Since we're building our new home I've been thinking about art a lot. All that beautiful wall space to fill with an eclectic mix of our favorite pieces. Along with scouring the Bayou City Arts Fest last weekend, I had the thought that it would be really awesome to bring a bit of the gritty streets indoors. I started searching sites like Crated.com for anything tagged "graffiti".
I found some interesting city-scapes featuring huge wall murals, lots of tagged walls, some train cars, and then I came across a couple of Tristan Eaton pieces. They stopped me dead in my tracks. While Tristan Eaton is one of my favorite artists, and I'd love to put some prints of his work on my walls, how did I really feel about this? I personally would rather support the original artist and buy prints from them directly. It doesn't sit right with me that someone else photographed a well known artist's work and is now selling prints of it. Does this violate copy right even though the work is on public display, literally on the street? I'd never thought about it before. It seems like a grey area. The photos I'm referencing bothered me particularly because they were close crops of the artwork. They were taken out of their street context and did not depict street scenes, only the artwork. On top of this, Tristan Eaton does occasionally sell prints of his work, though I am not sure if he ever sells prints of his public works.
I'd like to hear your arguments for or against this practice, especially if you are a graffiti artist yourself! The works are out there for the public to enjoy and sometimes photos are the only remaining record that the work was there at all. Do you think it is ethical to turn around and sell those photos online? Are there certain situations when it is o.k. and others when it is not? Leave your comments!
Find out more about Tristan Eaton and his work at his website: www.tristaneaton.net