Very Artistic Plagiarism

, , , , , | Learning | October 16, 2018

(While I am enrolled in university, I do art commissions on the side. Another student at the university contacts me to do a painting for him, and we meet in a common area. He’s got a poster roll with him, which I initially don’t think odd. After introductions, we get to business, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see he’s already got a good idea of how large he wants the piece to be, some of the blocking, even a bit of the style. Then we hit a snag:)

Student: “…and I don’t want you overcharging me for supplies, so I bought them for you.”

(This isn’t itself unusual, even if rudely stated. Plenty of my prior customers had specific paint colors in mind, and bought them for me in advance. I look over the paints and canvas, and I’m relieved to find they’re quality — I’d been worried he had bought basic poster paint and cardboard.)

Me: “Well, this should be more than enough, yes. I can definitely discount you for them.”

Student: “Discount?”

Me: “Yes. From your description, I won’t even need all the paint, so I can return the leftovers, or buy them off you if I find them intriguing.”

Student: “Why only a discount? I bought everything you need!”

(He’s getting more than huffy at this point, almost pouting.)

Me: “I do need a little bit more than this, but most of it’s going to be due to how much time I need to complete the work. Don’t worry; my rates are [reasonable price for my skill and the complexity of the piece].”

Student: “But I bought everything! Why should I pay more on top of that?”

Me: “Because you didn’t buy any of it from me? I’ve still got my own bills to pay, too.”

(He snatches back the materials.)

Student: “You’re just being greedy! I already put out [slightly high price for the quality of the paints and canvas]; that should be enough!”

Me: “If you’ve got a budget, you might want to hit up some of the first-year students. I know that one of the professors assigns work very similar to your request, so they may be willing to do it for you in exchange for the materials.”

(He walked off at this point, swearing under his breath. I was surprised someone who knew enough to outline the commission so well would also try to talk his way out of paying for it, but I forgot him for a while. Later on, I found out that not only did he commission one of the professor’s first-year students, like I suggested, he himself was one. He’d tried to buy someone else’s work, pass it off as his own, and got called out by the professor when she noticed he’d tried to sign the piece over the real artist’s signature. This plagiarism counted as cheating, and he was expelled.)

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