Teaching vs. Keeping Trade Secrets


It is often said the art world is exceptionally cutthroat. If you look for it, evidence can be seen from corporate offices to craft fairs. There seems to be a constant squabbling over the need to come up with the next best seller. Designs are stolen, replicated, and the thieves point fingers of copyright infringement with the original designer. It can really be brutal out there.

When Artists Attack!

Yet there is never a shortage of aspiring artists out there trying to figure out how to get the images of creativity out of their brain and into reality. So what should you do? Help out a fellow artists or leave them to find out the hard way? We’ll go into two different ideas and related pro’s and con’s.

1. Isn’t That What College Is For?

A good percentage of us went to further our education in some way. It can be really frustrating for someone to come up to you and expect you to show them everything that took all that money and time to learn. In classes they would be, theoretically, learning from the basics up from a collection of professionals being paid for their time to teach. Not to mention, not all college experiences are positive. It can be hard to see why they’d be exempt from all of the trials and hurdles of attaining a degree.

Come to college, it’s full of happiness…we promise

The Glass Half Empty:

With the cutting of the art departments in many colleges, the quality of the education you could be receiving has gone down in many areas. This may be because of lower quality of teachers or a decreased budget for supplies. It is hard work and not always containing classes you want to focus on. In some cases, the skills and techniques are already present and the learning is minimal.

The Glass Half Full:

Whether a University or a Technical College, attending classes can be a huge help to an artist’s career. You dedicate a great deal of time (and money) to focus on learning how to work with color, different tools, presentation, and an arsenal of techniques. You’ll get pushed to go outside of your comfort box to expand your skills and become a better artist, learn to work with harsh deadlines, and gain experience. Unlike learning on your own, your tuition covers the materials that you’re learning your mistakes on, as well as someone to help you fix them next time. As a final congratulations, you get a degree so future employers can see that you’ve completed your trials with flying colors; and that counts for something compared to an applicant with no degree.

Outside The Glass:

Whether it’s the financial aspect, the concentrations available, or the classroom atmosphere that is intimidating, college isn’t always for everyone. If one can manage it, there are few things that compare as far as experience outside of the workplace go. However, if research isn’t done on different schools before applying, there’s a greater chance of getting stuck with the short end of the stick. There is always a chance for poor experience and difficult teachers, but that is hardly different from the work force.

2. If I Show Anyone My Techniques, They’ll Just Copy It!

One of the worst feelings in the world is spending time and effort to create a piece of art; only to have someone copy it. It doesn’t matter if they just post a photo to friends or sell it at lower rater, the hurt and frustration is just the same. It is natural to want to protect the integrity of your creative genius (as well as your ego)

I saw what you did there…

The Glass Half Empty:

Putting your techniques out there is a good way to lay bait for lazy artists to copy and claim for their own. Both of us were actually hurt very deeply by a beloved family member with this very subject, so it is very personal to us. Even posting photos of your work online is a risk for art thieves. One way to make sure your work stands out is to minimize the number of pieces that mimic your own designs. Every artist should be pushed to find their own inspirations. Hiding more of the particulars of you work will force others to work a bit harder to reach where you have. Perhaps even help weed out some of those lazy copycats when they realize how much work they have to do.

The Glass Half Full:

Think of how many people helped you along your creative endeavors. Now think of how many of those people you actually employed to do so. How many YouTube video tutorials have you watched? How many times have you asked friends to show you tips? Sharing bits and pieces is how the art world grows as a whole. The more you put your work out there, the more people will recognize your work. You also have the potential to gain more traffic to your work if you have tutorials. No matter how original we feel our work is, it is a beautiful combination of our inspirations though life. Nearly every artist has copied at least one technique, or one design, or one piece of art in their explorations.

Outside The Glass:

Nobody wants to see their art stolen and new artists have a tendency to get over-excited with a new technique or idea when it comes to recreation. It is a normal creative process. There is nothing wrong with pushing an new artist to find their own way and there is nothing wrong with lending one a helping hand. The main issue here is direct copy and sale by another person. As an artist, it is always up to your own discretion how much about your own techniques you disclose. No matter how many statements you put out or warnings, there will always be an art thief waiting in the wings. Being hurt hasn’t stopped either of us from helping others learn new techniques and tips, but we are more hesitant to show the details of anything we feel personally close to. Don’t let the bad seeds of the world jade you against the rest of the wonderful people out there, just let them be a constant reminder to be cautious. (If you click our images, we link to all images that are not ours to give credit to the original artists)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *