Plagiarism in Art / The Angry Printmaker

It came to my notice today that a former participant from one of my Drypoint Monoprint workshops has been plagiarizing my work to an alarming extent.

It made me wonder, is it unfair of me to be so exasperated by yet another pupil who does not understand the difference between  being inspired by another artist  and making outright copies without any thought for their own subject matter, concepts or technical application.

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Above left -Jenny Robinson and Nancy Mintz   Collaborative sculpture and Print.  Above right Student work

What recourse does a professional artist have, whose art is the result of  decades of  experimentation, experience, long hours of hard work in the studio, and thoughtful attention to  concepts and ideas, when others can make poor imitations of their work  and pass the ideas off as their own?

I do, truly, understand that novices often  need a starting point, and that often comes by emulating artists they admire, or who teach them. There is often a transition period where they must first feel comfortable with their chosen medium, before they can make the leap of faith they must eventually make to create their own, individual and original body of work.

The danger is, that in  replicating another’s work for too long and without much thought, the  line between copying and being inspired is crossed  and you end up with a meaningless  imitation.

Here are some recent examples, I will let you judge for yourselves!

IMG_6657        IMG_4528

Above left  Jenny Robinson, section of Bay Bridge/infrastructure#1  print.  Above right Student work

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Above left   Jenny Robinson ,  Hangar 1 , Drypoint (section).  Above right Student work ( full image)


Above Left Jenny Robinson  (section ) Ferris.  Above Right  Student version ( full Image)

ADDENDUM :To clarify, this problem has never arisen from college aged students, it is most often mature adults with an interest in art who should know better.

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Opening this Saturday: INK!

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Southern Graphics Council Conference in San Francisco this week

The Southern Graphics Council (SGC) International Conference is coming to San Francisco in the next few days (March 26-29), which is very exciting news for all printmakers on the west coast, as this is the first time in SGC’s history that it has been held here. I will be taking in as much as I can over the four day conference, and will post Part Two of this blog post after the dust has settled.

Meanwhile, here are a few shows that are already open that are worth visiting if you are in San Francisco for the conference.

Approaching Zero‘ at the Kala Gallery in Berkeley has a really beautifully curated (by Mayumi Hamanaka and Archana Horsting) and well thought out exhibition. All the work in this show is worth spending time with, and there are some really outstanding pieces.

Massive woodcut by Katsutoshi Yuasa (Japan)

Massive woodcut by Katsutoshi Yuasa (Japan)

Zarina Hashmi, whose work I first saw at Tate Modern in London...she's everywhere lately!

Zarina Hashmi, whose work I first saw at Tate Modern in London…she’s everywhere lately!

Here’s a bit of the blurb from the exhibition:

This exhibition investigates artists who incorporate various systematic printmaking methods while pushing the boundaries of print-based work. Each of these artists uses different printmaking methods and creates distinctive artwork. Printmaking often requires accurate and detailed manual hand labor. These artists all share a common strategy or characteristic: they master a particular printmaking technique as a foundation and then go to the very limits of their own system. Despite their machine-like systematic labor, we see unique distortions and textures created by the human hand.

'Hundred Layers of Colors' by Kouseki Ono Impossible to show how beautiful this print is - it shimmers and changes color as you walk around it

‘Hundred Layers of Colors’ by Kouseki Ono
Impossible to show how beautiful this print is – it shimmers and changes color as you walk around it

Also along side that exhibition are many works on view by Kala artists in residence.

Next, in a bit of shameless self-promotion, I want to mention a show I curated at Arc Gallery in San Francisco. Called ‘Altered States‘ this is my first curatorial venture, and it has been a really interesting and rewarding experience.

Eileen Macdonald's pinprick and etching

Eileen MacDonald’s pinprick and etching

I first approached Arc Gallery in the summer of 2013 about the possibility of staging an alternative printmaking exhibition to coincide with the SGC conference in San Francisco. Not many galleries in SF stage solely printmaking shows, and I hoped this would be the perfect opportunity to draw attention to the wealth of west coast artists working in less traditional techniques.

Nora Pauwel's and John Demerritt hanging Nora's installation

Nora Pauwel’s and John Demerritt hanging Nora’s installation

As curator, I was completely spoiled for choice, and whittling the numbers down was difficult, but I wanted 8 artists who’s work not only embraced innovation, but whose work , when shown together would combine to make a cohesive and creative exhibition.

Ellens Heck's gorgeous color wheels

Ellens Heck’s gorgeous color wheels

I personally believe that today printmaking is undergoing something of a renaissance, with many younger artists experimenting with a vast array of techniques available to them.

Since we are no longer restrained by the limited edition, anything goes now in print, from the stencils used in street art to mixed media one off prints. This new energy and new approaches make Printmaking (in my opinion) one of the most exciting areas of art making at the moment.

Jenny hanging Jesse Houldings Truck drawing

Jenny hanging Jesse Houldings Truck drawing

Installation of the exhibition was last Sunday, and all the artists involved were amazingly helpful during set up, as well as getting everything back to us on schedule.

The reception is on Thursday 27th March, from 7.00-9.00 pm.








There is so much else going on this week, so make sure you check out the SGCI conference website.

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Contemporary Art in Sydney @MCA_Australia

I recently had a lovely holiday in Australia – 3 glorious weeks of doing not much apart from walking on the beach, swimming and eating and drinking far too much with old friends and family.


When I managed to drag myself away from the beach, during a couple of rainy days, I visited the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), newly built since my last visit to Sydney 8 years ago. It is a beautiful, light filled building, dappled with sunlight and built in a stunning location, right on Sydney Harbor, at Circular Key, across the water from the Opera House. The MCA opened in 2012, bringing a much-needed addition of contemporary art to the rather touristy area of the Rocks.

The main exhibit, Yoko Ono’s, ‘War is over”…well…., less said about that the better in my humble opinion. I saw her Show at the Serpentine Gallery in London a few years ago, and I was just as underwhelmed then, so, moving on!

I was very taken with the New Acquisitions in Context Exhibition of established and emerging Australian artists, as well as and Volume One of the permanent collection, which were on show in the rest of the Galleries.

I have to admit that I liked most of what they had on show in the Galleries. There was a wide range of work encompassing most disciplines from video installations, sculpture, painting and drawing. Here are my impressions from some of the works that I saw….

Tracy Moffat’s quirky look back at all the worst jobs she had in her youth entitled, fittingly  ‘First Jobs’. The artist used images of work places from the 70’s and 80’s and inserted herself into the photographs, then hand coloured them using evocative candy colours emulating the perfect image of life from 60’s lifestyle magazines

#1 #2 #3

Gloria Petyarres’ Painting ‘Leaves in the wind’ depicts Bush medicine leaves drying on the desert floor. Descended from the Anmatyerre people, her work is inspired by the country around Utopia in the Northern territory. Working with a restrained palette, this painting created a shimmering, almost 3 dimensional effect.

#4 #5

Rebecca Baumann’s automated ‘Colour Field 2011’ is a kinetic work using flip clocks to play with a range of tonal colours, relaxing and mesmerizing to watch.


Rebecca Baumann, Automated Colour Field 2011

I have to include Gordon Bennett’s Piece, just because of his name – which is an exclamation of surprise (in English), plus it is a ‘minced oath’, which I love the sound of. But joking apart, Bennett’s work revolves around language, and the way it shapes culture and identity. He is an Australian of Aboriginal and Anglo–Celtic descent, and after 1999 he adopted an alter ego and began making and exhibiting Pop Art inspired images under the name of John Citizen. You can read more here.

#7gorden B

It was disappointing to see only a handful of Prints in the entire collection, but maybe they are waiting for Volume Two of the permanent collection to blow people away with their print collection. One can only hope!

Here are some more works from the show.


Ah Xian, China China – Bust 81 2004

#8 John Citizen #9 #10 #12

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Big Prints, Big Skies – My Printmaking Residency in Nebraska

I have just spent an intense working week as an artist in residence at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, at the invitation of Karen Kunc, Cather Professor of Printmaking. Here is an example of her work.

Karen Kunc print

I was  invited to make a print for the print club associated with the printmaking department, and had made a large etching in the months before my visit so that I could start printing as soon as I got there. I arrived on a beautiful warm , sunny day – not a cloud in the sky, and took a stroll around town. I made my way down to Karen’s new Constellation Studio. Karen and her volunteer students, parents, husbands (only one) and siblings were painting a massive mural on the side of the building – it looked stunning and I am sure will be on the Lincoln tourist itinerary once it is finished:


Constellation Studios Mural

KK1That proved to be my only chance  to look around, as I was in the university print studio from 9am to 7pm pretty much everyday for the rest of the week. I must admit to having all my preconceived notions of the mid-west changed completely by my visit. I fully expected to have an interesting and creative time, but was completely  charmed by the friendliness and of the people I met in Lincoln, where, by the way, you can buy a huge house for less than $100k..just a thought!

Cornfields - an abstract waiting to happen

Cornfields – an abstract waiting to happen

We had a very busy week, made much easier by the assistance of the printmaking students, who had volunteered for every hour of every day, and then some..I could not have had a more dedicated hard working group of people to help me print, loved them all!

Karen and Tuon

Karen and Tuon

We had a few technical problems the first couple of days, a combination of about five different things – you know what I am talking about printmaking nerds …it’s never just one thing, but printmakers live  for these moments (perverse but true!) and the joy of working corroboratively lies in the endless discussions and resolution of all things technical.


Francisco Souto (left) and students

Francisco Souto, Associate Professor of printmaking, arrived mid week and with his expert help we were on a roll.



The college campus has a wonderful display of sculpture throughout the grounds, furnished by the Sheldon Museum! They have some truly spectacular pieces dotted around! from Richard Serra to  Jun Kaneko… here are a few snapshots..the museum has an amazing collection of art as well..who knew! The Sheldon’s printmaking collection is growing as they acquire a print from each visiting artist to the Print Club.


Richar Serra

jun kaneko

Jun Kaneko

steel tree

The week ended with a dinner out with the grad students, probably the cheapest meal for 10 people ever served up, great beer, brewed on the premises and good food..a visit to the local 50’s-inspired cocktail lounge (mad men in Nebraska anyone?), and back home the next morning, on another cloudless, sunny day.


Thank you printmaking department..I had a wonderful productive time, made some good friends and can’t wait to see you all in San Francisco in March for the Southern Graphics Council Conference.

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Art on Paper in London – Saatchi and Jerwood Drawing Prize

I have just returned to San Francisco from hot, wet, cold, sunny, blustery, balmy, wonderful London, where I temporarily ran out of cash, so wound up seeing some excellent exhibitions and visited many of the  Museums almost all of which are free, yes, FREE, which kept penniless me happy  until the readies came in.

There were two exhibitions in particular I was excited to see, since they were shows of Works on Paper, which is usually rare, but it does seem that there is a renewed interested in the medium… and about bloody time I say!

Time was when you wouldn’t see a scrap of art on paper, unless it was a badly drawn anime inspired scribble, stuck to the gallery wall with blu-tac. This may be a slight exaggeration, but there was for many years, a complete lack of interest in well executed works on paper, whether drawings or prints, so it was really nice to see Paper, at the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road devote its entire, and really beautiful gallery to works on paper by contemporary Artists.


You don’t always know what to expect with the Saatchi Gallery, and its not always my cuppa tea, but I was hoping the show would focus on artist’s who could actually draw well and execute their ideas professionally as well as be provocative, and I was not disappointed. There were some really stunning drawings and installations  as well as more conceptual pieces that mine the richness and versatility of paper.

Here are some of my favorites…



The second exhibition I rushed to was the Jerwood Drawing Prize Exhibition at the Jerwood space, behind the Tate Modern on the banks of the Thames. I am not often in London when this show is on, so it was nice to see it for the second year running. Overall I much preferred last year’s show, but that’s just me. While there were some interesting pieces, I was a little disappointed with the overall selection, although there were some very thought provoking and interesting work.

I especially liked Roy Eastlands “they looked like silver birds…” a documentation of silverpoint portraits of people killed by a bomb during the second world war in Folkstone UK. There were also some interesting videos, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the winning drawing, and considering the enormous pool to choose from, it seemed lacking in weight to me. And although it is supposed to represent the best of contemporary drawing, it looked more like a magazine illustration to me, despite its size. Hey ho, maybe I’m just terribly out of touch about what is ‘Good’ art and ‘Mediocre’ art, but that’s just my personal opinion (the Independent News website seemed to agree!). I really enjoyed hanging out there as they have a lovely coffee shop. It was pouring with rain and nobody stole my umbrella that I left near the door, so it was all good. No photography was allowed, so follow this link and judge for yourselves.

I did see a nice works on paper at Tate modern, again, FREE and dry.  This print is by Ellsworth Kelly, I am posting because I had just returned from my beautiful niece’s wedding in the Lot-et-Garonne in France. Entitled Yellow/White, it was inspired by the Gironde estuary where the Garonne and Dordogne rives meet, so it was apt!


There was also a very strong display of propaganda street posters from soviet era Russia.

Russian Posters

As always in London, so much to see and so little time to see it. Here are a few more works I saw… enjoy.

Chen Zhen at the Tate modern, Cocon du vide:

Chen Zhen

Zarina Hashmi, Letters from home 2004:

Zarina Hashmi

This is whats happening at the back of the Tate…Building an even bigger bit:

Tate Modern

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It’s all happening art-wise in SF in May

Art-wise in San Francisco, it hardly ever rains but then it pours. The middle of May sees  2 major art events here (it used to be 3, but one is now defunct, which makes this weekend a little less manic), so it’s time to make the most of all that’s on offer.

ArtMRKT, after it’s success over the past couple of years of being housed in the SF Concourse, not the prettiest of buildings, has moved to a pier pavilion at Fort Mason, with it’s views of the Golden Gate bridge. ArtPad is held, as always in the very cool Phoenix Hotel, slap bang in the middle tenderloin district.

ArtMRKT and ArtPad had big openings on Thursday night. I opted for artMRKT, as I had a large work on paper showing at Kala’s booth. Kala BoothThe hoi-poloi..that’s me and almost everyone else, aren’t allowed to get in before 8pm as the 5.30-8.00 pm slot is reserved for those willing to fork over $150 for preview ticket, and therefore get first choice of all the lovley art work for sale..I wish!

We had to drive around for 20 minutes looking for parking… that had to be a good sign, then managed to park right outside. Got to the door and there was some kind of lock out situation..too many people, fear of the building collapsing and sending us all into the drink..who knows, but it was bloody chilly standing in that wind-blown queue.

Wasn’t long before we were inside though, and it was very encouraging to see so many art enthusiasts crammed into the building..made me feel positively optimistic! I thought the show this year was the best so far, very nicely hung ( well hung.. can I say that?) and a lot of work I would love to own – someday maybe.

I popped into artpad on Friday for a talk about residencies..very enlightening, and had a quick look around. It was a bit like that old joke – ‘quick quick, show me the Mona Lisa, I’m double parked’, so I didn’t spend too long in each bedroom.. I mean Gallery. The Phoenix rents out the whole hotel for the 4 days of the art fair, all beds, curtains, side tables, etc are removed, and each room transformed into a mini-gallery… very cool idea, and it works. But for my money… and since I got a free ticket (oh yes, and free drinks as well!), my personal preference was for artMRKT this year.

Here are some photos of some of the work from ArtMRKT that caught my eye, before I got sidetracked by wine and chatting to friends….

Kelly Reemtsen, Skidmore Contemporary

Kelly Reemtsen, Skidmore Contemporary

Crystal Wagner, Spoke Art

Crystal Wagner, Spoke Art

Kelly Reemtsen, Skidmore Contemporary

Kelly Reemtsen, Skidmore Contemporary

Shark's Ink, Colorado

Shark’s Ink, Colorado

Mila libman with K imperial Gallery

Mila libman with K imperial Gallery

Taro HattoriTaro Hattori

Typewriter and carbon paper at Gallery joe

Typewriter and carbon paper at Gallery joe

Nancy Mintz at Treywick Gallery

Nancy Mintz at Treywick Gallery

House by the Lake, Kim Cogan Hespe Gallery

House by the Lake, Kim Cogan Hespe Gallery

Alex Lucas

Alex Lucas

Crystal Wagner, Spoke Art

Crystal Wagner, Spoke Art

Val Britten with Ica San Jose

Val Britten with Ica San Jose

Kirk Maxon

Kirk Maxon

John Balderessi at Meyerovich Gallery

John Balderessi at Meyerovich Gallery

Alex Katz at Meyerovich Gallery

Alex Katz at Meyerovich Gallery

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