Friday, September 29, 2017

Put Away the Pitchforks

First, I would like to thank the greater gaming and art communities for all the support regarding a resent run in with an art thief that I posted about on Wednesday. It is reassuring that people out there really do support artists and care that they and there art is treated with respect. Every time I have a run in like this I question the integrity of my endeavors and worry that all my efforts are all for naught and it will all be stolen in the end. My post got shared in the ball park of a hundred times across Facebook and at last count the post had been viewed over 11,000 times. I  definitely hit a nerve and my message resonated with a lot of people.

That said, calls for violence and physical harm on the person that stole my art is CATEGORICALLY UNACCEPTABLE! This is not how I treat people, even if someone has wronged me, and I would expect to not be treated this way, even if I have wronged someone. Threats of physical violence, even if made in jest, are FAR worse than the stealing of my art. Likewise, the unsolicited harassment and verbal attacks on this individual are not acceptable. The intent of my post was to call attention to a systemic and continuing problem that people who create things experience. This person is but one of many that do this and should not be treated as a scapegoat for all art theft. We do not blame a single drop of rain for the destruction of a hurricane, no matter how much of a jerk that drop of rain is. This was NOT a call to action against this person and this is NOT a call to attack and persecute this person.

While some of you may think you are retaliating on my behalf, it is not warranted or appropriate. I would have never made this public if the individual had not severed communication after sending me his little manifesto. My post was meant as a warning to other artists and as a bit a humor looking at this persons behavior and how they think treating artists is appropriate. Threats, harassment, violence, and mistreatment of any kind are not acceptable responses to this. The situation and his behavior are frustrating. He did act with contempt towards me and my art and has violated my copyright of my art. Even with all this, there is no need for calls of lawsuits, threats of violence, or the demand to have projects that he has worked on for ten year removed from the web. It would be next to impossible to prove damages, plus it would be a huge waste of time and money on my end, violence is never the answer for most things, and it is distasteful to contemplate destroying another creative person's work simply to revenge their mistreat of my creative work. Yes he did something wrong, but destroying him utterly is not a way to solve this issue.

I am fairly sure no one that has read my post, shared it, and commented on it actually know this person. We do not know the ups and downs of his life. What he has dealt with or what he has to deal with. True, his behavior towards me does paint him with a fairly wide brush and gives us an opinion of the kind of person he is, but we all make mistakes, we all have bad days. Granted, it is obvious he did not make a mistake and he knowingly and purposefully stole my art and ideas, but persecuting him across the internet is not the answer. Many people have spoken of unfriending him, blocking him, and blacklisting him. While many more has said they have been blocked by him, even for simply attempting to get his side of his story in all this. His words and behavior are not very mature, but this is not grounds for attacks. He has had enough. I don't see any of this changing how he behaves. Hopefully after all this people will be more vigilante in the protection of artists and their work and be more aware to the prolific nature of art theft. 

I use this blog to document my journey as a working artist and this is but one small part of it. I am approached constantly with the request to use my art without pay, in ways that breach copyright and usage rights, and any number of ways that benefit the other person and in no way benefit me. I stumble upon my work being stolen all the time and address it, privately. About every six months I run into a real doozy of a person that behaves in a way that is completely unacceptable. I have shared only a couple of those and this was one. Maybe I should not have share this. While the support of the community is great, the attacks on the person are counter productive. This blog is about art and making monsters and the journey that it has taking me on to be a better person and artist. This blog is not about tearing people down, even ones that have done something wrong. Please treat people with respect, even when none is given in return. It is something I struggle with, but we can all strive to be better... even Alexis.

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Yet Another Ignorant Art Thief

Before I start this let me say that there by far more important issues going on in this country and world right now other than stealing art. Issues of life and death and issues that have real serious repercussions, but I can not control those things and this blog has always been about my career as a working artist. I can't save the world, but I can call out ignorant people that like to steal art.

I received this comment on my blog a month or so ago from Alexis Smolensk:

"Just wanted to tell you that I'm working on a rewrite of D&D monsters for my gaming blog, and this image encouraged me to completely rewrite the boring beetle's description. I really don't need another big fighting beetle - this was better.

I'm afraid I'm stealing your pic for the wiki, but I'll give you a credit. I've cut the pic a bit so it will fit on my layout, making your blog's name hard to read, so I've created a caption. I've also linked the pic to your blog. The page is here:

http://tao-of-dnd.wikispaces.com/Beetle+%28giant+boring%29
(this link has since been taken down)
I've done the same with the bombadier beetle:

http://tao-of-dnd.wikispaces.com/Beetle+%28giant+bombadier%29"
(This link is still up but the art of someone else is currently being used without credit)


Okay. My response appreciated their interest in my work, but I had not given them permission to use my work, nor had I been paid for the use of my art in their project. I did not even address that not only were they using my art without permission they were using my ideas involved with my redesign of this monster. It is my art, I do have say over its use. Plain and simple. It is mine and I can at least expect a certain level of respect or to have some level of control over it.

What got me was the use of the word "stealing". While I am impressed that credit is being given, the intent was theft, not only of my art, but my ideas. I am getting really frustrated that giving credit is the most we can hope for. Credit should be the starting point of the discussion of usage, not the end. This whole thing could have been handled in so many different way. They could have approached me ahead of time with an inquiry to use or license my work. They could have even not contacted me. I would never know they were stealing my art and ideas. I do not have the time, energy, or interest to spend my time hunting down the unapproved use of my art. Instead of any of these options they contacted me after the fact and told me they were stealing my art. My response to this comment was probably stronger then it needed to be, but this is all getting old and they admitted they were stealing my ideas and art.

Of course, in response to my request for them to stop using my art without my permission they doubled, or even tripled, downed on their stance with this gem of a message on Facebook. Keep in mind their sent me this on Facebook and then (from what I can not tell) blocked me so that I could not respond back. The classic internet tough guy move.

"I think you should know that my wiki receives more than 1,000 page views a day, most of which goes to the most recent added content, such as your work last week, and consistently dozens of views for months afterwards. I considered putting your name and link on the content as free advertising, beneficial for you, which is compensation in the world of business. In future, if you don't want things stolen from you, I suggest not putting in a public place far from your house and your ability to observe what happens to it. I suggest you put it behind a wall, where you can better protect it. Take note. I did not need to inform you at all about your content; most of the internet would not. I was direct and open about its use and I am direct and open about taking it down. You won't find this sort of treatment to be common. Finally, if you wish to sell your work, I suggest improving your work. The only value it had to me was in depicting a specific kind of monster for someone to see what that monster looked like. I have many other options for that. But the idea that your work, as shown, has monetary value, is laughable. I certainly wouldn't pay for it. You have a long way to go as an artist. I do wish you luck in that regard. It will go hard on you if you insist on treating collaboration, which is what I was offering, as an insult and not praise. As one artist to another, we all need friends. I happen to be a writer. I write thousands of words of content for free and am compensated happily by hundreds and hundreds of persons who, seeing my free work, want more. They want to buy anything I put in front of them because they cannot get enough. You should get out of your head that any work you create has value in itself. You are the artist. YOU are the value. If someone in the future "steals" you work (and it certainly won't be me, not ever), I suggest you be flattered, you point out to everyone you know that your work is somewhere else on the internet and you ask for as much credit as you can get to move your name into other people's thoughts. Your approach that work = transaction = money is dead and gone, has been since the internet broke. You want to be an artist? Time to get with the future. I might have been happy to give you as much good press as I could give, talking to my readership. But you've pissed on all that now, for short-term gain. I suspect you've been art-school trained. Your approach usually comes from that kind of field. You're going to find that won't work for you, not in this century and not in this decade. I tell you this sincerely and in your interest, though I know that you're plenty furious by now."

While this speaks for itself, let's break this down. First, I did not even read this till weeks after he sent this to me. I really did not care what he had to say and I didn't have the time or energy to waste on what turned out to be exactly what I expected. In fact I ended up reading this while my wife and I were in Paris a week or two ago. My wife was using my phone to coordinate the evacuation of our cats from our home as hurricane Irma headed towards Florida and she stumbled upon this unread message. She responded for me, but the account was already blocked and it went nowhere. Oh well, these internet tough guys stamp their little feet and scream their little words and then slam the door so they are always correct in their eyes.

This message is a classic. It starts with how awesome he is and how important his blog is and how he is doing me a favor by including my art in his project. Weeeee! OH BOY! Gosh, that is swell! Then of course he blames the victim for his crime. If I don't want my art stolen I need to lock it away so not one can see it. This is laughable. How about you don't steal peoples art? I guess stores need to have DO NOT STEAL signs above ever item?

I RAWR'd with laughter when I read this, "Finally, if you wish to sell your work, I suggest improving your work. / But the idea that your work, as shown, has monetary value, is laughable. I certainly wouldn't pay for it. You have a long way to go as an artist." So my art is good enough to steal the ideas from it and to use on my blog, but it also sucks? I am confused. Let me check my credentials: I have designed makeup effects for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly (just to name a few) and I am an artist for Magic the Gathering, the Star Wars games, and Dungeons & Dragons (that game that he is making all his fan fiction for), not to mention many many others. You know what, here is my RESUME, it is a little out of date but should give you an idea of my work experience. In a couple of months it will mark the beginning of my 18th year as a working professional artist, but sure, yeah, I have a long way to go. Also, I have to turn down work constantly. I do not have time to take on all the projects that come my way. Real projects, with real clients, that pay real money.

"It will go hard on you if you insist on treating collaboration, which is what I was offering, as an insult and not praise. As one artist to another, we all need friends." Collaboration is when two or more people are working on a project together not when one person steals another person's art and ideas to use in their own project. Stealing art and ideas is not how you make friends. Funny how that works.

Then he is going on about how he is a noble writer who works for free and then people buy his work and how I should give my stuff away and that will magically turn into money. Same old worn out tripe that I have heard a million times. I think Harlan Ellison has something to say about this...



"I suspect you've been art-school trained. Your approach usually comes from that kind of field." When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me. I am an open book on this blog, I went to Florida State University which is definitely an art school. I never had a single professional practices course and I had professors that openly taught stealing from others. I knew it was wrong then and I know it is still wrong. Make your own damn art or pay the people that are working with you.

Finally, "I tell you this sincerely and in your interest, though I know that you're plenty furious by now.", you know what, in a sincerity, I laughed when I read this. I laughed long and hard and then I felt really really sad for this person. They are so misguided or ignorant... or both. But they are an internet tough guy and slammed the door closed after they shouted into the internet at me for calling them out for stealing. I guess they won.


*UPDATE* It has been pointed out to me that one of the images that started all this was still on his site. After further investigation not only are the images in question that he told me he removed are still on his site, but several more of my giant beetle drawings as well. So, we can add LIAR to list of his crimes. Way to stay classy, Alexis!

*UPDATE*  Some have questioned if I was in fact sharing all of the communication with this person and being fully transparent. The conversation started in the comments section of the post containing one of the pieces of art he stole. It is still all public and nothing has been edited. Not knowing if my comment would be seen on my blog, I sent it to him on Facebook to be sure that my art was removed. Here is a screen caps of the conversion. I repeated what I said on my blog, then he responded and then blocked me ending all communication with him. Notice the "You can not reply conversation" at the bottom. He told me he is stealing my art and ideas. I told him not without paying me. Then he sent me the manifesto and ended the conversation.


*UPDATE* I have some additional thoughts I think are extremely important to consider in all this. I have put them all in a new blog post for ease of reading. Please give it a read.

That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, September 25, 2017

Quincaillerie - The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia

I have for you a new piece from The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia! Today's monster is the one being shop, the Quincaillerie (Ken-kel-lay). Not every merchant at the Grand Bazaar has a shop, tent, or even a rug on the street, some carry their wares as they wonder the streets and alleys looking for customers. Without the overhead of a shop or the burden of taxes and fees for owning a more permanent retail space, these wandering merchants can often undercut competitors and still turn a profit. Only the most sturdy of beings can handle this grueling job, so if you are up for it, maybe you can be a Quincaillerie...

Quincaillerie
11 x 14 - Pencil on paper
Original - Currently not available 

© 2017 Christopher Burdett

Quincaillerie - Drawing
11 x 14 - Pencil on paper
© 2017 Christopher Burdett

Here are all the other completed monster for The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia: Aberrant Stilter, Belled Kreep, Corrupted Knight, Dight-Kin, Eau-de-nil Elder, Ethra VanDalia, Footman, Gray Wanderer, Gullet, Humgruffin Mother, Irritated Girasol, Judicator, Kiplorbic Animal Dealer, Myopic Riflemen, Nimsbane Curse Victim, Ophiomornous Bureaucrat, Petrous Blacksmith, Quincaillerie, Saint Marque, Smokestack, Thrice, Uncanny Scribe, Virulent Artificer, Xandrell Tree, and Zombic Spore.
 
As an added bonus I have for you some images of the line work and rendering process of this piece so that you can get a better idea of it taking shape... 


Quincaillerie - Process © 2017 Christopher Burdett 

That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Friday, September 22, 2017

Catacombs of Paris

I am still getting my feet under me from our recent vacation. We spent five days in Paris, France and six days in Florence, Italy. A truly amazing time and I have MANY images to share on the blog in the fullness of time. I have much to catch up on and much to do in general right now, so a photo dump is a little low on my priority list. That said, I have for you some images from the Catacombs of Paris. We took a small group guided tour of the catacombs and it was amazing. We got to see some areas that were generally off limits to most visitors and our guide was very knowledgeable and she had a ton of amazing stories and information to share with us. It was a highlight of our trip. If you are visiting Paris be sure to book a tour in advance! Without further adieu, here is a glimpse of the Catacombs of Paris...

All image © 2017 Christopher Burdett

That's all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Yuan-Ti Broodguard - Volo's Guide to Monsters - Process

The monster are in charge of the blog and they have decided to share with you the process and steps that went into making the five paintings that I contributed to the Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Volo's Guide to Monsters. I hope you enjoy!

The Yuan-Ti Broodguard was a weird one. It is a skinny weird reptile with really big paws and claws. While I am all about the reptile monsters this one just had a weird shape that took me some time to get my head around. Most of my monsters tend to lean towards the beefier end of body shapes, this one needed to be rather lithe. Here is how the final Yuan-Ti Broodguard turned out...
Yuan-Ti Broodguard
11 x 14 - Digital
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

The shape of the back/neck area is important to this monster for quick identification and because it was prominent in the reference art I was given. In fact, I was given a side view of this monster and then needed to figure out how it looked from the front. In the end I think it all worked out after a reference photo shoot and some experimentation in thumbnails. Here are how the Yuan-Ti Broodguard thumbnails turned out...

Yuan-Ti Broodguard - Thumbnails
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

Option A was the winner, and looking back now it is still the clear winner. The exaggerated anatomy reads well and their is a bit of character in there. I was given the go ahead to move forward with the final drawing...

Yuan-Ti Broodguard
11 x 14 - Pencil on paper
Art Director - Kate Irwin
Original - SOLD
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

The drawing was approved and I was given the go ahead to start the painting. With all of these Volo pieces the painting went quickly, smoothly, and there were no issues or concerns. Which is always nice. I just got to sit back and have fun making pretty monsters. Being an isolated figure helps out a lot too. Here is the paint work for this piece coming together...

Yuan-Ti Broodguard - Process steps

I work out the lighting in the reference photo shoot I do before ever starting the thumbnails. From the very beginning I have an idea of what I want to do with the final image. I knew this one would work well with up lighting and made sure my reference photos were shot that way. I know some folks fly by the seat of their pants through an assignment. I just can't work that way, I have a plan from the beginning. Granted, there can and often are changes along the way, but that is to improve or correct things as they take shape. To better show how the painting developed, here is a animated progression of it taking shape...

Yuan-Ti Broodguard -Animated process

While there is a fair bit of pushing and pulling of form and value the painting was extremely straight forward. I get into a zen state when working on isolated figures as I work the large forms and then lay in all the detail work. I just want to make a really pretty monster for these types of pieces, and hopefully I did. Here again is how the final painting turned out...

Yuan-Ti Broodguard
11 x 14 - Digital
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, September 18, 2017

Morkoth - Volo's Guide to Monsters - Process

The monster are in charge of the blog and they have decided to share with you the process and steps that went into making the five paintings that I contributed to the Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Volo's Guide to Monsters. I hope you enjoy!

Today is the Morkoth. The Morkoth is one of those crazy first edition monsters that always intrigued me as a kid. Why did this monster exist? Why was this monster in the game? What series of horrible decisions in game led your characters to come face to face with a Morkoth? While I never got answers to these questions, in the the fullness of time I got to illustrate one for D&D! Here is how the final Morkoth turned out...
Morkoth
11 x 14 - Digital
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

I was given new concept art for the Morkoth when I received the assignment, so the hard work of breathing new life into a 40 year old monster was already taken care of. I was able to focus on making it look cool and to create the art that will represent this crazy monster for a new generation. No pressure. Here are the thumbnails for the Morkoth...
Morkoth - Thumbnails
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

Option B was the winner this time around and I was given the go ahead to work on the final drawing. While these piece are all isolated figures I was asked to add a vignette of water around the Morkoth so that it was clear that it is aquatic and not flying. Here is the final drawing for the Morkoth...

Morkoth
11 x 14 - Pencil on paper
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

Around the time Volo's Guide to Monsters came out there was an article in Dragon magazine about the new and updated monsters in the book. One of them covered was the Morkoth and there was a fun little info graphic featuring my art. While I was credited as the artist for all of the art I was not responsible for the new concept work featured in the graphic. Not sure who is, but it was not me. Here is that info graphic...

Dragon Magazine graphic about the Morkoth

The drawing was approved and I was given the go ahead to start the painting. With all of these Volo pieces the painting went quickly, smoothly, and there were no issues or concerns. Which is always nice. I just got to sit back and have fun making pretty monsters. Being an isolated figure helps out a lot too. Here is the paint work for this piece coming together...

Morkoth - Process steps

To better show how the painting developed, here is a animated progression of it taking shape...

Morkoth - Animated process

While there is a fair bit of pushing and pulling of form and value the painting was extremely straight forward. I get into a zen state when working on isolated figures as I work the large forms and then lay in all the detail work. I just want to make a really pretty monster for these types of pieces, and hopefully I did. Here again is how the final painting turned out...

Morkoth
11 x 14 - Digital
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC



That's all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Friday, September 15, 2017

Mind Flayer Tadpole - Volo's Guide to Monsters - Process

The monster are in charge of the blog and they have decided to share with you the process and steps that went into making the five paintings that I contributed to the Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Volo's Guide to Monsters. I hope you enjoy!

Today's selection is the Mind Flayer Tadpole. This one was a fan favorite. Everyone really reacts to the tadpole up against the eye and responds well the to creep factor. This was also a great opportunity to get a self portrait into a D&D book! Here is how the final Mind Flayer Tadpole turned out...
Mind Flayer Tadpole
9.1 x 10.1 - Digital
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

To start things off I did a photo shoot with a kneaded eraser on my face to stand in for the tadpole. Not the most elegant of photo shoots, but it got the job done and I got some great reference to work with. I know much of the work that I do needs to be creepy, but after so many years I am desensitized to it and go on instinct. This piece seems to have hit all the right buttons with people, so I must be doing something right. Here are the thumbnails for this piece...

Mind Flayer Tadpole - Thumbnails
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

I was given the go ahead to take option C to a finalized drawing. Once I turned it in there was some concern that the drawing looked off and that the anatomy of the face was not working. Since I was working from reference I was a little confused and there was some back and forth communication to figure things out. Finally I sent my reference photos in to show what I was aiming to do and it was all cleared up immediately. One of those things were a picture is worth a thousand words. We were all on the same page and production could continue. Here is the final drawing for this piece...

Mind Flayer Tadpole
11 x 14 - Pencil on paper
Art Director - Kate Irwin
Original - SOLD
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

Now that the drawing was approved I could get started with the painting. With all of these Volo pieces the painting went quickly, smoothly, and there were no issues or concerns. Which is always nice. I just got to sit back and have fun making pretty monsters. Being an isolated figure helps out a lot too. Here is the paint work for this piece coming together...

Mind Flayer Tadpole - Process steps

You will notice that there was some adjustment of the green background glow behind the ear. This was a request from production. The original green was considered too bright and I was asked to knock it down a little. To better show how the painting developed, here is a animated progression of it taking shape...

Mind Flayer Tadpole - Animated process

While there is a fair bit of pushing and pulling of form and value the painting was extremely straight forward. I get into a zen state when working on isolated figures as I work the large forms and then lay in all the detail work. I just want to make a really pretty monster for these types of pieces, and hopefully I did. Here again is how the final painting turned out...

Mind Flayer Tadpole
9.1 x 10.1 - Digital
Art Director - Kate Irwin
© 2016 Wizards of the Coast LLC

That's all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com