My friend broke the rules for entering a state art show

I have a friend and we are both artist. In our field of art there are many juried art shows with rules you must adhere to.

My friend took a workshop with 24 other people where they were given a drawing done by the teacher and step by step instructions. Usually the teacher paints on your painting. I was taught that ethically you should never enter a workshop painting into a show.

My friend entered hers into the state fair and won a cash award, which I thought was pretty nervy of them, but I wasn’t sure of the rules of the show so I said nothing.

I entered a prestigious state show and was juried in.

My friend told me her workshop painting got into the show. One of the rules of the show says you have to be the owner of the source material, and or copyright or owner of the photo you painted from. The consequences are that you could be banned from showing for 2 years.

I told my friend about the rule and consequences. She said she contacted the judge and they we’re fine with her painting. I asked if she told them it was from this workshop. She didn’t answer and isn’t talking to me. Then in going through the rules for my own sake, they also stat you cannot have had your painting in a previous juried show in this state, which she did in the fair and it’s posted on line.

So do I say something to the people who are running the show? Do I keep quiet?

Someone who was an honest painter maybe didn’t get in this show because of my friends painting!

I worked hours on drawing alone on my painting. Or if I say nothing and she wins a prize?

I don’t respect her behavior at all but I feel so torn up about what to do.


Ethical dilemmas like this are difficult to resolve.

For starters, you’re correct. Your friend’s behavior resulted in harm to someone else—the person who didn’t have his or her painting make it into the show because your friend didn’t abide by the rules.

There are several approaches you can take to address this issue and none of them are very appealing.

First, you can be more direct with your friend about the situation. You can tell her that you’re uncomfortable with her behavior because she didn’t follow the rules and by doing so someone else was probably harmed by her actions. It might help to ask her how she would feel if she was one of the people who didn’t make the show because the rules weren’t being followed. If you take this approach, it helps to focus on how you feel about the situation, rather than attack or blame your friend for her actions (see talk about problems). It’s possible that she might see how she made a mistake, if she doesn’t feel attacked and views the situation from the perspective of someone who was harmed by her actions. This would be the ideal outcome. However, it’s also likely that your friend knows she’s broken the rules and doesn’t want you to call attention to her behavior. Most people don’t like to be criticized for their actions, especially when they are in the wrong.

You could also report her behavior to the people in charge of the show and let them decide how to handle the situation. However, if you take this approach, without first talking to your friend, she will most likely feel betrayed by you. Friends typically expect loyalty over doing what’s right. You should weigh the possible consequences of taking this approach. Is reporting your friend worth the loss of her friendship? Victor Robert Lee once said, “To make a friend you must close one eye. And to keep a friend, you must close both eyes.” What’s more important to you? Her friendship or making sure that the rules are followed?

Finally, you could just drop the issue. Life is full of ethical dilemmas and we have to pick our battles wisely. Going through life pointing out every ethical mistake others make will lead to a very solitary existence. Everyone exercises poor judgment and behaves poorly at one time or another. If this is an isolated incident and not a pattern of behavior by your friend, perhaps you can find a way to forgive her for her lapse in judgment.

Overall, it helps to consider how important this issue is to you, whether it is an isolated mistake or part of a larger pattern of unethical behavior, and how valuable her companionship is to you.

Hope this helps.

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