Posted by: Liz Massey | March 12, 2009

Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for March 12, 2009


Illustration courtesy SXC.

Pawning Your Soul: An Annie Leibovitz Tale
Visual Perspective blog tipped me off to an incredibly sad New York Times article concerning photography icon Annie Leibovitz’s borrowing $15 million from Art Capital Group, which is essentially a pawnshop that resells an artist’s work if they default on a loan. The truly terrifying thing about this story of debt and creative output is that Leibotvitz may never again profit from her amazing work. As Visual Perspective blogger Bec Thomas tells it:

“(Leibovitz) used as collateral her 3 townhouses in Greenwich Village, and country house, and every one of her photographic copyrights, negatives, and contract rights … (and) she pawned her future copyrights right along with the past copyrights …

“(U)ntil this loan is paid off, this art pawn shop owns every click, snap and pop of her shutter. Essentially Art Capital Group owns Annie Leibovitz inside and out until she comes up with $15 million to buy it all back. The scary part about this is the scope—if Annie Leibovitz defaults on this loan, then she will never gain ownership of her photos, possibly for the rest of her life.”

Although most of us cannot relate to the scope of her money problems, Leibovitz’s actions with her artworks are a very real cautionary tale in this current economic meltdown, fueled as it has been in large part by leveraged debt.

Speaking of copyright…

If Leibotvitz’s story has you worried about who owns and uses your creative work, there are a couple of very good resources to keep up on the issue.

Plagiarism Today is a site targeted at Webmasters and copyright holders regarding the issue of plagiarism online. It has a blog which covers the changing face of online copyright, helpful stock letters you can send to anyone you find plagiarizing your work, and a handy list of copyright myths.
For finding those who would claim your work as their own in the first place, there is Copyscape, which uses a simple Google-like search engine interface to help you find copies of your web content online. If you have a lot of content that needs to be checked, the site offers a range of free and paid services.
And if you’re wondering what the Web 2.0 mindset has done to the whole concept of intellectual property, Wikipedia’s definition of “open source” has a very good discussion of online content intended to be shared.

Art: What’s Genius Got To Do With It?

Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Blog recently had an interesting post: an interview with Jennie Nashauthor of the novel “The Only True Genius in the Family,” which revolves around three generations of creative artists. Nash’s book sounds intriguing in and of itself, but the interview touches upon the tension that exists between art made for art’s sake and art made to be sold, the role of persistence in developing creative talents, and what sorts of daily habits feed creativity. Here is a brief excerpt from their interview relating to how one becomes (or is recognized as) a genius:

Art Biz Blog: “In the beginning, Claire (a character in the novel) thinks that genius comes like a lightning strike from god, but later embraces a different truth. Where do you believe genius comes from?”

Jennie:  “Claire moves toward an understanding of genius that rings true for me, as well. I think a lot of people give up on art – and perhaps other things – because it didn’t come early and easily to them. And if you’re not a prodigy, the thinking goes, you’re nothing. Some people are clearly born with certain traits and abilities that would make them a good writer or a good painter or a good photographer, but it seems to me that genius always involves many other things, as well — talent, opportunity, luck, hard work.”

A great discussion of the creative process—for a book dedicated to probing that dynamic through the medium of fiction!

Bonus Links!

Making art of New York’s urban ruins
From the TED Blog: Artist Miru Kim explores industrial ruins underneath New York and then photographs herself in them, nude — to bring these massive, dangerous, hidden spaces into sharp focus.

Idea Lottery
A simple idea generating tool to help you discover new connections and solutions through unexpected connections, from Idea Champions.


  1. Amazing info, I love the arts and the Making Art of New York ruins link was a great bonus. Thanks so much

  2. Your links are useful and thoughtful, but I really appreciate your careful, well thought-through and wonderfully crafted writing. It’s not all that common on the Web. More, More!

  3. Liz, I don’t know about the truth in this, but you might find this interesting in response to the Liebovitz article:

    Thanks for the mention!

  4. @Alyson: Thank you so much for that follow-up post and bringing up a topic close to my own heart and pocketbook, that of same-sex partners being denied inheritance rights on a par with married couples.

    Having to give away one’s rights to one’s future work (creative or otherwise) is a terrifying and unfair price to pay for not being able to protect the transfer of property to one’s loved ones.

    You’re welcome for the mention. Love your blog’s focus!

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