Respecting Artists

Alex Kim, Staff Writer

Many people may have attended the recent Art Exhibition in the MPR room that was filled with lovely paintings, ceramics, drawings, and other types of visual art. Here, I saw and heard many of the same things that I sometimes read on the Internet, and I realized that viewers sometimes, although perhaps unknowingly, disrespect visual artists.

Many artists use art as a form of expression and do it because it is something that they love. Because of this, their art may include their interests, thoughts, and beliefs, which can be very personal to them. Thus, it’s important to respect their privacy and allow them to choose what they wish to show and what not to show to the public. I often feel and know many other artists feel this way when someone asks if they can look through a sketchbook. Since sketchbooks are used to experiment and hash out ideas, it may sometimes be uncomfortable or embarrassing to let someone see all of their contents. Thus, while artists love when people show interest in their work, it is always more polite to ask first and accept the work they decide to or decide not to reveal.

If you love someone’s art, leave a comment about what you love! Like it. Retweet it. Share it with other people. Artists will appreciate the support, but remember to keep comments kind. Do not compare the artists to each other in a negative manner, and don’t try to give unwanted criticism. Some artists do ask for constructive criticism, but if they do not, it is typically not appropriate. In addition, many artists change their art style through the years as they gain more experience and find what they like to do best. They may even move on to interests that do not match yours anymore, but allow them this room to grow and let them create whatever they wish.

In the age of the Internet, artists have found new ways to share their art with people all over the world, but with it comes a huge issue: art theft. Because of the nature of social media, it is too easy for people to steal artwork even if there is a watermark on it. You may have seen this before as there are many accounts that are dedicated to reposting other people’s art. They may not have bad intentions and only wish to share art that they love, but many times, the art is reposted without credit to the original person. This simply takes attention away from the original artist who should be the one receiving the acclaim. In addition, without credit, it seems as though the reposter is the one who created the art. Sometimes, artists are okay with reposting as long as they are credited, but many are not. Thus, one should always ask for permission to use someone’s art. In some more extreme cases of art theft, people sell other people’s art for profit. This may be on print, posters, t-shirts, bags, or other types of merchandise. Other times, someone may remove a watermark from a picture and claim the art as their own. If you ever see this, it is extremely helpful to report it to the original artist and ask the reposter or seller to take down the post or product.

Art is something that takes much time and effort, and since many artists are students or working full-time jobs, it is something that they do in the little free time that they have. Thus, be respectful when requesting and commissioning art from them. If you would like the artist to create someone for you, ask if they are accepting commissions at the moment. Since it is possible that they are busy with other projects and work, they may not always have time to make art for other people. In addition, they may also turn down a commission if they do not think that they are a good fit for your request. If they accept, however, you must be willing to pay what they ask. Do not try to bargain with them as they are the ones who should decide how much their time and art are worth, and do not try to offer things such as “love”, “friendship”, and “pictures of my dog” as payment. It will likely offend and frustrate the artist. When working on the piece with them, try to provide as many details as possible. Sending some reference photos for things that are difficult to describe will help as well. Overall, have fun while communicating with them, and be sure to send thanks when the work is finished!

It takes many years of practice and hard work to get many artists to where they are today, and much of their art is on the Internet or displayed in exhibits made for free for people to enjoy. So make sure to show visual artists lots of support and appreciation for the work that they do by being understanding and respectful.