Your thoughts on "original" artwork?
On Mon, 11 Jun 2001 I posed the questions below in a post to rec.kites. It generated quite a bit of discussion and some very interesting points were outlined. I thought it was worth saving and one day I’ll dive back in and arrange this a little better. But for now, if you weren’t there for the exchange, read the following comments and get back to me with any thoughts you might have.
As a member of the AKA's Comprehensive Kitemaking Committee,
I'd like to
hear discussion on originality. I have my own personal beliefs but I'd like
to hear what you think.
What is "Original" in reference to artwork on a kite?
If one was to reproduce the Mona Lisa except with her mouth open, would this
Look at the home page at www.kitebuilder.com. Olivier Reymond admits his
art work was a design from a poster... but he placed it off center, cropped
it, and used ripstop colors on a Genki.... Original?
What about Geometric Patterns?
How about Doug Larock's 29 foot delta.... Did you ever see that geometric
pattern to that extreme in those colors? Original?
How bout that picture on the left.... If I reproduced that on a Genki, and
devised a way to make that Eddy kite "hang off the top" would I get points
How about a landscape reproduction from a photograph...... original?
How bout a very large, impressing Rokkaku - solid black... as a giant black
whole in the sky? Original?
If the kite is indeed original, should it automatically receive more points
than a very well done reproduction of Mickey Mouse? Even if the judge does
not particularly like the original artwork?
Is this something that can BE scored in a competition? Or is it purely a
subjective opinion as to what turns a person on?
How bout Originality versus Creativity? Maybe we should more towards
...... there are many, many more questions, but those are a start. Lets
hear your thoughts...
K I T E S T U D I O
make your dreams fly...
Please support the AKA by joining now...
I'm an architecture student and deal with this sort quite a
one person or a group get to make a decision on the artistic ability of
another it's bad. As they teach us, it's okay to copy something as long as
you know you are copying. Personally I don't agree with that...With
architecture as I am finding in kite making, you put a certain level of your
soul in to your productions. So I disagree with copying things from other
architects for my projects because it lacks my soul...it isn't my building
it's Foster's or Wright's. But in this discussion, if a person really loves
say Batman and puts a batman symbol on a kite...hey we all know what it is.
So we have to look at the craftsmanship behind the product. If a person
makes something totally out of their own imagination here we again have to
look at judging craftsmanship. But I think judging creativity is not good.
What are the qualifications of those who will judge creativity? So maybe
break it down into groups...those with original artwork and those with
copies. Just my thoughts...
If I re-read this again I notice that the question is about ARTWORK.
You bring up some very valid questions. I think first we need to
decide whether we are holding "art exhibits" or "kite building
competitions. IM (very) HO, if we are holding kite building
competitions we should be judging kites not artwork. This is not to
say that many kites aren't works of art (they are) and is many cases
kites are an art form themselves.
Kites are by definition a "tethered, heavier than air, aircraft." We
can objectively discern if and how well a kite meets this description
by seeing it fly, or not. We can judge how well it is built by looking
at the final product, are straight lines straight? Is glue oozed where
it shouldn't be? On this traditional kite the basswood spars are
nicely sanded, on that one, they appear to have just left the table
saw and leave you with splinters. These kinds of things we can judge.
Now lets look at "artwork." Not everyone is born an artist, not
everyone is able to develop the talents to be one. Heck, I know the
definition of a kite and I know what I like, but I wouldn't want to
have to define art. Even if I would, or could, the person (see, even
that is politically correct) sitting next to me is going to have a
different idea what art is, so we start off with a problem. I can look
at a kite or two and tell you which is more pleasing to my eye but my
daughter might well disagree. (she does when it comes to music but
that's another "art form") In judging "artwork" we eventually put
ourselves into the position of deciding whether this Monet or that
Piccaso is the greater artist and ultimately it all boils down to
who's doing the looking.
Personally the old saw that says "Kite Competition is an Oxymoron"
rings very true. Further the comprehensive competition sometime seems
to bring out the ugly in some otherwise nice people (mines better than
yours is) On the other hand it is often the driving force behind the
creation of some gorgeous kites. If we are going to do this lets try
to keep in a "measurable format' and again, in my very humble
opinion, trying to "measure" the value of original artwork when
judging kites is like comparing apples to oranges.
Terry "Gizmo" Gerweck
>trying to "measure" the value of original
>judging kites is like comparing apples to oranges.
There have been some great responses in this thread that I would have liked the
opportunity to add my opinions for what they are worth. Just when a juicy
response is being posted from me, I get kicked off this damn AOHELL. I know, I
know I need to change.
I think this is a great topic for exchange.
Terry's last comment probably hits the nail on the head. My next post was
going to suggest that Artwork should be in a totally different category.
Thereby judged on the merits of its origianal artwork and not involve
craftsmanship at all. Speaking of Aimee Barsello types of presentations at
Although I am a proponent of providing competitions for those who like to
compete, the AKA several years ago in Jacksonville Florida tried to limit
competitions to one day events. The other consideration is trying to find the
time at a banquet to allow all the awards to be handed out. In Hawaii it was a
problem since the facility was only available for a specific amount of time.
Lastly, the number of awards becomes very expensive to finance. I am sure that
is the least of the problems but there is only so much time that one convention
can spend on competitions and awards. I have long since given up on trying to
judge, trying to give seminars, trying to accept awards, I just like to come
and see. Again, Terry is correct. It seems as though we would have to hire
some pretty qualified judges to determine the the validity of Kite Artwork
orginality. I have seen some pretty artistic work that wouldn't have passed
the stitch length, spot of glue, hem width test but I certainly would given the
kite a whole lotta points for originality.
Just want to say there has been a whole lotta good input on the topic and the
discussion has been fun. Not too serious just serious enough.
Let's not forget, as in a good kite, the frame can make or
break a good piece of
From The Land of 10,000 Kite flying Fields,
(Is that original or what?)
Ha! Are you making fun of my Black Rock??
;-) I think that a Totally
original should count as more than and adaptation which should count
more than a copy, which should count more than a geometric.....
Take my (Nancy's) Ladybug Rok for instance... the Idea came about
because we had an "infestation" last fall in this area, and folks were
complaining, wondering when they would all come out of "hibernation"...
the Idea was original, but sitting down and trying to draw my idea was
another matter.... then I did a web search and found the "right"
ladybugs, "adapted" them from a 3-d view, to 2-d, moved some legs and
spots and stuff around, and I Liked it. So, by my own admission, the
artwork would count less than if I had just sat down and drawn the whole
thing on the sail, but more than if I blew up a copy and traced it
on..... and probably more than my Black Rok.. (but it has it's place
Just my take on things...
BTW, I was kinda wondering along those same lines when I first looked at
Mikey Luvs Ya!!
How 'bout we look at it his way........
Does involve colors?
Haven't all colors already been used by someone else?
Doesn't that eliminate all "originality" and limit judging to "creativity"?
Just my opinion.
See you in the sky,
Steve Ferrel asked: What is "original" in
reference to artwork on a kite?
In my view there is little "original" art. Even the Mona Lisa was not very
original - a beguiling portrait of a woman - done differently than the
thousands of other painters of similar women. In judging kite art I think we
would do better to look for creativity and innovation and these are not
easily measured. On the other hand "original" can simply mean first, not a
copy of a previous work, a new creation. I hope we can keep the lid on this
potential can of worms. Just my$.02
Old Dog Learning New Tricks
On the other hand
"original" can simply mean first, not a
>copy of a previous work, a new creation. I hope we can keep the lid on this
>potential can of worms.
I have several things to say on this topic and I do not think it is a can of
worms. I do think the topic needs discussion but not argument.
You could disect the question into simple words such as "original" and"artwork"
and what do they mean? I think that might be too anal for this discussion.
Artwork to me is the expression of a persons feelings brought to the attention
of other people. It can be a photograph, a painting, a garden, or a sand
sculpture. It can be a campbells soup can brought to us(the audience), like no
other has expressed it before. Art is the picture of a persons soul.
A copy is exactly that, a rendering of an orginal expression, whether it is
wood burned into a box, or the colors of the original are changed or the
orignal idea is moved to one side a little bit.
"Copies" are not necessarily bad or unworthy, they are just in a different
category than Art. In order to judge a piece of art, one must be knowledgable
about the subject. I have just been studying the Art Deco period to discover
the Wm Bradley, Alphonse Muchas, and
Aubrey beardsley's styles had much in common with lesser known artists of the
same period of time. And artists and designers in this period were "inspired"
by the new Oriental "influence." I have put several words here in Quotations
because they have a relationship to the word "copy".
I have seen kitemakers use obscure artwork, artwork that the public is unaware
of, claim as their own. I think that is wrong to do. I think the original
inspiration should be given credit. The "craftperson" ( the one who used the
original idea) should be given credit for rerendering the original idea on the
medium of kites.
I do feel seeing a Degas, Matisse, Mucha or a Don Morris a couple hundred feet
in the sky is a totally different experience than seeing it on a wall or a
There are a few other distintions that should be considered during this
discussion but it might take took much room to do that. I think each should be
broken down to their simplest forms to solve the problem though.
I just got carried away on this topic.
You make some good points. I like your definition of art as the expression
of a person's feeling brought to the attention of other people. My feeling
about kite art is that it should do just that - express one's feeling about
the joy of one's soul soaring aloft with the kite - and do so with 100 feet
of line out. A kite should be more than just an easel in the sky.
What if I make an Edo kite that looks like a can of
Campbel's Soup do I consider
this original art, assuming that no one else has already done it? Or am I
copying the original designer of the Campbel's soup can, or am I coping an Andy
From The Land of 10,000 Kite Flying Fields,
(and all 10,000 are originals)
I would like to say it's a bag of snakes not a can of worms.
I fear the
direction of the disscussion will lead only to more catagories for judging. Is
originality "worth" more than execution ? It will then keep us on the honer
system for "original content" is it nagle or merely nagelesque? It like rap
with computers, can you sample art then tweak it to your taste and call it
original? I final thought all things equa lthe nod should go to the most
original piece because that seem to be the issue, who takes the wood. Rob
if it doesn't blow,it sucks;fly kites rob cembalest
"Steve Ferrel" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in
> ...... there are many, many more questions, but those are a start. Lets
> hear your thoughts...
Since you have asked a questions with no *real* answers, I will reply by
asking another one:
If a person was born and raised in a cave, with no contact with other
humans, and drew figures and drawings in the sand or on rocks with graphite,
would he create original ideas?
Yikes. People seem to think that qestioning things that are unquestionable
will answer *something*.
Almost as bizzare as someone asking the question, "does God exist?"
My *answer* might be, "why do you ask?"
Whoa. Heavy :-)
The Puppet Kite Kid
The Puppet Kite Kid wrote
> If a person was born and raised in a cave, with no contact with other
> humans, and drew figures and drawings in the sand or on rocks with
> would he create original ideas?
I think you just opened the lid on that can of worms.
He also wrote
> Yikes. People seem to think that qestioning things that are
> will answer *something*.
Sure, they will. I think it was Fulgum (Everything I had to know I learned
in Kindergarten) who said in any discussion group there are two kinds of
people - first there are those who have something to say, then there are
those who have to say something. I'm afraid I just put myself in that last
before i was a historian, and long before i started flying
was pursuing a career exclusively in the fine arts. the argument
you're bringing up is one that, strangely, is mainly a modern enigma.
for thousands of years artists 'stole' eachother's ideas, but for the
majority of cases, it was regarded simply as a case of 'influence' and
not 'theft'. certainly into the twentieth century movements like dada
and pop art continued the practice, along with non-visual forms such
as folk and rap music, which both rely heavily on precedential
formats. in our era, however, a new animal has evolved: the
proffesional copyright attorney. this creature, not capable of
percieving irony, simply aims for identification of borrowed items for
the sole purpose of acquiring wealth.
now, firstly, thank your lucky stars that there probably aren't many
of these creatures attending kite contests. for whatever reason, there
are obviously infringements being produced constantly. however, i
don't think that we're dealing with a huge financial windfall, so the
threat should be minimal.
however, the issue of judging betwixt original and creative is a hairy
one and it seems that judges should be sought who can make the
although a person should have every right under the 'fair use'
copyright laws to make, let's say, a kite with a famous cartoon
character on it, that does not mean that they should be applauded for
originality or creativity, just because such a kite has possibly never
existed. if, however, variations on the image are made for particular
effect, irony, etc., the ball (of string) rolls into the other side of
i would also say that any such judgement of image content at a kite
contest should be a very small event compared to things like body
design, flying skills, etc.
i think multiple categories for images would be the only solution at a
large festival with many entries, possible titled things like 'best
use of a cultural icon', ' best abstract (or non-representational)
image', 'best original artwork', and then perhaps a 'best of all
categories', for good measure.
rev. brett r. schutzman
director of operations
Years ago when Lee Toy and I were working on putting a book together about
Comprehensive Kite Competitions, it was in a room in Chicago, we merely were
looking to help satisfy people's thirst to compete. One the book of
"guidelines" was published by AKA several years later, Lee wrote to me and said
"we made a mistake in trying to capture rules to judge creativity." At first
I was hurt by his comment but afterwhile I realized what he meant. "Rules"
only begat more rules and the bookof rules will ony become so heavy it cannot
be carried by one person alone.
I am beginning to subscribe to the thought that we should let the public decide
which one kite they like the best. That then is the winner and the
competition is done in one day. Life is truly so short it should be spent
flying kites and not judging the minutia. I like, Leland, think we made a
mistake trying to capture guidelines much less rules, too much time stressing
and less time being happy.
The problem is, many people enjoy competing. The AKA
draw more individuals then almost any other field event at our annual
convention, and the basic rules that Lee and Kathy compiled are still used.
Sure, judging beauty is subjective. However, the rules call for an evaluation
of four different criteria -- craftsmanship, design, flight, and visual
No where is the *quality* of "art" mentioned in the lengthy description of
these four criteria. Instead, one question asked is about "original art" as
opposed to a copy of something else. The scoring system is an attempt to make
something inherently subjective as objective as possible -- for those who wish
Kathy now says that we should simply let the public decide. AKA does
that too. We have our People's Choice events in addition to the more
rigorous Kitemaking Competition. It's our best effort to have it both
ways and please everyone.
On Fri, 8 Jun 2001 11:47:24 -0400, "Steve Ferrel"
>As a member of the AKA's Comprehensive Kitemaking Committee, I'd like to
>hear discussion on originality. I have my own personal beliefs but I'd like
>to hear what you think.
I suspect this question stems from a desire to define judging criteria,
but there's something more subtle going on too.
One of the more insidious requirements for a judging criterion is that
it should be a metric - it must be possible to rank a given entry as
being somehow 'greater than' or 'less than' other entrys, according to
The problem here is that this is attempting to conflate judgement with
*measurement*. Thus when we consider the question 'is X more original
than Y' then the question is doubly difficult, because we lack an
adequate definition not only of 'original', but also of 'more'.
Why has the idea of measurement been invoked ? Almost certainly in an
attempt to inject a little pseudo - objectivity into the process, since
objectivity is frequently confused with 'fairness', and competitive
people get very upset if their game isn't 'fair'.
'Pseudo' because true objectivity is the domain of statistical sampling
and calibrated physical measurement, neither of which feature highly in
the minds of those viewing a ( purported ) work of art ( although I've
heard tell that some particularly sad people will try to measure stitch
lengths with a digital micrometer ).
The only honest way out of this dead end is to openly abandon the
pursuit of any veneer of objectivity, and to simply award prizes to
those kites which, in the opinion of the judges, are beautiful.
Note carefully that the question 'is it beautiful ? ' is a vastly
different thing to the question 'is it more beautiful than... ?'.
This makes the judgement clearly as totally subjective as it is possible
to be, and may encourage a little more Aoxo :).
PGP Key from ldap://certserver.pgp.com, http://pgpkeys.mit.edu:11371
Gosh I wish I had said this!
>Note carefully that the question 'is it beautiful ? ' is a vastly
>different thing to the question 'is it more beautiful than... ?'.
>This makes the judgement clearly as totally subjective as it is possible
>to be, and may encourage a little more Aoxo :).
Brilliant!! Here, Here! and Amen!
In article <email@example.com>, Mark de Roussier
>he only honest way out of this dead end is to openly abandon the
>pursuit of any veneer of objectivity, and to simply award prizes to
>those kites which, in the opinion of the judges, are beautiful.
>Note carefully that the question 'is it beautiful ? ' is a vastly
>different thing to the question 'is it more beautiful than... ?'.
This is all very well, and is a swell way to attend a museum, or even to go
through life. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see how it helps
The concept of measurement is inherent in judging a competition. Giving one
person first prize, and another person second prize (if we were judging on
beauty alone) means (if it means anything) that the judges have determined the
first prize winner's kite as MORE beautiful than the second-prize winner. Even
if you evade this problem by abandoning the ranking of prizes, you still end up
giving prizes to some people and not others, surely suggesting that the ones
with prizes have made kites MORE beautiful than the ones without prizes. The
only way to eliminate the more/less scale is to go to a blunt beautiful/ugly
decision, which is not only absurd but, presumably, unacceptable..
To me, the whole enterprise of kite criticism, or flight criticism, or art
criticism, is only annoying, because I don't compete. But, as David Gomberg
said, many people seem to like these competitions, and I've enjoyed attending
them, just to see the beautiful kites.
If, somehow, standards of judging were nailed down, then I hope kitebuilders
wouldn't simply build kites that would win prizes. I hope they'd continue to
build kites they thought beautiful.
I do think the "is it beautiful" question best answers the "is it original"
question. Even determining WHETHER it's original is beyond the capacity of
likely judges. And to introduce originality as a necessary component of a
craft that has a rich tradition is like looking for the best original folk
song. If it's original, you can't disallow it (since you can't even know it)
but I wouldn't give it "extra points".
On 12 Jun 2001 15:04:13 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave Bovee) wrote:
>In article <email@example.com>, Mark de Roussier
>>he only honest way out of this dead end is to openly abandon the
>>pursuit of any veneer of objectivity, and to simply award prizes to
>>those kites which, in the opinion of the judges, are beautiful.
>>Note carefully that the question 'is it beautiful ? ' is a vastly
>>different thing to the question 'is it more beautiful than... ?'.
>This is all very well, and is a swell way to attend a museum, or even to go
>through life. Perhaps I'm missing something...
>, but I don't see how it helps judges.
I was attempting to explain why I think that 'judging' art by redefining
it in terms of measurable properties ( simply in order to allow it to be
ranked ) is an exercise in futility.
PGP Key from ldap://certserver.pgp.com, http://pgpkeys.mit.edu:11371
Bingo Mark. In a formal comprehensive kitebuilding
competition, as a judge,
I need written criteria. Without that written list of questions
"measurement" to ask myself as I score a kite, it is difficult to maintain
There currently is a very good set of definitions. The original kitemaking
competitions committee did a commendable job creating the guidelines that
provide a standardized format for competitions. "Originality" is written
into those guidelines/criteria as just one of many things to consider when
assigning the score. However, over the years we have seen what has been
claimed to be "original artwork" and some of those who have created such
pieces have requested additional recognition. On a personal level, in my
mind, I feel in some way those efforts should be rewarded. But it has always
been difficult for me to define - hence the original post. Maybe this
additional recognition should remain as the vote from the membership (thank
you Kathy, I sure wish I could have met Lee) as the People's Choice award...
where no "metric measurement" is needed.
As David said, people enjoy the kitebuilding competitions. I have to stress
that all this talk of rules and procedures and guidelines should not scare
people away. The competition field is not a stressful place. We have
fun........ People seem to enjoy the camaraderie as they ascend their kite
along with other kitebuilders that they have read about or heard about
throughout the year... They enjoy the competition among piers. And they
enjoy looking at the kites that win, seeing how and why they won, and
learning different techniques to improve their skills and or make their
hobby of kitebuilding easier. I don't think "competition" negates happiness.
I cant wait to see all the "beautiful" kites that pack the banquet hall this
"Mark de Roussier" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
> I suspect this question stems from a desire to define judging criteria,
> but there's something more subtle going on too.
> One of the more insidious requirements for a judging criterion is that
> it should be a metric - it must be possible to rank a given entry as
> being somehow 'greater than' or 'less than' other entrys, according to
> that criterion.
> The problem here is that this is attempting to conflate judgement with
> *measurement*. Thus when we consider the question 'is X more original
> than Y' then the question is doubly difficult, because we lack an
> adequate definition not only of 'original', but also of 'more'.
Well, I sort of agree - buit surely the thing is to appoint
judges who have
the attributes and experience to judge the competition fairly and
competently. So, what are these? Well, here are some thoughts on that:
The judging panel should be kite builders and fliers who know what actually
goes into making kites. On the panel there should be a spread of knowledge
(which nedn't all be resting in the same individual person's head!) about
techniques (applique, etc); types of kite (soft/traditional/foil etc, etc);
kite history (so that they can see something that's actually new, rather
than a straightforward copy of someone else's work); a good knowledge of
what's been happening at other competitions around the world (so that we
don't get a single (albeit superb) kite that simply gets hawked around all
the competitions for a couple of years, stifling competition); main-stream
art (so that they have some idea of reference, and the place of this work of
art in the world), and lastly, I think that they need a hide like an
elephant, since they'll never get the judging right for all people.
I guess that these are probably the exact sort of criteria that are used
when selecting judges. It's certainly not the right thing to get Lady
Cynthia Hogbottom-Smart to come out and make a judgement.
Oh, the originality thing. I think that we probably worry too much about
this. It's enough (surely?!) that when we look at the kite that wins, we
gasp and say that it's beautiful, clever, well made and 'says something' to
us. Think of the pleasure that you get when you see a good idea, well
implemented and that's the sort of thing that the judges should be thinking
when they decide. At Bristol last September there was a circoflex flying
that had a second kite, a bird, flying in the centre of the ring. For me,
that was one of those moments - I'd never seen anything like it before - it
looked exactly as if a kestrel or something was hovering in the ring.
Clever, innovative, well executed and so on. As for whether it would have
deserved to win any competition, I'm not qualified to judge. But it was one
of those things that makes making and flying kites such a continued
Lastly a few words about judging. It is difficult, and it should be.
Judges have to have the courage to make hard choices and to justify them.
Just think about the fuss that's made over the great artistic prizes such as
the Booker prize for literature and the Turner prize. These are surrounded
by controversy and so we shouldn't be too worried about it.
As for copyright and suchlike - well, if it's well executed and has a fresh
angle then in my books it's perfectly OK. But if it's cynically making
money that should be going to the original designer, then it's certainly not
OK. (but we've been here many, many times before, haven't we folks?)
That's it - end of diatribe
It may be worth making clear a few things that I'm *not* saying.
I'm not saying that Art cannot, or even should not, be judged - just
that it cannot be *objectively* measured, and that falling into this way
of thinking is a great danger when 'art' and 'competition' are being
It's also quite clear to me that there are folk who enjoy competition,
and I'm not saying that they should not be catered for.
But I also know that there are many people who are very good indeed at
what they do who would not dream of entering a competition. For me, this
diminishes the attraction of competitions - the winner is generally
accorded 'status' for being 'first', and yet they are 'first' merely
amongst those who have chosen to compete in that competition, and ( in
the case of 'art' competitions ) according to the judgement of a
particular set of judges.
To those who like to compete, I'd say choose a discipline in which your
performance can be objectively measured, or else accept that you are
simply another artist looking to have your ego stroked.