Hey guys, for a long time now a sort of drama has been unfolding between myself and another deviantart user, Luisa Rafidi (now known as lulles). The only reason I bring this up is because, as Luisa herself mentioned in a journal entry she wrote a little while back, many people have been sending notes about it to both of us. The issue is that many people feel that Luisa is copying me - not just my artwork but also my layouts and overall web activities - and want to give me a heads up about it. Luisa's journal entry is intended to clear up the situation and to state that she will work on the problem, but since then I have still received notes on the issue (relating to her latest blog post). Also, since the journal does not represent my feelings on the matter at all, I want to write my own journal entry in order to clear things up from my side.
First of all, for those who have sent me notes on this issue, I really appreciate it. I get notes all the time about my artwork being 'stolen'. Sometimes (most of the time, even) this is the case, such as my artwork being used for layout templates or being sold on ebay. Sometimes it's not the case at all. These are just people expressing concern over whether my artwork is being used in a fair way, and I appreciate the gesture, even though sometimes this concern is unjustified. Here on the web it's hard to keep track of what's happening with your work and it's great to see people looking out for eachother; I have done the same myself for other artists in the past.
As for my side of the story, let me begin by saying this: I'm not posting this journal with the intention of starting some kind of feud. I do not want people to stick up for me or, worse yet, go after Luisa. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. I don't want to start any heated discussions or fights. I simply want to explain this situation from my perspective, since I have never addressed this issue openly (with the exception of a few angry twitter messages) and the only journal entry that does (Luisa's) gives the wrong impression of the situation, in my opinion.
To begin with, Luisa states that "it all started with a blog layout and tutorial" and mentions that a few of her art pieces incidentally resemble mine, and leaves it at that. This is not how I experienced it. It did begin with layouts, since she modeled her website after one of my old designs and then proceeded to literally copy/paste all of my CSS coding from my blog into hers, after which I contacted her and asked her to stop. She said she understood and indeed stopped copy/pasting, opting instead for eyeballing which resulted in almost identical designs anyway. Let me be clear, however: blog designs are not a big issue to me. Sure, I find it irritating when someone copies my layout without crediting me, but it doesn't bother me that much and I can move on.
However, around the same time, her artwork began to look a lot like my own as well. Of course, we are all influenced by other artists. However, few of us can say that we are influenced by one artist alone and seek to imitate their work almost completely, which I felt was the case with some of Luisa's work. Again, though, not the first time this has happened to me and I can live with it. If it bothers me a lot, I talk about it with that artist, which I did with Luisa. However, nothing changed.
And then came all of the extra details. Her facebook profile page suddenly contained almost the exact biography. Her F.A.Q had the same design, structure, and CONTENT: literally the same topics which she claimed were frequently asked to her. She began joining all the websites that I had accounts on, including vimeo, where she began posting progress videos of her artwork within days that I had done this exact same thing. Her profile information on these pages were freakishly similar to my own. Link buttons and website graphics which were almost identical to mine appeared on her sites. Her website biography had the same structure, length, and even identical sentences to my own. And the most agitating thing of all was that if I changed something, within a few days Luisa changed it too, which made me feel, honestly, like I was being stalked.
I began to get pretty angry about the issue. Every time I received a note alerting me to these things I would get really upset, I simply don't know how else to put it. Not just angry but offended and hurt. I had tried to sort it out with Luisa many times, by talking with her through e-mail and deviantart notes, and she always seemed understanding. However, her behavior only seemed to show that she did not understand at all, and I had given up on trying to talk to her about it since it yielded no results and drained my energy. I tried to completely ignore the problem.
That is the main issue which I feel isn't addressed in Luisa's journal entry. This is not just a fellow deviant who has been 'inspired' by me. Honestly, I have seen many people here inspired by my work, just as I have been hugely inspired by others, and I must say that 'inspiration' is very different. Luisa has been imitating me. Not just my work, but my words, my designs, my activities. It is very severe and I have never experienced something like this before.
The second thing in Luisa's journal which I absolutely don't agree with is her statement: "This is mine and Loish's problem." She makes it sound like she and I are sorting this out and that everyone else should mind their own business in the meantime. Let me be clear: she and I are NOT sorting this out. I tried to talk about it with her so many times, with so little result, that I just gave up. Since then, I recceived two notes from other people who were clearly speaking on her behalf, one of them asking me if I could fix the situation of people sending her notes and later adding that Luisa is too scared to talk to me herself. Although I understand that Luisa is overwhelmed by this situation (that she caused herself), she has no reason to be scared of me. If she cannot bring herself to talk to me directly, then she shouldn't write a journal making it appear as if we are sorting things out. This is far from the truth.
Most importantly, she should not blame those people who are sending her and I notes or tell others to just "mind their own business." I feel quite strongly that the only person who can solve this issue is Luisa, and not by writing evasive understatements in her journal and telling others to shut up, but by facing her problem and admitting to her behavior. Luisa herself has admitted to me that things like this have happened to her before. This is the time for her to open her eyes and develop a healthy attitude towards digital art and promoting it online, to develop her own voice and learn to express herself and not imitate others.
I hope this makes my side of the story clear. In Luisa's journal she also states that she will work on this problem and that there are no need to send notes anymore, statements which I completely support. By writing this journal, I'd like to put an end to my involvement in this whole situation and just move on. Anyone who notes/comments/emails about this in the future will simply be provided a link to this journal so that I don't have to put any more time into explaining what is going on, and hopefully this whole problem will be nonexistent soon. Thanks for reading!