On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re The Artist
Saturday night, we get a weird text from Silent Creative Partner:
Someone sent me this saying, “I found this on an iPhone Background [desktop] app!”
What is “this”? Well, this:
Looks like a pen drawing on notebook paper of a boy on a swing, with “i miss u” written over the empty swing next to him, plus a few hearts. Apparently it was available for download somewhere for use as an iPhone background.
The weird part? It also looks like a pencil drawing Silent Creative Partner created fourteen years ago:
It’s not just any old drawing — it’s the reason Silent Creative Partner is Silent Creative Partner. One day we stumbled across a collection of drawings he had posted online, and we saw something in them — particularly that one — that we really responded to. They weren’t all necessarily polished, but we could see the seeds of genius in them.
So we emailed The Artist a nice note. And he emailed back. A few exchanges later, and The Artist is well on his way to becoming Silent Creative Partner. One of the first things we do is create a much nicer website where he can display his work. He designs the whole thing himself. With hand-drawn site graphics. Real cute. Very clever.
And it all stems from that drawing. So when we see a bad, sappy copy of that drawing floating around, we get a tad annoyed.
Especially when, minutes later, a search of “i miss you drawing” turns up this:
Shit, there must be two hundred copies of the crappy pen version on various sites — not just iPhone downloads, but Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, you name it. Like this one:
“Nice drawing by my friends title ‘I Miss You’”, it says, posted by FlyHighBoy on his blog last April. It’s certainly not by his friend. Silent Creative Partner doesn’t know anybody in Singapore.
For that matter, Silent Creative Partner doesn’t know Katiiexf either:
Katiiexf posted that back in May to deviantART. Haven’t heard of that site? Here’s how it works:
As a community destination, deviantART is a platform that allows emerging and established artists to exhibit, promote, and share their works within a peer community dedicated to the arts. The site’s vibrant social network environment receives over 100,000 daily uploads of original art works ranging from traditional media, such as painting and sculpture, to digital art, pixel art, films and anime.
Emphasis theirs. Especially the emphasis on original art works. Which doesn’t include Katiiexf.
“Sad but beautifully done!” somebody comments on the Katiiexf post of a bad, sappy copy of Silent Creative Partner’s drawing.
“aww thank you x,” Katiiexf responds.
Careful taking that bow, Katiiexf. We might be inclined to shove a Faber-Castell 4B Graphite Pencil up yer arse.
But wait! Katiiexf isn’t even the only “artist” at deviantART taking credit for somebody else’s bad, sappy copy of Silent Creative Partner’s drawing. No, the hands-down winner is “Forever Alone” by Animeroxxx, posted last February:
What makes it special? The “artist’s” description:
Yeah well I was planning on drawing a girl for this but it was kind of hard so I drew a boy instead… I honestly felt this picture while drawing it… Because I remember seeing one of my friends looking like this and it happened to be a boy so that gave me the idea for a boy instead.If you want to repost it… Please make sure you show that I was the true artist ok?
To which True Artist Silent Creative Partner comments Saturday night:
I felt this picture while drawing it too!
And then Sunday, the Not-True Artist updates the description: “I also saw a picture that inspired me to draw this.” With a link — finally! — to the original. Although it seems to us that there’s a yawning gap between inspired and badly traced.
Lesson? None, really. Happens all the time — not just images going semi-viral, but folks taking credit for other work as their own. It’s hardly even new to the Internet.
Difference is, on the Internet, every so often you can actually catch a thief in the act.