Let’s be real for a moment: The ACG community would be nowhere without our artists. They are the foundation to everything we love and hold dear; from the professionals who work on anime and manga, to the creative minds behind games, the fan artists who meme both disgustingly and brilliantly, to all the ones far and in between. Here is a shout out to you, the ACG artist community: WE APPRECIATE YOU!
That being said, appreciation is exactly what I’m here to discuss. Even though the existing support from the community is great, there are still some unwritten rules that get broken – either intentionally or unintentionally – that cause harm. Today, I plan to go through a few of those rules in hopes of sharing a new perspective.
#1. Don’t repost art
Reposting art occurs when someone saves or downloads an art piece, whether it be an image, gif or video, and uploads it again without crediting the original artist. It is an incredibly common practice on social media today, especially on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, as well as one of the biggest grievances of artists trying to build an online presence.
At this point you may be asking, what’s the big deal? Sharing art, no matter the means, is still good exposure, right? Wrong. When someone posts something online that doesn’t belong to them, all the likes, follows, retweets and reblogs that post garners doesn’t fully return to the original artist. Sometimes, the reposted post even ends up becoming more popular than the original one, which is aggravating to say the least.
So, how can we help? The easiest way is to stop supporting social media pages that repost art without permission/crediting. They are by far some of the largest offenders. On the flip side, if you wish to use art, clarify the artist’s stance on sharing their work. Some are pickier than others, whereas others don’t mind as long as they’re credited. Many artists and indie designers with online following make this clear in their FAQs or bios, so you won’t even need to ask them personally.
For more on reposting and the etiquette of attribution, read here.
#2. Commissions are not requests
Commissions are when you order a custom designed product from a person (in this context, it would be a piece of art from an artist), whereas requests are simply favours or suggestions. The main difference is obvious. When you commission an artist and they accept, they are obligated to create something according to your specifications, because you are paying them. The same obligation doesn’t exist for requests because no money is involved, and yet, there are still those who believe they are entitled to it.
A random guy tried to get a free drawing because they're friends with friend of mine, and then said this… Please, don't do this >w<;; pic.twitter.com/xOg5rQ8D7N
— Zaaru ? (@ZaaruChan) March 31, 2017
The tweet above is an example shared by the Twitter account @forexposure_txt. If you go through the rest of their account, it’s clear how frequently this occurs and how frustrating it can get over time. What should be clearer is that artists are just another type of service provider. They are all selling something that you cannot provide for yourself. Think about it: you wouldn’t walk out on a hairdresser or a plumber without paying, so why would you do that here?
#3. Copying is stealing
Is a person copying? Or is a person “taking inspiration” from an existing piece of art? These two questions get thrown about frequently when debating this rule, and the way things resolve usually comes down to the similarity between the two pieces of work. Something that has been copied tends to be very easy to spot, but unfortunately, this fact does not deter people from doing it anyway.
An example you might recognise is this scandal from last year, when Dentsu (a Malaysian ad agency) won a Kancil Award for a copied design.
— Tom Anders Watkins (@TomAnders_) December 29, 2015
More examples are riddled throughout peer-to-peer e-commerce websites such as Etsy and Society6, where it’s not uncommon for indie artists to find their original work being sold by a random third party for profit. However, the ones I find the hardest to believe are when major fashion brands like Urban Outfitters, Zara and Forever 21 get caught for doing the same thing.
If there’s any overarching theme to this article, it is: Give credit where credit is due. Having said that, however, I know it’s quite difficult to uphold some of these rules. Sometimes the proper channels aren’t available to you, sometimes you do it unknowingly, or just like everything else in the world, there is no such thing as an absolute rule. (How about that?)
But as a community… No, as human beings, I think we should always strive to improve ourselves, and more often than not, that begins with showing consideration and appreciation. Since we are in this community together, let’s try to show support when we can. Even if it’s just refusing to ‘like’ a reposted fan art, or crediting the source before you use an image, let’s all play our part.