May 25, 2010

Erro, a Modern-Day Roy Lichtenstein -- or Worse

Sorry, art critics, I really don't like Roy Lichtenstein. The man made a name out of aping hardworking comic book artists of the time, and quite frankly, not even doing it well. Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein provides comparisons between Lichtenstein's "work" and the source materials, and I'll highlight a couple here.

Clearly, the original artist here has a much, much better working knowledge of anatomy, perspective, and foreshortening than Lichtenstein does.

Here's another, which I think speaks for itself. Seriously.

And here's a piece of his that doesn't ape anything. It's a piece that's actually a comic, because it involves a gutter (the space between panels) indicating the passage of time.

How can you tell if it's done by a professional comics artist or some pop culture hack who makes a living by ripping off hardworking artists? A professional comics artist would know that in order to open a trash can with the pedal, the foot actually has to move.

The one thing Lichtenstein actually accomplished is to really emphasize that these things look awesome when they're big. Other than that, he made a killing by swiping legitimately hardworking men, and I'll never be able to respect him.

But even Lichtenstein's shameless swiping has nothing on Icelandic artist, Erro, who actually has his own exhibit up right now. I was made aware of this particular thief due to comics artist, Gene Ha, of (among other things) Top 10 fame. Specifically, I found out through his Facebook status updates.

Erro is a hack, folks. Why, let's look at one of his masterpieces, "Manga Queen Standing on a Pancake."

I mean, really? If posing a manga toy on top of a pancake isn't stupid enough, he has to copy and paste Dora the Explorer and Boots into it. This is going for 14,500 euros. I am not kidding.

This is the one I hate most, because it's just a Lady Death cover - complete with logo - with Promethea pasted on.

It is going for 15,500 euros. Let me point this out clearly - anyone with a modicum of Photoshop skills could do this, and it is going for 15,500 euros. That's close to 20,000 dollars, and close to 1 million Philippine pesos.

This is not "art." This does nothing. The title is even "Lady Death." He gives no credit to the artists - at least Lichtenstein had an excuse in that it was not standard back then to credit comics artists. Erro has no such excuse. Where is the citation crediting Brian Pullido, J.H. Williams III, and Mick Gray, at the very least? How much would a court order him to pay them for any sales on this vapid piece of trash?

J.H. Williams III, in an email to Gene Ha, writes, "Well that is the most stupid thing I've seen in a long time. He's just photoshopping cut outs on giant size and maybe using paint over the top. The way you can tell he's doing some form of tracing is because the body positions match dead on, in all of the subtle details. If anyone pays 15,000 for that they're a fool."

A lot of comics artists are not pleased with Erro, and "swipee" Brian Bolland took a stand, writing Erro a full letter, which you can read right here in its entirety.

The letter is very long, and Erro's agent merely responded with something to the effect of, "Uh, okay. We won't sell it anymore." Except they'd already sold three copies. What a damn shame, that Erro was able to sell three times what Brian Bolland could have sold just once for more money, if the people buying it could discern originality from plagiarism.

Here's Brian Bolland with the original piece.

And here's Brian Bolland in front of Erro's "art," which is really just Brian's piece with different things in the background.

As Bolland says in his letter, Erro's earlier work had life to it - and I can see it, even if I don't buy it - but crap like this is just ridiculous. It's got to stop. It's an incredibly demeaning kind of piracy. Any sales Erro makes off this stuff can be construed as food off the table for the original artists.


Peachy said...

I see some very fundamental intellectual property rights being trampled on. Is Bolland the only one who's reacted as strongly to this?

Because we live in a time when nearly anything can be construed as art (and sold under that presumption), guys like Erro think they can get away with slapping something together and auctioning it off for a couple thousand dollars (or euros).

Erro's also capitalizing on the fact that the characters he used aren't recognizable to the general audience (with the exception of Dora). Everybody knows Superman and Batman, but who knows of Promethea? It's easy to cop something and call it yours when you know a lot of folks won't know enough to dispute your claim.

Also: his work is shit. Fucking ugly. Any guy who buys his art would have to be a sucker of the highest order.

Duy Tano said...

I think Chris Weston and a bunch of others have expressed their displeasure; Bolland's the only one who's said that any money Erro might have made should go to him.

There's a way to do a collage, but taking one dominant image and putting one thing behind it is ridiculous. Plus, it's the age of the Internet. Anyone who considers himself an Erro "fan" can find out easily how much of a hack he is.

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