Monday, April 7, 2008

In which we whinge and complain more, as this is a less public forum

I was all prepared to bitch more about that certain someone and things related, and I may still because things still somewhat infuriate (not even her in particular, honestly. It's been building a long time with the general thing, and she's just getting my ire as being the last, and most egregious that I've seen directly instead of just hearing about, case of it).

Then there was stuffs on shopping cart re: Cachet and (sloppy) stealing from designers, and *sigh*, yeah, it depresses me how much this is done. (Ok, first off though? How much did upon first glance I think the actual model was the avatar, and that was some damn fine sculpties? Seriously, even at closer inspection, that doesn't look entirely out of the realm of possibility.) Not just the big names like McQueen, but also Leg Avenue (which, gah, is sloppy enough to begin with, although occasionally the design ideas are cute, but wow, do you own any of it? I own one or two and they are so crappily made), Threadless (which is total bullshit unless you're the one who made it there too), Urban Outfitters, etc. etc. I'm not talking inspiration here, I'm talking dead stealing (I skimmed the comments a bit- for instance though Alla Ruff is totally not in the category I'm talking here, even if she did see two things and do a third that had some influences from both but was a totally different thing). (And PC actually gets another category entirely from me, because I don't think they are doing it for serious, but instead for the lollercopters, even if the vast majority of people don't get that it IS parody. It's not hard to spot that it is if you actually look. Look at the blog or website, and tell me they aren't shooting the piss. This is all 100% carefully planned. And, christ, it's even funnier the more people who do this stuff for serious.)

There are people who try to defend it..."RL and SL aren't the same thing!" and such, and yeah...I'm not onboard with that. I'll bet that neither are the people you're copying, if they do decide to turn their eye to you.

Worse to me though, is the cases where you can probably just step up and fucking ask, and they'll say "yeah, go ahead, and my url on it would be totally awesome!" (There are a couple of places that I'm very...sketchy about, I might buy from there otherwise, but they've got items that, while they give credit, I don't see any mention of permission when it most likely could have been obtained...and yeah. It doesn't make me feel good. It's still way less creepy...but still a little "well, did that person say you can make her x?") Case in point: the newest issue of GLAM.

First off, I want to say, not everyone in the mag should be tarred with the brush. There are articles and ads there that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the whole bullshit, other than they ended up in the same publication. There's an awesome article on Jessica Ornitz, and another great article with Fallingwater Cellardoor (and that's not all by half, those are just the ones that jumped out to me). I also love the BJD spread, which, yes, that whole thing is inspired by an actual thing, but I see it as something totally different really. To my knowledge that's based on the general phenomena, not directly one person's thing, and it's become really a huge huge widespread thing that has taken on a life of its own. (I'm also assuming the Nicky Ree ad that makes me cringe is a case of model error, wearing 2 different shades. It sort of has to be, nothing else makes sense, other than possibly Windlight deciding on some new fuckery. Which, you know, really is a possibility. *sigh*)

But. I turned to the 7 Deadly Sins spread (which was actually what caught my interest, following a link from Fleur, curious about their post of "something that worked with the spread but was still something our customers would like"). Vanity is the one that SCREAMED the source material to me (and is currently still her featured). She hadn't finished the whole set when I first saw that, ages ago, but Vanity was one of the 3? if I recall correctly, but it's been a long time, and the memory is fuzzy- but it was the one that stuck out to me (Natalia Zelmanov did a dress of it at one point in the past as well, but she was 100% up front with "this is exactly where it came from"- which still, makes me a little twitchy as forementioned...but she came out and said it, which is a damn good start. AND she gave the url to the source material, which is pretty damn close to good enough, I didn't even have to google it- although explicit credit would still make me more comfortable. I mean, this whole idea is why I won't sell some stuff, period- the Sandman and Transmet stuff I gave out a while back, and it'll never go on sale sale, unless I talk to the respective authors about putting them up for the Comic Book Legal Defense League or something. And as much as I've thought about making a set of Death skins...probably not something I'll ever let other people have. I've got one I wear upon occasion now, but my my skins I don't distribute beyond a very very tiny circle). I thought her art was really neat (and I'm in awe of people who really really digital paint like that, that takes talent. I fuck around a bit, but I don't think I ever have a hope of being that good- although honestly serious recreation of paint in a digital medium is not something I ever plan to spend that much time mastering, it's neat, but I have other things that grab my personal attention more. If I want to paint, I have paint, you know? And, oddly, even though I almost entirely only draw people unless I've got something else in mind or I'm totally scribbling, I hardly ever paint people, and never in the same style as the way I draw. Don't ask me, I don't know. But I'm also not into super realism unless I have a serious reason for it.)

Unless there are credits somewhere I don't see, there's zero mention. And...I wonder how many of the people involved in the spread had any clue what was going on. Casa del Shai's stuff definitely predates (and, doesn't look as much like it as it does there, but god, if I were them, I'd be pretty embarrassed about how it made me look if I found out about it afterwards, since I think their stuff was used the most there). Sloth, which starts it off, has some obvious changes (the skin is quite obviously not "HERE, MAKE THIS" which makes one think that yeah, some of these people probably did get drawn into this unknowingly, and there's the butterfly instead of bubbles, and the hair and dress are only vaguely. I'm thinking the poses all are direct rips, and were made for this, and the heads are just free in some of them. I could be wrong...but they are really really close). Wrath also, disturbing pose/background, but only passing similarities to dress/skin/hair/jewelry. Vanity is from a different angle, and with a direct comparison between the two isn't as direct as it seemed, but still, very obviously trying to recreate it (the makeup is semi generic enough that it's close...but that doesn't actually mean anything). Envy is even trying to do the very distinctive hair, although it's a definite case of not the same makeup. Lust is another case of doubtful on the makeup (note, I'm stressing the makeup here, as it was started as being created for the spread, and I'm thinking that most/all of the people making the skins were not complicit), but you've got the pose, background, and accessories right there. Gluttony is, on inspection, a fair bit different, and most obviously due to head turning- but I'm unfortunately thinking that's just due to not locking the head/neck, and the same goes for Avarice.

Personally...if I were one of the people featured in any of the spread I'd be very uncomfortable with it. But, I don't think they really had anything to do with it, this may just be a case of photographer's etc. Which, hell, they do in Vogue from time to time to some degree...but any time I've noticed it they are 100% up front about it, even when it's generic enough they don't have to be. That's what makes me squirm- doubly so because it's a person who's a solo artist, and probably does actually answer their emails, so actually clearing it might have been really easy. (Yeah, there's the possibility they'll say no, but is just steamrolling ahead without clearing it better? I say no, personally.)

We've all, I'm sure, been guilty of it to some degree, from fan doodles to whatnot. When money enters into it, I become a lot more uncomfortable about the whole thing though. If I was contracted to do something, would I? To a degree, probably yes (in fact, to a degree definitely yes, although it was far less of a clearcut thing, I still wasn't superthrilled), if I'd agreed to beforehand without knowing whatall exactly was involved. I'd be far less likely to continue my contract beyond the original term, and I'd try to make it as much "inspired by" and not "oh hai, I just ripped that off" as I could, generally. As much as there are sometimes things that yeah, I might like to have, I don't really like directly copying, just generally.

Will I prove myself a total hypocrite somewhere down the line? Quite possibly. It's easy to stand in judgment over someone else, whereas you may not see it when you're in it. I'm also way less into it when it's a little guy. Big corps, yeah, you might get your ass sued if they turn their lawyers loose on you, but the little guys are a) approachable, so you can actually do something about clearing it, and b) way less obvious, although moreso in the world post internet and sensory overload, so yeah, you may well still get caught with your pants down.

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