Letter from the Editor: Respect the pinche artist (*updated)

Yesterday I drew and subsequently shared on Facebook my syndicated editorial cartoon on Dolores Huerta receiving her Presidential Medal of Freedom (above.)

Many of you shared it, as was my request. Thank you! We are all proud of the living legend Dolores Huerta, and the respect she has garnered, especially this week.

However one person, an FB user named Steven downloaded my heartfelt artwork, defaced it and even removed my name and made his own anti-Obama and Dolores Huerta statement. His political opinion is not the issue here. I have held much the same anti-political parties opinion in the past. What has angered me is the disrespect to my work as an artist. Let me explain why, just to be completely clear.

I’m not an art hobbyist. This is part of my life’s work that I make a living from. I don’t have grants, a millionaire sponsor, or a day job in some office building. What I have of value is my artwork. I am a professional artist. This IS my day job.

Even so, many of you know that I donate my art freely to help raise funds for many groups and organizations, including the UFW, the Tucson Unified School District, medical fundraisers, countless public schools all over the country, DREAM Act student benefits, benefits for Teatro Groups, anti-SB1070 marches, PROP 187 MARCHES (Ha ha, pre-historic), scholarship funds, free legal centers, community art centers, immigrants’ rights groups, and even the awesome American Friends Service Committee! Regardless, I do it on my terms, and I spell out what they can and can’t do with my art.

As a copyright holder, it is my legal responsibility to stand up and assert my copyright. If I don’t, then my art loses value, and becomes no more valuable than clip art. If people think they can just take it and make their own “art” with it, then I’m the one who loses out.

If you are one of those people who think copyright law is some capitalist fascist conspiracy, then I would gladly donate all my artwork for free, for all time, if you agree to write me a substantial check each month to support me and my bills, only for the rest of my natural life, and for that of my three kids. I would love for my art to eventually become clip art, say, in about 75 years. This is what we do with Jose Guadalupe Posada‘s calavera art, and that’s probably fine with him now.

This is not censorship, because no one is telling the poster what to say or think. Instead of defacing my image, don’t you think he could make the same point by taking a photograph of the award ceremony and putting his ugly type and other crappy graphics he jacked? Sorry, I should be more supportive. What if he did a really cool drawing of Barack Obama and Dolores Huerta and then put his wonderful graphic stylings on it? That would be cool!

I am sad to report my disappointment in the lack of respect for artists that many FB posters and people sharing this graphic seem to communicate in their comments. Since last night, I have been asking Steven Payan respectfully to remove the piece, but have not heard back anything. If you have shared it, please delete it. I don’t want to get Facebook involved, because this could screw with his FB page, and I don’t want to do that. But if you are friends with him, could you please get ahold of him and convey my request, respectfully?

UPDATE: As of Thursday night, the image “re-mixer” has finally responded and has called me names like, “token cartoonist,” “opportunist,” and someone who doesn’t have a life. While he is right about the third accusation, I have no time to process his disses. I get called that and more each week by hatemail writers, and have regularly been dissed, threatened and even stalked by lesser intellects. I just ask over and over, that he remove my image. Will update in the morning.

UPDATE: Late last evening, the poster had agreed to take down the image as long as I told my FB fans and friends to chill out and stop harassing him. As of Friday morning, he has added more disparaging comments about me and my art, linking images I have photoshopped and modified to make original pieces of art. While a case can be made that I incorporate others imagery into my work, there is a difference between satire and parody, and plagiarism. The poster was not doing a parody of MY work, he was making a political statement about Dolores Huerta and Barack Obama and political pandering, and was using my unmodified art, while removing attribution. I have politely asked for the 1000th time it seems for the young man to take the damn cartoon down. As of 930am, either he took down the post, or Facebook did. It’s not clear but at least it is gone!

It's not as if I haven't criticized Obama's immigration policies