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about Media Showcase

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Editor: Alix Lee

(continued from Home Page...) So, why put together yet another visual arts site? The main reason is that I think people without art school training, or people without access to an art college education (or who don't have time for such thoroughgoing study) could benefit from a site like this, although of course, anyone who thinks the site is useful is welcome to use it. A secondary reason is that as a self-taught artist, I've never had to teach other people how to produce artwork, which is an additional skill most artists don't necessarily have -- and this is definitely the case with me, so in this I'm learning something myself. A third reason is that I thought it may be a nice idea to make all my own work available for anyone who wants it. There are other reasons, too, but these are the main ones.

And what are my own qualifications for giving people advice on how to create visual artwork? None, at least not formally speaking.

I didn't receive any formal education in art. Nor was I a particularly outstanding student at high school, which I dropped out of at the first opportunity. At school, my worst end-of-term report for Arts & Crafts placed me 28th out of a class of 30, while the best report put me at 8th in the class. After leaving school, I decided to take up artwork and began painting in oils, watercolours and (later), acrylics. After spending some months of all my free time at this, I decided I was ready to try to get into art college, applied to the local art college for admission without 'O' Levels, and got it. But as I waited through that summer for the first year to begin, the more I thought about studying at art college, the less I liked the idea. Having spent only a few hours there, I got the impression that the other students there were just too pretentious, and I couldn't imagine getting along with them. So I did the logical thing; I went to work in a bottle factory!

That said, many of the traditional media illustrations on this site were originally paid for and used commercially (though I retained copyright), and many of the photographs were once available on commercial photo libraries (but no more). So the fact that the site features artwork by an amateur visual artist does not necessarily imply all the work is amateurish. All is now in the public domain, which means you are free to use any or all of it for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial. You can also combine the artwork here with other artwork and use it in your own projects as you see fit.

Providing free artwork, however, is only a secondary purpose of this site. The main aim is to inspire other aspiring visual artists -- including those with as mediocre a school record as I had -- to realise that anybody can create artwork with a little effort in the right direction. IF the site succeeds in doing this, then the site itself is a success...

Why Public Domain?

There are already hundreds of websites offering copyright-free images, aren't there?

There are plenty of sites that fit that description, true. The vast majority fall into one of several categories: The first are large, commercial sites which sell from a database of millions - even tens of millions - of images. In addition to those millions of paid-for pics, they may provide a few dozen (sometimes even just a handful) of their worst images for free. Usually, even for these, you need to start an account with them. This is just a marketing technique to draw people into starting an account, and in future, finding that the extremely limited selection of public domain images doesn't meet their needs, they begin buying 'royalty free' images.

The second category is photo-sharing sites. You can find public domain images on these sites, but in most cases whether an image is put in the public domain or is protected by copyright is left to the creator of image, and you will only learn this information upon reading the creator's profile. You could spend a hundred hours trawling through these sites without coming across a single public domain image, and most photo-sharing sites provide 'warnings' to regard all images as copyright protected unless explicitly stated otherwise.

A third category is photographers or artists who have their own websites. Following the commercial image bank model, many provide a few of their worst pictures for free. Often the images they do provide for free are not only poor in artistic quality but tiny, little larger than a 'thumbnail' image. The number of photographers providing quality public domain photos in any significant number on English-language websites can be counted on one hand, and their pictures are also available on MediaShowcase anyway.

Evidently then, there is a call for a website able to provide large numbers of quality images which are not merely 'royalty' free, but are completely free. Like other photographers and artists, my own public domain images are naturally limited in number, but I have also decided to include other quality public domain images on this site, so providing the site receives enough support to pay for its hosting, it can continue to expand and fill a useful public service.

Why No 'Please Start an Account' Requirement?

While recent years have seen a rise in websites which provide a sense of community rather than just providing content, the willingness of individuals to supply their personal information dropped dramatically after Edward Snowden's revelations of the extent of government snooping through the intelligence agencies of the United States and those countries dedicated to working on behalf of US interests. People are understandably reluctant to provide information to websites, particularly in light of the fact that most 'privacy policies' are effectively worthless anyway, and huge amounts of personal data somehow finds its way from these websites to data brokers who collate it with known 'real-world' data, and the result finally ends up being used as a basis for bombarding individuals with unwanted advertising.

There is no need to start an account to download and use any image on this site, and do so without restrictions. All images are copyright-free and MediaShowcase isn't trying to sell you anything; collecting user information would be nothing more than a burden. The site doesn't even use analytics to track browser types and location, and doesn't even use cookies.

Direction of Future Development

While this site was originally intended mostly to showcase my own work, it has now developed to include some public domain work by other artists and photographers. Artists and photographers seeking exposure for their work are welcome to contribute, either individual images or even complete galleries. There are three basic requirements for submissions: One, it has to be your own work, not the work of others. That is to say, you created it. Two, it has to be quality work. That doesn't mean it necessarily needs to be a masterpiece, but the work should be something of a publishable standard -- something you wouldn't be surprised to see published in a commercial print publication or on a major website. Third, work submitted needs to be public domain. That means you relinquish copyright claims (as I have done) to the work. While this may not seem a particularly enticing demand for an aspiring artist, bear in mind that putting one piece of artwork into the public domain doesn't imply you are giving up the pursuit of an art career -- it's just that particular work which is in the public domain, there for the exposure value. And as long as the site operates, you will be credited as creator of artwork. Anyway, those who are interested in submitting work please do so through the e-mail link below. Submissions can be for inclusion in any of the current galleries which already include work of other people (such as the Panorama photo gallery), or any full gallery which you wish to produce yourself, as a once-off (as in, for example, 'Paris 2013 Gallery'), or ongoing (as in 'Paris Photoblog').

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