|Joseph Wu Origami Inc. on Facebook|
If you look at the flow of conversation between Joseph and one overzealous and demanding fan (at first I thought he must be a young kid; glad he changed his tune, by the end), the attitude of the fan is emblematic of a prevailing problem in the age of the internet, that appears to be rather unique to origami. Nothing else comes to mind in any other medium or artform where complete strangers across cyberspace make impositions, rude comments, and unreasonable demands of artists to teach them how to duplicate their work. And if the artist is resistant, coercion is sometimes employed on the part of the "fan". On Won Park's Moneyfolder Group, I remember those who would write in accusing others of "withholding" information for not sharing diagrams in their possession but with which they do not have permission from the creators to distribute. And I recall whiny entitlement attitudes from coercion artists who express indignation and offense when the creator refuses to go out of his way to spoon-feed directions to the demander. If the creator refuses to share, guilt by claiming "this goes against the principles of peace and love and sharing that is at the heart of origami" Origami is about its selfless, giving nature, you see. I guess it's supposed to work in one direction.
I was thinking of the following story, relayed by Thomas Sowell, after communicating with a small business owner who has some of my origami work on consignment. She was interested in the dollar koi, which Won gave me permission to sell, as a customer keeps asking about the one they have on display in the shop.
At the moment, it's not enjoyable for me to fold. Just a bit burned out on it. It takes me about an hour and a half to fold, not including the MC application. And then of course, there's the time invested in being able to fold it well. So I said it should probably sell from $30 to $50. A bargain, in my opinion! A real steal...PLUS, the buyer would be getting a dollar instant rebate, back!
Anyway, the shop owner at the time thought it sounded a bit pricey; but I think that perception comes from people who don't distinguish the difference between origami children's paper craft from origami museum-quality art pieces.
A tourist in New York's Greenwich Village had his portrait sketched by a sidewalk artist, who charged him $100.
"That's expensive," the tourist said. "But it's a great sketch, so I'll pay it. But, really, it took you just five minutes."
"Twenty years and five minutes," the artist replied.
People tend to respect things more if you place a higher retail value on them. $30-$50 on my folding of Won Park's koi is a bargain basement price. Sometimes, I've parted with a piece in a budget range, affordable to the buyer.
Of course, I've given quite a number of them away, to friends, acquaintances, and strangers.
That's because I'm a swell guy.... sometimes.
Artists who can make a comfortable living doing what they do best- their art- can devote their time to exploring and further developing their art. Those who can't or don't choose to make a living at it will only do origami in their spare time.
The sharing of knowledge; the cross-pollination of different ideas enriches all and furthers the Art. But when someone like Robert Lang devotes his time and effort, his research and personal education, into producing an important work like "Origami Design Secrets" (it's in the post-ODS era that I think the current explosion in designs and number of creators has skyrocketed), should Dr. Lang and CRC Press simply give out free copies to everyone who wants one? Because sharing is caring and the spirit of origami is all about being generous and giving? Why should origami designing be the one unique field where knowledge is given freely without compensation to the artist while you yourself are paid for what you do best? Why don't you devote 100% of your time and work, free of charge?
Another zen story:
Gessen was an artist monk. Before he would start a drawing or painting he always insisted upon being paid in advance, and his fees were high. He was known as the "Stingy Artist."
A geisha once gave him a commission for a painting. "How much can you pay?" inquired Gessen.
"Whatever you charge," replied the girl, "but I want you to do the work in front of me."
So on a certain day Gessen was called by the geisha. She was holding a feast for her patron.
Gessen with fine brush work did the painting. When it was completed he asked the highest sum of his time.
He received his pay. Then the geisha turned to her patron, saying: "All this artist wants is money. His paintings are fine but his mind is dirty; money has caused it to become muddy. Drawn by such a filthy mind, his work is not fit to exhibit. It is just about good enough for one of my petticoats."
Removing her skirt, she then asked Gessen to do another picture on the back of her petticoat.
"How much will you pay?" asked Gessen.
"Oh, any amount," answered the girl.
Gessen named a fancy price, painted the picture in the manner requested, and went away.
It was learned later that Gessen had these reasons for desiring money:
A ravaging famine often visited his province. The rich would not help the poor, so Gessen had a secret warehouse, unknown to anyone, which he kept filled with grain, prepared for those emergencies.
From his village to the National Shrine the road was in very poor condition and many travellers suffered while traversing it. He desired to build a better road.
His teacher had passed away without realizing his wish to build a temple, and Gessen wished to complete this temple for him.
After Gessen had accomplished his three wishes he threw away his brushes and artist's materials and, retiring to the mountains, never painted again.
And finally, this one also comes to mind: