Thursday, September 2, 2010

Samples of Mass Distortion

"Just because your flipped the image-doesn't mean you fauxed it!"

Among my quirks, and there are many, I have a freakish photographic memory. It serves me well at parties-remembering names, faces, and other vital statistics. It also comes in handy when playing Trivial Pursuit, watching Jeopardy, and attempting to sound intelligent in an argument.

It also means I can recognize pictures taken from web-sites, magazines, newspapers, and other sources-especially when the sample pictured is my own-on my studio carpet!

Several company web-sites used this picture to show what their clients could do to their cabinets. And yes, these artists could do these samples if they had taken Surfaces Cabinetry I, Cabinetry II, and Cottage Cabinet Classes.

We provided the samples and source information for a Kansas City Star article on cabinet refinishing called "Born Again Cabinets." The article was picked up by AP and published in papers nation-wide. The it was "picked-off" by some faux finishers nation-wide.
This is a collage of our Cottage Class samples from our Surfaces web-site. I found this same picture of our samples (just flipped-again)being used to promote the web-site, Kitchen Cabinet Painting & Decorating.Com.

Their site was a little slippery-communicating only through emails but we finally found the studio owner.

I have seen "faux" stone and wood product samples in magazines and on other web-sites that looked just like the real thing. And it took me about 10 minutes on the web to find the real thing.

Rather then speculate on the motivation or make false accusations, I prefer going directly to the source and asking: “Hey, What’s Up?” Faced with evidence (and one mad Blondie), no-one denied using the downloaded images but there was plenty of justification.

Or as the brilliant Stephen Colbert coined, lots of “Truthiness” which is:
(Image: The Colbert Report, Comedy Central)

"The quality by which one purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or intellectual examination".

These are my favorite quotes of decorative painting "Truthiness"

Product Representative: “Yes, the image was sent to me by a supplier. But we do a sample that looks exactly like it.”

Product Representative: “The mailer is for a marble and wood graining class. We don’t state that images on the front (which are the real thing) are the sample you will do in class.”

Competing Studio Using a Different Product Line: “You can’t teach a cabinet class and not expect us to use your samples to sell our cabinet class?”

Competing Studio: “I took a class with you in Dallas and took pictures” although you didn't do those samples and the picture is on my web-site.

Artist: “I didn’t know those were your samples, I got the picture from Photo Bucket.”

Artist: “My web guy put pictures on my web-site. I don’t even know what is on it (his own web-site).

Artist: “I was there when you did the work.”

What I think of all this is best summed up by the Wisest Woman in American, Judge Judy:

(Image: Judge Judy, CBS Television)

“Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

There are 2 separate but related issues here. The first problem is manufactures and by extension their distribution or training centers using misleading pictures to promote their products and classes. The second is artists downloading work for their personal web-sites that they did not do themselves.

But it really comes down to one question for the Product Representatives: “Did you do the sample with your product?” and one for the Artist: “Did you do the sample?” Either one is a Yes or No question- no explanation needed.

I am in no way implying that a particular product line is inferior because of a misleading sample. On the contrary, many of these lines have stunning samples submitted by their distributors and students. That’s what makes this practice even more shady because it is so unnecessary. If a sample looks as good as the real thing-JUST USE IT!

We get promotional material from our manufacture Faux Effects. While I appreciate the gesture as both a time and money saver, I don’t use these promotions to advertise our classes. I don’t know the Who, What, or Where of the pictures or samples-again I am not assuming that something is “wrong.” But I do know this-those samples and room pictures were not done by anyone here at Surfaces.

(This is done by Surfaces-See Murray on the project)

Many of our sample pictures have a huge flash or you can see Ashley’s hands. You see us working on many projects (I confess this is to sell our clothes as well) and often one of our random dogs wanders through into the shot. Not always professional but at least you know we did the sample or project we are selling.

I am not implying that an Artist that uses a downloaded image lacks talent. I might imply that you are lazy, cheap (pay for the class and learn the sample), or presenting yourself as more skilled then you really are.
You are taking a short-cut and it is insulting to the Artists that do take classes and produce their own work.

I want to be clear. We want people that take our classes to post their samples and use them in any and all marketing to get jobs. And no, you don't have to list us as a source in any manner because YOU did the work and that is what you are showing.

(Image of Howard Beale, Network MGM 1976)

I'm not just "Mad as Hell"- I am Sad as Hell. We've always been generous with information and let people photograph samples in our studio.  Now I am rethinking practices. Watermarking an image interferes with the viewers enjoyment and I've always resisted it. I am re-thinking that as well. Now I find out that people are not just pretending to do the finish, they are pretending to be other faux finishers.

          That is WHACKADOODLE!

Come one people-we are better then this. I know times are tough but let's rise to the top rather then sink to the bottom. And that will end my rant. Thanks!

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