Monday, October 24, 2016

Ask Alicia: A copying conundrum

So I get a LOT of questions from lovely people who are either young illustrators or aspiring freelancers or are just curious. I tend to reply every one individually but realised after years (gosh, i have late realisations!) that many of the questions tend to be similar. So what I’m going to do is reply to queries, that I’ve heard before, out loud (with the mailers permission, of course!) so that anyone with the same doubt could be answered:) I’ll try to do this atleast once every other week and tag them under a section ‘Ask Alicia’ so it’s easily accessible:) 

Suru C. asked: 
…initially were you sharing your work openly in social media and among friends ? I also aspire to become an illustrator some day but i get scared when lot of my friends copy my style. I am not into any design school yet but just doodling what comes to my mind. Being scared of copycats also hinders me from sharing my work & eventually leads to discouragement to draw. Sharing on social media is an encouragement when people like my work but negative when i see exact replicas. I think i have no style or its too easy to be copied. Can you please give me some tips (if u get some time from ur busy busy schedule) on how to handle this & overcome this fear to continue my doodles ? Thank you so much. You are inspiring!

Thank you so much Suru:) 
Starting out is fearful in so many ways, no matter what you’re doing but it’s a sign that you’re doing 
something new and that’s always a good thing. (I’d like to add that it’s always good to have some fear in your week so you know you’re doing you’re uncomfortable with. So be it, trying a new food or perhaps drawing something you really haven’t drawn before…anything!) 

The first time I was aware that I had a copy of my illustration in production, I was just starting out in my career. I was more worried than annoyed and realised that there was no way to really get around the situation. Since then, I’ve had people and companies that made my drawings into copy products, copy prints and a whole bunch. Please note, this is very different from fan art, which is adorable:) 

Now the first thing I get told is to run after the company and/or the person but almost always, it’s not worth the effort. Firstly, lawyers cost a bit too much and my time is better spent creating more than chasing down old work. Having said that, there are times I have mailed a few companies and people when I’ve gotten too many notices from other people telling me that it’s out of hand. Sometimes (and this happened recently) the copy wasn’t a copy at all and our styles were just similar and sometimes the company just removes the product or ignores you. 

Now, Suru, I hate that it is the case, but it’s kind of part of being in the field at this point. There is always a change that there will be some copies of your work and that will only push you to do more, to better your art. I realise that almost all copies will never be as good as the original and if they are better, then it’s sad that the artist with that kind of skill does a copy instead of an original.

We’re in a world where sharing is part of our lives. It’s enriching and can also be frustrating. Instead of thinking of it in the light where the more you do, the more chance there is for you to get copied, think of it in the way that the more you do, the more people get to appreciate. And the better you get. And the happier you’ll be. 

Don’t worry, and at the end of the day, you can also go by the old saying of Imitation is the best form of flattery. It actually takes effort to copy so someone out there thought you were good enough to copy. That’s a plus! 

Keep drawing and be guided by your love (of drawing), not your fear (of being imitated).
But if it truly truly bothers you, then you never have to stop drawing. You can always just draw and put it up online, like the good ol’ days. 

Love, Alicia


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