Last year I started collecting vintage photographs again and had it in my head that I could sell downloads of the images on Etsy.
Lots of shops are doing it, they sell the images for scrapbooks, artwork, and for customers to download and put on canvas etc. I always see the same kind of disclaimer on the listings. “Not for resale” and “copyright remains with me”. Now I understand that a lot of these photographs are “orphan works” ~ a term which means no-one owns the copyright. So it’s a kind of “finders keepers” scenario and I certainly don’t want to criticise these shops. They are popular and have a lot of sales ~ so demand is out there. But something about it doesn’t sit right with me.
I don’t feel I can seize the copyright to the people in the photographs. I’m lucky enough to have found them but I don’t own them. I’m just their current caretaker. Some of the more recent pictures I have from the 40’s and 50’s feature kids that may still be alive. That makes me feel weird about selling their images. Although it may seem odd that I don’t want to sell them but will happily use them in my Photoshop images ~ I can’t explain that one!
Many of the images for sale on Etsy and e-bay are so old it’s obvious the subjects are long gone and many are of models and actresses who knew the pictures would have commercial value. However you do come across some very personal images – couples on dates, people about to go places, kids under Christmas trees, and holiday photos. I love looking at these pictures and the websites that generously share them. I can’t justify enjoying other peoples generosity and selling/watermarking mine.
So I will start posting some of mine from time to time and hope others get the same enjoyment from these as I have.
For the last week I’ve been sorting through all my old work and trying to get my online shops off the ground ~ finally!
I wanted to put a Full Stop on all the pieces that have been floating around for the last few years. I sorted out work for shops, for re-using and some to just file away. I have some really lovely vintage photos that I thought about putting on Etsy as downloads ~ I’m still in two minds about that.
Anyway, as I was going through it there was a lot I loved but it didn’t fit the general aesthetic of my current work. Part of me thinks just chuck everything online! But then I also think maybe I should be selective…I’m still mulling that over…
Looking at old work is proving to be quite interesting. Apart from seeing your progress/journey it can be great for producing new ideas and bouncing stories around.
I found some work I almost threw away but I’m now thinking of re-using it. So I’ve spent the last week, scanning, cropping, cutting out, and organising images instead of uploading to my shops.
So a bit of a “I have been doing stuff honest” lazy post today, hope everyone is having a good week!
A ridiculous amount of Inspiration has been heading my way over the last few weeks.
The more I delve into the world of Photoshop, the more I realise I don’t have a sufficient amount of photographs to work with. My skills with the camera are limited and I don’t have lots of time to take endless amounts of stock images. You can search the internet and find copyright free images to use but sometimes the licenses are a bit vague and I’m always wary of just taking what I want!
Then I found two Photoshop/digital artists that I love and found they’ve led me back to Flickr. Both Jim Kazanjian and Jane Long work digitally with images off the net. They both create fantastic worlds digitally, using lots of layers. Jane Long in particular can use up to 160 layers in one image.
To be honest I’ve not done a huge amount with the Flickr account that I set up ages ago. I created a few personal photo albums and put a few images on my public photostream. I follow four accounts (so far!)
Jane used photos from the Costică Acsinte account on Flickr. He was a Romanian war photographer who set up a studio after his discharge. His portraits of the Romanian people are beautiful and tell rich stories in themselves. Jane Long has taken some of those portraits and added another, magical spin to them. While she approached the institute that runs the Flickr account for permission the photos were uploaded to The Commons section of Flickr. The institutions that participate upload photographs from their collections that have “no known copyright restrictions”. According to Flickr this is down to numerous reasons including expiration of copyright, a legal right to let others use them, or even that they have the copyright but no intention to “exercise control”.
When you search The Commons you can even search under certain parameters – I have started searching for images that can be used commercially and allow modifications. As ever though, if in doubt, do your own research to be on the safe side!
I’d love to say that I have found a lot of images that I am planning work around and that I have started some projects. However, the Commons is one of the best internet rabbit holes I’ve ever found.
I’ve spent hours and hours browsing the photographs, I think I’ve learnt a few random things from history and I’ve definitely witnessed some amazing lives through these photos. At some point I will start some art projects…
I’ve bought quite a few arty books and magazines over the years. Books filled with lots of inspiration and techniques. A couple of them had a very cheesy “giving yourself permission” type of page.
You may have seen them. “I give myself permission to create/make a mess/be my authentic self….” etc. I always thought they were a bit daft.
“Do what you love” is something you see everywhere. But I’m going to admit that recently I have felt that what I love is really rubbish…lol. Whatever I try I’m always drawn back to collage. I feel it’s rubbish. Not when other people do but when I do it. It feels like I’m pretending to be artistic.
I love collages that other artists do. I think their imaginations and inspirations are amazing and I can look at peoples work for hours.
When I do it, it feels like I’m cheating. It’s easy and I’m having so much fun! My Etsy shop and blog has been through many incarnations and the only time I made sales was with my collages. Shouldn’t I be happy about that? I wasn’t because I felt like I was cheating. I wanted to tell people that all I’d done was cut out pictures and stick them together. My customers weren’t stupid, they knew that. But I still felt like a fraud. A fraud who looked at other artists’ collages and saw art, but couldn’t see it in mine.
Recently I’ve tried to do other things but I can’t get away from collage and I’m still learning Photoshop and having so much fun and I have so many ideas. I keep remembering a conversation with an artist on holiday in Wales a few back who told me to find my thing and “do it with Conviction!” she was so passionate she almost shouted it at me.
I think it’s all about intention and conviction. I’m intending to create art with conviction. I’m doing the cheesy thing and giving myself permission!
I’ve read enough blogs and spoken to enough artists to know that we’ll always feel insecure or even fraudulent. It won’t go away. But I’ll be doing what I love.