Sunday, June 24, 2007

karma and the hoarder

Forgive me ~ I need to rant.

When I hear the word 'hoarding,' I initially think of those pathological characters who save everything they've ever owned, but there are more abstract versions: people who hoard affection, money and information. They piss me off. But more than that they surprise me. Have they never heard of karma?
I've noticed that people who withhold affection and concern/interest in others are easy to identify ~ and usually reap what they sow ~ but tightwads are harder to recognize because they can be so sneaky about it. For example, I once knew a guy who not only used to withhold tips, he would also throw in only a portion of what he owed to pay the tab and for a long time we couldn't figure out where the shortfall was. Then one time, on a whim (or maybe it was the beer talking), Greg and I bought a pub raffle ticket for each of the people at our table. When our cheapskate actually won he didn't offer to share any of the booty. Busted! I guess he forgot to have Basil Hallward paint his portrait because he looks like he has two decades on me when he only has two weeks. (I may wish for instant karma, but I figure protracted karma is probably more effective.)
Hardest of all to identify are the information hoarders. At first you think they're just shy, have a hard time opening up and that's why they're so guarded. But you then notice that they seem to have no trouble in situations where they can have control. And then, out of the blue, you discover they've withheld information that they know would have been valuable to you, and you feel like you've had the wind knocked out of you.
In an attempt to be objective and ignore any personal disappointment I can see that it's hard being a hoarder. They view the world as a hostile, threatening place and feel they must defend their position at all costs. Hoarders have to work very hard to maintain a siege mentality and that must be exhausting. I wonder if they've ever noticed that successful people like artist Tiffini Elektra X (to bring the art element into this) love to share. She gives away all her secrets with no thought of return and invites you to 'steal her work', knowing full well that nobody can be her as well as she can. And let's face it, artists who plaster copyright warnings all over their advertising take themselves way too seriously and may even be somewhat deluded. Her existence alone makes Tiffini a kind of instant karma for hoarders.
There. I feel much better now.


Blogger EmPrint said...

Thanks for ranting. I agree with you totally and you said it so much better than I. I knew there was a reason why one particular person pissed me off and you just put a name on her - information hoarder.

25/6/07 2:18 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok. i see differently now. I've removed my copyright warning. I feel quite sheepish as i am and always have been well aware that my art is crap and isnt likely to be stolen. However i've heard of other artists who've seen something they created copied and signed by others and i guess thats the rub, especially if the thief makes $ from it.

25/6/07 2:56 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Emprint: I have noticed that information hoarders are often good at what they're trying to hoard -- but not quite as good as they want to be.

Anonymous: I know an artist whose work is *insanely* popular and has never sweated the copyright infringement thing. Her work is stolen semi-regularly, but she also has a 'horde' of admirers who always blow the whistle on the sneak thieves. Even I did it once. So the thieves never get very far and in some ways they just added to the cachet of the originator, adding mystique to his/her reputation.

25/6/07 3:43 p.m.  
Anonymous corine said...

An excellent and though-provoking post. It might sprouts from the fear that there won't be "enough" for everyone. Or from a jealous temperament. I guess the nature of blogging is to spread the wealth, so there should be very few hoarders among bloggers. Let's hope.

25/6/07 5:01 p.m.  
Anonymous Leau said...

This is a rant I can get behind! An aunt use to leave out one ingredient from each recipe she shared.I have always admired Tiffani's ability to share. Isn't it the more you hoard, the more you loose? I believe everything I share comes back even better! Thanks for saying it so eloquently!

25/6/07 5:32 p.m.  
Blogger kj said...

andrea, fantastic post. reminds me to remember this math equation: "love multiplies, it doesn't divide".

i personally do not do well with cheap people or people who do not know (or care to know) to kick in their share. i will invite you to dinner a hundred times, but if you come empty handed a hundred times, or don't pick up a tab once in a while, my respect withers.

i agree with you about artists. those who are grounded and confident tend to share share freely. and from a business perspective, sharing information is one of the best ways to attract interest and customers.

whew. thanks for the chance to get this off my chest as well!


25/6/07 5:36 p.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Small point here, Andrea...this is less a rant than an astute observation. But accurate right down to the bone.Good one!

25/6/07 8:32 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can certainly appreciate this post! When it comes to the art thing and being a hoarder, I would say Tiffini Elektra X is definitely one-of-a-kind. Slapping a copyright on something doesn't guarantee a damn thing - if someone wants your work, they're going to find a way to take it. I'm fine with someone wanting to protect their art with copyrights and don't consider them hoarders at all. What I consider hoarders is artists' who aren't willing to share information and processes. What the hell is that all about?

25/6/07 8:37 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Corine: I love the 'sharing' blogs. Then there are the purely advertising blogs.

Leau: That's pretty funny about the one missing ingredient!

KJ: Exactly! Tiffini is a perfect example of sharing being *good* for business/creative process/whatever.

Di: Thanks. :)

Anonymous: I don't consider wanting to protect your work hoarding either, but it does tend to go hand-in-hand with hoarding mentality because it assumes hostility. In any case, copyright notifications do nothing to actually protect your work anyway. Better are those copyright templates that go right over the image.

25/6/07 9:13 p.m.  
Blogger Bibi said...

Hmmm, you know some of those too!

They suffer from Scarcity Mentality ... better not share in case this is all there is. Someone might get one more piece of the pie than me. Or gain one step ahead of me. And they have no conscience in picking your brains, seeking your help or input, or stealing the ideas you brainstormed with them, before trampling all over you to get to the gate without so much as a thankyou ma'am.

Great rant Andrea!

25/6/07 9:41 p.m.  
Blogger Bibi said...

... on the copyright. There's a difference between sharing and stealing. I am often asked if someone can reprint an already published article and I nearly always say yes. But I view it differently if they just take my work and put their byline on it as though they wrote it.

I saw a whole 2500 word interview I'd done, cut and pasted under a man's byline. And a poplular online magazine published an article I wrote under a French writer's byline. I would never take someone's work and not give them credit ... that is Scarcity Mentality.

25/6/07 9:54 p.m.  
Blogger Caty said...

very interesting post Andrea!

I guess it all depends..

I used to cut from magazines or even print some others art to use as inspiration (no need now that blogs exists and there is so many inspiration than changes!)

I guees one issue is if you are known or not...and if people commercialise others art (even if somebody may decide that this is ok as well ) or if the artist is not asked for.

I can recognise your style and work everywhere! (I love it!) but imagine that somebody is selling cards in a little town in France with your artwork (NO, I am not doing that...:)...)

If someone print one of my little works and put it in a notebook I would be happy! If they sell the notebook...I will not like it (maybe just jalous because I can't do it....;)....)

Of course copyrigts become very complicated specially for can't use any Eiffel Tower photo if it is taken at night...and you can not transform it neither (because changing others art is even worst!)

I guess if people is asked for about using their art in someway is easier...copyrights may mean only that sometimes: ask me.

25/6/07 11:22 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

From all these comments it looks like you really hit a nerve here!

As most of my work is currently energy work you'll be glad to know that, once I think it works and is safe, I offer it up to the world - of course lots of people will think I'm mad and deluded etc but at least I'm generous in my madness and delusions!

What I want to know is - who specifically provoked this rant?

26/6/07 1:32 a.m.  
Anonymous chitty said...

Been a while!
I cannot speak from an artist’s point of view, but people who hoard information are in my experience extremely insecure. That is apart from them being selfish and hostile. In many cases the information they withhold are, in their belief, what defines them and their self-worth.
I had a boss who had many years of experience in a certain area of commerce. Part of the reason I accepted the offer to work for him was because I believed that I could learn from him and that he would “share” his knowledge with me. Boy was I wrong! He was an information withholder of note. Everything I wanted to know and asked him about was viewed with suspicion. I was required to share everything with him, but the reverse was not true. It is only later that I realised that what he knew was all that he had, and that he believed that in jealously guarding it, he was making himself indispensable.
Copyrighting is not exactly the same thing as hoarding. The same applies to patenting. Even though you are preventing others from using your work as is, you are still putting it out there/publishing it for others to see and appreciate. People are able see and read what you have done, and use and interpret certain elements of your work. In the end it aids progress, and that is what the sharing of information is all about.

26/6/07 2:46 a.m.  
Blogger HMBT said...

Fantastic post! I agree that hording in these ways is not an act of self preservation the horder thinks it is. It's just selfish and ego centered thinking.
As an artist...I have never watermarked or posted copywrites on my work...and yes I have had it stolen (pictures of paintings, so what?) and I have been copied. So?
I know that I am the only me...and I don't fear nuthin'. Bring it universe...copy fear just flattery most of the time.
Again...great post. :)

26/6/07 3:20 a.m.  
Blogger carla said...

Wow! This is a very compelling post in itself, and also beacuse you write about ideas that have come up for me recently. The first situation involves someone to whom I was going to give quality prints of some work he admired as soon as I straightened out some issues with my printer. I then learned through another party that he had simply downloaded images from my blog and made several copies and even gave them to other people, without ever asking permission. It seems that I hadn't come up with the free (and better) prints quickly enough! I felt justified in feeling annoyed, since I wasn't holding back anything from him!

I have also been thinking about the idea of information hoarding a lot lately, especially with regard to an artist friend I've known for quite some time. I have always been super supportive of her work, and have always gone out of my way to promote her when there seemed to be a good match. I even sat with her one day and scanned hundreds of slides of her work (she is mostly computer-illiterate and doesn't do anything except word processing and email) so she could have digital images. I enjoy doing things like that, but I got kind of a bad feeling recently when I shared some good news with her about the possibility of my getting into a gallery where she was showing some work. Absolutely no response...complete silence...for weeks. It was then I realized that she is fine when it's all about her, but not fine when she feels someone might be encroaching on her territory... and so many things I had noticed over our twenty year friendship started to make a lot of sense. I realized how consistently she views people with suspicion and how little she ever wants to share about her art, other than to promote herself and reap accolades. The weird thing is that there is no way that my work could ever compete with hers - we are so very different! And... I'm not about competing as an artist. We all have our own talent and style, so even if we do attempt to try another person's techniques, it can't have the same energy or look. Of course, when someone steals writing as his or her own...that's a different story!

I have always enjoyed your paintings in progress where you show the various stages of your work. Although it solves one mystery, it creates even greater mysteries... the mystery of your personal mojo that makes your work so uniquely yours. Anyone could attempt to copy your process, but the results would never be like yours. So... thanks for sharing!

26/6/07 3:35 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Bibi: Most artists and writers I know are happy to share secrets or allow you to use their work if credited so I'm not sure where the idea some have that they need to protect their turf comes from, though I'm sure seep, dark childhood might reveal a few insights! :)

Caty: Interesting about the Eiffel Tower! I only use clip art when I collage or small portions of complete pictures but I'm always aware that I'm treading into a fuzzy area.

Caroline: I've often been blamed for stealing others' energy! :) As for the specifics, the information hoarding activity wasn't art or blog related so the person in question will never read this and see him/herself, but if someone who's done something similar reads this and recognizes him/herself I'll consider it a good day's work.

Chitty: It's weird that a boss will withhold information. Clearly he's not concerned about his reputation as a leader of people, only concerned about his little corner of turf. I bet he never advanced past where he was!

HMBT: Good for you for not taking the stealing of your work personally. In some ways there's even a flattering side to it.

Carla: I love reading process posts and almost never think to try and duplicate them so I have no trouble doing the same. They're fun. As for your artist 'frined', it's interesting to see how that played out. Artists , don't they? I guess it goes with the territory.

26/6/07 6:53 a.m.  
Blogger homo escapeons said...

I completely endorse your observation that nobody else can be a better YOU.
Real life hoarders are scary. I had a relative who had five couches, two pianos & an organ (didn't play) plus atleast eight lamps in the living room and racks of clothing in the kitchen because all of the closets were full.

((doo doo doo doo doo doo))
Methinks that Hoarding and Whoring are cousins. As the saying goes you are only a whore if other people find out right?

26/6/07 9:13 a.m.  
Blogger Ian Lidster said...

I fully agree with Vicki on the copyright thing. I once wrote a comprehensive article for a newspaper and sent it to them. A week or so later they ran the article, changed the lead paragraph and stuck the name of one of their writers on in a byline. Was I pissed? Oh, you bet I was. I phoned up and reamed the asses of both the editor and publisher. I threatened legal action just to make them pee themselves just a little bit, though I never followed through.
Hey, my friend, this was obviously a great blog because you got me ranting, too.
Otherwise, about copyright, I also agree that if somebody asks me if they can use something of mine, I am usually open to that -- depending on the person.


26/6/07 9:21 a.m.  
Blogger Cream said...

Well said, Andrea!
Those people who steal others' artwork may profit from it but at the end of the day, THEY know that they haven't earned it.
Can they live with it? I doubt it.

26/6/07 10:51 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ha! I noticed my error (Basil Hallward painted Dorian Gray's portrait, not Lord Henry) before anyone else did! I read the book, oh, 20 years ago!

HE: Whoarding: someone who refuses to give it up?

Ian: But why? In what way was it in their better interest I wonder.

Cream: Enter karma!!

26/6/07 3:53 p.m.  
Blogger Ces said...

Oh that guy is not a hoarder but a dishonest, greedy, selfish man. The information hoarders are very insecure people who have a pathological sense of importance. It's funny, we all seem to know someone like these people.

I do know pathological hoarders and I was shocked to find out. One of the leaders in our Girl Scout troop was a hoarder. She kept everything. My fellow leader went to her house and she literally had to walk through a path of stacks of magazines and newspapers. There was a half-eaten jar of pickles that was 3 years old. Yikes!

26/6/07 4:23 p.m.  
Blogger Alda said...

An excellent post Andrea - and from this end less a rant than a very unique take on an interesting topic. You're right - hoarding takes many forms, including withholding. You've just given me a fresh perspective. Thank you!

26/6/07 4:55 p.m.  
Blogger Philip said...

Reading many of your posts, I can't help thinking that you would relate to the book 'Anam Cara' by John O'Donohue (link to his web site in my blog).

26/6/07 9:09 p.m.  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

You think so many good and interesting thoughts! And are able to express them so well. I'm always glad to have read them!

27/6/07 1:12 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post/topic - I enjoyed reading it.Referring to one area of topic, I always found it funny when artists, some of them, worry about their work being copied, first off, who wants to put all of their energy into trying to follow who's copying your work, how draining must that be.If someone is trying to steal or copy my work, wow how exciting is that ?! Bring it on baby ! and that's exactly it, no one can do your work like you can and I think people catch on to who the original artist ultimately is.Come on ?!

27/6/07 3:23 a.m.  
Blogger homo escapeons said...

I love your new word:whoarding! Actually I just love saying whore because it has some ooomph to it. Know what I mean?

Speaking of whores I distinctly remember the dense, illiterate, little, twats in junior high who would say that so and so was a ((HEWR))if she wouldn't let them grope her in the furnace room at the weekend seance.
You just can't win!

I wanted to add you are only a hoarder if other people find out right?

27/6/07 10:59 a.m.  
Blogger Tori said...

This is a really thoughtful and well written post. You articulate all the types of hoarding so clearly. I have some information hoarders in my workplace and have caught myself falling into the pattern at times. The more we believe in ourselves, the more we are able to put all of ourselves- mind, stuff etc...into the world.

27/6/07 6:07 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ces: I remember a friend who knew the same kind of person and refused to let her children out of her sight or use the bathroom!

Alda: It started out more rant-like, then I toned it down. :)

Philip: I took a quick look the other night and was immediately fascinated, but will now go back in greater depth as I have the time.

Tara: Thank you and I'm glad you had the time to drop by in your work-pressured situation.

Sheri: I guess it can be reduced to the glass half full/glass half empty kind of mentality, can't it?

HE: Right! (And I remenber HEWR, too!)

Tori: I bet the information hoarders at work never chip in to buy birthday lunches or buy doughnuts for the gang either, do they?

28/6/07 3:26 p.m.  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

That's a great rant and very generous of you to realise how hard it must be to be a hoarder. You forget to mention the physical pain all that constipation/ anal retentiveness causes.

I haven't forgotten that wonderful meme you included me in a while back. I shall get to it v v soon.

PS - Has Cream bought any of your work yet?

PPS. Missed you xxx

29/6/07 2:21 p.m.  
Anonymous swampgrrl said...

woah, grrl. i don't know how i missed this post! hoarders are loathsome, especially the info hoarders. i've run into those.

29/6/07 5:57 p.m.  
Blogger Bronwyn said...

I can remember how taken aback my potter mother was when a friendly acquaintance potter wouldn't give her information on one of her techniques. She said something to the effect that she had paid good money to learn that technique.

I love it when an artist is willing to share a technique/tip/trick to attain a result I'm interested in; however I do understand that it isn't fair of me to expect them to freely share something they have spent so much time & money learning, eg at art workshops. I respect their freedom to keep their hard won secrets to themselves, if that's what they choose to do.

30/6/07 6:41 a.m.  
Blogger tiffini elektra x said...

Oh my gosh! Thank you so much Andrea! How f-ing cool of you to say all that! You have absolutely made my week! Hording is just so bizarre. As if anything is really new anymore? Copyright, copyright, copyright. Sigh. . .
Obviously, nobody likes to be out and out copied. It is nice when people bring their own style and subject matter to their art. But for the most part substantially all ideas are secondhand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources. While on the subject it also drives me batty when some collage artists go on about copyright! If it was not for the public domain most of us would have no source material!? Or photographers - the world is your source material. If it was not for the early court cases siding with the photographer the entire course of art would have been altered for the worse. Is a photographer stealing from a building or a tree? Even if some pictures looks similar from artist to artist - we all find inspiration and sometimes in similar fashion. I for one never want to be like Disney and steal other peoples ideas fiddle with them a bit and slap my own copyright on it. I feel that the public domain is so important - for people to make art and continue building upon great ideas. You gotta just not worry about it keep coming up with new ideas and hope that adding your aesthetic keeps things rolling.
Now with Disney trying to trademark other peoples creations. Thanks Sonny B - great thing you did before you ran into that tree. Alice in Wonderland, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Mulan, Robin Hood, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, Snow White, Peter Pan and Pinocchio - none of which they created. They interpreted the characters - protect that interpretation fair enough - but now they want exclusive rights to use all those characters? There have been at least 14 English-language films based on Collodi's 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio (which itself drew on other sources), and many more in other languages. One would hope that Disney is not allowed to lay claim to stories that are out of copyright (the sole reason why even Disney itself was able to make movies of them) merely because it adapted them. Is an intellectual or creative offering truly novel, or have we just forgotten a worthy precursor?
Going to museum after museum and seeing so many artists interpret each others work - if not outright copy it. Perhaps not plagiarizing each other but clearly, building on each idea if not in some cases improving the others ideas. To think of the art that could have been created had they all not hoarded their techniques! The primary objective of copyright was not to reward the labor of authors but "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts."
One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson (forgiving the overly gender specific language)- "He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." I read that quote for the first time in this article The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism. It is amazing and I don't know if anyone has said it better. Anyway - you rock. You just so absolutely rock! Prompting me to leave the longest comment ever! Xo

P.S. I am off to clean out my emails after being gone for the last week. It is a bit daunting - all that spam. Speaking of which the Hormel Foods Corporation, the makers of SPAM luncheon meat, do not object to the Internet use of the term "spamming." Which is good I would hate to have to pay them royalties for describing my email in-boxes. [ =

30/6/07 12:47 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Cherrypie: Ha! That anal retentive thing is a wrinkle I wish I'd added! (and tell Cream to get on it! :)

Swampgrrl: I remember the first time I came across an info hoarder. It took me awhile to process what was going on.

Bronwyn: Freedom to choose is always good, but what Tiffini wrote in her comment about the public domain could just as easily apply to techniques learned through hard work. However, I also know an artist who withheld information from someone about a possible venue for his work, knowing he was looking for just such a venue. Dissemination of valuable information is like blogging: some do it purely to gain personal exposure, choosing not to include what might be helpful to their readers (hoarding!) while others use it for a variety of purposes: to share, network, make like-minded friends, learn, teach and have a laugh.

Tiffini: Wow -- I had no idea Disney was going to such lengths. I think you need to post your comment as a full post on *your* blog! As for me, I just may 'steal' some of it for a follow-up post and I'm not going to ask permission! :) (But I always give credit where credit is due...)

30/6/07 2:09 p.m.  
Blogger CS said...

In each of these cases, you're looking at people who have crossed the line into an unhealthy form of a good trait. For example - frugality is great - it ensures that you will be able to support yourself and also that you won't use up too much of the earth's resources. But when you slide over into stinginess - shorting others and never sharing what you have - you damage yourself and the world. I am a fairly frugal person myself - I don't like waste. But I belive in tipping big, I love bringing things to potlucks, etc. And sharing just feels good - I love handing over a book I know someone will like, for instance, or telling them about something they might be interested in. But now that I'm thinking about it, maybe folks who blog are the sorts of people who like to share and that's one of the reasons we blog in the first place? Good post, Andrea, you made me think and it's even early in the morning.

1/7/07 5:17 a.m.  

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