In my 4th grade year I began a serious love-affair with Arthurian Legends and the chivalrous ideals of knighthood. The ideals of bravery, courtesy, honor, honesty, gallantry, and loyalty seemed the perfect structure to live the good life.
In my young adult years, I codified these ideals into my own personal Code of Conduct;
- courageous choices are expected
- honor is required
- integrity is essential
- excellence is a commitment
- beauty is cultivated
- laughter is nurtured
The summary statement for this code is "Expect the best; anything else is an adventure."
Aah! You've seen that statement before - it's how I sign off these blog posts and it's included in my email signature.
In my first year as a student of iconography, I wrote an entirely original, and simple icon of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. It was probably the second or third icon I had ever painted. And, it contains all the hallmarks of undeveloped skill.
My elder son was the model because he shared some of the same life events of Brother Lawrence. I gave the original icon to my son as a Christmas gift.
No icon of Brother Lawrence had existed prior to this icon. It was highlighted on my website (that no longer exists) for iconography.
Shortly thereafter, it started showing up in Google searches for "images of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection" along with the warning that the image may be under copyright, and my name was included alongside it.
To date, the original icon has shown up - without credit - on religious oriented blogs and websites all over the world. Blogs written by priests, ministers, Methodist Youth Organizations - even a blog by a "Christian Law Student" - his description, not mine. (Really? A law student? - okay - no judgement. Maybe he was a newbie law student.)
Oh yes...you can find Brother Lawrence on Chinese websites!
And, Brother Lawrence is featured in...wait for it...A YOUTUBE VIDEO!
However - what took the cake was a commune in England that bastardized the icon by turning the baguette into a scrub brush and putting a halo around the scrub brush! Anyone who knows anything about iconography understands the halo around the scrub brush is ignorant at best, and blasphemy at worst.
And for some bizarre reason, this bastardization has been placed on several UK blogs/websites!
What's up with that?
If you do a Google image search "icon Brother Lawrence" you will see it. And it is still my elder son staring right back at you.
(Perhaps Google needs to do a better job of education around the use of images?)
I now include my name in all metadata and alt-tagging of any piece posted on the web. You live...you learn.
(Pardon me, whilst I take a moment to generate gratitude that an icon produced by my hands is inspiring people all over the world...yeah...)
All you have to do is ask
Interpretation of current U.S. copyright law states that I can use this photo without permission of the muralist. However, my personal code of conduct and my experiences with stolen artwork, prohibit me from the possibility of offending or neglecting a fellow artist. You will notice I always identify the muralist whenever this photo is used or sold.
I had a print of the photo made and matted. I placed it in my bespoke black photo box with a very nice letter honoring Mr. Cochran's work, wrapped it with my signature sage colored satin ribbon. I also attached freshly roasted coffee beans in a signature black velvet bag - a fresh cup of coffee to enjoy while contemplating my letter.
I asked Mr. Cochran's blessing for use of the photo; which he graciously granted. He said my presentation spoke to him that I was an artist of conscience.
Here are the lessons I took from this.
- All you have to do is ask.
- Honor the work that went before you.
- Maintain your integrity.
- Details count.
Wrap it up
The personal code of conduct that grew from my childhood love of Arthurian Legend was my guide for this wonderful interaction. Regardless of the outcome, I could rest easy knowing I had acted in a chivalrous manner.
And if anyone in the big internet universe used the Brother Lawrence icon without attribution and you're reading this blog post - just know - all you had to do was ask!
As always...Expect the best; anything else is an adventure.
How has your personal code of conduct guided you in your art & photography? How have you handled "stolen" and "uncredited" artwork?
Share your stories in the Comments below...and please share on your social media.
And don't forget, Registration for the September 19th Photowalk is now open