Owe – as a stand in the art world

The word owe is very versatile in the English language and it has many meanings and usages. As you probably know, the word owe has the meaning to be in debt to someone or something. More specifically, the verb owe means to be responsible for something, to have a debt to pay.

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What does owe stand for in art world?
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For example:

“I owe my life to Sam. He saved me from drowning.”
You can also use the adjective form of owe, that is owed, to describe something or someone that you feel indebted to. For example:

“I feel so owed after all the help I pacifically, the verb owe means to be responsible for something, to have a debt to pay for something. For example:

“I owe it to the people who voted for me to win this election.”
The general meaning of the word owe
As you see, the general meaning of the verb owe is to be in debt to someone for something. Not particularly limited to financial debt. You can also owe somebody an apology, a favor, a gesture or anything else you feel you should repay somehow. For example:

“I feel I owe my parents an apology for my bad behavior lately.”
The participle form of the verb, the adjective form owed and the noun owe can be used to express a variety of meanings. The most common usage however is to acknowledge that you have received something from someone.

The art world and its jargon


As you know, the art world is quite a unique world. Full of its own unique jargon, customs, culture and people. The term owe in the art world comes quite naturally to artists, since they are recipients and givers of artistic ‘favors’ at the same time. To explain better, let us use some examples:

  1. An artist creates a painting/drawing and gives it as a gift to another person. Later, he wishes to copy that painting/drawing and sell it.

He \”owes\” that painting since he didn\’t create it as an original work. Notice the use of the verb owe in this case.

  1. An artist is taught how to paint/draw by another artist. Later, he opens a school

In this case he owes his teacher for the knowledge he was given. Notice again, the use of the verb owe. This time however, it is used to express a debt of gratitude, rather than debt in the financial sense.

  1. An artist buys a piece of art from another artist.

Later, he re-sells it. In this case, the artist who initially bought the piece gives a percentage of the sale to the original artist, since he \’owed\’ something and got paid back in some way. Again, notice the use of the adjective form, this time meaning ‘originated from’.

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