Oh the irony of pilfering the pilferer. An interesting NY Times article about Shepard Fairey yielded some interesting paradigms. He’s the artist who has been called a theif, a misappropriator of other artists work, borrowing imagery from well-known artists and their works.
The argument that immediately jumps to my mind is a question of whether it is at all possible to (or even reasonable to expect that one would) retain licence on something once it hits the mainstream. The next logical question being, can one artist control what another artist is creating (as long as that artist is not purporting him or herself to be the original)? Followed by the more existential question, at this stage in the game, can anyone (and this goes for artists, architects, fashion designers, graphic designers, advertisers and virtually anyone else trading on that which is ‘created artistically’) claim to be creating absolutely original work?
It’s a nice thought, but I think it’s certain that once your work leaves your studio (or other locus of latency) it becomes the property of the eyes who view it, it belongs to the (for lack of a better word) mainstream. And I think it’s a ridiculous and impossible quest for one artist to police the activities of other artists for the sake of guarding their ‘creative monopoly’, which leads me to my next point. Nothing now is original. And even if we go back, back, back into the dusty, barbaric annals of history, there you will find art not influenced by other art but a direct representation of life, of both the known and the unknown world.