Notes from the studio / Copycats
Ever since I became commercially successful as a contemporary lyrical abstract painter (read: I sell enough to make a decent living out of it) I’ve been amazed of how many (so-called) artists have been trying to copy my style and techniques or even copy, almost literally my own paintings.
Having been working for over 25 years to give something to the world that represents my own unique vision, backed up by thousands of studio hours and studies and experiences in art, literature, music, philosophy and mysticism, I can’t but wonder how people dare to copy my hard-won style of painting and present it to the world as their own, while at the same time they almost never show any courtesy to reference it back to me as being (maybe partly) their inspirational force.
Of course, there might be something to be proud of here; I’m “making school” for some sort of “new” art form to arrive, apparently setting an example in a painting style for other people to follow. And of course, the internet definitely has something to do with it. Unknown to the past almost everything nowadays is available online to look at or listen to.
The problem is that I think most of these people don’t have any idea what they are doing. They are not artists in the true sense of the word. They are mostly and foremost in it for the money, the fame and the glory and their own best interests, looking for some sort of short cut to get their dubious desires met.
To make a living out of my deepest desire I have to sell my paintings. But to (potential) buyers, copycats might be quite a confusing factor in deciding what painting to purchase from whom.
Besides that, it is not only my paintings they copy, but they also copy my website, they copy my thoughts, pronunciations, and insights about art and living, and/or that of other acclaimed artists. They steal everything from what they see as successful artists without having a thought, vision or inspiration of their own. They copy titles I give to my paintings. They even copy my style of clothing when showing up on an exhibition.
Copycats are (logically) very worried about copyright. In all the pictures of their “work” placed on the internet and social media, they almost always very clearly pronounce their name and copyright on, or right through their pictures. As if they know that what they are doing is not right and feebly try to protect themselves. It’s weird and even a bit scary sometimes.
Another thing: hundreds of people have purchased my book (“Embracing the light”) through my website:
and months or years later I see something pop up on Facebook or whatever social media site and I wonder; that looks like a painting of mine and yet it doesn’t… That is some kind of a weird experience. It feels like theft as if someone has broken into your house and taken away your most precious thing.
On the other hand, all True Artists, I believe, are part of the “One great Art Movement” that started some 40.000 years ago with the creation of the first Cave Paintings in Paleolithic times. If you are inclined to somehow make this a better world through your art (which in my opinion is the ultimate source and drive of all artmaking) go ahead. But please try to find your own song because that is what the Universe, trying to become conscious of itself through us artists, composers, dancers, sages and prophets, desires the most.
Or, to quote the answer I got from Brian Rutenberg, NYC painter, on my question how to deal with copycats:
“Imitations are just that, pale imitations of the original. We all lift ideas from other painters, but hopefully, we massage that into our own vocabulary over time. I usually find that the copycats get bored and move on because they aren’t tapped into the source from which to make work in the first place, they are just at the end of the production line, like a band who only does cover tunes. Bottom line, I put my work out into the world and I should expect some copycats. At least I know they’re paying attention.”
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