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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Source: Digital art doll THEFT
Art moves from the physical to the digital — this artist has been tracing photos of dolls that other artists have worked on and then sold the works as prints for thousands of dollars! Mijn Schatje has been admired around the world for her stolen art and that’s just unfair to the people whom she copied from.
We need to call her out on her theft!
So you know what to do with art that you like. What shouldn’t you do, then?
Here’s a quick list of what you probably shouldn’t do with art you find online and why.
- Take art without permission
The number one peeve of all artists. Nothing annoys us more than seeing our art under someone else’s name. Sometimes, it adds insult to injury when someone’s re-post is more popular than our own. Taking art without permission just tells the artist that people don’t care about an artist’s rights as a person and that the thief didn’t care much about a simple common courtesy like asking politely.
2. Criticise the art
It sounds a little counter-productive, but there’s a reason why the ‘sensitive artist’ stereotype exists. It doesn’t matter if you call it an effort to help the artist improve, uncalled criticism can still hurt the self-esteem that nurtures great art. Sometimes artists will ask what their audience enjoys about their art and where they may need improvement, but like all criticism, no one wants to hear it when they don’t want it.
3. Ridicule the art
You’ve heard of the blogs that make fun of art that people have found online. It’s straight up bullying and degradation of an artist. Not fun at all.
4. Attack the artist for the content
Art is an expression of the self. It’s also an exploration of aspects of the mind, so naturally there will be disturbing forms of art that exist. Creating explicit art can be seen as a healthier expression of the mind rather than an actual performance, though it stands to reason for there to be sufficient barriers and warnings in place. Telling an artist directly about how their art is problematic or why the content is wrong is likely preaching to a choir. An unimpressed choir at that too. However, a polite discussion of the content of the work can lead to an understanding on possibly overseen aspects of art that could be potentially hurtful. Always treat an artist with respect.
5. False accusations of plagiarism
No one likes this, and it only serves to cause drama that is easily spread around and misinterpreted. It may also hurt the artist’s future prospects of work, so false accusations of anything are a really low blow.
The less respect an artist receives from their audience, the less likely they will continue creating art. Protecting artists is a reflection of society and culture.