From The Readers: Uninspired?

4 Mar


I received this photo & question from a reader in my email box:

Calling Out Etsy,
Since you brought up The Black Apple; there has been much talk here & there about the sameness in art these days. If you see my picture example which is 24 different shops, there is almost no variety. I feel it’s sad that people are willing to compensate their true artistic vision to try and profit off of copying another popular artists’ style.

Interesting thought.
I would like to put this forth as a discussion but want to make clear that I am not bashing any artist by presenting this topic.. I think it’s a good discussion if artists are being true to themselves or making what they know is popular on Etsy.

Does there need to be more variety in art? Do you think it looks the same? Discuss.


16 Responses to “From The Readers: Uninspired?”

  1. bria March 4, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    it’s a popular style right now, that’s all i can surmise… there’s TONS of diverse art featured on etsy that doesn’t look anything like that ^

  2. Laura March 4, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    I think that the big eyed girl is very in right now. Just look at the Blythe doll. You are right there are a lot but I don’t think it is copying as much as capitalizing on a trend.

  3. elizabeth March 4, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    It’s just a trend, just like when you go to the mall and every clothing store’s windows look the same. The whole thing about art and creativity and vision and all that is great, but if you want to make a living at it, you need to create what people want and are willing to pay for. The romance of the bohemian artist creating art for the sake of art just isn’t that romantic when you need to pay your mortgage and have nothing to eat for dinner. Just look at the scrabble tile pendant rage-everyone sees them selling like hotcakes, so everyone is making them.

  4. John March 4, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    I just went to check in at etsy and a pic just like these is on the front page…from the blackapple (front page exposure again, surprise).

    I appreciate what everyone is saying about doing what’s popular. The same is true of pop music, clothing and every other fad. But if you follow fads, you are instantly obsolete.

    If I want big eye portraits, I’ll pick up the real thing at my local thrift shop. There are tons of them stacked in the corner behind the old TV sets.

  5. Stacey March 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm #


    I very respectfully have a question for you…How is it not a trend if the big eyed portrait is at your local thrift store? How does it being at a thrift store qualify it as being “the real thing”? wouldn’t that suggest that it was a trend back in the day as well? just like owls were? and mushrooms? Just because it’s a trend that has been revived and altered slightly, doesn’t mean it’s any less real than the first round was. After all, they all seem (to me) to all have their root in Victorianism.

    I think there are a lot of trends that have become timeless. Look at impressionism. Did everyone sit around saying “oh look they’re just copying each other, their work will fade away” back then? who knows! maybe! Art has trends, society has trends. Its just the nature of the beast that is the world.

    It is an interesting topic and discussion.

  6. PussDaddy March 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    Who gives a hairy rat’s ass? They like creating it, and people like buying it. Show me one still life portrait of a fricking pear and vine of grapes with a vase sitting on a table and I feel the same way, yet many artists still sell their paintings and drawings of it.


  7. wut March 4, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    I think it comes from most artists realizing that etsy isn’t a good 2D art venue. There are better places, so they don’t even waste their time trying.

  8. John March 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    Hi Stacy–I used the word “fad,” which I think is different from a trend. After seeing the composite that opened this post, it just looked to me like like those artists were wrapped up in something “of the moment” (fad). A trend in art would be more substantial, and I’m not qualified to know art trends.

    I just joked about big-eye pictures at thrift shops because I couldn’t see how this etsy art was any better than the old kitschy big-eye pictures. And, yes, 70s mushrooms and owls are silly, too. To each his own.

    The previous poster thinks we shouldn’t “give a hairy give a rat’s ass.” Okay, no biggie.

  9. Stacey March 5, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    Hey John,

    Fair enough…

    but I wonder if impressionism was a fad when it first started.

    (They’re actually listed as synonyms to each other)

    I guess my point is (not to you, necessarily, John) that a fad, trend, whatever….a certain aesthetic usually gets picked up by a culture and carried on for awhile. Like in the 80s every other kitchen was littered with geese. Its not a knock on the goose artists of the day, it was just a trend/fad/thing-to-do that society picked up on. Sometimes people like geese, sometimes they like emo girls with balloons and decorative wallpaper.

  10. girl March 11, 2009 at 6:37 am #

    These big eyed girls brought back memories of all the girls in junior high, 15 years, ago drawing the big eyed, big headed girls in their notebooks.

    I just thought they all found Etsy.

  11. Becky April 1, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    Four picture from the left, second row.

    That artist is NOT a copycat or following a trend. She is a well-known and published illustrator in France (including books), and has been for years. She just happens to be new to Etsy, which may give the impression that she is a follower, when she may actually be among the trendsetters. I personally find it objectionable that her art be displayed here for purposes of implying that she may be copying someone else’s style, when for all we know someone may be copying HER, but just happened to get online sooner.

    I’d remove that image.

  12. Betsy Etc April 13, 2009 at 4:19 am #

    They’re not copying the Black Apple. They’re just trying to go with the Etsy Aesthetic…items that they see featured ALL THE TIME and are getting sales as a result. Now that Etsy is encouraging sellers to create items that fit into a theme, you can count on seeing even more of this sort of thing than ever before.

  13. Elizabeth May 6, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    The Black Apple isn’t original at all. She has blatantly copied the style of the well established and respected artist, Mark Ryden. Years ago she acknowledged his influence on her work, now his name is nowhere to be found. There is a reason that her work is not respected by those in the true art market. There is nothing original going on her work.

  14. a Cagey Bee July 13, 2009 at 11:56 am #

    I can only speak for myself, but as one of the artists pictured (twice) above, I have to say this statement is completely false:

    “I feel it’s sad that people are willing to compensate their true artistic vision to try and profit off of copying another popular artists’ style.”

    Painting girls with big eyes is now copying Black Apple? Someone may want to alert Margaret Keane (the artist who inspired all of those thrift store paintings left over from the 60s AND who is still painting the same style today), Mark Ryden, Lori Early, Jasmine Becket-Griffith, the Blythe Doll makers, every manga/anime creator ever…the list goes on. I love Black Apple & I’m sure she *does* spawn copycats, but she’s certainly not the creator of the big eyed girl.

    It’s probably just about as common to paint girls with big eyes as it is to paint girls proportionately. And then the comments would be what? Oh, you’re just trying to paint realistically like EVERY OTHER realistic painter? 😉

    My girls have big eyes. That’s just the way they come to life on my canvas or in my sketchbook. If I were to force myself to paint them any other way, THAT would be compromising my artistic vision.

    What I find sad is that the original writer expects me to look at the market & look at what other artists are doing & then go out of my way to change my own art. And she’s right! I’m sure that WOULD make a lot more money. And it would also be completely selling out (though I suppose I could get blog posts saying what a unique individual I am…a unique fraud, but no matter).

    Looking at the art that’s currently available & trying to paint something different to fill a void might be smart business, but it should not be confused with artistic integrity.

    I paint what I love. I paint what brings me joy. Sometimes that’s pushing the paint around & creating abstracts, but mostly it’s painting something cute that reminds me of the storybook characters I grew up with. You know, the ones with big eyes! 🙂

    And just so you know that I’m an equal opportunity big eye painter, my boys & other critters have ’em big too:


  15. artist November 14, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    I agree they all look a bit similar but they are hardly the first people to pain big eyed girls and said by other posters. There is was even a book on the subject recently.

  16. Frost October 23, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    Jasmine Becket-Griffins art looks very copycat like to Margaret Keane’s big eyes art style and don’t forget she thinks she’s cornered the market on folklore… I find her attacks on people for a trend started before she was born and folklore that has no ownership for anyone, but is the lore of all very troubling and shouldn’t be allowed to happen… You Can’t trade mark a cultures history…

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