My faboo legal eagle Mike Lovitz, (you know, the attorney this publisher does not appear to believe actually exists,) weighs in HERE on the recent swipe-irific controversy involving Nick Simmons, newbie cartoonist and son of rock guitarist Gene Simmons, bassist for the band Kiss.

Mr. Simmons has been caught engaging in rampant acts of plagiarism. No matter how much his publicity people spin it, the whole craptastic mess just goes more splodeydope every time this dude opens his mouth.

He will reach Beijing, soon.

You know, I personally do not care if a cartoonist swipes once in awhile.

Never having been to the Taj Mahal, and never having taken any pictures of the Taj Mahal, if I am called on to draw the Taj Mahal I am going to have to use reference photos I did not take myself. The goal is to refer to the photo without slavishly copying it.

There is the use of reference, and there is Artist as Dull-Witted Copying Machine. People don’t pay me to run around the internet, download photos, and trace them. They pay me to come up with pics that do not exist anywhere else. They pay me to create a look and feel and landscape that does not exist anywhere else.

On some projects I use extensive reference, on some projects, hardly any at all.

A Distant Soil runs approximately 1,000 pages, with an average of 6 panels per page. That is 6,000 individual images. That’s approximately 20,000 individual figure drawings.

I have used reference for that figure drawing on approximately 20 images.

Woo.

Swipe.

On Gone to Amerikay (to be published by DC Comics/Vertigo next year,) I spent 3 months researching the work, apart from the more than one year of effort it has taken to draw it. I catalogued nearly 2,000 historical images…out-of-copyright material. I won’t use 10% of this in the final work, but felt I had to understand the time period completely in order to illustrate it.

I also shot more than 1000 photos of models and locations.

And after all that effort, people wonder why “artists” who do not bother to make the effort with their work piss off other artists so much.

I declare, “I do not use reference A Distant Soil” – well, except for those 20 figures – with pride. Yet some artists have openly mocked my work because they can’t figure out why I don’t just hire models to make my figures look more realistic.

I don’t want to.

There’s a school of illustration that sneers at anything that doesn’t appear lightboxed and photoshopped to death. Some can’t believe I don’t use pose files and simply trace what I need when I need it.

The thought makes me nauseous, actually.

Judging from the comments on this thread, the mere fact that an artist uses any photo reference at all – even their own photos – is considered unethical to some folks. Like it’s not real drawing or something.

That’s just daffy.

Making extensive use of photo reference you did not take yourself, tracing it, and creating a final work that is substantially similar to the referenced work is bad, wrong, illegal and a generally crappy thing to do.

The whole thing makes me sad. It makes me tired. And it makes me sick.

We live in a world where some consider plagiarism an “artistic” choice.

Or in the words of plagiarist Hegemann, “There is no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity.”

Wait, she’s a plagiarist. Are those really her words?

If you can’t construct a simple declarative sentence without lifting it from someone else and passing it off as your own, you need to reconsider a career as a writer.

I don’t know why it is so difficult for some people to parse the idea that you can’t copyright an idea, only the execution of an idea.

And that no one expects you to be wholly original with every idea, just the way you express it.

Me writer. Me able to make expression of idea with arrangement of words I put together all by myself. Me figure it out all by myself.

I suggest Ms Hegemann is neither original nor authentic. Except an authentic fraud.

Nice con, toots.

Addendum:

I just remembered something.

Years ago, I had a chance to meet with WETA Workshop head honcho Richard Taylor. He liked my portfolio. A lot.

It was a lovely experience to have someone whose work I admired so much have so many nice things to say about mine.

But I will never forget this: while looking at my conceptual designs, he asked over and over and over again, “This is yours? This is your work? These are original?”

Clients see so much plagiarized stuff, they have to establish that they are hiring someone who can actually make pictures, as opposed to someone who simply tweaks other people’s pictures.

Since I had only begun doing conceptual art, I wasn’t accustomed to this being a problem.

But I get it now.

I really get it.

Richard Taylor was pretty freaking awesome, by the way. I got a very nice series of letters from him and art director Daniel Falconer, including one which said “We are trying to figure out how to get you down here.”

But alas, I have limited digital skills and hiring overseas is difficult, particularly in this economic climate. So, no Hobbit job for me. And the competition was fierce.

But best portfolio review I ever had. Was walking on air after.

Still am, I guess.