Call me Essy~
I'm a pretty chill nerd.
Okay. So as many of you know I'm a HUGE freak for creating characters/adopting designs, etc. However, there are a few things that are really bothering me about the adopt/OC community and I really need to get my thoughts down if I have any chance of coping/moving past these things.
THERE IS A VERY SPECIFIC SITUATION I WAS IN AT THE BOTTOM (more like, half-way down) THAT I REALLY NEED FEEDBACK ON/HELP WITH. IT'S LITERALLY BEEN STRESSING ME OUT AND I AM ALREADY SUPER ANXIOUS AND UPSET ALL THE TIME SO THIS ISN'T HELPING-
1. OVERLY-COMMON SPECIES/CHARACTER THEMES
SO. FIRST OFF. I'm getting a little irritated by how many similar closed species I'm seeing pop up in my notifications. Like, do whatever you want to do when you're designing a character/species, but if you're literally just taking two animals from nature/popular mythology and you're fusing them and then going on to make them a closed species OF COURSE you're going to see a ton of look-alikes online. Like, popular animals are popular for a reason--they're easy to draw, are aesthetically pleasing, are popular in many cultures/media, and are loved by a lot of people off and online.
(Random, generic examples ahead--not calling anyone out specifically through these examples, though if you think I am . . . I mean . . . I'm kind of only proving my point. . .)
If you're literally just making a cat or dog dragon-like or are fusing a wolf or a lion with a bear or a bird or something you're bound to see lots of other characters that look like that online. It's not 100% because people are openly copying you, it's because your designs can be easily recreated.
The same thing goes for species that are just animal combined with a type of food. I don't know how many times I've seen people arguing about people stealing/copying designs ove something like a dog with sprinkles, a cat made of ice cream, pets or wild animals based off sushi/baked goods, etc. There are TONS of food-themed spcies out there and it's caused a LOT of drama and in-fighting for the community.
I DON'T HATE THESE SPECIES, AND I DON'T THINK THEY SHOULD BE HATED ON. I wouldn't even know what to recommend to owners of species like this if they DID want to make them stand out more from the crowd. I'm not saying they should change their species, ether, but . . . why attack people for honest mistakes and look-alikes? There are cases of people blatantly copying a design, but there are a LOT of cases of people honestly making a similar character/creature without knowing, and they've been shit on for it. It's really disheartening to see, and super disappointing.
2. CLAIMING MUTATIONS/TRAITS AS ONE-OFFS
Another thing that's really been bugging me lately is how people have been laying claim to certain traits/designs. I guess I could understand better if it was a specific set of traits used on a character, but if it's one single trait--extra limbs, oddly placed eyes/hands/teeth/ears/wings/mouths, a limb with mouths/eyes/a full face placed on it, stitching, etc., then . . . I don't understand how people can lay claim to it and disallow everyone else on the entire internet from using it?
This is something I've been encountering more and more personally. I'll see a cool use of a trait and I'll look through the rules/ToS/ask the creator if I could make my own version, i.e., change enough of the species/creature so that it doesn't resemble their design (new colors, new patterns, different body shapes/proportions, different accessories, additional physical traits, etc.), and more and more lately
I've seen blurbs in descriptions saying not to create anything similar.
(More on this below-)
HERE'S WHAT I MAINLY NEED ADVICE ON:
I recently was really interested in a particular character whose auction I missed--more so than I have been for literally any character ever--and I contacted the original creator as well as the adopter to ask if I could create my own kind of character using the same trait and species, but with different features/patterns/and an altered color palette (they used my favorite palette to make it). I was told by the original creator that I could if it was okay with the adopter, and the adopter ended up telling I could not because of the ToS and how unique the character was. (Understand both people were respectful in their replies, so I'm not claiming they're bad people or anything like that.)
It felt bittersweet and stung, but I conceded and backed off. I couldn't get the charater out of my head, though, and so I reviewed the ToS again and was trying to think of how I could create something that I could love like that character since it's been haunting me for weeks--months, even, and it's been stressing me out. Obviously, I don't want to steal the character because theft is shitty and goes against my morals, or make something that looks too similar as that would make the adopter uncomfortable. Instead, I decided I would change how my own character's pedal stance/species/the one trait I really wanted to use off of the character (I feel like I need to be vague to avoid starting drama, but in short it was a hand in a place where hands obviously do not grow and I thought it looked creepy and appealing) so that there was more of it or so that it would be positioned differently. Techinically, this would be allowed by the ToS I was shown, but I still didn't feel comfortable making my own character still as I was afraid they (the adopter and creator) would see it with the additional limb/limbs and think I was stealing the idea from them and they'd blast me for it or block me when I respect them both as artists regardless. Basically, I don't want to be on bad terms with people whose work and personalities I admire. I'm kind of scared to even be typing this because I feel like they'll stumble across it or something and they'll be like "you're two-faced, wtf, you're so annoying."
So, all in all, I want to use this ONE trait and a similar palette, but am wanting to change the species, stance, patterns, and features of the character so that I have something unique inspried by something I love and really hate myself for missing without the two characters looking at all similar. I proposed this to both parties despite my better judgement and was only responded to by the creator who (again, was super patient and kind and basically an absolute angel), but was told I'd still be defeating the purpose of the one-off ToS. But . . . would I be?
One-offs kind of irritate me sometimes, too. For anyone confused, a one-off is a character/creature whose design is not made for the purpose of creating a species (open or closed), and doesn't resemble common animals/humanoids. It's a one-time chance to own a design that will not ever belong to a trademarked or copywrited species. The ToS said as much, and that the purchaser could not create similar characters or adopts based off the design, either, and I get that. But my spitball idea for a character inspired by the one I really liked wouldn't be created by them, wouldn't become a species, and would have A DIFFERENT BODY STYLE, DIFFERENT SPECIES, DIFFERENT PATTERNS, BUT THE SAME HAND TRAIT AND A SIMILAR THOUGH ALTERED COLOR PALETTE BECAUSE IT IS MY FAVORITE COLOR PALETTE AND I'D LIKE TO USE IT FOR MORE OF MY FUTURE CHARACTERS.
Am I just stupid? Am I stubborn? Am I missing the point? Do I just need to get over it? Does anyone at ALL AGREE WITH ME THAT IT'S A LITTLE BOTHERSOME THAT ONE SPECIFIC TRAIT WHETHER IT BE A MUTATION OR ODD LIMBS/FACIAL FEATURES IN ODD PLACES, ADDITIONAL LIMBS/ETC., CANNOT BE USED BY ANYONE ELSE ON THE INTERNET EVER AGAIN BECAUSE ONE CHARACTER IS DESCRIBED AS A ONE-OFF? See, I feel like I might sound really annoying to a lot of people for that, but CHRIST. In the last 24-48 hours I've seen COUNTLESS cats, dogs, wolves, and humaoids with extra limbs, odd limb placement and body horror, common animals combined with one other animal, food, or an element (fire, water, etc.) and the creators of said designs are saying they're one offs insinuating no one else may ever create a character that is a combination of those two things ever again, or they may never use one specific trait on a particular species or ANY SPECIES AT ALL despite obvious differences in designs. And . . . that's not what a one-off is supposed to be!! Like, obviously don't steal the design, don't create anything that could be considered too similar, but not allowing anyone to use any aspect of a character that you used for the design? Dude-
Does that irritate no one else? I've seen tons of black or gray-skinned demons that look like my own Bloody, though I didn't bat an eye. I've seen a fair amount of conjoined wolves that looked similar to a character I adopted in the past, and didn't care. I've seen lots of other similar gijinkas and anthro pokemon who look like my characters or my friend's characters because they're based off the same Pokemon but it's still obvious that they weren't copied from our characters.
It wouldn't bother me if someone made a dog whose mouth opened at the chest similar to Caige, one of my newest OCs because body horror and dogs are super popular. IF, however, THEY GAVE HIM THE EXACT SAME PERSONALITY, COAT PATTERN, AND MADE HIM A HARBINGER/DEVOURER OR SOULS THEN YEAH I WOULD HAVE AN ISSUE. If someone made a similarly-designed demon to Bloody with similar markings, wardrobe, powers, or attitude then yeah, I'd take some issue with that. If someone completely steals your palette and applies it to EXACTLY THE SAME OR IN AN EXTREMELY SIMILAR FASHION to a character, or copies a VERY UNIQUE design then that's obviously NOT okay.
I want to say this right here--I hate art/character theft, so don't get me wrong. I have had my art taken and have had people literally threaten to STEAL MY OCs TO MY FACE, and have gotten pissed. I try to report any and all stolen art I see should something pop up in my notifications (after doing my own investigation), and get really angry with people who don't credit bases or aknowledge they traced someone's work and are uploading it as their own. I also hate seeing blatant character theft and copying so I don't want to do anything that will making people suspicious of me or will make people hate/accuse me, you know? I'm just getting really frustrated by how much arguing and debate I've seen recently and have seen for a long time.
Everything's gotten to the point where I'm actually fucking terrified of making ANY NEW CHARACTERS AT ALL BECAUSE NOW I THINK PEOPLE ARE STALKING MY SHIT TO SEE IF ANYTHING I'M DOING IS TOO SIMILAR TO SOMEONE ELSE'S SHIT AND I'M NOT A PARANOID PERSON SO . . . I DON'T KNOW WHERE THIS PARANOIA IS COMING FROM. (Side note: my mental health has evolved a lot and now I think I may have more issues apart from just my depression and anxiety. Like . . . I'm legit wondering if I may need to see a doctor to see if there's anything else I could be diagnosed with because I'm . . . still mentally unwell and have noticed alarming differences in my thought patterns and reactions so yeah. I really don't need any more stress right now, and am needing some serious help with this issue.)
I also don't want to make it seem like I'm ignoring what people have said to me because of how upfront I have been in any and all situations similar to this in the past (though I've never really been in a situation like THIS before-). I don't want anyone thinking I've gone back on my word or I'm lying, but dammit- I just want to make new characters and actually ENJOY IT without the threat of people accusing me of anything or thinking anything bad about me.
I've talked about this extensively with my boyfriend (whom has studied law/business law extensively) and have gone over ToS with him, my messages, definitions, etc., and he's told me I'd still be very much in the right if I went ahead and continued making my own OCs as I've described them to him, and that I shouldn't be so hesitant to make my own designs because what I'm doing/proposing isn't actually copying, but . . . I still feel scared of doing that now. I briefly considered sending a link of this to the artist I was talking to before, but I feel like they'll hate me or think I'm talking shit or that I'm just two-faced or something.
It's gotten SO BAD that I started going through my old sta.sh lists of character ideas and have started to CROSS THEM OUT WITH THE INTENTION OF DELETING THEM BECAUSE I DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO THINK I'M COPYING THEM DESPITE ME HAVING HAD CERTAIN IDEAS FOR YEARS. This is also a big reason why I've held off on making Pokemon fusions or MLP nextgen projects--a lot of my ideas/interests/headcanons/aesthetics have been used in different ways by many people already and I don't want anyone to think I'm copying them.
Am I in the right? Is my frustration justified?
Am I an insane, petulant child?
Should I just continue making my own character designs regardless using the palettes and traits that I like/have liked, or should I scrap any and all ideas using something similar to a one-off somewhere on the interent?
Should I contact any specific artists about this who might be able to help? Should I contact that one artist again anyway and get their take on my issue/invite them to a conversation with me, or would that be too pushy/rude?
I don't know what to do and it's killing my art drive.
Why the fuck does this mean so much to me? I just want to feel happy and comfortable designing characters again.