Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

6 steps to freeing yourself and your art

2015 . 01 . 29 - Comments / Commentaires (6)

I don’t copyright my art, and recently I released You Share Good, a book that talks about why I made that decision and why other artists might want to as well. What follows comes from the text. It sums up nicely how you go about remaking your art career with sharing and freedom in mind.

1) Recognize that you imitate other artists.

You need the context of all the art that came before you and of all of contemporary art in order to make your work and to have it be enjoyed by others. Acknowledge this fully and rid your brain of the copyright paradigm’s influence.

2) React positively to others copying your art.

If no one is imitating your work yet, make it happen! Sample from a friend’s art and have them do the same with yours. Figure out what you like about being imitated and dissect what you don’t like while keeping in mind the way the copyright paradigm can influence your reactions.

3) Cite your sources.

Start by talking privately about the artists who influence you if that’s more comfortable, but don’t fail to do it. This is an essential step in breaking down the myth of the genius artist whose creativity comes out of a vacuum.

4) Use Creative Commons licenses.

Even if you’re not ready yet to give up most of the rights which copyright affords you, use the most restrictive of CC licenses. Doing so not only supports this more transparent form of licensing, but also shows that you’re fully aware of what all copyright entails and that you’re interested in educating others.

5) Free your work completely.

When you get to this place, don’t forget to name your art’s freedom and telegraph it widely.

6) Enjoy the special status that all this behavior confers on you.

People will think you’re being something of a rebel and also that you are surprisingly selfless. And while questioning established paradigms is the definition what it means to rebel, it’s important to remember that, if you free your art, you’re not actually being selfless. It only appears so to a world that’s caught up in the idea that culture can be divided up into pieces and owned.

Maybe the seventh and final step in freeing yourself and your art is living in a world where the copyright paradigm has been toppled. In a lot of ways, that world will probably be similar to this one. It will likely still believe that competition is the way to get ahead, though the focus will have shifted from competing to be the most original (whatever that actually means) to being the most recognized, which is what’s really underneath all the competition today anyway.

That said, the world without copyright will still be a better place, if only because the artist’s process will have been demystified some. No longer will what we do seem quite so magical, and that means we might have half a chance at having our hard work be respected and, in that way, artists might finally manage to get paid properly.

The illustrations for the book, like the one featured in this video, were a pleasure to make, because I was inventing a new way of creating for myself.

cat and parrot

Gwenn Seemel
Making language #2
acrylic on unmounted canvas
12 x 12 inches

They’re done on unmounted canvas and they’re painted quickly. They’re what I call my “painted drawings” and they’re priced accordingly.


detail of Making language #2

To see what’s available from my studio, go here. For prints of this image, go here.

- 7 lessons learned while doing public art through the RACC
- Craving credit / Avoir besoin de reconnaissance
- On free culture and being nurtured

CATEGORIES: - English - Business of art - Process images - Uncopyright - Video -

Gwenn Seemel on Liberapay     Gwenn Seemel on Patreon

(6) Comments / Commentaires: 6 steps to freeing yourself and your art

-- cati breil -- 2015 . 01 . 30 --

Coucou Gwenn,

so refreshing !!! but it sounds to me a bit “American” way of thinking about it. In fact here in Europe, people love the magic surrounding art and more likely pay for that than for the artist’s hard work…these days this point of view is changing a bit because of the economic crisis and the hard life for all. But I think the magic still remains the idea of freedom here, the big thing to make everyone dream of another life is possible… Another dimension existing. What do you think Gwenn ? you know both continents ! kisses

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-- Aditi Dongre -- 2015 . 01 . 30 --

Nice article! I never thought of something this way.

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-- Gwenn -- 2015 . 02 . 01 --

@Cati: In the US, people say they love the magic of art as well, but that doesn’t mean they’re buying it! And you’ve said that people don’t buy a lot of art in France either, so maybe it’s time for artists to change things up a bit? smile Maybe if we reveal the hard work more, it will also emphasize the magical and inexplicable bits that much more…?

@Aditi: Thank you!

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-- cati breil -- 2015 . 02 . 01 --


here in France it seems that we’re not so “educated” to love art and acknowledge the fact that it is very important for life for society etc…people just consider it unnecessary or a “status symbol”, something for the rich ones only Pfff !!!......you see…on the one hand they drool with envy about the magic of “creation”, and on the other hand just spit on artists, those lazy ones !......but people still believe in the value of hard work, so, thinking about it you’re right, we should reveal it more ! but to be honest I don’t like the “work cult” even if I shout out loud that I do work and don’t only have fun all day long ! that my art is something I consider as a work that I feel dedicated to. I think the whole bug is about consideration. This is crazy isn’t it ? Anyway, you already changed my point of view many months ago: I hope I will improve my marketing plans, and revealing the “hard work” more is part of it smile !!!! thank you Gwenn again ! bisous

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-- Gwenn -- 2015 . 02 . 02 --

@Cati: Interesting! Your description of the status symbol of art and of the looking down on artists sounds a lot like in the US. I was hoping for more difference between the US and France in this case! And it’s true what you say about worshiping work too much as well. It can lead to a dangerous place.

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-- cati breil -- 2015 . 02 . 02 --


I feel so upset too about the way artists seem to be considered in the US as well,I also was hoping or fantazising about another context.  ~..~

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