Me and my painting in the “Don’t Wake Daddy II” group show at Feinkunst Krüger in Hamburg, 2007.
Ok, so here is a very complex and strange experience I’ve had this year, told as a story both in pictures and in writing:
I won’t mention names because this story is not about attacking or creating bad blood, it’s about sharing a very real and painful experience.
So, earlier this year I found out that another artist (in my little corner of the art world) had just created a mask which was identical with the face of ‘Daddy’ from my 2007 painting ‘Daddy’s Secret’. I felt shocked, nauseas and upset. I contacted the artist who claimed she’s never heard of me and never seen my Daddy painting. I did not believe in this unlikely coincidence and felt confused. After a long discussion, the artist agreed to give me credit for the original design. After a few weeks. This mask was used as cover art for a music album and as far as I know, I was credited as ‘inspiration’ for the mask design. All was good and we were OK with the agreement. But today I found out that someone had made a tattoo, inspired by the mask and not by my painting, so the mask design has now got a life of its own. The internet is a strange place where pictures suddenly get new life and even cult status. Once again I was faced with the uncomfortable feeling of being robbed of something dear to me, something I love and feel proud of. My art is my everything, it’s my life, my work and part of my soul. I even chose art over motherhood.
I could not think of any solution to this problem other than standing up for myself. After a friendly but uncomfortable conversation with the artist, they agreed to remove all photos of the mask on social media and take it off their website.
I don’t want to cause any problems for the artist – who is still claiming they were unaware of my original painting (that is of course highly unlikely and only the Universe know the whole truth of this story). However I think this is an important thing to discuss. This can happen to any artist. I don’t know how we can protect ourselves from this?
I have learned a lot about the relationship I have to my own art, about the integrity of the characters I create. They are my family and the only thing which is truly owned by me. You can’t own people and even if you buy a piece of land you don’t really own it, but what we own, is the art we make. Something rare that has never been seen or heard before – a new addition to the world around us that will inspire others to produce their own original ideas, characters and magic. There is a fine line between inspiration and stealing and I strongly believe that a stolen piece is charged with dark energy and doesn’t carry the magic of the original piece (if you compare them side by side anyway).
This story came to a peaceful end today – and I hope that my painting ‘Daddy’s Secret will continue to inspire people out there, for a long, long time to come.