Honoring the Social Contract


Armand Cabrera
I’ve noticed some interesting ideas floating around now about what I’ve always thought of as work ethic and what I was thought to believe about the social contract. I was taught growing up that I could have whatever I wanted as long as I made it myself or paid for it. I don’t need other people’s ideas or talent or stuff. When I honor others right to make a living from their work, I protect my own right to the same. The social contract is secure. It’s a philosophy that is pretty straight forward and simple.
Yes, some people had better advantages than I did but their lives didn’t affect me and I just needed to work and focus and if I was smart enough I would achieve my goals. I would rise to the level of my abilities.  I was taught my desire or perceived need does not give me a license to steal from others.
That idea seems to be broken now. Many people seem to think that the world owes them something. These people think they are special just because they exist and that everything and everyone out there is fodder to help them achieve their goals. They would never pay for something they could steal.
 In the art world these entitlements manifest as stealing other peoples work and using it without permission or compensation. Allowing the thief to pretend to have skills they don’t actually have. With digital technology there is absolutely no excuse for using another’s work that isn’t your own since everyone is carrying at least a still camera and can shoot their own reference.
Don’t have a particular reference for a thing? You can model it. Need something more complex than you have the ability for? You can pay someone to make it for you as a 3d model or physical model. Can’t afford to pay someone? Then go without.
It’s lazy and immoral to take other peoples work without asking and or paying for it, always. No one should be asked to or expected to work for free. Need is not a justification for theft, ever.

5 thoughts on “Honoring the Social Contract

  1. I spent a few years at a small art school that focused on graphic design. From my experience with adult continuing ed students and the younger full time students or the Millennial Generation – those raised on easy access to digital imagery and instant desk top publishing. That they had no concept of plagiarism, copying and photo-shopping imagery, “bootlegging” was the common term and was considered part of the process. I figured this is the fall out of the digital age. But I always figured that steal others work have missed the whole point and will not be around for long.

  2. Well said! Thank you. I've been a victim of this sort of thing in the past and not only was I hurt by it, but it diminished the persons who did it. There were no winners.

  3. Jim I agree digital tech promotes laziness in concept. I see people spend hours looking at stuff to get an idea instead of the other way about which is coming up with ideas and fleshing them out with your own lighting poses color for mood. Unity of idea makes great art and without it its just rendered collage.

  4. Pat that is unfortunate. I have been too where a gallery was having young Asian art students copy my work for minimum wage which he could then sell at a much reduced price. They couldn't come up with the images but they could copy them and he could sell them for a fifth of the price.

    I found out about it when I dropped off some paintings when the owner wasn't there and I was let into the back room by the floor person where students were copying work of the higher priced artists in the gallery.

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