Project Appropriation & Sampling

17th June 2020

Appropriation in art is the practice of using pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to the original subject without authority from the person who has the copyright. It is a mind field of rules and regulations because it is about stealing, ownership and originality.

This link to Tate website,, explains how Appropriation began with Cubism from 1912 with Picasso using African culture, it became a strategy of the pop Artists in the 1960’s but is related more specifically to the art of American artists in the 1980s, notably Sherrie Levine and the artists of the Neo-Geogroup particularly Jeff Koons. 

Artists and Photographers and Appropriation

The American artist Jeff Koons was taken to court when he used French ad executive Franck Davidovici’s photograph called ‘Fait d’Hiver’ (1985) and created a sculpture of the same name in 1988. Davidovici sued Koons for copyright infringement and Koons was ordered to pay $168,000 in plagiarism fines.

The well known picture of Barack Obama which was created by street artist Shepard Fairey was constructed from a photograph by Mannie Garcia. The image was said to help Obama win the election by some. Shepard Fairey ended up being taken to court and the events surrounding this and can be read on the website Wired,

General Idea was a collective formed in Canada in the late 1960s by AA Bronson (born 1944), Felix Partz (1945–1994) and Jorge Zontal (1944–1994). The group was a pioneer of conceptual and collaborative art practice. They often used and subverted popular culture and mass media (running shops, holding beauty pageants, making postcards). In 1986 the group moved to New York and their work focused on promoting AIDS awareness. After amending Robert Indiana’s famous ‘Love’ design to replace the word LOVE with AIDS, the logo was reprinted on bags, billboards and fly posters as well as wallpaper.


Is Appropriation borrowing, theft or paying respect?

The images

I decided that I would use portraits as my media sources so using both of my daughters interests on YouTube gaming as a reference point I asked them which gamers are their favourite. I then used YouTube to find them and took a screenshot of them while they were playing and talking to the viewers.

For the screenshots I watched the most up to date videos with them visually present and waited for an interesting facial expression. Once I had found the shot that I wanted I had to re-wind the video slightly so that I could obtain the exact image that I wanted.

The completed image which I have called ‘Game On!’ is below:

Game On!

Following on from this creation I decided that I wanted to create a grid relating to the current climate connected with the Covid-19 virus. Music is one of my loves in life, so I decided to keep to the theme of portraits but this time to use the portraits from and the post ‘Stars who died from the coronavirus.’

The completed grid which I have called ‘Gone Today’ is below:

Gone Today

Thinking along the lines of how Covid-19 now influences our lives I decided on a theme connected with how people in their isolation kept socialising safely. I came up with ideas such as Zoom and Skype meetings, Facebook and other social media networks as well as good old telephone calls and texting.

A quick and personal grid is the one that can be seen below which is a screen shot of a creative writing zoom workshop that I took part in on Friday 19th June 2020. With this grid I couldn’t alter the layout which included details like who was talking at the time of the screenshot which can be seen by the green box around Nadia. This concept is quite interesting personally especially as at the moment I am taking part in watercolour, creative writing, mixed media, doodle art, abstract art and tea and talk weekly workshops.

What I particularly liked with this image is the black box that comes as part of the screen shot. I could have cropped it out but I feel it actually adds to the overall feel and design of the image as well as the fact that it is a true representation of the screen.

Creative writing workshop on zoom

Moving on from my own personal grid I began to start to think more about my daughters and how they were socialising, I decided to make a grid about online gaming, wether by mobile phone, computer or a games console.

Researching popular games and asking my daughters which games they were using most frequently, I came across the article ’25 best video games to help you socialise while self-isolating, which can be found on The Guardian website the Reading this article and knowing the information that I had obtained from my daughters, I created the grid below called, ”Come Play With Me!’.

Come Play With Me!

I decided to explore the composition of the grid more. Due to the fact that the gaming industry is very design orientated I wanted a grid that was quite dynamic in its own right and which would match the strength of the images that I had obtained on games.

To add a little more interest to the grid I decided to crop in tightly on some of the images so that text was the main focus rather than the imagery.

I discovered that sometimes cropping the images meant that the excitement contained within the bright, energetic designs became lost slightly and the crops would take away important parts of the illustration. For example, in the above Fortnite, Battle Royale grid the over sized gun that the trooper is carrying on the right is cropped slightly which spoils the image.

Over all the grid works very well because it catches the eye, draws you into the information within the illustrations and the large text with its boldness.

This grid does have a few design flaws. Cropping into the images, as briefly discussed above, has come with its own drawbacks that some of the information is lost.

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