“Covers” in the Visual Arts

Original Photograph                          My Interpretive “Cover”


Why the Double Standard When Comparing a Musical “Cover” with a Visual Arts “Cover”?

Why do so many people react with revulsion when an artist “re-interprets” another artists’ work (with their expressed permission, of course!)  by creating a new, unique version of it? In the music world this is, and has been for quite a long time a widely accepted practice known as recording a “cover” of an already published song. I know most everyone reading this piece is familiar with Joe Cocker’s exceptional cover of the Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Do a quick search on the internet and you will find a wide variety of covers of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, or how about Linda Ronstadt. Her highly successful singing career was from mostly doing covers of other artist’s songs.

No one gets upset about these reworked songs – but when an artist wants to use another artist’s work – say a photograph for instance,  to create a new, unique version or “cover” of it in a different medium they are commonly barraged with negative comments like: That’s “copying”; it’s fake art; you are stealing; ect.


Now, please, be frank with me. When you saw the two images at the top of this blog post was your first gut reaction one similar to the ones I mentioned in the previous paragraph? Something like: how dare he do that! He’s copying another artist’s work! Or are you one of the few who honestly have no problem whatsoever with what I have done?


Working in a different medium – digital painting –  I’m actually creating my own “cover” of that photograph – which was, by the way freely given to me by the photographer to use as a reference for my work. (I would never think of covering  another person’s art or photograph without their explicit permission). I source most of my covered works from Pixabay.com – which is a website that allows photographers to upload their work to be freely used by anyone for any purpose, including commercial uses. No attribution is required from most of these generous photographers, but I always include their names anyway as the reference photo’s owner when they are known to me. (The above photo was donated anonymously on Pixabay.com, so I am unable to display his/her name).

I’m wondering if anyone else out there feels the same way I do about this seeming “double standard” that is based on no valid foundation that I can find. Please feel free to add your comments if you have any.

Thanks for reading this far!

Warmest Regards,



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