... if you've been around the internet much for the last month or so, and have any interest in art, you've heard about Todd Goldman and how he's apparently been making oodles of money by ripping off art from online sources and selling it as "his creations" both on merchandise and as "original" paintings. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can read about it here and here for starters, or just do a Google search.
One of the things mentioned much later in the SA Forum post is from ruth323. She said:
"Apparently it's not uncommon for commerical artists to trace photographs. I think it's a bit strange (don't artists go to art school to learn how to draw?) but I can imagine that when there's a tight deadline it would be necessary. Also, there are some artists who really have great ideas and wonderful execution, but they just can't get that leg to look right, so they trace it. Oh well. Okay. ..."
That reminded me of an instructor that I had somewhat late in my "art education", when I was attending Pikes Peak Community College. I can't remember his name, even though I had him for a couple of classes during my time there. He used to work at Hallmark, and had done illustrations for the Hallmark Movies posters as well as some other poster work and some greeting card work. All very impressive, to be sure. Far more than I've been able to accomplish. Apparently that all came to an end, I'm betting due to bad judgement of some sort. He would talk about the glory days at the drop of a hat. So there he was teaching at a community college, and there I was to learn. This was ’94 or ’95.
I've probably posted about this guy some time in the past. I have vague recollections of doing so. Still, it applies now even more than then.
We had been given an assignment to take a black & white photo of a woman that he provided to us, blow it up to three times its size and add color to it. We weren't allowed to use a photocopier, and there was only one wall projector, so rather than wait in line I gridded and drew the image by hand and eye. During the critique phase I was asked why I drew it instead of copying it. Compared to the others that had been traced on the wall, it was pretty obvious that I didn't trace it, grid or no grid. I answered, "Because I can." knowing that, for whatever reason, most of my fellow students hadn't taken a drawing class and weren't planning on it.
That was the wrong answer.
I was informed that in the professional world you HAVE to copy to succeed. It takes too long to draw. In fact – according to him – nine out of ten people working as professional illustrators don't even know how to draw. They have large photo morgues to pull from and they know all kinds of tricks to make it work. He didn't know how to draw, and look at what he accomplished!
I said, "I guess I'll be the one in ten." As it turns out I'm not a paid illustrator at all. Instead I'm immeshed in advertising graphic design.
By the end of the semester I had virtually no respect for the guy and a 'C'.
As I see it, Todd Goldman is one hell of a businessman and a perfect example of what my instructor was talking about, but until I actually see him draw something from his mind freehand I refuse to call him an artist. I'll bet that'll lose him all kinds of sleep.