Well, there's a very long (not entirely) pointless text to come so don't say I didn't warn you. You don't have to read it and you probably won't anyway.
This is merely to collect my thoughts regarding deviantArt, the definition of art and everything. Of course everybody has their own opinions and I respect that entirely. I don't even have an adequate opinion myself, it's rather an unpleasant feeling in my gut.
I mean, damn, I really don't know what to think of dA anymore. I've been here for over five years, that's quite a long time. During that time I thought about leaving this place more and more frequently for various reasons. But every time I just couldn't do it because of the people I met here, the people I don't wanna abandon. It's kinda hypocritical considering the lack of care I provide you. You don't know how sorry I am for that.
Ok, let's get to the tracing issue. It indeed is a controversial subject. if you haven't heart or read about it, here is a link
to the original news article. I won't state here that I am against tracing in general or against copying other people's work because that wouldn't be the whole truth. For some people it is a way of learning or of showing their affection towards a certain artist/fandom/whatever. I understand that and let me make a confession, I copied Disney's style when I was around 10 years old... although I feel dirty about it now.
So here's an advise (as a semi-professional artist and former Disney rapist) for those who still do it for reasons of learning. Do it, copy Disney or your favourite Anime style or whatever but don't expect to learn anything. You might get better at it over time, I can't deny that. But at some point copying won't bring you any further. It will rather restrain you from finding your own style and therefore from growing. If art is really important to you it will become pretty serious business sooner or later. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of fun but also work and thought and creativity and sometimes even torments (I could go on endlessly). And you know what? It's totally worth it! Because it's your sweat that makes your art unique... ok, that may have sounded gross but you get the point, right?
Of course you could counter that there are some famous artists who use or used to copy like Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein and lots of other pop artists. And you would be right. But all of them have something in common that you shouldn't disregard. Originality. Yes, there can be originality in copying. Andy Warhol often even didn't paint himself, he let others work for him. But still it was his ingenious mind behind the work. Great artists don't just take something and copy it one to one, they - even if it might not look like that at first - often put a lot of thought into what they do to make it truly theirs. Some have a message, some don't. Roy Lichtenstein copied existing comic panels from bubble gum wraps. But he did it in a rather unique way. He painted every little dot by hand. He worked hard and meticulous to create something far more than a simple copy. Surely this is just my own opinion and if I were the one who did the original illustration I would probably have been rather mad at that guy who comes, copies my work and makes a lot of money with it, however original he might have done it. See, there are (at least) two sides to every question. Which doesn't exactly make things simpler.
This leads me to the people who copy other people's art to show their admiration. What's wrong with that? Well, let me tell you something from the original artist's point of view. If you were a fan of mine (not that I believe to be that famous) and would want to show me your admiration I would be really really happy to see your interpretation of my work, to see how somebody else creates something in their own style that's inspired by my stuff. And I would be even happier if you asked me prior. But don't get all peeved when I myself am pissed because I find out that behind my back you traced one of my pieces without even crediting me. If you really admire and particularly respect the original artists the least you can do is to give them the credit they deserve for their work.
So, what's so wrong about dA's politics regarding tracing and copying? Or is there anything wrong at all? Well, I do believe that the dA administration is actually trying to do what's best for the community, which might sometimes be more than a little difficult. Especially when it's such a large community it can surely be hard or even impossible to please everybody. I always enjoyed being part of this community. I am thankful for all the cool artists I've been able to meet here and for the criticism and stimuli I received so far. And some of you might know that I am more than accommodating when someone asks me to use my art on their website or whatever. That is mainly due to the fact that I haven't made any real bad experiences with copyright violations of my work yet. But others who are more popular have already made rather unpleasant experiences and are therefore understandably more cautious.
A fellow artist who I love and respect a lot has left dA for good. This saddens me but it also makes me think about my rights as an artist and what these rights mean to me. Does dA mean a lot to me? For sure. Do my copy rights mean more to me than dA? Definitely. Because these rights are there to protect my art. And my art is my life. Unfortunately at this time I don't really feel as safe here as I'd like to. By trying to please everybody, by formulating rules that (at least to me) seem more than a little vague dA unintentionally unsettles and displeases many original artist.
I already said some words about copying. Now tracing goes even further. It's up to you whether you think of tracing as an art form or not. In my opinion it does neither benefit the original artist nor the one who practices it. When you trace something you don't have to think about getting the proportions right or anything. It does indeed save you a lot of thinking and trouble. But how can you learn and improve without that? To me the answer is simple. You can't.
I know I haven't made a clear statement yet. Simply because I have no clue how to proceed. I realized that I should have been better informed about my own rights from the beginning. But it's never too late to learn, isn't it? I find this news article
quite helpful. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to check the two mentioned websites out yet.
I don't really know if I should stay here or finally leave dA. It's not just the copyright issue that bothers me. Sometimes I get the impression that the dA administration is more concerned about growing, prestige and making money than it is about the artists (and I mean every artist not only the famous ones who sell a lot of prints). I hope this impression is nothing more than a delusion. But then again there are all the nice people who I'd miss terribly. So, to make it short (for once) I won't leave dA now. I have to be absolutely certain about it first. But I will no longer sell any prints here
. If you want to buy prints of my work you may take a look at my etsy account, which is empty right now, or write me a message.
I would like to add that I don't think bad of deviantArt or it's administration but I have reasonable doubts (think of 12 Angry Men by Sidney Lumet) in dA being the right home for my art work.
PS: Just in case it's not obvious, the thoughts I expressed are my own and might therefor differ from yours. Please respect that. (although I honestly think that no more than two people have actually read this terribly long text)
Besides all the rant I am pretty busy getting ready for Wales. I'll leave in 10 days. And suddenly I'm getting really really nervous. So I won't submit anything to dA anyway in the near future. I might write about my time there in my blog.
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