Welcome to another edition of Pour it Out! In this post, we’re going to talk about a few heavy topics that have appeared in the Acrylic Pouring Facebook group recently—market saturation, and what “stealing” really is.
Ever since the acrylic pouring technique went viral a few years ago, it seems like everyone has tried it (or at least, heard of it). Some artists kept perfecting their technique, while others were content experimenting and moving on to the next method. Of those who stuck with the technique, many decided to make a business out of it, and that’s where market saturation has come in.
Market saturation occurs when there are too many people selling a given product— in this case, pieces made using the acrylic pouring technique. This poses an issue when you’re trying to get your art seen, and there are a lot of other artists with the same goal.
The bottom line is that there is room for everyone. Each consumer is looking for unique pieces, not copies. There are some things you can do to stand out, and if you’ve got the determination to succeed as a professional artist, there are steps you can take to make that dream a reality.
#1: Social media is your friend. Posting consistently is important, even if you’re not working actively on a piece. Post a throwback, an in-process pic or video, or even just an artistic picture of your studio or tools. All of these things keep people interested, and help your audience get to know you better.
#2: Ask for the sale. In your hopefully frequent social media posts, always let your followers know if what your posting is for sale, or if has been sold. You may have followers who like your art, but aren’t sure whether or not you’re selling it, and don’t necessarily want to ask. Additionally, posting a piece and indicating that it’s been sold creates interest and urgency: in other words, your customers will want to jump on your next piece before it disappears.
#3: Be unique. Doing the same thing as everyone else does sometimes work, but that success will be fleeting. Seeing the same work from many artists fatigues the customer, and they’ll lose interest. You have a unique artist’s view of the world; use it.
We’re going to cover standing out on social media in a different article, but these basics will help you get started!
Imitation vs Stealing: Who Owns What?
There are so many techniques you can create with in acrylic pouring— dips, tree rings, Dutch pours…and the list goes on!
There’s been a lot of discussion in our Facebook group about who these techniques belong to, and many reported posts from members who are angry that artists don’t always credit the creator of the technique in their posts. So, we’re here to clear the air on what we consider to be stealing.
When it comes to techniques, let’s put things into perspective. Do we all credit David Alfaro Siqueiros every time we post a pour? No, we don’t. Siqueiros was an artist in the 1930’s who first experimented and invented what we now call acrylic pouring. However, in my time as a moderator/admin of the Acrylic Pouring group, I’ve never once seen a post reported for not having mentioned him. In fact, his name is notably absent from most, if not all posts, along with Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian artist credited as the founder of abstract art. When we discuss the color wheel or color theory within the group, no one usually credits Sir Isaac Newton, who created it.
Do you see where this is going?
Being the first to share a technique does not mean you’re the first person to do it. For example: before I had any idea whatsoever what a Dutch pour was, I was already creating pieces using the same technique. There are a lot of acrylic pouring artists out there, and the likelihood that no one has ever used a technique, ever, is pretty slim.
Additionally, using the same technique as someone else is not the same as copying their art or stealing it. I can use the same techniques to create beautiful ocean works like Ann Upton, but I can guarantee you with 100% confidence that they certainly won’t look the same. Her vision and view of colors and movement are her own, and mine won’t be the same. Using the same technique as someone does not mean you’ll get the same results. It is not stealing.
On the flip side, it is stealing if you copy an artists work down to the exact details and extra creative elements. There is a very talented artist in our group that creates exquisite equine pieces with pours. They’re beautiful! After she posted her first piece, there were several other artists that posted their attempt at the same piece, right down to the minute details— and did not credit her. You cannot take credit for the creative aspects of a piece, and pass them off as your own.
Copying art down to the detail devalues the original artist’s work and can damage their credibility… specifically if you claim to have created the piece first. Using the same pouring technique as another artist does not have the same effect, since you’re not directly copying it.
Credit where credit is due. If you loved a piece so much that you copied every detail, you need to give credit to the original artist. If you loved a technique so much that you used it to create your own unique piece that looks nothing like what another artist has made, you don’t need to credit the creator of the technique in your posts— but, it’s always nice to send a quick message to thank them for the inspiration.
Whew, that’s some heavy stuff. Let’s sum everything up into two easy to remember ideas:
- Be unique to rise about a saturated market and avoid being a copycat
- If you’re not going to be unique and copy every detail of another artist’s piece, give credit to them
- Using the same technique as someone else and producing a completely different piece is not stealing.
What are your thoughts about credit? What’s your advice to artists who want to stand out in the crowd?