Friday, June 06, 2008

Forgotten... Not Forgotten...

It’s Illustration Friday in more ways than one! I was scanning in another batch of pencil sketches for a client to get a jump on Toronto (since I am one hour AHEAD of EST) and have them waiting on the clients e-mail when she gets in this morning. Because of a confidentiality clause in my agreement with them, I can’t post the images in progress. That’s a bit frustrating, but at least I will be able to show the work off when it is all done!

The topic on Illustration Friday today was FORGOTTEN and I just couldn’t resist using one of my favourite designs that I created in cross stitch called NOT FORGOTTEN. This is somewhat bittersweet because today, June 6th, I had planned to be in Columbus setting up at the TNNA show. I had to pull out just over a month ago for health reasons. My back just isn’t up to the travel and lifting involved right now. I’ve even had to learn to get up from drawing to take breaks so that nothing locks. Ask any artist how hard that is when you are just trying to get something to look just right.

Creativity requires that balance with discipline. You cannot just wait until inspiration hits or your hands may not be ready to interpret that vision. I know that in sessions like this where I am drawing for hours and hours each day, my hands respond much better than if I go a day or two without practicing my craft. Being creative is as essential to me as breathing, but I sometimes get caught up in other excitements and forget that drawing was my first love.

Cross stitch became a wonderful way, just over 16 years ago, for me to bring illustrations and ideas to life with thread instead of watercolour or pencil. Then, I would create the patterns to let other stitchers all around the world enjoy stitching up their own versions.

Since many designers had done their own versions of a Noah’s Ark design, I wanted my version to include all of the fantasy creatures I felt should have been on that boat. Chalk it up to an early exposure to Peter, Paul and Mary or the Irish Rovers. Dragons and Unicorns and other magical creatures will always be part of my world, even when I don’t include them in my drawings... but they certainly took over in this one!

Sadly, the patterns themselves have become the easiest part of the stitching experience to steal. Instead of respecting the time and energy that it took to create such a design to share with the world, there are unscrupulous people out there who feel it is their right to scan in a pattern and share it with friends electronically or post it to groups of hundreds of people. We have been shutting down HUNDREDS of groups in the past 3 months alone and it does get a bit frustrating at times. What part of “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is confusing? What makes anyone think that something an artist creates should be “Free” if they see it on the web?

Those of us in art have chosen a risky profession. We share our imagination, our creativity and a little piece of ourselves in every image we create. Just because it looks like something fun and wonderful doesn’t make it any less Work. Just because society isn’t sure how creativity should be valued doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the chance to try to make a living from this without our work being stolen or copied.

Think about how boring our world would be if no one took the risk of being creative. Please think about that before you download, scan, share or use anything without an artist’s permission.