Wednesday, March 16, 2011

epic GSP

(also at my blog)


We need little reminder that the state of funding for the natural sciences is not exactly rosy. We need little reminder that artists are faced with game-changing technical and social upheavals. But apparently we do need some reminder that there are brightly shining bits of glory here and there, often carried out on the backs of people who simply don't want to accept that we are neglecting science and science education.

We need this reminder in the face of Greg Paul's tirades against open community involvement... and I do not say that lightly. Greg Paul began with a completely sound campaign to respect copyright and to organize as artists for a better working conditions. Well - to be more precise, to respect his copyright and his conditions. And for all I can see, that's where the arguments have been stranded. He made no attempt to clarify his positions, to define where the wiggly line between scientific reference and intellectual property nor to propose how a just pricing system can accommodate for up-and-coming artists or those from countries with lower costs of living.

Greg Paul is the antithesis of how I view science - whereby I refer more to his means of (non) communication than any specific demand. He states ubiquitously and accepts no other opinion. He writes private cease and desist mails that one desist replying to the open forum to which he's posted to. And he attacks people like Heinrich Mallison, Mark Witton and Wilbur Wateley for expressing opinion and requesting clarification.

The crux of the issue is that instead of rallying all the parties together to address the very real issues of neglected science and science outreach, he pits the artist against the scientist and the amateur against the professional. Following his arguments, Mark Witton is "ruining paleoartistry" by having illustrated some papers for friends. I certainly am for having illustrated blogs in non-monetary gratitude that such people are sharing their incredible knowledge with me and others via their unpaid(!) blogs. Which makes Mark and Dave Hone and Heinrich Mallison and Darren Naish all guilty of ruining paleo-literature. And PZ Meyers is soliciting "useless, supine,negative, defeatist, inadequately informed nay saying, accomodationist, pessimistic" artists just like me. (Actually - that suddenly sounds like a cool t-shirt.) It's just all so short-sighted and self-centered that the very real issues are not done justice. I prefer to jive with Heinrich, the artEvolved, Michael Habib and anyone else who is interested.

Mr. Paul's emails: first, second, third and the mail that broke the camel's back; the artEvolved community responses and the no GSP logo above is yours to do with what you wish, rights or no rights. Its a symbol that I'll no longer rely on his work as a source of information and that I will pose my figures in a species-specific extreme gait because that is a pose which conveys essential information about that animal and would not hold up to Mr.Paul's copyright claims.

(Note: the lat mail from Paul hasn't appeared in the archive yet, I'll correct that link as soon as it does.)


Nima said...

Bashing Mark Witton was definitely ten steps out of line.

If all the rest of us are either "underbidding imitators" because our style is like Greg Paul's, or "supine defeatists" or simply inaccurate because our style or work ethic is not like Greg Paul's.... then there must be no real artists left in paleoart?

This selfish and condescending attitude is what just made me lose whatever empathy I had for Greg Paul. He's socially digging his own grave in a profession he's too entrenched in to get out of. A lot of his brinkmanship is simply unnecessary in the first place. And it pretty much means Greg is totally on his own from now on forward. Even if a guild of paleoartists does form, Greg's alienated so many people in the past couple of weeks that I doubt he'll be allowed into it.

davidmaas said...

For better or for worse, a guild of paleoartists is for paleoartists and not an exclusive club for non-assh*les, or those with social compentence. imo, a guild would have no choice but not to include such a prominent figure.

My reasoning is that the key issue to overcome is one of public perception... the main task of any guild must be to garner the public's sympathy and understanding for what makes paleoart paleoart.

Only if the general public understands that a dinosaur book is different than an imagined monster or an Avatar art book, will the cooperative of scientist / artist be able to pressure television documentaries and book publishers into honoring this effort.

Nima said...

My main concern about such a guild would be not to implode the whole thing by putting in too many difficult people.

Of course you have to understand that most geniuses have been difficult people. But at some point the selfish desire to make more money through the guild has to trump the purely worthless ego-feeding desire to brag and put down others. You can't eat praise or smartass comments.

davidmaas said...

Agreed. I meant that if a guild is to function it has to be fairly indifferent to the personalities, even to the reputations. Massive hurdles, actually.

Traumador said...

I had a chance to talk to Michael Skrepnick yesterday (got to love living in Alberta!) and I can say not all Palaeo-artists are difficult to get along with. If anything Mr. Skrepnick is the ideal model of what one would hope all professionals would be like to deal with.

However in my conversation with him about such a Guild I found I was hostile to the idea, simply due to the Paul crap.

As David so accurately stated in this post Paul has done an excellent job turning me against the whole notion of anything "professional", as I feel they are all hostile to me and my art now.

I would NOT join a Guild if it included Paul, and I suspect many others would not now either.

Mr. Paul has become the Charlie Sheen of the palaeo world this week, based from everyone's reaction at the Alberta Palaeo Conference yesterday. Yes his fame is at an all time high, but we're all talking about him due to our fascination with his implending doom...

Glendon Mellow said...

"Mr. Paul has become the Charlie Sheen of the palaeo world"

Okay: now I want to see a skeletal reconstruction of a warlock.