Stealing or Inspiration? Where’s the line?



  • So...I’ve loved the series @Will-Terry does with his drawings of pop icons as kids...and have been inspired to do a similar thing but with historical figures. (See posted image) I’ve done a similarly proportioned characters, tho stylistically quite a bit different...before I continue to do more, tho, I wanted to check that this is accepted as “inspired by” vs “stealing from”...any thoughts??!



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  • Moderator

    In case you missed it, this is a youtube video of Will Terry talking about his Littles Kickstarter unfortunate event. There are a lot of discussions on the forum about fan art and copyright, if you do a search for that you will get a lot of good information. And listen to podcast #5 Should you do Fan art? Good luck 🙂


  • Moderator

    Here's another link concerning Will Terry's book project



  • @burvantill Thanks! yes, I've both followed the misfortunes of Will's Kickstarter and have heard the podcast/videos...I guess my question speaks more to how one can tell when they are simply drawing inspiration from another artists style, or if they are simply ripping them off. Though not perfectly clear, I think the "fan art" issue has more understandable lines due to the fact that the fan artist is using another's character. In my situation, I'm not using anyone's characters, I'm working on actual people from history, but its unclear whether incorporating some of Will's style into my own is frowned upon, or fine...does this make sense? lol



  • @RexWatkins If you have a subscription, you might also check out Lee White's class on finding your style. He talks about using influences of artists you admire. In my opinion, this piece looks different enough from Will's work to fit into the "inspired by" category--you've brought plenty of your own voice into the work.


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @RexWatkins I think you are fine. BUT, if you are worried about people making the connection that your inspiration is Will's work, there is a few things you can do.

    The first step is to Identify exactly what element you are really inspired by and keep it limited to that thing. For example, you have the big head on a little body proportion. Will uses that, but so do a lot of other people. So that is totally fair game.

    But if you start doing the big head on a little body mixed with cross hatching, you start to move closer to looking like Will.

    And if you do a big head on a little body with cross hatch marks using a pencil texture, now you are really treading on Will's style. It's not illegal per se, but I don't think I would recommend it.

    So in your case, the cross hatching marks aren't adding a lot, so I would go ahead and remove them. Look to other artists you admire for some texture and mark making techniques and see if you can mix things up a little more. That way you are safe AND you start to develop your own voice a little more. : )



  • @Lee-White Thank you, Lee! This makes great sense, and very actionable 🙂 thank you for taking the time!



  • @Eli I do have a sub and haven’t made it to that one yet, but will make it next on my list! Thank you!


  • Moderator

    @RexWatkins it’s a great video even if you don’t have time for the exercises 👍

    Sorry about before. I misunderstood what you meant. 🙂



  • @RexWatkins Like Lee has already said, I think you're fine at the moment with the piece you posted as it's only sliiiighly similar to Will's style, but I bet when you start drawing more and more characters in your "inspired" style you'll find yourself changing parts of it with each illustration so by the end you'll have created a whole new style which is unique to you 🙂

    When I first started I used to draw like Emily Gravett, and I mean exactly like her, as I loved her work so much, but my style just automatically changed without me realising and now my style is the total opposite of Emily Gravett. I still look at artists now and take parts of their style/method/finish and try it with my own, there's nothing wrong with doing that 🙂 For example, I HATE illustrating trees, so recently I've been looking at how other illustrators have drawn trees in a stylized way and I've tried to copy that to work with my own illustration.
    So if you're just starting off then don't worry about it so much at the moment, you need to find out what your personal style is and experiment, so just keep trying lots of new things and it will fall into place!
    Good luck!


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