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I have someone who's commissioned me on a semi-regular basis that is making a little...uncomfortable?
Every time he commissions me he wants me to redesign one of his characters for him(regardless of the commission type), and then gives me a drawing that he basically wants me to copy line for line using said character.
I spend more time on his commissions than anyone else, and I don't mind spending extra time on a commission!-- especially if it's reference or something, but he is only ever interested in the cheapest commission option possible so I end up spending hours streaming a five dollar commission to make sure it is copied exactly. That part is what really bothers me- I realize poses can't be copyrighted but I feel very uncomfortable copying another artist's work so closely. Some of them are commissions that he's bought- but some of them aren't, and after a quick FA search it appears that he has dozens of the same posed commissions over and over(so I'm not the only one he's asking to copy art), which leads me to believe that the original original works are probably not associated with him at all.

I'm not really sure what to do here. I'd like to edit my TOS and also explain to him that I will not copy drawings for him- is this reasonable? The poses are nothing particularly unique, it's moreso how closely he wants them copied that bothers me. I want to be fair to my commissioners but not at the expense of being fair to my fellow artists.

Sorry if this is a little all over the place! Any advice would be appreciated. :)  

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( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
I have a commissioner sort of like that (wonder if it is the same guy?)... he always wants discounts too. I've copied the poses of previous commissions he's had done. It doesn't really bother me too much since I am not tracing them or anything.

If it does bother you and the money isn't worth it... then I would just not do it anymore.

It might be worth it to say something in your TOS like "While I will take inspiration from other works, I will not copy them exactly. I prefer my works to be unique."

edit: I'd like to add that since I will use the same/similar poses to already created works or photos... I still do start out with my own stickman skeleton base and everything.

Edited at 2014-04-23 11:14 pm (UTC)
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:06 pm (UTC)
Personally feel that it is not ethical.
Here's the thing. Poses AREN'T copyrighted. However, you copy a piece line for line changing a few things and people can't tell the difference between your piece and the copied piece? Then it is infringing.
You need permission from the original artist. It has been said before that commissioners may own the image physical, but the art itself is still intellectually the artists unless they sold the rights to it - meaning the commissioner doesn't give permission to trace/redraw - the artist does.

Frankly I'd avoid this commissioner. Is it worth potentially damaging your reputation?
My humble two cents, I'd avoid this like the plague. If you post this, especially as a commission, you run the risk of the original artist going 'The hell. Why did you trace/redraw my work for profit'.

No go. :|

If you decide to go forward with this anyway, I seriously consider you linking the original reference image.
Personally (again, my two cents, and I understand you're at the client's whims) not a good idea to reference other people's art -- better to do photos.

Anyway. Rambling.

Avoid this client like plague - you may end up unintentionally damaging your reputation/credibility as an artist just to satisfy them.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
thank you for the advice! i regret not taking this into consideration right off the bat.
in that case i'd really like to avoid doing business with this person because i feel pretty icky having these images in my gallery in the first place. i am going to do my best to try and hunt down the reference images again because he gave them to me in-stream, but so far it's been hard to find the originals because he has so many same-pose images. i'll try digging through his favorites. i don't have all of his commissions in my gallery, but the ones i do have i might take down, especially if i can't find the original artists.

ugh, yuck. u__u
(no subject) - gatekat - Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Apr. 24th, 2014 12:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frisket17 - Apr. 24th, 2014 01:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aerospiritual - Apr. 29th, 2014 12:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frisket17 - Apr. 24th, 2014 01:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
Firstly, copying another image so closely really may fall into the gray line of derivative work. Whether or not it is derivative work will depend on if the artist chooses to take you to court over an image.

Now, even if he commissioned the art that doesn't give him the legal right to allow others to make derivative work off of the images.

That's just the legal aspect.

The moral aspect would be that other artists are likely not to be comfortable with this either if they don't know what's going on. If you feel uncomfortable don't do it. If you are spending more than a singular hour on a $5 commission, don't do it. It's not worth your time and it certainly is not worth the headache.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:14 pm (UTC)
I've had this 'type' of customer before and it has gotten me in some hot water before with the artists whom I've 'referenced' their poses/outfits/etc. Usually it was a ref image by an artist they want the exact pose AND outfit in the image... Just a different character. Lately I haven't been allowing this sort of thing with the customer. I'd allow them to give me an example pose, I would then change the pose (by angle or positioning) and not allowing the same exact outfit in the 'pose'. If they ever chose an outfit I would change it enough to where it wasn't exactly the same as well. (It's one thing if it's a cosplay sort of thing but it always seemed to be images by other artists that designed the clothing, etc)

In short, change the pose and outfits where it isn't 'copy/pasta' and more of your own 'interpretation' of the refs given. If they can't get over that then it's probably best to just not work with them. And agreeing with above, if it is heavily ref'ed then always cite the artists whom you use.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
In addition to this, I added it in my TOS that if anyone supplies a "pose ref" that I use it as a general guideline rather than copying exactly. It really keeps you from getting in trouble.
(no subject) - dragonommz - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whoop_zi - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jackalteeth - Apr. 24th, 2014 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:25 pm (UTC)
Essentially what everyone has said thusfar. Copying work in that nature is indeed theft, you should not accept commissions from this person. I've seen other people being commissioned to copy my work, as well, and it is rather frustrating to have all of that effort in working out the kinks in getting the image right just for someone else to be paid to copy it. I highly HIGHLY advise you not to continue with the commissioned work. Refund him if he's paid you, just say no.

I would also try telling him that this is technically theft - there is a possibility he or she may not know. I obviously cannot say for certain since I do not know the person, but in the process you MAY save other artists in the future from the same predicament. This isn't a trend that should be perpetuated.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
i have a feeling he probably doesn't realize it's technically theft, so you're right that i should make that clear to him. i am not currently working on anything for him but he's been consistently asking me to "squeeze him in" so i know that he wants to commission me again and i wanted to be prepared, but this has been bothering me for a while.
thank you for the advice!
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:29 pm (UTC)
This sounds super skeevy to me . Seems to me like he is getting a lot of edits for as little as he wants to pay for commissions. I would edit the TOS to state clearly about edits for inexpensive commissions because otherwise you are working far too hard for what they are paying you.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:34 pm (UTC)
that is exactly what he does- i feel like i do a lot more work for than the amount of money i get when i work with him, unfortunately. it's harder to for me to be firm about edits because most of the commissions i do for him are in-stream, but i need to be firm somewhere, clearly. /n\;
(no subject) - adzuki - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whoop_zi - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
The only time I allow that sort of 'line for line' copy referencing is when its of my own work, and they want something like a piece I have already created. Otherwise I find it unethical to be basically eyeballing another artists work and selling it as my own.

Now giving me a couple pics for an idea of what they are looking for is one thing, but if they want it to be exactly the same I'd have to turn it down.

That said with how this guy is lowballing you and demanding far more time than what he's paying for, I'd honestly just drop him as a commissioner anyways. Seems like he wants expensive work but doesn't want to pay for it so he's just taking advantage of your willingness to please him as a commissioner.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah that, stop doing that.
Just tell him "Nope, I know I've obliged in the past but I'm tired of referencing existing artwork for you. If you don't trust me to be able to create something you'll like, I wish you luck in finding a more compatible artist to work with."

In my TOS I also have following.

"Things I won't draw for commissions:
- Copyrighted/trademarked characters and/or public figures.
- Copy other people's designs or significant portions thereof.
- Imitate another artist's style on demand.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:23 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't even do line for line if I owned the picture. -_-

Also $5 for hours worth of work is really low.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:27 pm (UTC)
Personally, whenever someone gives me such an image, I reply back saying I'll use it as a reference, not to copy it. It'll be the same general pose, but I'll change things, maybe even the angle.

It isn't exactly wrong to copy, although the best thing you can do is link the original in the description (plus means there's less chance of drama with people thinking you're stealing, asking is best, but this is one option), but it's more of a comfort thing. If you don't feel comfortable copying, like me, don't do so unless it's worth it to you.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 11:07 pm (UTC)
I think if someone is truly just wanting the pose, it's probably okay (just someone who doesn't draw trying to give you a visual of what he wants, since text descriptions can be a real pain both to try to write and try to work from). You can change things like the viewing angle, composition, facial expressions, etc to keep the same general character posing but create a different picture.

If he's literally asking you to recreate the same picture with his character though, which is what it sounds like, that's not okay. Line-for-line copying definitely crosses the line into theft. If I were you, I'd stop taking his commissions. If you want to keep his money (though it sounds like he isn't giving you much!) make it clear you won't be accepting those terms anymore.
Apr. 23rd, 2014 11:19 pm (UTC)
Everyone pretty much made some solid points, so I can't think of anything else to add. However, I did want to express that I think it may be better to avoid doing any more business with this commissioner in the future. He seems to be causing you way more grief than he's worth and any positive thing he may present is being majorly outweighed by the negative he's bringing in ( and spending hours on a $5 commission doesn't really sound like he's a keeper).

If you are uncomfortable with his requests, and question if the methods are acceptable, then it's just going to stress you out and do you more harm than good. So please don't feel bad about turning him down or trying to be fair. Yes, it's always good to try and be fair to your commissioners, but that doesn't mean you have to bend backwards for them and hurt yourself.

Hope things work out! Sorry you had to go through this!

*Edit for spelling errors because I'm unobservant*

Edited at 2014-04-23 11:22 pm (UTC)
Apr. 24th, 2014 01:10 am (UTC)
It's fine to reference a pose, but you don't want to redraw it line for line. I'd use the drawing he's asking you to reference to find or make photo references to actually draw from.

As for an addition to your TOS, I'd probably just include something about how references will be used at your discretion. I'd also explain to him that you can certainly draw it in that pose, but if he wants a line for line copy, he should talk to the artist who drew the artwork, and see if they would modify the work for him.
Apr. 24th, 2014 03:07 pm (UTC)
I don't believe it's outright theft to use the same pose as long as you're not tracing it, but plenty of other artists will get very offended and you could be risking your reputation if a particularly nasty piece of work decides they have a bone to pick with you. It happened to me (far too many) years ago when I was starting out and I was harassed horribly for it. It's not worth the crap you can get for it.

I suggest saying you'll do something similar to the requested piece but drawing it your own way. The only thing I now will directly ref from are people's SL, Poser or game screenshots, and given the nature of those they almost always require significant tweaking to look right anyway.
Apr. 24th, 2014 06:45 pm (UTC)
this has bad idea written all over it :/ i wouldn't accept any commissions from this guy at all anymore if it were me, and, if you've posted any of the commissions you've done in that manner for him already, take them down possibly? that way you can avoid getting in any hot water with other artists; he needs a clear message that what he's doing isn't ok. be firm!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )


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