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On 'Fixing' Art

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, May 22, 2021
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So the other day I came across a whole twitter quarrel between a famous Spiderman artist and an anonymous (potentially teenaged) “art fixer”. Usually I tend to support or find some kind of explanation or excuse for the underdog- the non-famous, small account, low tier, unrecognized artist rather than the mainstream, famous, potentially entitled artist with the huge following. Usually, it's warranted.

Not this time.

Of course one can argue that an “art fixer” is not an artist. I'm not going to get into semantics though. An art fixer is also a person who draws, so I'll count them as an artist or at least a wannabe artist.

But I digress.

This is the image I came across, and I was surprised to find it immediately pushed my rage button (which is pretty hard to push).



Ironically, just days ago I'd poked fun at the image on the left- the way MJ is sitting looked uncomfortable and awkward to me, and potentially a stretchy pose to make her boobs pop. It never once occured to me to “fix” it, aka draw over it to make it “better” or make MJ look less sexy or less awkwardly seated.

I figured the artist just wanted to draw a sexy lady that will appeal to people who like sexy ladies, and though I personally found it awkward and thus funny, it wasn't my place or my job to fix anything. I'm not the guy's editor or mom.

Then, I saw the image above, with “the fix” which basically was YET ANOTHER awkward and uncomfortable position of MJ on the couch, but with less bewbs. The artist later “fixed” the “fixer's” image by pointing out all the problems in “the fix” and then drawing over the it to make it better, which pissed off the “fixer” who complained this was harassment (despite it being exactly what they had done to the original artist).

I found the “fixer's” actions extremely offensive, obnoxious, and entitled. Making unsolicited interventions to another artist's art is not only extremely disrespectful, it's a violation and negating of all the effort, inspiration, fun, or amusement the original artist invested in the piece. It's also a gag on artistic expression.

Imagine if people went to draw over and “fix” all the classical, impressionist, modern, or famous art pieces they didn't approve of.





How about some fixed Harry Potter? (and I don't even like Harry Potter anymore)

Whether I like or don't like the original art piece, “fixing” it or having it “fixed” by anyone else than the actual artist of the piece is a travesty, a gag, an act of defacing and destruction.

If I don't like an art piece, I will say so, voice my opinion, and then move on. The artist is free to take my criticism into account or throw it in the trash. It's their prerogative and their expression, and they should be able to freely display it and share it without having it culled by those who “fix” things.

Even if the art is extremely offensive to any group, this must hold true. I remember once I came across a painting that I found blasphemous. It deeply offended me and I said so. I would still defend the artist if anyone tried to “fix” it to be compliant to my religion, just as I would never even go near an art exhibition of his.

Now, does offensive art have consequences? Of course. If someone draws nazi art and portrays Jewish people or other minorities as vermin, they should be castigated for it. Their art however has to remain unfixed: it's a good reminder of what the artist expresses.

Usually though, art fixers aren't really out for more than clout or a chance to fly on the coattails of the artists whose work they are fixing. And that is pretty bottom feeder stuff.

Just don't do it, people. If you get the urge to ‘fix’ something, don't. Create your own version of what you would like to see fixed. And when you upload, DON'T post it next to the other piece of work and call yours “the fix”. That's still not okay.


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anonymous?

Amelius at 8:32AM, May 24, 2021

Oh my gosh, yes-- this is a huge problem I have with the art community on tumblr especially (and I guess twitter, which is morphing into tumblr from like 6 years ago-- the worst of the era!) And I say this as someone who does get a kick out of seeing "bad" comic art from pros on display (some people just cannot draw animals and kids at all and the results are hilarious) but it gets under my skin when the next post is some 14 year old who barely can draw herself sending in a "fix" that's pretty much flawed in entirely new ways. But hey, now Supergirl is covering up that salacious bellybutton! Werthram would be proud of the new brood of prudes.

damehelsing at 7:10AM, May 24, 2021

I've personally had my art fixed by a "friend" because they didn't like how I drew the eyes of my male characters, when I said that I appreciate the feedback but wasn't really digging the "NEW EYES" that they drew, they snapped back at me with "Okay, fine do what you want, but those eyes are really girly and you're giving your dude some girly eyes." - BRUH I'm not an eye-drawing expert, but if I wanna give my dudes some big eyes and thick lines to represent eyelashes, I will. This is all very subjective and everyone is allowed to do whatever they want with their OWN content. Also, I love the original MJ, I think the post suits the style of the art and the content. It's exaggerated and sexy which is kind of what MJ naturally is.

fallopiancrusader at 10:31AM, May 23, 2021

What’s tragic is that the individuals who devote so much time to “fixing” other people’s’ art could have been devoting all that time to creating their own art that reflects their own world view. I know that I harbor a long list popular IPs that I don’t like, and I know that I have carried those opinions with me for years. But I recognized immediately that I have two choices: either I can sit in my room and whine and complain about all those things that I dislike, or I can create the kind of IPs that I myself would want to read. It could be that the world out there will hate the stories that I come up with, but at least I will have put my money where my mouth is.

PaulEberhardt at 3:53AM, May 23, 2021

My rage button isn't easily pushed either, but those people who just can't leave things as they are and probably knock one out over being the one moral guardian of the internet* never fail to put me into berserk mode instantly. (* I love this oxymoron; it'll annoy them no end, because it's so accurate.) When I calm down again, they still remind me of Brainy Smurf, who at least gets the treatment they'd deserve. Interestingly enough, this is mostly about tone. They could just label it "What would MJ look like if she had more realistic proportions?", and of course people like me would comment "Boooooring!" just out of spite, because it'd still likely be nothing more than a cheap and lazy way to get attention (in fact I find women with natural proportions much more attractive than those with an extreme Barbie shape, which is possibly a sign of me starting to get old ;D , but that's beside the point), but it would at least leave a tiny option to interpret it as criticism worth considering.

PaulEberhardt at 3:35AM, May 23, 2021

It's almost like making porn out of something, only under a different sign. However, a porn "fix" may be a bit more honest in that the defacer usually won't delude himself into thinking of it as anything but trolling. I'm not talking parodies or fanart here, of course - they're an entirely different cup of tea. Some "art fixers" might perhaps want to compare themselves to Marcel Duchamp (the dadaist guy who took a reproduction of the Mona Lisa, drew a moustache on her with a pencil and signed it as his own work), but that should backfire if there is any justice. Duchamp purposefully meant to troll the artistic establishment around him - in fact he invented trolling that day - and was quite blatant about it, too. The thing to keep in mind here is that this ist the kind of gag that will work only once; M.D. pulled it off in 1919, and now it's used up.

usedbooks at 3:28AM, May 23, 2021

@hushicho editors are paid/solicited/requested. I have done the same with art. I even had some very helpful art "mentors" offer to draw over my work to give me guidance, and I accepted their offer. It was immensely helpful. The difference between editor and "fixer" isn't the media or the scale. It's the consent.

hushicho at 3:58PM, May 22, 2021

Sorry to post again, I was very tired and slightly stoned when I was commenting last night, and I didn't want to come across as a hypocrite! I think SophieD has said it better than I did in any case, and I'm very grateful for usedbooks's very well-put comment as well. Calling it "fixing" really does make an unequivocal statement of "I'm flawless, and this is inferior".

hushicho at 3:55PM, May 22, 2021

I do have to say that I do have some complicated thoughts about writing, especially writing done for mass appeal, and being critical of it, as well as providing constructive advice or even rewriting it to suit your standards. However, in that case, they have people who are supposed to do that before it's presented to the general public. They're called editors. If it's a smaller-scale release or something like that, it's very different. As well as that, visual art like images or comic pages are full pieces of art, presented from the artist(s) to you. It seems disingenuous, to me, for someone to step in and alter someone else's stronger foundation with their comparatively less technically robust art and use that as a free ticket to fame. With the written word, to me, it's very different. I will also say, no art should be illegal. Sorry not sorry. Art must be free to express. If it offends, oh well. Don't look at it, it's not for you.

Jason Moon at 12:19PM, May 22, 2021

Unsettling to know there are artists out there who can change your art like that. It would straight up piss me off. You want to create your own style and look and you have people over your shoulder changing it.

Xade at 8:17AM, May 22, 2021

Great post, you had some excellent points. I feel that art fixers should redraw the work and call it corrected fanart instead of just going over the original and call it a fix. Although the corrected image is better, the original artist had every right to be offended. I know I would if someone took Zeep and corrected him in a comic. But if they call it fanart then I would be flattered, even if they mentioned they adjusted his pose to be more realistic. I would take note of the change and implement it in my own artwork. The way they did it was tactless and cruel. And nobody likes that.

SophieD at 7:59AM, May 22, 2021

Let's call it what it is. It's unsolicited censorship, but the disturbing element fore is the use of the word 'fixing', as though the original was inherently wrong somehow. There's a problem here that's becoming endemic and that's that people are really encroaching on other people's interests and views:- they can't simply let people be. Don't like something? Go do something you do like. Think something's offensive? Open a debate as well as your mind. Ultimately, art is subjective and in the case of this particular piece, well let's face it:- if people didn't at least occasionally objectify or sexualise each other...well, there'd be no people!

usedbooks at 3:50AM, May 22, 2021

I agree with hushicho. If you have your own spin on something, fan art or even parody is the way to go. Defacing someone else's work is just bad form. Fan work allows a freedom to re-envision something with respect.

Corruption at 3:47AM, May 22, 2021

Art can use sexual things to express emotions and ideas (like nudity in Roman times to display physical ideals). However it can also be abused and be used as an excuse to pass things that would normally be banned (I'm looking at you Cuties with your preteen twerking and nipple and panty flashing among other things). What is acceptable in a community changes, and what is acceptable art now may be unacceptable latter. If you do not like something which is not illegal, just let it go I say. If it is illegal you can report it. If you want to make a "clean" version of the work and release it, get permision first. Oh, and for Ozoneocean's comment about able to sexualize chairs, I happen to like the old site called "Furniture Porn"

hushicho at 1:14AM, May 22, 2021

I do think that creative works, once released to the wild as it were, should be free to play with conceptually, but I say that in the interest of people feeling freer to create. It doesn't really mean that everyone should have to be part of that or look into that. I feel fandom and derivative works are valid. I'm more into taking what you enjoy from a story, or even altering it to suit you personally, not taking it upon yourself to censor the writer and declare that you are objectively better in so doing. At the end of the day, though, I'd always rather write my own characters and situations. Rowling, mentioned above, is a terrible writer in my opinion, but I'm not going to "fix" her books. It's much more fun to write my own stories. Even if I wanted to use the characters, I'd hardly want to rehash a story that someone else wrote.

hushicho at 1:04AM, May 22, 2021

It irritates me to no end too, not because there's nothing inherently wrong in art ever, but because the people presuming to "fix" art are assuming that not only is it wrong in exactly the ways they think it is, but that they know enough to make it correct in what it's supposed to portray or convey. There's been a bizarre puritanical shift in the last few years with some people (which is always there for most companies) insisting that any sexy thing is somehow wrong and evil, which is probably why it annoys me so much. I've been fighting against that for all my life, and to be treated like something I enjoy and work hard to do is inferior or horrible, especially in light of very real evil in the world, is intolerable to me.

Ozoneocean at 12:13AM, May 22, 2021

They DID try "fixing art" back in the day... The Church once went about removing the genitalia from statues and paintings are having fig-leaves put there... Later on the Puritans set about destorying certain works of art they found offensive. These days Facebook and instagram demand that photos should be "fixed" by removing female nifpples from them...

Ozoneocean at 12:09AM, May 22, 2021

Sexy images certainly have their place just as non-sexy images do, and erotic ones. It's NO-ONE's job to make them un-sexy. Sometimes characters are drawn sexy when they shouldn't be, Mary Jane in the example image isn't one of those cases. The modder was just being an obnoxious, smart-arse git.

Ozoneocean at 12:06AM, May 22, 2021

And the word "sexualize" shits me NO end. Grown women and men are sexual, you CANNOT "sexualize" them. You can sexualise things that are NOT sexual like chairs, a tree, rocks, a car etc, but not grown adult humans. What they mean is to make an image "sexy", or "erotic" if it's extremely sexy.

Ozoneocean at 12:03AM, May 22, 2021

Agree


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