I feel like I've addressed this before at some point, in some other journal, but I find myself either discussing this with people a lot, or coming across people who on their work proudly claim to have "used no reference."
The biggest problem, and misconception, regarding references is that people feel like it's cheating or that it somehow cheapens their work. While I can understand the sense of accomplishment coming from using no reference to finish a painting or drawing, people who consistently do it are only hurting themselves in the long run. So in short, no, reference isn't bad.
Artists have been using reference since the days of the old masters. They would reference life, whether it be landscapes, objects on a table, or models standing in a studio. They would even reference their own sketches or other people's work in order create convincing paintings.
For some reason, a lot of people today seem to think that in order to be a good artist, they have to be able to do things without