Thursday, January 31, 2008

illustration :: even worse than you think

asaf :: I love the free line drawing and the witty ideas of John Cuneo. he is always hitting the nail on its head when it comes to sharp editorial work. this piece, which recently appeared in the Rolling Stone was no different.

well, maybe a little bit, because it reminded me a piece I did not long ago-

illustration concepts are a funny thing. since they work mostly on contradictions it's not unlikely two completely different minds could eventually reach a similar conclusion.
when I posted my fetus illustration I was approach by 2 different illustrators, claiming they had done it before. one of them, Easy Gaon, even called me up and was rather upset, since his piece was self published in a delicate poem collection he gave me somewhere in the past. here it is -

did I steal his idea? no, because I was actually doing what the AD proposed. did John stole mine? I don't think so, but he probably came across the same photo reference as I did. ideas have viral tendencies. they come from nowhere and suddenly a little red light appears in 2 different brains. so what's left for us industrial image makers? sometimes I think it's all about fleshing it out, working on the craft. other times I give up.

and just to sum it up, a little ornament that tells the same story -


  1. haha very interesting.
    a little in my opinion for that artist to be upset with your work because your representation of the fetus was so much different.

  2. a little stange*

  3. good post. Really interesting.


  4. that happened to me on an editorial about online driving then again for a "kicking the habit" smoking story. funny how people jump to the conclusion that everything they do is the first time its ever been done ever. then get all emotional when someone else freaks a similar piece.

    Frankly, your take is lightyears more interesting. Sonogram and all. I did a peice like it back in school, 2002. Sonogram but the baby had a sithe instead of an M16.

    "No ideas original, theres nothin new under the sun Its never what you do, but how its done"


  5. Good post. I think intellectual property is a funny thing. I like that we think similarly. If we didn't have that small visual connection our work would never be as profound as it is at times. Thanks for bringing this up, I think style also plays a big role in this debate as well. As much as I love Jon Cuneo, your vision of the piece has much more impact visually. But damn is he funny and has a beautiful line quality. Cheers!

  6. It goes to prove the Collective Unconscious theory doesn't it? Occasionally I'll come up with an idea and then a month later, I'll find someone already did it.

  7. hey i saw that illustration and said it looks like the one asaf did. interesting post.

  8. The funny thing is that even though these concepts are very similar i love seeing the different styles interpret a similar idea. As an illustrator I kniw the perils of feeling unoriginal. Makes you really think about the cosmic consience and it's misterious ways. Love your work Asaf, big fan of you and your brother.

  9. I guess there are no truly unique ideas in the human experience. There are so many of us, and our thoughts are corralled by everything going on around us. Like carlos v., I find interesting the individual takes on the same or similar concepts. . .

  10. very well said tomer, I agree with what you were saying. It is interesting to see the different interpretations of a few different artists like yourself on the same iconic image. I too have seen that image various places so its not like either of any of you "stole" anything. Very well said though.

  11. Hm, That is interesting. Something like that has happened to me before. I just figured the person copied...
    hm, I don't know lol.

  12. believe or not: I draw a similar picture, about ten years ago :), perhaps it hasn't lost, so if I find it I will link to these comments

    and: your works are great, I'm a big A. and T. Hanuka fan! big up!

  13. I think every artist has had this happen to them. I know its happened to me!

  14. thanks to all of you for your kind comments.
    it's good to know I'm not alone in the boat.

  15. Anonymous7:31 AM

    It can be coincidence or subconscious but for mostly intentional theft- I recommend the following:

  16. It is interesting, isn't it? I've always thought of situations like those to just be part of some subtle zeitgeist.

    I did an illustration recently that had a number of colored dots as a background. On the same day a designer in South Africa redesigned the banner on her blog with a series of dots the same size and colors as my illustration, which was done in the US. The next day we both posted the images .. only to be surprised at the uncanny similarities.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Well put.

    People need to realize that we all have a common brain, it was developed when our species were young, it was a survival mechanism. This is why for thousands of years the same idea was created by completely different people. Pyramids? all done at simular times by people separated by generations and continents. People need to realize it's a compliment to be referenced and looked at. Brains have been thinking for a long time. There is no original idea just new ways to interpret it.

    Love your thoughts, and illutrations

  19. ...yeah, you go girl.

  20. It is uncanny how some ideas do get reused. But then I also think nothing it really original anymore. I do hate it when people tromp on me claiming I stole their idea. Besides, artists have interpreted similar concepts for forever. I guess as long as there's a distinct stylistic difference it should be alright. There's a reason we can't copyright ideas.

  21. I find this topic one that interests me since I work with many artists and artisans who struggle with this -- some feel copied and others don't know where to draw the line when it comes to how far to take inspiration and often offend others through their interpretations though they think they did nothing wrong.

    It's challenging because many of us are online looking at the same websites or part of the same social networks, so we are exposed to the same work constantly. Our brains take a snapshot of these works, we have internal bookmarking that is way more sophisticated than any computer or website, and often we will forget what we've seen. Then without knowing, we'll sit down at a drawing board in three months and churn out work we think is original only to find out once we put our work online that we've 'copied' someone because the original artist may approach us and say, "Remember me, the artist you marked as a fave a few months back, what you are showing on your site looks just like my work so please remove it."

    Then the bell rings and we look at the artists' website and feel sick inside. Even worse because now our art is under suspicion and people may find out and it can become a real tough rock to crawl out from under.

    How do you think artists can better protect themselves? Any thoughts?

    I think that although being online is great, maybe one idea is that some artists who find themselves stuck in a rut or constantly feeling frustrated is to shut everything off for a good month and go on a retreat or at the very least stay home and use self control -- step away from the computer, magazines, craft fairs, galleries, even television for a few weeks to tap into themselves and find their voice separate from the rest of the world. Book a cabin in the woods, bring your paint and some paper, and hide out for a week.

    I think a lot are trying to find their voice through others but this doesn't always fair well. You often have to find your voice on your own.

    I'm not a painter and I can't draw a straight line, but I am exposed to this 'world' a lot through my work and my family has many artists, so I sort of get it.

    My heart goes out to you guys. It's great you wrote this because I hope more chime in and contribute to this discussion. It's important to navigate this topic, it's increasingly becoming an issue in the indie art community.


  22. That happens so often.

    I worked on an advertisingfirm as an artdirector for many years and after presenting and printing an idea that we all thougt was uniqe we stumbled across the same idea in a similar manner but from a totally different part of the world ... that happened not only once.


  23. Wow... not everyday does an art blog get hit by smut peddlers from other countries.

  24. Being only a couple months away from graduating college as a designer/illustrator, I can honestly say that I have only made it this far by blatantly and poorly copying off Tomer and Asaf's style.

    I have slowly developed my own feel in the process. This is not unique to me, many of my teachers as well as other pro artists admit the same.

    I like how you tackled this subject. Very classy way to handle something so loaded.

    Thank you for the inspiration A&T.
    Also, I remember spending hours on arranged still life drawings in a class of 15 people. We all drew the same thing- but each drawing was ours, and after a week's worth of classes, it definitely felt like it was "mine." Eventually in upper level drawing courses, we would do a still life and each individual artists style would show through.

    Just a thought.