Stunted Growth – Being a positive Art Lead

“Steal from everyone and copy no one.” – Charles Movalli

Game Studios, being a great environment and community to discuss, share and admire techniques, tools, and work has not only brought about a great deal of learning for myself and others, but has fostered an undeniably hostile defensive posture of work being repeated.

I really don’t know how others feel about this, but more often than not i’ve begin to see a growing trend of blame and rising pitchforks being littered about work being done, and redone. Work that contains developed techniques or styles, or even blatantly ripped content thrown together in a different manner. This just raises a level of elitism and in my opinion restricts growth of artists and their motivation to publicly and constructively provide feedback.

Often an artist feels towards his management. “What if they think my work looks too much like this, or that” or “Because i’m not original and because I have a painterly style of this guy here?” Being in charge of Art is more than pointing out what’s “cool” or what’s “trendy”. The disappointing reality in my experience, is that traditional mediums were never set to the table. Why not provide feedback that backs up ones ability to set himself apart as a good voice for art? Why not implicate traditional design, such as composition, form, balance, focal points, color values, and lighting strengths. It is easy for an Artist, to feel harsh criticism from a superior and easily lose that motivation to construct his work in an appropriate style guide. This is a trend that leaders MUST stop.

“All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

One thing I do every single day, is find something I can duplicate. Great Artists from Epic, Dice, Blizzard? Direct competition and of course i’m going to repeat exactly what they do and try to develop my own technique. Every good artist should, and if a tutorial is posted, its intended for duplication and everyone should feel proud if they succeeded at duplicating. Video games do this on a regular basis. What game are we going to reference? Do we want it to play like Rainbow Six, or do we want it to play more like Call of Duty? What major gameplay elements do we want to keep, and what to we want to scrap. Such as games, game art has been a process of not only developing skills from fine art such as color, composition and balance but identifying tools and techniques that satisfy the technical requirements of this field.

It’s easy to say, “Ive got this badass idea” but little do you know how to get there. You put it on pen and paper and realize how shitty it looks. So you start digging, and then you start to get this funny feeling what you “right click – download” on some fellows work to do a paintover or rip some parts of it to develop your own. Now, is this plagiarism? It can be, if you present that portion or quality at that original state. Of course there are many reasons, but could blame be put if you changed it, painted over it and developed your own from it? Absolutely not, as long as it is a step in your learning process, it’s a fair assessment to say that it is your own work, inspired by these certain artists.

“They copied all they could follow, but they couldn’t copy my mind, so I left them sweating and stealing a year and a half behind.” –  Rudyard Kipling

While most issues are simply crediting inspiration, I don’t think artists in the industry would fully bother develop an asset if they had known they were fully ripping off another. Similar work gets posted and you end up doing one of two things. You either get defensive and upset or you think, “cool he totally got that from me”. Then you realize “Oh yeah, I remember when I got that from this other guy”. Simply put, if you seen it, it’s been done before. Why worry so much, just do it.

Work that is blatantly ripped are obvious, should be exploited and banned from the presence of their original creators. Everyone knows this, but there’s no point dancing in a grey line and having a hissy fit over it.

“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso

Are you a noob? Student or professional that wants critique given? All elements of this industry are stolen from others, but not on a literal sense. Using common sense, anyone can avoid this and if the question still lingers, do yourself a favor and give credit where credits due, or just simply ask. After all, Blizzard’s not the first studio to develop hand painting techniques. It’s simply, the quickest and most efficient way to learn and hone in on your skills.

When I began work, I was told to leave my ego at the door. It has kept a great circle of constructive criticism in my life and I think Studio leaders should remember that. It might just foster an even tighter circle of criticism between their own art team.