabulous PowerPoint!!!! This was 15 minutes that flew right by. Grinovich asked provocative questions about the role of jewelry and did not toss out pat answers. He defended his question after question format because "answers are premature so early" in his career.
Questions were asked one word at a time, overlayed on top of images. This was a very stylized technique, but I appreaciated his unique and fast paced approach. This was NOT a death by PowerPoint, but a great WAKE UP for the morning.
Questions included: "Who the F#@% are we?" "Who is wearing Jewelry?" "What difference do we make?" "How do we use jewelry to express a feeling?"
I loved, loved, loved that Grinovich was bold enough to give his lecture with such a unique appearance and style. His voiceover was crisp and rapid fire. You HAD to pay attention! You WANTED to pay attention! His Web presence hasn't quite caught up to his live performance, but take a look at the work of Adam Grinovich on Klint02 (which does not allow images to be "picked up").
The other presentors showed very interesting work, but in the standard PowerPoint artist monologue.
Image #1 [... I like ... blah, blah, blah] Image #2 [. . .then I . . .chatter, chatter] next [ . . . so then I . . . prattle, prattle]
Their work was interesting and I even took notes on their commentary, but the contrast in styles struck me as an important lesson. These other lecture performances were not as memorable and (right or wrong) this impacts how I remember their work. Why?
A picture is worth a 1,000 words. So don't just tell us, show us. For example, if your inspiration or influence came from your grandfather who made shoes....show us a picture. This picture on the right was found on life.com. A picture of your grandfather (or someone like your grandfather) making shoes would be so much more memorable, emotional, connected.
Pick up the pace, bring visuals that reinforce your statements, and share your passion.
Be Unique! Separate yourself from the podium and step into the limelight with an exciting lecture as memorable as your work.
SOFA Chicago was last week (Nov. 5-7). SOFA stands for Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art. From the preview opening on Thursday night through closing on Saturday, I tortured myself walking (on concrete) through the enormous hall looking at a vast quantity of items.
If you've never experienced SOFA, the premise is that galleries bring their best (or most sellable) work for review by a huge audience including students, artists, collectors, and the general public.
The reality of SOFA is that the major agenda is to sell, sell, sell. This is a art/craft show on "steroids."
In a typical museum or exhibition, the value of the work is how each piece contributes to the concept of the show. At SOFA, the value of the object is strictly in the price. Most items have a price listed with the title. A few objects have no price, as in "if you have to ask, you can't afford it." Oh well, ...it is a real experience.
The best part of SOFA this year was the lectures on Friday. A spectrum of topics that were not to be missed! Too much to handle in one post. So, in the next few posts, I'm going to digest a few of the pressing issues and "hot button topics" in the art/craft world.
I have 1,000's of images . . . and more keep coming. Managing my digital images can be a chore, but I've found one method that has saved the day over and over ... the file name to each image is my code that helps keep them organized and let's me find the right image quickly.
You can create your own code, but here are a few suggestions and examples of my method.
When creating a code for your image file names, "think" like a computer. For any group of photos that you want to keep together put them in a folder. Then the first few words should be exactly the same so that the computer's search and sort functions can help you. Toward the end of the file name, add your special codes that distinguish one photo from another within the group.
You can approach your art career as "ready for action" or as a wishful thinker. Being prepared enables you to take advantage of every opportunity. Last Tuesday's post offered a couple of examples of how being prepared with quality photographic images can mean extra visibility in lectures, online or print publications.
So what image sizes and formats should be "ready to go?"
In my experience of thirty years, standards come and go, but for the last few years, the following is my standard for being prepared with my photographic images:
- a full size TIFF - a large JPG - a web site JPG.
Let's go into more detail on each.
full size TIFF Your full size Tiff is your master image. It should be 300 dpi (dots per inch) and 15-32MB file size. This master image is your largest, highest resolution image ready for print media.
I rarely keep the full size TIFF on my computer. It takes up too much room. So most of my TIFF images are stored on CD's.
If you need to create a specially sized image for uploading to an online application, start with your original TIFF and covert it to the required size and format.
large JPG JPG's are compressed images. The fact that JPGs are compressed (reduced file size) means that you can email and store large images. The downside is that the compressed image is reduced in resolution quality. Every time you edit a JPG, you lose some of the original information, reducing the quality of the image.
Use your master TIFF images to create new JPGs. I usually keep one large JPG in my computer ready at a moment's notice for an opportunity. (This large JPG may be 2 - 5 MB.)