What if the only thing that prevented you from becoming a professional artist, or landing the job of your dreams was hard work? What if the knowledge you needed to accomplish your next art goal was freely available at no cost?
Sounds like utopia? Not that much.
For a long time, I've been thinking about a way to achieve this, and I finally found it. It is Open Art Education. It is at the same time a philosophy, a licensing and a sharing system and an economic model.
The idea behind open (art) education is to provide teaching resources like videos, texts, images and other digital files that are accessible at no-cost and openly licensed. In other words, educational content that you can freely use, modify, and share for any purpose.
As an example, imagine you're a teacher in Poland, and there's a great tutorial in French you'd like to share with your students. But you don't have the right to do so, because you only have one personal license and your students are not comfortable with French. Well, if this tutorial were openly licensed, you'd be free to record an audio translation, edit, remove and speed up parts of the tutorial you don't need and redistribute it to your students. The only constraint you'd have would be to credit the original author and share your modifications under the same license.
Now, imagine there's a ten hours video course about composition that you want to follow. Unfortunately, you can't afford the price asked, because the exchange rate with your currency makes it too expensive, or as a student, you just don't have that money. But if you could pay half of it, it is a waste, on both sides. With an open educational content, you'd be able to access it freely and contribute whatever you can, even if it's a couple of months later once you get a job.
This is called an Open Educational Resource, and it sets the basis for a true collaborative network of knowledge.
Is this a statement against copyright and making money? Absolutely not.
Many open licenses, such as the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, are also known as copyleft. They are built on top of copyright, which means they couldn't legally exist without it. What the past three decades of open source software (like Firefox, WordPress, Blender, Linux, etc.) show us is that copyleft is a fantastic match for copyright. When both exist in the same industry, it creates an incredible boost and raises the general awareness, bringing, in turn, more leads and skills.
Exactly like open source software, open education needs to be funded (we all have to pay the bills). But it can rely on another source of incomes than sales. Support, patronage, pledge, contribution, donation; there're many words for it. They all come down to the same basic concept: gift economy. Gift economy is when you don't set a fixed price, but let others decide, how, what and when they want to contribute. The same way copyleft doesn't threaten copyright, gift economy doesn't threaten market economy, they are complementary one to another.
So, here's the big news:
I'm super excited to announce that, next week, to the best of my knowledge, The Art Hacker will become the first Open Education initiative in the art industry.
The launch will come with a new video course of around 10 hours and a new reference pack, both openly licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.
After this, fresh openly licensed content will flow on a regular basis so that we can get this initiative rocking and maybe get more tutors to join the project!
I'd love to hear your thoughts about all this, your feedback would be really precious to write my next post! So please, feel free to comment below and let me know what you think, I read all comments.