Blog Entry

Artist or Thief?

January 14, 2012 by , under Uncategorized.

One of these images is a photograph I took in Iceland in August 2010. The other is the most expensive photograph ever sold at auction (an image by Andreas Gursky that sold for $4.34 Million this past September).

And again below, one of these is a Gursky, the other an image I took of English Bay in Vancouver (also in 2010)

So does this make me a thief, a copycat, a world class artist? Truth is I wasn’t really familiar with Gursky’s work when I photographed either of these. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these images are the same. The brilliance is often in the details and there’s a perfection in the angles and balance in both of these Gursky’s that perhaps isn’t as refined in my shots. I just found it interesting as I’ve been looking at Gursky’s work how much I identify with the way he sees the world through his camera. Maybe I’ve subconsciously been influenced by his work before I was familiar with it, maybe we’re kindred spirits… or maybe I’m just an idea thief.

- I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the value placed on the works artists create after having watched the film “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble” (highly recommended).

So what do you think? Do you see the difference in value between these images? Are my shots just cheap imitations of a master? Does it matter?

Drop a note in the comments – would love to hear your thoughts.

2 Responses to “Artist or Thief?”


Comment by AmyQ.

I just read a book about this called “Borrowing Brilliance.” The premise of that book was that there are not really any new ideas ever in the purist sense – we all are a product of our environment and culture, we all are affected by forces and ideas that have come before us whether knowingly or not, and that some of the most successful and “innovative” ideas out there use what has come before. As artists or inventors we all build on and learn from what came before us collectively. In this case your creativity comes from an original place, but is shaped by the photographs of everyone who has come before you. I don’t see it as stealing at all, especially since you weren’t consciously aware of his work. I think that there are people out there in the world who see things similarly even if they have never crossed paths. I have come up with lots of ideas that I thought were totally original, and then I google it and find its already been done, even thought I had no concept of it external to my own ideas.

It does raise an interesting dilemma though – do you change your style slightly to stand out more, and avoid being thought of as a thief/too similar, or stay true to your creative impulse, even if it is really similar? Or does it just force you to push the boundaries farther?

Really interesting…

(For what it’s worth, I like yours better)


Comment by tim bissky.

like driving a brand new car that you have rarely seen on the road, now that you are driving it you recognize it more often coincidence???

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