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Dd2 (14) stealing others' artwork

(16 Posts)
whatevercomestomind Sat 09-Apr-16 11:52:13

As background – our family has had a terrible year, in which, amongst other things, I’ve been very worried about dd2’s mental health. That is possibly colouring my judgement and approach.

Dd2 is 14 and, in school, hasn’t really connected with anyone in the way that others in her year have done. She isn’t being actively bullied and her year group seem pleasant enough. But she is very socially anxious and tends to cut herself off from people by hanging around on her own, hiding behind earphones/phone screen. At home she obsesses over YouTubers. I’ve tried to keep good communication going with her, which generally has meant listening to her talking about YouTube for hours on end every night, but if that’s what it takes… As a result we have quite a good relationship. I kept telling her she'd ‘find her people’ in the end, but it didn’t seem to be happening.

Over the past month or so, her social situation has improved. She fell in with a group of people in her year but a different form class, all of them into art and drawing in the same way as dd2. They get together at lunchtime and plan drawings/music for a ‘web comic’ they want to make, draw themselves/each other as different characters, chat constantly online. It all seems friendly and normal, and I was so happy to see it. I was a bit concerned when one of the boys asked her out and she agreed, worrying that this would rock the boat with the friendships, but it all seems very light and non-angsty.

Dd2 regularly shows me art and drawings that she’s done for this ‘web comic’, and character sketches of herself and her new friends. They’re brilliant, and all her friends praise her art skills, constantly saying how talented she is. However, I have found out, when checking dd2’s phone [**NB: with her knowledge and agreement, it’s a condition of her being allowed a smartphone, I haven’t been sneaking behind her back. I know how these threads often go**], that these drawings aren’t dd2’s work at all.

She is searching on Tumblr, etc., for other people’s art, downloading them, then editing them using a graphics tablet. Not even much of an edit, either. She’s just changing the shading or removing some lines, etc. She also removes the original artist’s signature. She then sends them to her friends pretending that she did them, when it’s about 99% someone else’s work. I'm pretty sure she thinks I’m not savvy enough technically/with Tumblr art etiquette to see that she’s doing this or know that it's really not on.

I’ve tried gently raising the subject of ‘using bases’, which I know is common amongst beginner artists. But you’re meant to credit the source of the template , ideally ask permission first, and say what you’ve done to alter it, which should be mostly your own work. She insists that she doesn’t use bases. I’ve also spoken in general terms about plagiarism, and she always says that this is terribly wrong.

Of course, I know why she’s doing it. She has very low self-confidence and wants to impress her new friends and boyfriend, and thinks her own artwork isn't good enough. But it worries me on several counts. First of all, it’s wrong to steal other people’s work. From dd2’s own point of view, I’m concerned that she’ll keep doing it when she embarks on Art GCSE next year, and possibly get into trouble. Thirdly, the longer it goes on, the higher the risk that the others in the group will find out, and she’ll lose the friends that she waited so long to find (to say nothing of the boyfriend). And the longer it goes on, the harder it will be to let them see any of her own artwork, which is fairly good but nowhere near the level of the stuff she's passing off. (And they'll be seeing her draw in her Art class next year...)

As I said, I’ve tried mentioning it in general terms, and she isn’t responding and is still doing it. I don’t know whether I should tell her that I specifically know that SHE has been doing it. If she was more robust MH-wise, I wouldn’t hesitate. But she was briefly suicidal last year, and to tell her that I know her friendships and boyfriend are largely based on a lie right now is a thing I’m very worried to do. I’d appreciate any advice.

Hassled Sat 09-Apr-16 11:58:02

Blimey - what a nightmare for you. I think you have to tell her you know and be braced to pick up the pieces - as you point out, the truth will out fairly soon anyway and far better she's busted at home with you than in a GCSE Art class. And see if you can come up with some practical way for her to cover herself between now and then - so she starts to produce artwork which has been copied in such a way that it looks more and more like her own - i.e. phase in her own style gradually (I don't know if this is actually possible).

But the main thing is that her self-esteem must be terribly low - are there any youth counselling services near you which could possibly help? The GP surgery will be able to point you in the right direction.

RNBrie Sat 09-Apr-16 12:02:46

Your dd sounds very much like me as a teenager and I really feel for her. We'll done for having avoid relationship with her though, I more or less hated my mother at that age.

My advice would be to bring it up with her. I was in a similar situation where I'd told a lot of lies and couldn't see a way out, it was very stressful. I finally confessed to my sister who helped me undo things with as little fall out as possible. It was such a relief.

The chances are that your dd hasn't acknowledged the consequences of the lies yet and hasn't realised what might happen. I'd be more worried about her mental health when the penny drips and she starts panicking.

Can you bring it up with her by saying you understand why she's doing what she's doing and you won't force her to stop but you want to talk through the potential pitfalls before they become overwhelming?

RNBrie Sat 09-Apr-16 12:04:10

Sorry, typos. Avoid="a good" and drops, not drips.

LIZS Sat 09-Apr-16 12:16:16

You need to tell her in case she thinks she'll wing it with exams that way. It is a form of plagiarism after all. Tell her it is fine to use it as a basis but it is time to develop her own style and technique. Don't focus on lying to her friends.

whatevercomestomind Sat 09-Apr-16 12:29:30

Thank you. I've also had a chat with her older sister (17 and very trustworthy), who has lots of art-obsessed friends, and she says that anyone with half an ounce of savvy can tell that no artist (esp a 14 yr old) displays the vast variety and range of styles that dd2 claims to. Her friends WILL find out eventually. But I agree that approaching it from the POV of exams, etc., might be safer psychologically. I'm going to have to work out what to say - and keep it very light, as well. As in, it isn't so bad now, as long as she uses her own work from now on, nobody will ever know, sort of thing.

We tried counselling last year but she refused to engage sad.

TealLove Sat 09-Apr-16 12:32:46

I would be v concerned about this too. I would have to confront her in really gentle way. Sorry no more advice but yes it's concerning.

NanoTechMum Sat 09-Apr-16 12:40:22

It is going to be less distressing for you to confront her than her friends. I think you have no choice but to tell her you know.

Good luck!

lljkk Sat 09-Apr-16 13:03:43

14yo DD had a look at this. Her tuppence was

Far better for mom to bust her than for a teacher to confront!

Best thing is to come clean with the friends to say it's not all her own work, emphasising "I just wanted to impress you." The friends be flattered by that. And they will totally understand wanting to impress people. Will ask what she added to originals & give her good feedback on her changes. In DD's mind, it's a pretty mundane matter with the friends, anyway, who did the art.

I just wondered which Youtubers the OP's DD was so into.

whatevercomestomind Sat 09-Apr-16 13:35:14

Thank you, lljkk's dd. It's great to get an insider's point of view smile. (Dan and Phil, btw!)

lljkk Sat 09-Apr-16 18:06:58

I KNEW it would be Phan.
That should put her in a club with loads & loads of other girls her age. Even if she doesn't realise.

whatevercomestomind Sat 09-Apr-16 19:46:14

Yes smile there's one other girl who she managed to 'convert' and gets on with OK. The others are all madly into Alfie and Zoella, though, whom dd2 has no time for whatsoever as apparently they're 'fake'. No idea what they think of D&P but I reckon they don't ship it like them quite as much as dd2 does.

EarthboundMisfit Sat 09-Apr-16 19:52:46

It wouldn't surprise me at all if her friends already know she's lying and are too kind to say anything, though of course they may not and its not a good idea to say that to her either way.

She needs help with her self-esteem. Therapy of some kind would seem the place to start.

Fruitypebbles Sun 10-Apr-16 20:50:22

As an artist myself, this is really worrying and if the original artist found our what she was doing they could actually sue (if they could afford it, which they couldn't usually) but It is illegal. It's hard really to think of what to say. There's nothing wrong with using somebody else's at to try and learn/redraw and not trace with permission, but this is illegal.

WhirlwindHugs Sun 10-Apr-16 20:57:16

I would call her on it too - when these things get found out it all tends to explode horribly - especially if friends of the artists she is stealing from find out too.

Could you suggest she switch to doing something different that is easy to pick up quickly? Like photoshopping screencaps/quotes from her favourite videos and turning them into icons/banners for other fans to use.

WhirlwindHugs Sun 10-Apr-16 20:58:27

Sorry, call her on it is terrible phrasing. Just be honest that you know what she is doing and that you are happy to help her stop.

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