I am sitting here, in a weird mental state…
First, thank you to everyone who has supported, shared, liked or encouraged my project. It means a lot to me to have so many of you believe that this is worthwhile. Some of you have gone well above and beyond in trying to help. There aren’t enough words to say how I feel about that.
Today, I was asked by a person on Twitter, if I was aware of the book “Places Lost”. I said I had heard of it, but I was frankly unaware of the details. I immediately however went to Amazon to look it up, with the intent of perhaps buying a copy. I have been, as many of you know, trying to help out fellow artists when and where I can lately. In addition, if it was something that I could use to help me in my project, than all the better.
When I saw the listing, read the description, I immediately suffered a panic attack.
This talented photographer, Scott Walden, almost 20 year ago, produced a book of the same format, same theme as I have intended for mine, worse, for me anyway, he had called his collection and subsequent show “Unsettled”…
My world was slipping out from in under me….
I was mortified….
I was shocked…
I was rattled….
I still am…..
I immediately found Mr. Walden’s webpage which thankfully had an email contact on it and wrote him the following letter.
I am writing you today with my stomach clenched and my heart racing.
I am a photographer, a graduate from the Fine Arts Program at NSCAD. For the past 2 years while I recovered from spinal surgeries I have been formulating the idea for a book, two books in fact.
One is Finding Forgotten Places, which is going to be a collection a travel type blogs while I visit many off the beaten path places in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The second is going to be a collection of fine art edits of the photographs collected on those travels that I intended to call Unsettled – What We Leave behind.
I was recommended your book, Places Lost, today and when I visited Amazon to look for the title, well, you can likely understand why I am writing you with my stomach clenched and my heart racing.
Not only did you do a similar book, I see that you called your collected work Unsettled.
I want to let you know that I 100% had no idea that you had done this, the approach you took, the titles you used, NOTHING. When I saw it I was shocked and more than a little rattled.
I have been working on this concept, registering domain names, titles etc. For over two years now but I don’t want to proceed with the Unsettled title if it is going to be stepping on your previous work, I am willing to change the title should you wish. I am going to continue with the project. Like you felt at the time you did your work I’m sure, I feel that this is a story that MUST be told, I am compelled to tell it. I have applied for grants and other sources to complete this project, and most importantly, this has now become a part of who I am.
I felt compelled to reach out to you and talk about it.
Your work is wonderful, we have different treatments of the subjects but we both, I feel, approach them with a respect for what they are and what they represent.
In short I felt I needed to ask your permission to continue using the Unsettled name. I would be more than happy to credit you in the book with the name and as a source of inspiration for the works I am producing.
Again, I am so sorry this happened, they say great minds think alike, and while I can’t attest to the greatness of MY mind, I assure, this was purely a case where two creative minds arrived at the same conclusion and felt compelled to do the same work.
All the very best to you and I wish you continued success with your endeavours.
p.s. Here is a link to a recent video I did where I narrated a sample work I compiled as a concept piece for Unsettled to give you an indication of the work I am doing. I can also be found on twitter should you wish to see the history of my project.
I said it in the letter, I’ll say it again, I had NO idea that this book was what it was, that I was familiar with the title only as I saw it in my research and had NO clue that Mr. Walden had a series of shows under the name of Unsettled.
I am 100% prepared to change the name of my project. I am awaiting response from Mr. Walden.
I am writing this publicly because I wanted YOU, the folks who have been with me on the journey to know this happened. I also wanted to be clear that this was a case of two separate artists wanting to tell an important story separated by 20 years. That I had no more knowledge of Mr. Walden’s work than he has of mine.
I write this because I don’t want anyone to think I am trying to raise money on stealing someone else’s concept. I am shaking with anxiety as I write this, I value honesty and integrity above all else and I know, on the surface, this looks like I am not only taking Mr. Walden’s overall idea, but I am also taking his titles and words….
This is NOT the case, it simply isn’t.
I never intended this to become something that caused me stress, grief and anxiety. Just today, I noticed that a handful of people, people who have been kind to me, shared my work, bought work from me, no longer follow me. I discovered this completely by accident as I saw postings they had done, visited their profile to see what else they had going on and noticed they no longer followed me. My paranoia, anxiety and dread driven mind immediately made a connection that they stopped following me because they were aware of Mr. Walden’s work, that they thought I was stealing it or that I was asking for too much, too often and they were just sick or it.
I admit, logically, that this might not be the case. I have been through so much though, I was so destroyed mentally and physically, that my mind keeps wanting to lead me on the path of the worse case scenario.
I hope that the way I have openly and honestly conducted myself in my interactions with you all will put your mind to ease on this point.
As for the future of my project, well, its still going to happen. It’s still an important story that needs to be told, and one that I am very passionate about. It needs to be told, it will help my mental health, it will give me a legacy project and one I can build on.
The Kickstarter, I’m not sure what will happen there. I think I am going to let it run to its end but I will no longer be promoting it. I likely should never have started it in the first place, given the reaction to the initial GoFund me I executed. I was convinced to try however, and I figured that if I was passionate about what I was doing, and open about why I was doing it, there was a chance it would work.
Instead its caused me even more anxiety, fear of failure, of telling folks this was a project worth investing in only to have it fall dramatically short of its target. I lay awake at night thinking about what I can do to try and make it a success and suffering flashes of panic and anxiety that I haven’t had in some time when days pass with no backers.
Then this discovery today….
I feel like folks will think I am using the good work of Mr. Walden to raise money for my own project.
I think I am going to lay low for a little while, at least until I hear from Mr. Walden. I think I am going to try and get out in the field more, take more photos, write a little more for the book and keep my fingers crossed that I pick up enough business through calendar and art sales to make it.
Again, I am sorry if I caused anyone discomfort, all I ever wanted was to be successful, to gain back some of the respect and dignity I lost over the past 2-3 years and redeem myself.
I want to let you know my integrity is intact, I am who I am, I am an honest creator who cares about this province, its history, and the folks who live in it.
All the best.