Art School Confidential and Internet Piracy: Copyright and Commissions, Style and Stealing April 23, 2012 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns
Contents ©2012 Mike Pascale (All art/photos © their respective owners.)
Assorted artistic and other tidbits (what exactly are bits of “tid” anyway?):
–Finally sat down to watch ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL, the Daniel Clowes-penned film from 2005 directed by CRUMB’s Terry Zwigoff. Discovered it in the $3 bin at Big Lots last year and picked it up. Not bad! I haven’t watched the special features yet but the film itself was worth the price. Descriptives include funny, depressing, accurate, bizarre, nihilistic, vulgar and interesting. Filled with both pathos and scathing satire of the so-called “Art World” (and art school), some of it brought back vivid memories of my time at CCS (Detroit’s College For Creative Studies), whereas other times it seemed more like, “Huh?” (For instance, I don’t know of any art college that has gym class!) Though not much was in common with The Joe Kubert School, some of the student archetypes certainly held true. (There was a grand total of two women in my class, maybe four or five in the whole student body of 70 when I was there.)
I will say the artwork shown in the movie was pretty dead-on as to the range one will see in that environment. I figured Clowes had provided most of the main student art but was surprised to find out he only did the “bad” art by the jock student (Jonah); the good stuff by the main character (Jerome) was actually created by Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton, an instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute. (The character’s first figure drawing class sketch looked a lot like Clowes’ earlier work to me; the rest did not. See what you think.)
A few inside jokes: the visiting “graduate famous artist” is named Bushmiller (after creator of the NANCY comic strip). The college is called Strathmore, from a famous manufacturer of art papers and pads. (Of course, there’s one used in the film.) Another character is named Massengill, but I don’t know if it’s after inker Nathan Massengill or the popular feminine hygiene product–or something entirely different.
–Interesting query posted on a Yahoo! group for comics art collectors: someone asked if it would be appropriate to commission an artist who’s drastically changed his style to draw a new piece in his old style. Some responded that it might be insulting, others said that if an artist has evolved/changed that much, it would be difficult if not impossible to “go back.” My long-time pal/online “arch-enemy” Scott Rosema noted that some artists (like himself) have several styles, each for various commercial endeavors. He does commissions in any of them, but noted that to go back to the way he used to draw ten years ago in *any* of those styles would be difficult if not impossible. Gotta agree. (You can see more of Scott’s versatility here. Tell him Bru-Hed sent you; he’ll hate having to thank me!)
Getting to the crux of the question, tho, I said it never hurts to simply ASK! As the patron paying for the commission, you have a right to ask for anything you desire. I, of course, have the right to say, “Sure, I’m happy to do that!” or “I’m sorry, but my porcupine is going in for breast implants and I’ll be busy helping him recover.”
The worse anyone could say is no. (Well, I know a few uptight, full-of-themselves types who would say a lot more and be an indignant d*ck about it, but that’s their problem.) I have my own limits and exclusions for commissions like anyone, but I want you to feel free to ask for what you want! (See below.)
–Lastly, you know the saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”? Well, on the Internet, plagiarism is the next “best” thing, I guess. I was doing a Google Images search for a logo I’m redesigning and came across a site that stole my Game BUZZ character (from the weekly-during-football-season online strip of the same name)–and made it into a sticker! Not only did they take the character without my permission, they used my own artwork–removing any and all credit, of course. (Even had the gall to put their watermark on MY image.) I also noticed an image of Ed Roth’s famous Rat Fink character–don’t know if that was ripped off too, but at least they included his name on it. Since there’s no copyright credit, though, I have my doubts.
What galled me most was that they obviously had to take it from one of my strips, which means it’s a low-resolution image. (None of my strips are over 100 ppi.) Anyone who’s ever printed anything knows you can’t print low-res Web images of any decent quality. What exactly did customers get for the $7.00 cost (plus postage)? Couldn’t have looked good.
Thankfully, after sending a polite email (and asking my Facebook friends on the Game BUZZ fan page to do the same), they removed the image after a few days. I’m grateful for that. But considering the image has been there for just over a year, it made me think…one part of me (the broke artist) was hoping they didn’t sell any so I didn’t miss out on any dough. The other part (the fat-headed ego) was hoping they sold a ton because it meant there was a huge demand for my character. Of course, they haven’t had the cojonés, courage or courtesy to respond (yet, I hope) so I may never know. But at least they were decent enough to remove it. If only all ‘Net piracy were that easy to solve!
Have a great last week of April showers (and baths or whatever you prefer). Stay dry and clean and I’ll see you next time.
P.S.: Want a commission but too shy to ask me? Ask Craig here–that’s what he’s here for!