Fan-Work

I like a lot of different books, video games, movies, and artists. I find their stories inspiring, and a lot of the times the art style (books excluded) is breathtaking and whimsical. Same thing with design: when I see a really good design, it strikes a chord in me, making me want to see more work like that and, in some special cases, want to create art myself in that style or with that technique.

However, one thing I have noticed with two YouTubers that I like is that people have tried to take their work. They make their own versions of the videos, don’t give the original artists the credit, and then expect the artists to praise them and promote them.

This is not okay.

Now, I understand that there are fans out there who want to make art, prose, or videos of the different stories they like. And that’s okay. Creatives are flattered when they see people make art based off of their works. But they are not happy when the fan artist does not give credit to the original creative, but instead acts as if this was all their own idea.

Or, worse, acts as if anything she sees or hears online, or anywhere, is free to use.

No, no, no! Just because you watch a really cool video on YouTube, or see a mind-blowing piece of art on DeviantArt, it does not mean you can do whatever you want with it.

If you see or hear something that inspires you, and you want to make fan-work for it:

  • you have to credit the original creator directly; do not just say, “oh, I found another picture online like this” – give credit where credit is due!
  • while most creatives will be okay with you using their art, double-check and ask for their permission; sometimes they show art for works in progress and are not ready for others to view it
  • if they say no, then do not make fan-work; there is a reason the creative does not want his or her work imitated
  • that being said, never be afraid to make your own work

Some of you after reading that last one might be thinking, “Wait, if they said I can’t use their work, then why would I make my own?” Well, you can make your own art. You don’t have to draw your favorite cartoon characters or compose songs for video games you like. Make your own work! You have your own unique talents just waiting to be unleashed!

It’s okay to have your favorite things in mind as you create – I wrote a poem once, and nobody could tell I was thinking of a video game during it – and never beat yourself up if your creative work has a nod to something that inspires you. There is no such thing as an original thought; every song, movie, game, or book is inspired by something else, and it is hard to take every single little detail out of your work that is even remotely related to something else.

TL;DR – If you do exactly what the original artist did, you are stealing their work, and this is unacceptable. If you want to use someone else’s work in your own way, and they say no, do not use it. If you make your own art that was inspired by something you saw, heard, or experienced, but in no way resembles the original piece, that is okay.

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