Recently I was having a look at other wildlife artists’ websites – seeing what others were doing these days and familiarising myself with artists previously unknown to me. Suddenly I had a feeling of deja vu, a sense that I’d seen that image before. Then it struck me: I had seen it before, on another artist’s website a few hours earlier. I checked and yes, the two images were virtually identical – same animal, same pose, same lighting, same blurred background, and obviously copied from the same photograph.
Just out of curiosity I did a Google images search, and found plenty more versions of the same image.
Now copying a photograph is no crime – assuming that each artist has the photographer’s permission to use the image – but I found myself wondering “Why bother?”. No doubt each artist was technically skilled, but where was the personal experience of the subject? Why would anyone want to repeat someone else’s view instead of creating their own?
I’ve said it before, and I make no apology for saying it again: I sketch from life because wildlife does far more interesting things in real life than anything I can conjure up from my imagination.
I’d like to encourage aspiring or even experienced wildlife artists to get out there and create their own experiences. Art is fundamentally about sharing our own way of seeing the world, not appropriating someone else’s experience.