Wednesday, April 04, 2007

April 4, 2007 Bonus Cheat Sheet Blog
Went home for lunch to finish the Ed Short vs. Black-faced Charley Bryant gunfight. I looked through my reference file for something that would illustrate the situation just prior to the fight. Something to create tension and drama. Which brings us to the subject of:

Short Cheating
Most artists are loathe to show off their "reference" materials because a.) it diminishes the artist's perceived talent ("Oh, you just copied that photograph?!"), and, b.) it usually borders on stealing, which is on the outskirts of Lawsuit City.

Here is the painting of Ed Short walking dangerous fugative Charley Bryant across the train platform at Hennessey, Oklahoma on August 23, 1891. Notice that Charley has his hands manacled behind him. Deputy Ed Short makes one mistake on this prisoner transfer and it's a fatal one.

In my reference file at my home studio is a photo I tore out of an old Arizona Republic about the Grand Canyon Railway and tourism there. I liked the steam coming from behind the main character, John Moore, director of outlaw performers, and knew that reference would come in handy at a later date. Of course, the train is too modern but I knew I could fix that.

As you can see, the design and the main figure are pretty close to the photograph (or more accurately, closer than I'd like to admit in court). As far as that goes I have always labored under the "legal construct" that if you change something 20% it's okay, it's legal and you will not get sued. I can't remember where I heard this, but I think about it a lot. Perhaps that is artist folly (or Kingman stupidity) I don't know. The photographer of the above photo is Mark Henle of The Arizona Republic and he might disagree on the 20% (Hey great photo Mark!), as might the floor of lawyers retained by The Arizona Republic. Just to play devil's advocate—in this sue happy country—there might be as many as four litigants: Mark Henle, The Arizona Republic, John Moore and The Grand Canyon Railroad. Oh, and just to make it a lottery lock: let's throw in the municipality of Williams, Arizona.

Which brings us to a bigger problem:

Pirating Artist's Copyright
As someone who lives by and off of copyright, it is amazing to me how dishonest much of our culture has become.

On Monday, one of my good friends at work stuck his head in the door and wanted to know if I'd like to check out a pirated version of the film The Last King of Scotland. I was taken aback. Why, that's stealing!—I told him with some indignation. I do not appreciate ripping off of artists, like me—I think I also told him.

Fifteen minutes later, he stuck his head in my door and said, "You didn't seem to mind the pirated version of Bob Dylan's Modern Times which I gave you last month.

Ouch! My Christian friend is right. I did take the pirated (STOLEN!) version of Bobby Zimmerman's excellent CD and I have listened to it a hundred times (BMI will probably have a good charge for me on that admission). Why did I think one was okay and the other a capital crime?! Both involve artist's creations. Weird.

If someone stuck their head in my door and said, "Hey, I just stole a Cessna, want to take it for a ride?" I would report them to Corrine "Coe" Mitchell of the DPS (Department of Public Safety). I'm not sure what all this means, but as someone who tries to be honest, and consistent, I don't like it one bit.

Onion Headline de Jour
Dead iPod Remembered As Expensive

"Venture not to defend what your judgment doubts."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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