This is a particularly lazy example of an amateur designer using another living artist’s artwork to make their own work look better. If the artwork on the right was hand-drawn and only INSPIRED by the artwork on the left, I’d have less issue with it. But due to the fact that the design was copied and pasted into digital software and only slightly adjusted, it’s a definite case of plagiarism.
Note to designers: You can use old art and posters from before 1920 as it falls into the public domain. A movie made in 1976, though, is still the property of someone and you can’t pilfer movie poster websites for your own gain. Especially if you are just going to take elements from them whole-hog.
Once again, Joachim Luetke’s artwork for Obzen was wholesale cut and pasted onto this band’s album cover. In this case, it is even more blatant than the previous example shown on this blog. The artist in question doesn’t appear to have a lot of experience in design according to my research, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is plagiarism.
Most designers will try to defend their choices in how they pull from their source images and sometimes they are absolutely in the right. For example, anything pre-1920s is considered the public domain and free for use. This is why you see a lot of Gustave Dore or Hieronymus Bosch pilfered for heavy metal art usage. It’s still pretty cheesy to take from those sources, in my opinion, but it is perfectly acceptable.
Taking artwork from a metal band’s release from 2008, however, does not fall into the public domain.
This is a case where a piece of artwork was taken, slightly adjusted in photoshop, and then used in it’s complete form. Unless the band has directly spoken with the rights holders for permission, this is a pretty blatant case of plagiarism. Not a very subtle one, either, as many people are quite nostalgic for Bob Pepper’s artwork from the 70s and 80s and are certainly familiar with this artwork.
This example is a bit more oldschool. Most of the examples on this blog are from the modern era where it’s so easy to just take any image from Google or Instagram and use it for your own gain without crediting the source. Obviously plagiarism is not limited to the modern day, though. The trick with plagiarism that people seem to get confused about is that it takes many forms.
In this day and age, many people would say, “Well, at least the artist painted it himself!”. True, he did paint it, it doesn’t even appear like he traced it. But the composition, palette, character, concept and style is completely stolen. He didn’t just use the pose for reference (which would have been fine), he just took it all.
This example right here is basically the #1 reason that I decided to make this blog.
As an artist myself, I just got so tired of seeing other artists try to make a name for themselves on the backs of others. You can’t just cut paintings apart and paste them into your own document and call them yours. “Design” is a broad term and certainly there are a lot of examples where cutting and pasting from another source is acceptable in all manner of design work. But this is not one of them.
It’s unethical, illegal, and the client you are working for (not to mention the label) can get in pretty big trouble by doing blatant stuff like this.
And even if this wasn’t illegal, it’s just lame.
This is an example where the designer did actually change a lot of the details (various folds, some of the hands, etc), but I still take issue with it because it pulls from a painted work. I don’t care if something is traditionally painted or digitally painted, it’s just not cool for designers to think they can just take everything whole-hog from other artists unless permission is granted or citations have been made. Pushing around a few pixels and running it through some filters in Photoshop is not acceptable and not enough has changed in this case. It still uses the 3 figures in the same poses (just flipped), and what’s even more egregious is that if you look closely enough, you can even see the back of the woman’s head just above the “beasts” head in the plagiarized image.
This artist has completely stolen artwork from another living, working artist. There is plenty of evidence that all of this artist’s work is essentially a soup of other artist’s work as well.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but it is not acceptable to pilfer other artists’ works for your own gain. It’s not “design”, despite what some amateurs may have you believe. If two designers accidentally grab the same stock photography through legal means, that is a minor “oops!”. It’s a little bit of dirt on the chin for your portfolio, but nothing will be harmed other than the egos of the two artists picking the same stock photo for their work.
This, however, is just theft.
This artist, Gilang P. Vergiawan (aka Praver Art Studio) is a real piece of work. For starters, let’s just get this completely out of the way – this artist is what we just call a complete hack. I have a feeling that I will be posting about him a lot on this blog, because I am just shocked at the level of theft that this artist is actually doing on literally everything he’s done. I don’t even need to write much about this one as you can see he stole concept art from James Cameron’s “Avatar” and added it to his piece without any adjustments.
Even his bio on his facebook page (as of this writing) is copied from a bio on another blog about surreal artist, Tomasz Alen Kopera.
“Gilang Praver was born in Bandung, Indonesia in 1993. He attended the Indoesian High School of Arts in Bandung, where he deepen his knowledge of art. Tomasz he drew on paper, mix media art, photography, graphic design, custom lettering, and now he is struggling with his digital paintings. Realm, Fantasy, Dark, Mystism, Sci-Fi, Identity of Living Things, Universe are his inspiration. Each painting motivates thought, challenging our initial response. Sometimes darkness will prevail, at other times, light. He is celebrated in visionary art circles for his acute attention to detail, mastery of color and bold use of subject matter.”
Presented unedited, you can see that he even forgot to remove “Tomasz” from the text. The last sentence can then be googled to come up with this link, where you can clearly see the same text being used.
This one is actually pretty dangerous territory here. Not only is it unethical and illegal, it’s also stolen from an iconic album cover. The artist didn’t even bother changing the blood on the arm from the source material, making it very easy to prove where he got his image from. Stealing from copyrighted photography is one thing, but taking from another album cover is, frankly, on another level of stupid.
This example is most likely completely legal, I will be the first to say. Ethically, however, I feel that it is one of the worst offenders because of the context.
When someone takes photographs, chops them up and “Frankensteins” the chunks together, that is basic photo manipulation and is a completely acceptable method of design unless you are using copyrighted photos. I’ve touched on this elsewhere on the blog, but the basic rule of thumb is to always change it far beyond what the source is if the works are copyrighted.
In my personal opinion, though, I feel that any time you cut and paste from an ARTIST, you have moved into the realm of unethical no matter how much you try to hide it.
The reason for this is because the source artist spends their entire life learning how to draw/paint/etc in order to create an original piece of artwork. When another artist takes that artist’s brush strokes and cuts and pastes them into their own digital file in order to pass it off as their own work, I feel that is the definition of lying. There is a level of deception with all plagiarism, of course, but this is even worse because you are collecting a check from someone who is paying you to create something original. If all it takes to be a professional artist is to go around cutting and pasting from masters, then why is anyone even trying to create original art? It isn’t hard to see how this hurts the industry at large.
The image above is changed a lot, but it is clear as day that the Joker image on the left was split down the middle, flipped in order to be symmetrical, and then painted over to take out details. While it won’t even stand up to the “red outline test”, you can see that the teeth have the same glimmers (again, keep in mind it was split and flipped) so this is not a case of simply being “referenced” or “copied”.
What makes this even worse is that Alex Ross is a living artist who survives on his art.