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    Artistic Integrity

    Anyone ever read the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand? It’s a book about what it means to have artistic integrity. Is there such a thing and does it matter? What does artistic integrity mean to you as an artist?

    I think artistic integrity is developing and working in your own style. I think a lack of artistic integrity is working in another living artist’s style for money or as a cheaper replacement. I also believe that I am not just a wrist for hire to people without art skills. Clients need to colaborate not just dictate. This has nothing to do with what you charge for your work, or what genre of work you do, this is about how you work and what part of you are you willing to sell to make a living.

    I’m not talking about student work or practice. I'm also not talking about large projects like movies or games or large ad campaigns where a consistent look is necessary and the work needs to be done by large groups of artists in collaboration towards a single cohesive style. I’m talking about when a client comes to you and says 'I want this piece of art or a series of paintings but I want you to copy someone else’s style.' Do you do it or pass it up?

    It seems as the economy has deteriorated people are willing to do anything artistically to make money. I think everyone has to decide this for themselves and it defines you as an artist and it can define your career. Where do you draw a line in the sand when it comes to your work, if at all?

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    Not really, since you aren't voicing a personal opinion. Is that yor stance? Its a philosophical question not a legal one.

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    "Do you do it or pass it up?"

    Depends how behind on the rent you are

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    "Do you do it or pass it up?"

    Depends how behind on the rent you are
    Wouldn't that also depend on how much they were paying you? What if they were only paying you enough for 1 months rent? You could end up doing things like that for your whole life. What if they paid you enough to not have to work for five years would you take anymore jobs like that if they came along?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Not really, since you aren't voicing a personal opinion. Is that your stance? Its a philosophical question not a legal one.
    Given that books, or movies, or X is usually held by a business. The chances is giving your own spin on things gets hard.

    Philosophy often is applied in legal matters, and visa-verse.

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    I would pass. On that scenario for sure...I have. Even when it was for a lot of money (slightly different but it was to AD a game I wasn't comfortable with due to the violence/theme). At the same time, AD on a project is a good chunk of time, not just a painting or even a series of paintings.

    But yeah, given the hypothetical "Would you paint X for a million dollars?" (or even 100K) - sure. I value my integrity, but it is for sale (in case anyone wants to know ).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flashback View Post
    Given that books, or movies, or X is usually held by a business. The chances is giving your own spin on things gets hard.
    How so? Frazetta, Krenkle, Whelan, Zug, McCaig all painted Princess of Mars illustrations and all of them are in their own style.

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    There are some things that I won't do in the case of private commissions. Your example is one of those things. I feel like if someone is hiring me they should be doing so because they like my work and my interpretation of things. I'm not a drawing monkey that is there to make copies of another person's style.

    I've be yelled at about this before ("why wouldn't you take the money stupid") and I can't ever find the words to explain how I feel about that stuff. There are certain things to me that are just not worth the cash and making myself go against my "beliefs" is not something that I would really like to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    How so? Frazetta, Krenkle, Whelan, Zug, McCaig all painted Princess of Mars illustrations and all of them are in their own style.
    True.

    Now, fast forward, 1998.

    Extensions on copyright make it harder to know where your stepping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flashback View Post
    True.

    Now, fast forward, 1998.

    Extensions on copyright make it harder to know where your stepping.
    Still trying to understand why you think that interferes with your style?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Still trying to understand why you think that interferes with your style?
    Think about it this way, I went to the see classical music from Mozart, yet I cannot use any sound recording device and tell you in the playbill it's for copyright reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    How so? Frazetta, Krenkle, Whelan, Zug, McCaig all painted Princess of Mars illustrations and all of them are in their own style.
    A tangent:

    Look at Frazetta's early E.R.B illustrations. Then look at James Allen St. John's preceding work. Tell me there's no stylistic mimicry involved.

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    I think Dpaint meant more as a go-to-art-style artist rather then an evolving artist, or a inspired or influenced by an artist. Don't quote me on that.

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    Yeah, don't mind me. Just a knee-jerk reaction to reading the Fountainhead as "a book about what it means to have artistic integrity", I guess.

    Carry on!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    'I want this piece of art or a series of paintings but I want you to copy someone else’s style.' Do you do it or pass it up?
    To me it would depend on exactly how they want me to copy someone's style. If they mean that they want my work to be as indistinguishable from artist X as possible, no, it's not something I'd likely do (and even more because I probably couldn't pull it off properly nor would I enjoy it one bit), but if they wanted me to loosely emulate someone's look while still keeping my own style to it and I felt that it fit the project (like say, going for that sort of Ben Templesmith scratchy, pencil lineart, gray PS effect look for a creepy illustration), then mayyybe (though that too would depend on whether I felt confident I could actually pull off the look so that it looks good and not just a cheap copy and also on exactly what they wanted me to do).

    Mainly because I do like trying new things like that and I like to work on different styles (which is in its own way bit problematic for me because occasionally I'm not sure exactly what style of art people might be expecting from me).

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    "It seems as the economy has deteriorated people are willing to do anything artistically to make money."

    "What if they were only paying you enough for 1 months rent? You could end up doing things like that for your whole life."


    Err, yeah?
    I get the impression its decades at least since you had to work on any old crap job to live, but even in todays futuristic technoparadise stuff still isnt free..

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Iím talking about when a client comes to you and says 'I want this piece of art or a series of paintings but I want you to copy someone elseís style.' Do you do it or pass it up?
    Do I do it?

    Yes.

    Do I pass it up?

    No.

    I'm not an artist. It has nothing to do with my integrity. I am a commercial Illustrator/designer (in-training) and have no personal stake in what someone commisions me to do.

    It's like someone turning down a job creating a site for someone that does porn.

    I knew a kid in highschool that could draw really well. I asked him could he draw Ghost Rider.

    He said no.

    I asked him why.

    Went against his religious beliefs to portray a demonic figure.

    Me, I would have drawn it. Subject matter nor style offends my "sensibilities" in the least.

    My personal philosophy is not narrow when it comes to such things.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    Eh. I've done it a thousand times. "Bring me an example of the sort of thing you're looking for..." I'm a darned good mimic, too.

    *Some*body's got to do the scut-work.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    And maybe we have found that illusive difference between an artist and an illustrator/designer/concept artist. As artist must have integrity or she/he is not an artist?

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    Giorgetto Giugiaro, Raymond Leowy, Craig Mullins, Syd Mead, Michelangelo or anyone else who's taken corporate money and worked to a narrow brief, sorry guys, you sold out

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    There was certainly a hierarchy in the way I viewed work. At the one end were the appallingly bad ideas I was asked to illustrate and the purely derivative work; somewhere in the middle was technical illustration; and up at the tippy top, the occasional plum job, like a magazine cover or portrait. I only signed a fraction of the work I did.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by squidmonk3j View Post
    A tangent:

    Look at Frazetta's early E.R.B illustrations. Then look at James Allen St. John's preceding work. Tell me there's no stylistic mimicry involved.
    He learned how to mimic a style when he started out. He was a ghost artist for Al Capp for seven years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by squidmonk3j View Post
    Yeah, don't mind me. Just a knee-jerk reaction to reading the Fountainhead as "a book about what it means to have artistic integrity", I guess.

    Carry on!
    I should clarify that the book was one writers opinion about artistic integrity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarman View Post
    And maybe we have found that illusive difference between an artist and an illustrator/designer/concept artist. As artist must have integrity or she/he is not an artist?
    Bll, I don't think so and I would never draw such a distinction. Are you saying you don't believe in such an idea as artistic integrity?

    I started as an illustrator and I hope to do more in the future. What I find interesting is the guys I looked up to coming up and got to know on a personal level influenced my ideas on this. Frank Kelly Freas, Don Davis, Rick Sternbach, Iain McCaig, Gearge Barr. They were adamant not only how you paint (your style ) but also what you do difines you as an artist/illustrator.

    So if we drop the I'd do it for a million dollar idea; because lets face it most likely that is never the case; its always just your regular fee. You are all up for drawing furry porn or child porn or Skinhead posters as long as you get your rate because you are professional illustrators?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    Giorgetto Giugiaro, Raymond Leowy, Craig Mullins, Syd Mead, Michelangelo or anyone else who's taken corporate money and worked to a narrow brief, sorry guys, you sold out
    Hw do you figure? I laid out my premise clearly; its about control, artistic input, and the type of work you accept. It has nothing to do with corporations.

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    "I laid out my premise clearly; its about control, artistic input, and the type of work you accept"

    "I think a lack of artistic integrity is working in another living artistís style for money or as a cheaper replacement."


    Whereas lots of other people think that's absolutely absurd and that you often have to work within the existing house style.


    "And maybe we have found that illusive difference between an artist and an illustrator/designer/concept artist. As artist must have integrity or she/he is not an artist? "


    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa
    please put that in your Concept Art. Org signature

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    I turned down an offer of work the other day on principle. First off I was too busy anyway, but it was from an Evangelical Christian organisation in the States. Perfectly polite legitimate and apparently easy job to do, but I have actually no desire to work for someone or some group I don't empathise or agree with. Quite why they picked me is bizarre: my work doesn't really scream out religious sympathies. Some jobs I'm ambivalent about, and weigh those up on the spur of the moment. Having said that, the group of animators I once worked with did a version of the Jesus story... my position at the time was less open to arbitration though...

    I suppose negotiating ones integrity kind of diminishes by definition, but like everything, there are greater and lesser evils therein.

    On another note, I tried to read 'The Fountainhead', and found it ever so dreary, I had to give up. The only Ayn Rand book I made it through was 'Anthem', probably because it's short and there isn't enough time to be 'drearied out'. The problem with Rand's style of writing is that it feels like the plot is secondary to any ideas, which of course is her philosophy, so characters feel shoehorned in, and mere vehicles. As a result they feel shallow and unsympathetic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    "I laid out my premise clearly; its about control, artistic input, and the type of work you accept"

    "I think a lack of artistic integrity is working in another living artistís style for money or as a cheaper replacement."


    Whereas lots of other people think that's absolutely absurd and that you often have to work within the existing house style.
    What kind of work are you talking about? When I look at small ad campains, books and RPG cards, magazines and comics I don't see a house style anywhere. The only style is the quality of the work being done not the sameness of it.
    Going back all the way to watercolor architectural illustrations I did in the 70's, I've never worked for a company that had a 'House Style" that I had to mimic. On the contrary, agents worked with multiple artists who would get the job based on their style that a client picked out of the agents book.

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    "When I look at small ad campains, books and RPG cards, magazines and comics I don't see a house style anywhere."

    Youre not looking hard enough, all magazines have extremely strict graphic design house styles that must be adhered to, were likely originated by a very expensive pro and are now used by the internal art team making their layouts.

    DP i get your point, you dont like the idea of people working to emulate the style of other, more eminent artists and designers, but like you say, times are tough, and I wonder if youre ethical lines would be redrawn if you were hungry and were worried your landlord might kick you out.

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; March 27th, 2012 at 12:52 PM.
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