At the turn of the twentieth century, there was a revolution in the way that artists used and held copyrights. In this new system, one piece of work was known as a “work made for hire” (WORK), while another was known as a “work protected”. Work protected works are almost always connected to the artist, or to the specific art medium. These works include paintings, drawings, music, motion pictures, architectural plans, tapestries, sculptures, and other artistic creations. Thus, from this vantage point, we can see the evolution of the digital age, and also how that evolution affected the way that artists used their copyrights.
When digital photography first became available to the public in the late nineteen nineties, everything suddenly became very accessible to everyone. Suddenly, it was easy to take pictures, film them, and then transfer them to CD for storage in your hard drive. This meant that there was an explosion in the production of all sorts of photographic works: home movies, family snaps, birthday cards, and more. The creation of the term “claudelands arena”, which refers to artists who create these kinds of images in order to illustrate things within a arena, is important to understand when thinking about the digital evolution of the visual arts.
By the next decade, there was another major development, and that was the rise of social media as a major force in the world of art. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were combined with applications such as augmented reality to form a completely new concept of the digital gallery: a place where art was actually made by the artist in collaboration with their fans. It was at this point in time that the concept of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) became the dominant style in digital art creation. Artists began to post their sketches and their creations on their walls, along with the dates they made them. This was not only a fantastic way to showcase your work, but it was also a great way for people to communicate to and engage with you as an artist.
The internet also became a major force in digital culture, and many companies were able to take advantage of this to promote themselves through the mediums of online community building and marketing. This was especially popularized by companies such as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), a site which first launched back in 2005 and has since become one of the most important and successful social networking sites in the world today. Companies such as Google bought the company and placed it in charge of launching Google AdSense, a paid advertising program through which website owners are given credit for generating traffic via their websites’ content. This has given businesses a great way to monetize their websites without having to spend a penny on traditional advertising, and it gave artists a new avenue to sell their work.
In terms of the types of art that were sold on these pages, a trend for the last few years has been towards photographic and video art, and some of the most popular pages have included videos by well-known YouTube stars such as Pewter Studios and Kyle Hogg. Video was initially a major factor in the growth of digital rights holding websites, as it was the first medium to allow for viral marketing and promotion of products online. The rise of viral videos and social networking has meant that the work of emerging artists from all over the world have found their way onto the pages of reputable sites such as GDI (Great Deals of Beauty), whereas the pages of established brands such as Procoat are becoming increasingly crowded by similar talented artists. As such, there is little cause for consumers to worry that traditional brands will overtake unique works by talented individuals.
Another major trend in the cultural evolution of New Zealand society is the increasing presence of Maori in everyday life. The rise of Maori cultural and traditional arts including art, music, beadwork and stone cutting is slowly changing the face of New Zealand society and is having a significant impact on the industry. Some of the best examples of this include the successful campaign launched by RNZ Maori in support of the claim of the hereditary Maori descent of its founder Te Puna. Te Puna’s descendants have been fighting for over 20 years to be recognized as Maori, and the launch of RNZ Maori’s campaign was designed as a major step in the right direction. Other examples include the launch of Papamoa’s book about his childhood and lifestyle in Mangere, and the book itself, written by former Prime Minister John Key.