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This is a serious question I’ve asked myself for years. When I left Warner Bros in 2006 I wanted to illustrate children’s books. Of course I had my own style but I also have a facility to mimic other artists styles. This was born out of my zeal to master every kind of art I could so I could always be hired to do something.(I’m not so sure that was a good idea in retrospect). In the weeks after my departure from WB a good friend of mine asked me if I was available to do a children’s book project that already had characters designed. It paid well so I accepted. This put me on the path to illustrating other artists creations for years. (Danger Rangers, Scooby Doo, Splat the Cat, Skippy John Jones and I was even tried out for Madonna’s book…EnglishRose something? It was a terrible book so who cares right?
The last project I did in 2010 was Splat The Cat: Where’s the Easter Bunny (a popup book) For all of you who don’t know Rob Scotton is the writer/Illustrator of the Splat books. I was told or at least I thought I was told that I would get credit as the illustrator of the book which was a driving force in taking on the project. When I was finished with the project and saw the color proofs I saw no mention of me anywhere. When I questioned my agent she told me this was standard. I was also told I was in line to do another Splat book so I decided it was best to shut up. That never happened. I thought this over and decided to never do anyone’s characters again. That was an easy decision, the hard one was what do I do with all the art I created for other artists? My agent said don’t show it and I appreciate the logic in that. But a lot of what I did over a four year period consisted of that type of work. I gave some art away to family but somehow that didn’t answer the gnawing in my stomach that I had gone down the wrong path. Of course I had put together my own work and I got some work from that but it still bugged me that this great art I did was banished to my art drawer aside fro the fact that I eliminated a source of income in my angered state. I have to eat friends, so I fell back on my skills as an art director and did a lot of web design, strategic online planning and tons of photography, logo and ad design and a bit of animation as well. But I’m bothered by this.
Shouldn’t I be allowed to show my skills without being frowned upon as some sort of “faker”. In many ways it is harder to mimic another artist’s style. That along with your own work should convince anyone you’re capable of doing a great job, especially if it’s in your own style. In fact if the art is in another medium that you normally don’t use for your own work that show versatility. An art director could look at your work done digitally and see the work you did traditionally as a “licensing artist” and say hey why don’t you do your own thing in paint or pen and Ink for this project. Are you feeling me?
Perhaps it’s the fear that comes with if I hire this guy he may not be able to deliver his own style to me. He may give me Scooby Doo when I wanted a loose painterly style. I’ll lose my job and then I have to go on unemployment and that won’t pay my bills and …on and on…Enough blathering, I’m sure you get the point. I’m curious what other people think about this so hit me back with an opinion.