The other day, a colleague tells me she’s just seen some work ‘exactly’ just like mine. ‘Oh really?” I say, politely (whilst thinking something else entirely).
“Where did you see it?” I ask her.
“Along Southwark Street, I think,” she replies.
“I don’t know if it was a gallery as such,” she says.
“Well, what then?”
“I don’t know precisely – I only saw it from the top of the bus.”
“Yes, but were they linocuts?”
“Well, like I said, I was on the bus, and it was going fast and I didn’t have my glasses on.”
Really though, this whole copying thing is a bit of a nightmare – using someone else’s images is just plain wrong. Of course, there can be a fine line between using another person’s work as inspiration and copying it – but often, that ‘personal interpretation’ might not be personal enough.
And be honest, there’s not a lot you can do about it, short of challenging them to a paint-off – artists have always borrowed from each other and always will.
Paul Catherall was asked the other day on Twitter if a current poster featuring Battersea Power Station was one of his. His answer was, “not me though does look similar. Still, I don’t have patent on Battersea (much as I’d like!) ;-)”.
Absolutely. When you’re using actual places as the starting point for your work, you have to be relaxed about it – I didn’t invent the London Underground, more’s the pity.
And, looking on the bright side, you know you’ve arrived when other artists start to copy you, right? They wouldn’t bother if your work was rubbish…..