Monday, March 18, 2013

Hey, so a short while ago I decided to enter the Columnist brief on Ideastap.

I didn't win the job (weird phrase right? that thing where the Apprentice woman sued Lord Sugar doesn't touch the weirdness that is trying to work in creative industries) so I thought I would share with you one of the 'column's I wrote for the application. Share being an important word for this topic. 

It was 500 words so I didn't come close to examining this issue properly, and it's something that still makes my head hurt when I try to, I don't actually think it's this simple. Maybe that's clear, maybe that's why i didn't get the job. 

Anyway here is it, with illustration. 

Have you seen the Samsung Galaxy Camera advert where the yellow beanied, teddy bear bearded guy photographs the picture in the exhibition, then the light sculpture on the roof, and then everyone on his unbrandedwebplatform loves him?

It makes me make inarticulate rage noises.

Not at the manipulative hipster-twee twinkly advert music, or the ‘isn’t life full of wonder and nice things when you open your eyes and look’ message. I LIKE twinkles and wonder and nice things.

I just get really grumpy at the fact that this guy seems to be taking the social networking credit for other people’s creative output. And he looks so SMUG about it. And shows no sign of saying where or who his images came from. Because who needs to add words to images?

We’ve long been told that a picture is worth a thousand words.

The way we consume images though, has changed beyond recognition since that phrase was coined. The image makers of today may be more interested in creating pictures that are worth a thousand likes, or a thousand shares, but what’s the point if their name isn’t attached?

Once your image (or poem, or video, or recipe etc) is out there in internetland you lose control over where and when it’ll end up. I’ve lost count of the number of illustrators I know who’ve stumbled across a company printing their images without permission on tote bags or similar. Totes unfair.

Privacy settings, watermarks and disabled right clicks will get you only so far, the only way to avoid people ripping you off is to not put yourself out there at all. And that’s ridiculous. If you’re casting out metaphorical messages in bottles you don’t expect them all to reach reputable vessels. It’s a trade-off and a gamble we make. And on the whole it’s worth it.

We have changed from a top down cultural consumption model, where the majority of the media received came from big powerful institutions, (be they publishing houses, film studios, record labels or art galleries), to a bottom up, top up, pass around, who knows where this came from originally model.
It’s awesome and exciting and it means we have a world’s worth of visual yummyness, cuteness and don’titmakeyerthinkyness at our eyeball tips. It means the power is back in the hands of the people to some extent, though of course our organic sharing is never far from the touches of those big players. We expect them to mercilessly exploit our awesomeness for their own ends. But that doesn’t mean we have to make it easy for them, or take it for granted that we can do the same. It’s getting easier to find out where things came from. As authors of our own culture, our great responsibility is to make sure that that culture credits its creators.

So next time you share an awesome picture, try and make sure you mention the person or organisation who made it. They may even thank you for it.

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