Tracing: Flattery or Theft?

They say that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ but a lot artists see it as lazy work riding on the coattails of better artists.

There are unfortunately a lot of people out there who copy other peoples’ art and alter it just a little, then sell it for a lot of money and gain lots of recognition while the original artist usually has no idea. This is still art theft. All that hard work gone into someone else’s easy profit. It’s heartbreaking for artists who find themselves the victims of art thieves who get away with stealing. Even worse, sometimes people ignorant of the situation blame the original artist for copying a more ‘famous’ work!

Tracing is terribly easy, especially with the image editing technology we have at our fingertips, and it’s only led to more people claiming other peoples’ work as their own.

Tracing doesn’t count as interpretation.

Tracing just makes you look like a cheap amateur who can’t tell the difference between Paint and Photoshop.

But tracing isn’t all bad. How do you expect artists to improve? Copying. That’s how. Copy, refine, then adapt. The short of it is that every artist will copy, sometimes trace, to improve their own art and that’s alright.

Just don’t put your traces onto the internet where people can see. Or portfolios, because that really will make you look cheap and unprofessional.


image source: Hailey1806696

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Understanding Life From The Artist’s Lane

A lot of artists are freelance (meaning they get approached by people and are paid to draw art for certain projects) or simple hobbyists (they make art and put it online but they don’t get paid at all). The work is hard, meeting client standards and most times, they don’t understand how graphics design works.

Here’s some nice graphics of dumb stuff clients have said to their designers!

Very, very few people can live being a graphic designer. Usually, they’re supported by other people, like a spouse or family, or work more than one job to cover the costs of their basic needs. Art as a profession is a practice of balancing rent, food, bills, a social life and work with art. Quite often, people have to put their passion aside for themselves.

Vivian Ng, comic artist and illustrator, mentions in her tweet that getting into paid comics work and zines is “99% luck and 1% never stop drawing+posting”.

So most artists will tell you not to get into art as a career. Not because it’s competition, but because it’s not for the majority of artists and that it’s a tougher job than any other career. Please, save yourself.

And just because these are really funny, here’s some more dumb things clients say to their designers!


Other People Can Take Art From Artists, Why Can’t I?

There are some artists that allow people to take their art and put it on another site with a link to the artist’s home page (e.g. taken from DeviantArt and posted on Tumblr, or taken from Tumblr and posted on Facebook). The reason why some artists allow this is because it provides exposure of the artist to wider parts of the internet. However, not all art on the internet wants exposure.


The simple fact is that artists like to know where their art is and what’s being said about it. There will be some really nice artists that will let you take their work and put it on another site if you ask them, but the key fact is that they know where their art is and how much traffic is gets. Sometimes this is because of countries putting up online barriers that artists want to work around, sometimes this is because they think the exposure from you will outweigh the loss of control they have over their artwork. Sometimes, artists don’t let people take their art to put somewhere else because they could potentially get into trouble with their real life work!

The best course of action when you want to share art on another part of the internet is to get in contact with the creator and ask for permission.

But artists put their art on the internet where it’s pretty much up for grabs by anyone! Why does it matter if I ask for permission?

It’s a common courtesy that should be extended to all artists. An analogy for taking art and posting it without permission is like walking into someone’s house, picking up their painting hanging on their wall, hanging it on your own wall and then hosting a dinner party where all your invitees ooh and ahh over it. Maybe one or two of your guests ask ‘who painted this?’ and you’ll say either ‘I don’t know’ or ‘it was this person I took it from’, but the one who’s hurting the most is the creator with the empty wall.

Just like asking to borrow important objects, everyone appreciates being asked before being taken from. And please, if the artist says ‘no you’re not allowed to take my art and put it somewhere else’, don’t post the art anyway and disrespect the artist’s wishes.

I don’t really care, I just really want to share this art! I mean, I’m not hurting anyone!

Well, then you’re an asshole that hurts artists.