Watercolor Society of Alabama

Promoting and Supporting Watermedia Since 1939

Original Art Defined

Q.  How does WSA define the “original art” requirement for entries?

Answer:

Competing artists must use their own design and composition.  Copying a photo taken by another person, or copying another painting or magazine picture, or work done under an instructor’s supervision is not considered original work. The Artists Magazine, Nov 2014 issue, has an excellent article on “What is Original Art?” by Faye McLain, Dallas, GA.

Eligibility rules in the WSA prospectus will tell you whether your planned submission meets the “original” painting requirement.  The NOT ALLOWED requirements stated below, further clarify the term “original.”

  • Copies or likeness of another’s work (i.e. painting, drawing, photograph, digital image or print) are not allowed.

WSA perspective is totally focused on fairness in competition exhibitions and protection of WSA while implementing the copyright laws. Even if permission is granted to copy works of others, for a competition it is not fair to copy ideas, designs, etc., of other artists.  Therefore copies or likenesses of another artist’s work including published source or reference not attributable to the competing artist is not allowed by WSA. In addition, even if the artist has permission from the copyright owner to copy by painting the source work, WSA would not have permission of the copyright owner to exhibit the copied work or to publish it in our catalog. Therefore, WSA would be liable to the copyright owner for violating the copyright laws.

  • Artwork derived from any published source is not acceptable.

Published sources include any magazine, newspaper, billboard, newsletter, other artist’s work whether online or wherever.  None of these can be used as source materials for artwork submitted for WSA competitions.  This does not apply to your original work that has been published.  Authorization to use works of another artist is fine for certain applications (teaching resources, e.g.), but not allowed for WSA competitions.  Your photos, published or not, can be used as reference sources for your original artwork.

Other unpublished photos taken by friends, family, e.g., with their approval could be appropriate references.  As competing artists we should keep a file of our reference sources, notes, sketches, date the painting is finished, etc., in case the Screening Committee of any competition has a question.  The Committee implements record searching to screen the originality of the painting; however, in most incidents, this type of information comes to us from competing artists who feel it is unfair.