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:
(this link has since been taken down)
I've done the same with the bombadier beetle:
(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