Author Topic: Furry Art Etiquette  (Read 10899 times)

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Offline Meadow Whisper (Natasha)

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Furry Art Etiquette
« on: February 09, 2011, 11:19:32 pm »
After giving a lot of advice on furry fandom etiquette and art guidelines, much of it repeated, I've decided to consolidate it into a single reference post.  Copies of this post, including PDF versions, are available on my website:

http://www.softpaw.eu/furry/etiquette-free.htm (PDF)
http://www.softpaw.eu/furry/etiquette-design.htm (PDF)

Within the furry fandom, like any other society or group, there are rules of social conduct.  Most of them are pretty common-sense, but since common sense isn't always common, here are a few of the furry social rules regarding artwork and commissions.

Character Design and Art Usage
1.  If it's art from within the fandom, and you didn't draw it, and it wasn't drawn for you, don't use it to represent yourself or your characters.  Period.  No exceptions.  This includes everything from pulling artwork straight from a Google search, to editing someone else's artwork to look like your character.  Don't do it.  Ever.  Don't use it as an avatar, don't repost it to other websites (including/especially Facebook), just don't use it at all.  I promise you won't be the only furry in the fandom without an avatar representing your fursona.

2a.  When designing your character(s), never conciously copy any portion of someone else's character.  This includes using someone else's character details in your description, but it also includes using someone else's character as a reference image when getting art drawn of your character.  If an artist asks you for a reference image or description, and you point to someone else's character and say "he/she looks like that", that is a major faux pas on a number of levels.  Similarly, don't say "he/she looks like that, except with these minor changes".  No one else's character should ever show up in any part of your character description.  The furry fandom is large, but it's small enough that someone who knows the owner of the character you're plagiarizing will eventually find you, call you out on it, and in some cases, get you banned from major furry websites for being an art thief.

2b.  Related to the above point, if you find out later that someone else has a furry character with an appearance close enough to yours to cause confusion, the general rule is that the person who's been using the description the longest is the one with the right to continue using it, the other party must change something about their character.  Failing that, the person with seniority gets to tell everyone they've ever known and will ever meet to "watch out for so-and-so, they completely ripped off my design and refused to do anything about it".  The exception is in the case of highly-generic characters, which is why it's a good idea to make a genuine effort to set your character apart from the rest without relying on something bland like fur colour, species, or hair style.

3.  Never edit someone else's work for any reason, especially to make it look like your character.  I'm not entirely sure why this needs to be said, since it's a pretty blatantly obvious no-no, but it happens with disturbing frequency.  When an artist draws furry art, the artist retains all rights to the image unless explicitly stated otherwise.  The owner of the character retains a rudimentary, theoretical, unregistered trademark on the character's design, but since that sort of thing has never been legally tested, it's highly uncertain (the usual "characters (c) their owners" line is meaningless BS that holds no weight and defends nothing).  That alone makes editing artwork without permission illegal, but in the furry fandom, things go one step further.  As I mentioned above, this is a fandom small enough to be somewhat self-policing, if a bit slow at it, so in addition to the legal issues, there's also the fact that you're stealing from fellow furs; you're stealing from the original artist, from the owner of the character you modified, and from the owners of every other character in the picture.  Like I said in #1, if it's not yours, don't use it, even if you edited it first.  In fact, ESPECIALLY if you edited it first, because it shows that you put concious effort and forethought into your art theft.

4.  Speaking of art theft, don't claim that you drew something you didn't draw.  Thankfully, this doesn't happen often on FT, but it's a pretty hot-button issue among furries.  In a fandom where people can go on TV, make the entire fandom look like a bunch of perverted morons, and be welcomed with hugs and snuggles at the next furry con, there's one thing that can get a person truly shunned from large chunks of the fandom, including banned from furry cons (depending on how many friends in high places the victim has).  That one thing is claiming to have drawn something you didn't draw.  So please, just don't do it, for any reason.

Free Art
Simply put, character artwork is a privilege, not a right, even in an art-centric group.  You do not have the inherent right to have your character drawn by someone, and no artist is under any obligation to draw you for free.  Ever.  So, the best advice when asking for free artwork is "Don't".  Good artwork takes talent and time; not just the time taken to draw your picture, but the time taken to draw every picture the artist has ever drawn, which shaped their style and skills for your picture.  That's no small accomplishment, regardless of the artist's skill level.  So, saying "I want free art!" means "I think art is worthless and artists' skills aren't worth compensating", whether you intended it that way or not.  And the FT staff don't take kindly to starting threads for the purpose of begging for art, or inappropriately requesting free work from an artist who isn't offering it.

That said, money's tight for everyone, especially young people, so not everyone has the extra funds to pay an artist a fair fee for a commission.  Luckily, there are lots of artists who offer free work!  Their reasons vary; usually they're fairly new and looking for subject matter to build their skills, and/or they haven't worked up the self esteem necessary to properly value their own talent (a common problem among artists).  Whatever the reason, it's pretty common for artists to offer free work, but never, ever treat it as a common occurance, or take this for granted.  Here are some basics when responding to free art offers.

1.  Show gratitude.  An artist offering free artwork is like a gourmet chef offering free samples, it's a true treat that should be savoured.  Thank the artist for their work, and for making the offer at all, and show your appreciation by promoting them to your friends.  Don't do it by saying "Hey, this person's offering free work", but something along the lines of "This artist was generous enough to draw me for free, and they did a great job!".  Above all, never ever take a free piece of art for granted.

2a.  Follow the rules.  Almost every artist who offers free artwork puts conditions on that offer, so make sure to carefully and thoroughly read the entire offer and its conditions.  For example, there's almost always a limit to the number of spots, so if the offer is for 5 spots, don't whine when you're #6 and get nothing.  Sometimes there'll be a contest, competition, or scavenger hunt involved, ranging from easy to complex.  If this is the case, and you don't play the game, you're not entitled to a prize.  Other times, the artist will be looking for specific genders, species, colour patterns, or scenes, usually to practice something specific.  On forums, including FT, there will often be a seniority requirement.  For example, on FT, sometimes an artist will make a free art offer only to users Orange Level or Above.  And, I've even seen artists offer free art only for those who have no artwork of their character at all.  Whatever the case, make sure you follow the conditions of the offer, and if you're not able to do so, find another artist offering free art.  Don't beg for free art outside the terms/conditions of what the artist is willing to do.

2b.  Related to the above point, if an artist is offering art for members of a particularly forum or website, don't sign up for that website for the sole purpose of getting free art.  It's not fair to the other members of that community, and it's not fair to the artist.  That said, if you intend to be an active member of the community when you do this, so be it, just make sure you're signing up for more than just the free art.

3.  Don't nitpick.  While every furry artist generally makes every effort to portray your character the way you want, sometimes mistakes or omissions are made.  You're free to politely ask for a correction or revision, preferably during the "pencil sketch" phase, but when no money has been exchanged, the artist is under no obligation to honour your request.  When it comes to free artwork, you get what you get, and if you didn't pay for it, niceness and charm are the only way to get revisions done.  If you're pushy and demanding, don't be surprised if the artist says "tough cookies".  On a related note, if you have an exceptionally complex character, or one with very specific details/markings that are crucial to the character's design, free art might not be the best choice for you.

4.  If you can't give them money now, do it later.  There are exceptions to this, but in the vast majority of cases, artists who offer free art are doing so for exposure, to get their work out into the fandom, with the hope of increased future business.  Promoting their work is important, as mentioned in #1, but if you like what they drew for you, it's a very good idea to get a paid commission from them in the future.  At the very least, offer a tip of some kind, whether it's money or something else.

5.  Be patient.  This goes for any artwork, but it's especially true for free work.  Any art takes time to create, and even the people who can crank out amazing work as fast as an old printer need time to work.  When it comes to free art, there's the additional caveat that the artist is under no obligation to do it at all.  You didn't hire them to draw for you, there was no money exchanged and no business agreement, you're getting something that's a gift, a privilege, and a treat.  Therefore, expecting it within any sort of timeframe is unreasonable.  Even if an artist gave a specific timeframe, delays happen, although you're welcome to ask if they're still planning to do it if it's been a long time.  Just make sure you frame the question as "if", not "when", and be polite and gracious about it.

Note:  Art trades aren't freebies, they're a commission paid with barter instead of money, and subject to the same rules of conduct as a paid commission.  Any artist who treats trades like freebies isn't worth trading with.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2012, 09:07:38 am by Natasha Softpaw »
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 11:35:08 pm »
This is absolutely beautiful.

I hope this will be seen by new furs and that they can learn from it, if they don't know already.

Most of it is politeness just in general, but it can NEVER hurt to spell these things out, and you have done a wonderful job here!
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 11:36:30 pm »
I'm glad we now have something like this.  This will really help some of the new members
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 11:47:17 pm »
I think this is well put together, and very helpful. Most of it is common courtesy, but it's good to have it laid out like this.

Also since it is about art etiquette, maybe it should include something about critiquing artwork? I know there are times I want to critique and ultimately help the artist, but these things can be temperamental sometimes so some etiquette on that would be nice to know.
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Offline Meadow Whisper (Natasha)

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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 11:51:26 pm »
Hehe, thanks everyone, I just wanted to make sure everybody is on the same page about the art faux-pas of the furry fandom, to help out new members in addition to helping out our valued FT artists.

Also since it is about art etiquette, maybe it should include something about critiquing artwork? I know there are times I want to critique and ultimately help the artist, but these things can be temperamental sometimes so some etiquette on that would be nice to know.

Well, to be honest, there are no real standards of art critique, so aside from the all-encompassing "Don't Be A Jerk" rule, and maybe "Don't Nitpick Irrelevant Details", I'm not really sure what I can say about it.  I'll leave it to someone else to write a guide for critiquing furry art :-P
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 11:54:34 pm »
Quite a read there, Natasha. :P

But reading through that whole thing, the points you make in it are all valid.
This is something that I wish more of the fandom could read and learn from.
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 12:33:57 am »
Indeed, many people need to work on this (hopefully not me). I see many new, and sometimes established members being a little pushy about free art. And i have seen, more often than not, people not reading the rules or updates about the free art.
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 12:41:37 am »
Oh gosh, this is a really good idea. While I personally haven't come across these problems much over the course of my stay here, I agree that those are the most important rules. Well put together, and kudos!
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 12:52:12 am »
THANK YOU!

This is pretty like, the most helpful post ever. I love you. Have my babies. c':

I've seen pretty much all of these happen and it makes me a sad that there was no thing like this before but YAY, NOW THERE IS ONE. <:
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 01:07:07 am »
This was a fantastic idea Natasha!  I really wish this was in the guidelines for other sites and forums.  You may want to also add that when it comes to requests folks should be patient, as they can take anywhere from hours to months depending on an artists schedule and personal life.

Offline Meadow Whisper (Natasha)

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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 01:17:08 am »
This was a fantastic idea Natasha!  I really wish this was in the guidelines for other sites and forums.  You may want to also add that when it comes to requests folks should be patient, as they can take anywhere from hours to months depending on an artists schedule and personal life.

And that's what I was forgetting, thank you!  I've added it :-)
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2011, 01:32:44 am »
Natasha

I cannot describe the feeling pulsating within my chest at this truly miraculous read.



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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2011, 01:44:28 am »
I was going to say something profound and supportive, but all I can think of is "all of the above."
This is a very good post, and it covers everything it needs to. Personally, I don't think it would hurt for it to be circulated around more sites as a kind of go-to, universal post.
Thanks for this, Natasha. I can't accurately say how much I appreciate this thread's creation.
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Offline Meadow Whisper (Natasha)

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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2011, 01:41:04 am »
I'm glad everyone likes this post, thank you!  :-D

I wanted to add that if you prefer videos over text walls, episode 14 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is basically a TV episode based on this post.  It was a little uncanny how they managed to use adorable animated ponies to convey exactly the same points, at least when it comes to the "Free Art" section, so I added a link to it.  And I'll repeat those links, because I can.

Part One
Part Two
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2011, 11:25:52 pm »
Too Long; Didn't read!










... But I did happen to watch the My Little Pony episode Natasha linked to us within this thread. When 'The Pony that dressed like a cowboy', 'The Pony that had wings and looked like a lesbian', 'The purple Pony', 'The pink Pony' and 'The yellow Pony with a pink mane' kept showing disappreciation for 'The unicorn-like Pony's' work. They did not consider that this would hurt 'The unicorn-like Pony's' feelings and it made them come across as jerks. After 'The unicorn-like Pony' finally managed to capture the incredibly high standards of the other Ponies, it's final design was over the top and recieved a poor reception at the Pony fasion show. The other Ponies finally managed to see the errors of their ways and decided to make it up for 'The unicorn-like Pony' by designing her and themselves some new dresses. 'The Pony that dress liked a Pimp' was pleased by this and everything turned out well for everybody. Well... maybe not for 'The unicorn-like Pony' who had to make more dresses for The Pony that dress liked a Pimp'.

Thank you very much for linking that episode to me, Natasha. It was both inspiring, colourful and incredibly cute. But, I believe the overall message of the was that show was that you should appreciate and never overly criticize/nitpick someone's work. Especially when they do it for free. I will follow the moral values this episode of My Little Pony has taught me when I post within this board in the future.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 11:28:18 pm by Gage »
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2011, 07:27:46 am »
*Adds a cookie to Gages voluminous cookie stack for his above post*

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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2011, 05:38:44 pm »
Natasha, I was wondering if you'd ever be so gracious to add a commission portion to this sticky? It's very well put together and thought out, and I know coming from you that more people would listen than if I typed it up. PEOPLE RESPECT POWER.
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2011, 06:26:45 pm »
Natasha, I was wondering if you'd ever be so gracious to add a commission portion to this sticky? It's very well put together and thought out, and I know coming from you that more people would listen than if I typed it up. PEOPLE RESPECT POWER.

Well, I actually have considered writing a "Commission How-To", and I've gone over some of the points I want to cover in my head, but it really needs to be a separate article.  And, I have as much advice for artists as I do for commissioners, if not moreso, because there are a lot of artists Doing It Wrong when it comes to commissions.

So, stay tuned ;-)
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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2011, 06:49:23 pm »
Natasha, I was wondering if you'd ever be so gracious to add a commission portion to this sticky? It's very well put together and thought out, and I know coming from you that more people would listen than if I typed it up. PEOPLE RESPECT POWER.

Well, I actually have considered writing a "Commission How-To", and I've gone over some of the points I want to cover in my head, but it really needs to be a separate article.  And, I have as much advice for artists as I do for commissioners, if not moreso, because there are a lot of artists Doing It Wrong when it comes to commissions.

So, stay tuned ;-)

AWESOME! I sincerely look forward to it. I also sort of agree about the commissioning thing, I've seen a lot of crappy behavior going on with some of the artists who do commissions on FA. One trend I've seen is HUGE TOS things...and no one is going to read those. :/ Also there's a tendancy to not do a bunch of different species, really popular ones too, because they're "difficult." Like avians especially. (POOR DUINO. :C <3) However some of these commissioners are just as bad as Twilight, Fluttershy and the rest of the gang when it comes to what they want--I've just experienced SO MUCH OF RARITY'S FEELINGS that the song comes to mind PREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTY often. There's a lot of bad habits though, all around.

That episode you posted was the first episode I watched, and it was due to this thread. And that MLP episode is easily my favorite. hnnnnnnnnnnnngh <3
You are my only luxury item
Anyone try to steal you, I'll fight them
Let's go play some hide and seek
I know you are a little freak
You look like a playground to me, playa

Offline copb.phoenix

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Re: Furry Art Etiquette
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2011, 06:08:51 am »
Even if an artist gave a specific timeframe, delays happen, although you're welcome to ask if they're still planning to do it if it's been a long time.  Just make sure you frame the question as "if", not "when", and be polite and gracious about it.

Slight non-sequitor here ~ A lot of artists will post when they've botched up and what's going to happen next, or else their plans for all work to that point, or else why things are taking so long. Well known examples in the crowds I'm around ~

~ Back when I was complaining about a specific artist who had failed to show after being paid up front for a piece of art, he posted after cancelling same-said piece an explanation. He had been strapped for cash for bills and a few wants at the time, and had taken on a lot more than he could chew fast enough to merit the amount of work he had taken on in that point in time. (A lot of people know who it is, but I'd rather not even bother defaming him at this point, please and thank you.)

~ Zhane00, from dA, had a lot of commissions in place and hacked his hand on an industrial saw in the mill/plant he works in. This was about five, six months back. It was two weeks and much complaint before he was even willing to deal with the online sphere as a whole, but he posted pictures as proof and let people know what was going on.

~ Myself... I've made things clear both in alternate venues and journals elsewhere, but PM me if you're one of the several people that I owe work and we can talk about it. The bottom line is I bury myself when I think I'll be idle, then get surprised when I'm not idle anymore. I might be able to work something out within my art classes if people ask nicely enough.

Regardless, the endpoint is that "check to see if there is any news in general before you bother an artist"... Or at least, that's what I'd add, and when I say that, I mean expressly from the artist and not anyone else.
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