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Submitted on
January 7, 2013


11 (who?)

Using other people's work to learn...

Journal Entry: Mon Jan 7, 2013, 8:52 PM
An Important Note

During my years as a pixel-artist and iconist on the Internet, both here and in other websites, if there's one thing I've constantly encountered and battled against, is people copying my work in several levels.

The first level, is when they simply take my work and upload it somewhere else, claiming it as theirs.
The second level, is when they take my work, edit it slightly and then upload it somewhere else, once more claiming as theirs.
The third level,  is when they take my work, and re-make one "of their own", copying my palette,  my style and everything else, then upload it as theirs because they think it's  fair-game because they "redid it!".

All three fairly common, all three fairly easy to deal with and quite honestly don't bother me  as much anymore, especially the first.
However, there's one last level, which annoys me the most, and that is...

When people try to "learn" from my work by copying it,  studying it, reproducing some of   its core essence, and finally producing something "of their own" that still, ultimately, looks like something I would've made while drunk. It holds my signature choices, my style, my train of thought and still it isn't done by me, neither am I mentioned anywhere as so much as a "reference".

I've encountered several of these people over the years,  most of the times they're brought to my attention by someone else.

It's not only that I dislike the use of my work in this way, it is that I fundamentally disagree with studying other people's art for your own.
...Imagine that you like an artist named Behemoth. You want to learn from them, but you don't  really  know Behemoth so what's your next step? Obviously, you download Behemoth's work and you study it, reproduce it, leech off of it until you can produce something similar yourself.

This is an act done by several young artists, and even older ones, mainly because there's a lot of teachers and art schools that tell you to do that exact same thing - learn by watching others! But there's a very vital reason why this does not work and it only turns you into a shadow,  a copy cat, a useless shell...

You've absolutely no idea WHY Behemoth chose to do what they did with their work.
None at all. If they use red  for something, you don't know why, if they did a certain anatomy skew, you don't know why, if they did a certain angle, you just don't know why. And if you don't know why an artist makes a choice with their work, then you won't know when to make that choice yourself. Maybe they did it because they like  it, because it's sentimental, because it means something to someone important to them, maybe because it sends  a hidden message, maybe because they just weren't sure what to do... you'll never know. Because that artist is not teaching you, you're just copying them.

If Behemoth made a series of unrelated artworks, which all had red in them somewhere,  then you'll  go right ahead and do the exact same! But you'll have no idea why,  or what it does  to the work, its implications.

You might think icons or pixel-art are very basic and simple, and that there's only a few ways to do them... but the truth is, there are as many as there are artists out there. And copying one of them? It'll show in your work. I've not only encountered several artists here that resemble my work shamelessly, I've found artists who resemble other great  iconists' works. It shows, people. And the reason it shows is because you don't have your own skill nor style and never will.

I didn't learn watching others, I didn't learn downloading tutorials, I didn't take some sort of short cut to pixel icons - I opened my program and I played with it, I made choices based on my personal taste, on my vision of the works, on the message I wanted them to send out, as little as they might be.

You, out there, who right know are reading this and have been using my or other people's work to create yours... I pity you. Because you'll never truly shake off my or that other person's style,  and while most of time I'll just shrug it off and ignore it, sometimes it's just too much and I've got to let the steam out.

Be your own person, your own artist. Do you like someone's particular style? Ask them to teach it to you, actually LEARN.  If they don't want to do it, then move on.

Last, but not least, to get my point across... "studying", "referencing" and "copying" other people's work in order to ""learn"" is the same as memorizing math answers for a test. Sure, when the time comes to take the test, you'll know the answers are 34, 55, 1990... but you won't know why those are the answers,  you don't know the process of the problem, and God forbid your teacher didn't change the questions, because then you'll be screwed, out on your own, and you'll have absolutely no idea what to do or how to do it.

TL;DR: someone told me I've a leech and while I refused to care or believe it, with each new work they upload, it resembles mine more and more. It pisses me the fuck off and I wish I could just erase their entire copy cat gallery. Woo!

Everything you see in this page has been created & is ©angelishi.
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whatonearth Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree, I just popped by to see your avatar then read this anyway. XD I started off in the beginning (sadly) copying Naruto. ^^; But I've really branched out from there and I've been trying to work with realism/semi realism so I know the original before I alter it in the future. I'll probably stick with semi realism but I want my own style of it. :P Sadly I made the mistake of refusing to draw the human body before clothing it so that's my current personal project, go back to the basics (do basic front, side, back of both genders once) before trying more dynamic stuff so I don't keep churning out shit.
MyVizmXXX Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013
who is this person?
ChewbaccatheCookie Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist
:XD: In an art class, we were told to do an 'artist copy'- basically jsut copying the artist's work, then throughout the rest of the project, we had to work in the artist's style, which also stank of copying, too.
The teacher asked, "What do you think you are learning by doing this?"
My brother put his hand up and replied, "We're learning how to copy?"
And it's true. You learn very little from that. I think it's okay to be inspired by an artist, but I also think people should USE THEIR IMAGINATIONS and come up with their OWN IDEAS.
Star--Sprout Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Student General Artist
I agree that you will never learn by copying. However, there are different forms for copying- art theft/tracing being one of them. I pity those who copy-they don't understand and probably never will, at the rate they're progressing. There is another form -- kind-of-copying-but-on-purpose -- like with fanart. You follow the style of the show/comic/whatever you're drawing. However, I like to think it goes through your art style-processor and comes out the other end interpreted in your style. Now, that is acceptable, isn't it?
KaiRayne Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
When doing pixels, I've been guilty of downloading someone else's work, just to see how they did like the base or something. But I'd NEVER copy the entire thing. AND I always credit the inspiration. Copying exactly is just straight up wrong. I'm a visual learner, so I have to look at something else to learn. I can't just open a program and play with it to learn how to do it, unfortunately.
angelishi Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The problem is that you don't know why they did the base the way they did, you're not actually learning anything.

Sure it's hard at first to do things on your own, but trust me, it'll be much more rewarding once you get the results you wish for!

I still have my very old avatars in here, if you compare them to the new ones, I've come a long way, and my older pixels were even worse. :giggle:
KaiRayne Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No, you're right I don't know exactly why they did the base that way but that's why I said I don't copy exactly. I look at it and get an idea on how to do the pixels, so yes I am learning. I am a visual learner, so I have to actually see how something is made. Before I started making emotes I had NO idea what the heck pixels were or how to make them. I spent countless hours using tutorials and learning. Every now and then I would see one that I liked come across my feed and download it just to get a rough idea on how to do the basic shape. Then I'd make it my own way. I never really got good at it and it was far too time consuming for me with the equipment I have so I stopped making them completely. I only have a small handful that are even in my gallery and there is none that are copied exactly from anyone else. I'll stick to what I'm good at and that's photography and photomanipulations. :giggle:
SilverSail Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh boy, I am pretty guilty of this (all those old Pokemon avatars in my gallery). Ah, well.
Hardrockangel Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I must say I'm curious to see this person's gallery now. :lol:
Personally, I agree that you have to find your own style and work with it by playing around in the program. It's easy enough to do!
angelishi Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
They're all "It's just a coincidence even though your work is actually in my faves and stuff!", her stuff matches my framing almost perfectly, it's ridiculous. I've met 12 year olds who lied better than that. :no:

I just really want her to admit and accept it, but I don't see it happening so if push comes to shove, I'll out her along with frame-by-frame comparisons of both works.

The girl takes commissions and I wouldn't want her making any money in the future by ripping off my work. :I

Hell yeah it's easy! I don't understand why so many people feel the need to copy others! Just open the darn program and mess around in it, it's not science. :no:
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