The Sketchbook Project: Maybe I am too old to understand....

  • Pro SVS OG

    Today on my FB feed there was an invitation to participate in something called "The Sketchbook Project". I followed the link to a beautifully designed website here:

    The Sketchbook Project

    and discovered that the Sketchbook project is an idea born a few years ago that aims at creating an opportunity to enjoy sketch art produced by artists worldwide. It consists in a permanent collection hosted at the Brooklin Art Library as well as traveling exhibitions.
    Sounded very cool and definitely one of the brilliant ideas born out of the globalized world we all profit from. So I read further and down into the terms and conditions.

    And this is where things started to become incomprehensible for me. So you buy a barcoded sketchbook from their website - paying 25 USD for a 30-pages mini-book of recycled paper. You fill it up and send it over to the Brooklin Art Library. You retain copyright, but that is more or less all that you have. The project organizer have worldwide unlimited rights to your sketches, they can take out pages if they feel so inclined without asking your permission. They can use your art in whichever way they want after making "a reasonable attempt to obtain your permission", but if you fail to give your permission within 2 months, they may do it just the same.
    I then followed a link named "shop" and found out that they sell prints of some of the sketches for up to 75 USD each. Given the way the terms are written, I can conclude that the artist does not see a cent of this money. So basically you pay 25 USD and send in 30 pages of sketches for the honor of being included together with other 22`000 sketchbooks in a physical library with your name and location recorded in a database...
    I am wondering if I am missing some of the poetry of the whole thing. I can see the beauty of the idea, and not everything has to be ruled by business - this is the world that brought us Wikipedia after all. But Wikipedia does not sell printed books with the content contributed by the volunteers, nor does it demand an entry fee to write an article. Something seems flawed and I am not sure it is me (definitely not a "millennial") or if there is something intrinsically wrong going on it just a beautiful initiative that tries to make enough money to keep itself alive?
    I needed to discuss it somewhere, and SVS seemed the safest haven to vent - sorry for stealing your time for this, but would love your opinions!

  • Sounds like a money grab scheme. Doesn't seem like much benefit to the artist accept maybe exposure.

  • It sound terrible.

  • Sounds wrong to me. Unless there is some kind of reward to the artist then I would stay away from this one big time!

  • I saw this recently too, and I would be highly suspect. I am all for getting work out there, but things like this seem to take advantage of an artist's desire to share their work and have it on display. I'm especially skeptical of the sale of prints without the artist directly benefiting. Exposure is one thing...but it doesn't pay the bills.

    People die of exposure...just sayin'

  • This reminds me of a poetry anthology I first saw years and years ago. People would pay to purchase a book of poetry, and one poem of theirs would go into the book, but as you say, you are a bit lost on the rights of your poem. My opinion, not cool.

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