If you’ve ever followed my Deviantart journals in the past you will know that I have a pretty open policy regarding the usage of my art. My policy allows for repostings/recoloring/edits/tracings/what-have-you, as long as it is all for personal use and not-for-profit (meaning it isn’t being sold, auctioned, or any use wherein money changes hands.) I also allow roleplaying of my characters, and fan art (of course)!
Still though, I get a lot of people coming to me with examples of where people have traced/recolored/edited/reposted my pieces. The person contacting me will often also comment on the “offenders” work, or contact them privately to scold them on my behalf.
While I appreciate that people would care enough to watch out for me, as it were, my preference is that these people are left alone. There are a good number of pretty young BBA fans. I am written “fan mail” all the time by young people who weren’t artists before, but started drawing after reading the BBA. Hearing of the ways my little wolf comic has inspired another young person to pursue art in the ways that Don Bluth and classic disney films did for me always feels a little unreal, and words to reply to them never come easy.
A lot of times, young kids who are newly budding artists start by tracing stuff. That’s just how it goes.
What kind of person would I be if I went to the Deviantart gallery of a 15 year old, who is a huge fan of Bloodspill, and told her to take down all of her Bloodspill traces because “it’s mine”? Or the person who wants to make their own wolf character for roleplaying BBA. “I can tell your character Quickdeath is just Swiftkill colored blue. Be original - do your own work!” I could yell.
Firstly, that would just be super mean. But it’s not even that I’m thinking or feeling those things and just “holding back” in order to be nice. I just don’t feel threatened when people copy my stuff. I actually feel really really flattered that someone likes my stuff enough to want to emulate it, or add their personal touch just enough that they feel like it has become “theirs.”
I also just plain do not want to do anything that would discourage a young person’s pursuit of art.
I know a lot of people do not necessarily agree with loose art policies. I know because I’ve seen Deviantart give rise to a big “anti-theft” culture over the past decade.
It’s fine if other people want to police their own work, and be very restrictive in it’s use. I’m not saying they are wrong. It’s true that having decently well- known work in your niche affords you some security. I’m not worried that anyone could actually “get away” with taking credit for one of my characters. I do know when I had first developed my characters, I was worried someone else could actually take them from me. I remember when I was 16, chewing out some other girl on AIM, because after she saw Bloodspill, she made herself a giant, grumpy spikey-headed, bright red and black wolf. I couldn’t handle it then, so I can definitely relate to people who are in that position.
So I’m not posting this to call out people who don’t share my art policy. I just want to clarify and explain my position on usage of my work, so that no one attacks BBA fans (young or old!) especially not on my behalf.