sogj wrote:I'll be honest, I started subbing here even though I have 0 design experience because someone (several people, actually) told me I had potential and I should try. My goal was that, maybe after a long time, I might possibly be able to help pay off some of my son's NICU bills. But for people who have a very strong set of ethics, it's difficult to come up with an idea that can beat something like this. It's even harder to watch an shirt like this take away at least a thousand dollar prize (not to mention more in the reckoning) when it's design is based off an idea and a character that seems to be obviously copyrighted. It hurts to watch someone use someone else's creativity, hard work, marketing, wit, and characters to make themselves a quick (and very large) buck at the expense of others, including the original artist. Most of his shirts that win (including one that is currently in the reckoning) were ripped off/borrowed/shamelessly stolen from other sources, making him tens of thousands of dollars and, in the process, taking away the opportunity for artists who don't steal from others to make that money. That's what people are upset about. Not because they "don't like the shirt."
This is brilliantly put.
I would, of course, add that art, as a whole, is an INCREDIBLY important discipline, and the thought that any art is "just" a product is pretty offensive, narrow-minded, and childish. If it's just a product, it's not remotely art. Artists should be paid, and paid well, for their work. But no true artist makes art purely for the pay. People will argue this, but I feel you can TRULY tell the difference in styles between someone who cares about what art means, and someone who simply says "ooh, a quick grand!"
A shirt like Chris Dixon's NightLife features a design which could completely hypothetically have been painted and hung on a canvas and sold in an auction for howevermuch. That is not "just a shirt". And it is not "popular" either. And the fact is, there is gallery-quality art that also works as shirt art continually missing print due to people making a quick buck. But there's also other forms of creativity. Walmazan does cute work regularly, but he has a distinct style and quite often his own inspiration (it is the exception, not the rule, that he resorts to someone else's reference). I have said elsewhere before that Geekfactor12 is one of the few people I will buy a video game tee from, because she can craft a reference that remains pure and appealing even if you DON'T get it. There is a part of her creativity in that work, and she regularly looks at even tired themes with fresh and fun eyes. that's what made someone like Glennz so big at Threadless, and why he's big enough to ditch them and go on his own for new prints. Glennz never did museum art, but he made perfect tee art, his pop culture usage was always clever, and his own ideas were always ones that felt original or at least took a fun twist. When we discuss art here, it's only partially in a museum definition. A tshirt is a fully different canvas.
But the fact is, relying so strongly on work with almost zero parody, that is so basically someone else's idea, and rides so hard on that idea that you can't see a hint of originality from the "artist" trying to profit, that damages ALL art. It says we do not value someone else's work. It says we do not value someone else's opinions of their own work. It says art is for us to take, and artists have no rights. And that is not a stance anyone should consciously allow another person to take. Especially when other artists sit by silently.
There is a dramatic difference between using an idea to boost your own, and using an idea AS your own, and both of those are far different from using someone's characters and hard work WITHOUT any ideas, of your own or otherwise. Saying we're getting worked up over just a shirt completely ignores the true ramifications of the actions, and indeed perpetuates even more damage. There is official merchandise for almost everything. If you're desperate to relive your childhood and can't handle new things, buy that. But if you truly respect these old nostalgic properties, you absolutely must be selective and intelligent in what external merchandise you support, because chances are what you're saying is not "I love and have respect for Mario," but "I love showing people I like Mario." You're selling out your heroes and memories for someone else to turn a buck on.