11-19-2011, 08:27 PM
just kickin around the site and saw this thread, old though it may be, felt like throwing in 2 cents. Though I'm 100% in agreement on the definition of plagiarism by swiping and tracing/painting over found web images, I have some issues with pretty much all the others.
The condoning of finding and replicating (without tracing) images off the web or elsewhere is a tricky subject. Though it's something certainly widely practiced, there is an expectation of using that material as a support, point of departure, or clarification. It can be taken well beyond that though, a person is only limited by their abilities as a draftsman. Many times I've seen professional artists called out for using a photo from a magazine or something and replicating almost exactly. This is certainly the greyest of areas though (can a line be drawn? what is informing and what is plagiarizing), just to say that a person grabbing refs from outside sources still needs to use the ref correctly.
The other issues are easier for me to speak my opinion: I'm sorry to say but I think it's nonsense to disqualify pieces for having been traced or photo-manipulated despite having produced the reference yourself. On tracing, for one thing, how can that even be policed? It can't. And are you serious that people can plagiarize themselves? It's silly and it would disqualify some of the greatest illustrators of the 20th century.
As to photo-manipulation, this is not a style which I'm personally a big fan of, though in the 2 years or so that I've been working as an art director I've learned that it holds a valuable place in the world of illustration. There are entire genres (urban fantasy, paranormal romance, matte painting, a wide swath of the advertising and editorial field, etc.) which are dominated by photo manipulation and it's not because it's cheap or easy or anything like that, it's because that is the look which the consumer responds best to. It is a 100% legitimate illustration technique.
Now, there is such a thing as *poorly executed* tracing and *poorly executed* photo manipulation, but practice makes perfect and one will never learn or improve if they don't try and fail many many times. And many people experiment in these methods and then drift away from them or abandon them altogether. That's just part of learning who you as an artist. It's making decisions, not taking them second or third hand based on the prejudices of your teachers, that make an artist worth anything. I think I understand the reason for discouraging these methods: the fear that they will be used as short cuts and crutches and impede the growth of ones abilities. Either that or the ridiculous complaint by romantic purists that others are "cheating" by using them and taking an unfair advantage (despite that this path is open to them as well, they choose not to use it). To both of these arguments though, I say that artists should be free to walk their own path, make their own mistakes, and in the real world, nobody is going to care one bit. If people use tracing as a substitute for knowledge and experience in observation and drawing, it's going to show and it's going to look bad, plain and simple.
Sorry to pop in out of nowhere and argue an old thread like this, but I feel it's actually kind of damaging to reinforce this whole "tracing and photo manipulation is morally wrong" attitude. If you want to bar these practices from the competitions for whatever reason, I'm in no place to challenge that, but I take a serious issue with categorizing them as plagiarism and chastising people on a moral level for using them. These practices are widely used in the real world of illustration, I see no reason to teach people to tie an arm behind their backs and then send them out to fight for their lives. To me it's the same language and the same way of thinking as people who look down on photo reference or digital art. Exactly the same arguments are made in those cases (it's a crutch, it's cheating, it's a substitute for honest ability, etc.), but we all agree that such arguments are ridiculous
Like I said, my two cents