Yay for Plagiarism!

IMPORTANT: I want to be very clear- I'm not posting this to ruin the reputation of any one particular person or paper, but to stand up against plagiarism and copying others' artwork. It cannot be tolerated, and with the internet it's very easy to find such cases. This is an example of something that happens often, and it's time for it to end.

I received an email from a friend today saying that in
a Worcester, MA newspaper they saw this:

..and when compared to this:
..it's safe to say that some artists have no scruples.

update: discussion opened on the subject at ConceptArt.org, HERE.
The 'artist' is a Graphics Editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.


Lastly, an example of what IS and is NOT plagiarism, respectively
(via Thomas Nast):


Nelson Santos said...

Yes, i think your work deserves better respect than that Joe.

all the best.

Aaronphilby said...

Get on um'.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I see her website now has a counter. I wonder if she's expecting to get a lot of traffic from this. It was only put up a bit ago, I'm visitor's #8 and 9. Good luck brother! Fight the good fight, we don't need people like this getting ahead at your expense and with your hard work.

Fabian Molina said...

That is such a horrible thing to do. It makes me wonder if good ol' George Washingotn is someone elses property as well. ....

Ryan Wood said...

Man, that is messed up. I'm sure flipping the image was REALLY going to throw everybody off. Weak.

Marco Bucci said...

That must stand for Jennifer "Fake Artist" Borresen.

Jesus Minguez III said...

Joe, screw that ho! she needs a good 'ole fashoned whoopin' freekin' plagiarizer

Alex said...

Sarasota. Famous for horse races, mineral water and artistically plagiarizing be-atchez!

The Hurricane said...

WOW. F-ing amazing. Im sorry. GAH!!!! LOSER WOMAN!!!!

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you something :
few weeks ago, I was in Paris, near Beaubourg, where many caricaturists work in the streets.
To make their advertising, they put some drawings nears their chairs and...
...some of the drawings are print of your work! (some are of Niall O'Loughlin, others are of Op De Beek, etc.)

You should go to Paris to see this, funny!

Anonymous said...

you should check to make sure that she did not get the image from a stock image disk or website. someone could be selling your artwork to a lot of newspapers. you need compensation if that is the case.

Joe Bluhm said...

Thanks for the tip, anonymous, but the woman is claiming she did the drawing, so it's probably not an issue.

Though, if I did want to find that info, how would I even know where to start conducting such a broad search?

Sam Nielson said...

That is messed up. Although it is possible that perhaps she copied, pasted, flipped, and made minor alterations to your picture by sheer coincidence? I mean, I do that sort of thing all the time, by accident. :)

Unknown said...

F' em!

Anonymous said...


I am a regular reader of your blog(we bumped into each other at the Nascar2003 forums a few times) and this is just amazing. You have the respect of quite a few artists in going after this gal, and keeping it civil and professional in the process. Best of luck and don't settle for anything less than your name on the building !!


Anonymous said...

Hope you will win this issue, it's just a question of respect of your job (and it's a damn$*% good job, very stimulating).
Excuse me for my awfull english (it's not my usual language).

Anonymous said...

Just to play devil's advocate here, but did you ever think that neither one of you ever saw Lincoln in person and so I can assume that you used a reference photos and that she probably did also... There aren't that many photos of Lincoln so you could have used the same reference photo and could have had a similar interpretation of the face.

Joe Bluhm said...

Absolutely, undoubtedly impossible, Vic. I created a caricature with heavy emphasis on distortion. Even a talented artist drawing Lincoln with MY drawing for reference could not come up with such an exactly similar solution, let alone using the same photo reference. Nothing short of 'tracing' was done here, and it's more than clear to any casual observer.

Look at the animation- there is absolutely no doubt to be had.

Anonymous said...

My aim in my previous post was to point out what to me was obvious and I don't disagree with you completely.

Well, the problem is that it is not impossible. Not only do the two images look like each other, but they also both look like the photo. It would be hard to definately prove that she copied you and not the photo. If it was a picture from your imagination, I could say that yes, definately it was a copy, but it's from still another person's work, a photo that's been around for over a hundred years.

Look I agree with you, if she copied your version of that photo, then it really stinks and you should be compensated. However, good luck proving it.

No, really, I wish you luck.

Andy Murray said...

vic, if you overlay the photo ref with Joe's piece you'll see an enormous difference. If you overlay Jennifer Fake Artist's piece with Joe's there is blatant plagiarism. Joe's skill at capturing an exaggerated likeness doesn't give wannabe artists the license to rip him off. Besides, Joe's piece, while a derivative work, is allowed the same copyright protection that the original has. The courts don't deal in absolutes, they deal in what seems most likely. It is insanely improbable that this lady happened to draw the exact same drawing Joe did, place the values in the exact same places, and have never seen Joe's work. She lives in Sarasota, close to where Joe used to live and do freelance work, as well as be active in an artist organization. Good access to Joe's work + Joe's exact drawing and value placement=slam dunk plagiarism in any court.

Joe Bluhm said...

Vic- find any other caricature or rendering of Abraham Lincoln that is even close to another in proportion and value. There are decisions... shortcuts... mistakes... distortions that I made that could never be made so similarly by coincidence.

Again, if you wish me luck then I appreciate it, but you have to be realistic.

Anonymous said...

The chances of the person who generated the Lincoln piece for the Sarasota news paper and Joe drawing the artwork with the same exaggerations are so completely improbable it would have to be close to one in about 100 billion. I'm not exaggerating this to be dramatic. It's a fact. There are hundreds of choices each section with thousands of options that make DNA testing less accurate than the obviousness of this plagerism.

For example, the choice to elongate the forehead is one thing, but choosing the angle of the forehead the amount of stretch, the amount to squeeze and every little choice on the upper hairline and then the side hairline is about one in at least close to a few hundred thousand. Then ontop of that the choice of which clumps of hair to group and which to thin and which to leave out again puts the chances into about one in million. Multiply a million to a few hundred thousand to get the chances of them both making those same choices... and that's just the forehead and hair... not including shading or further detail. I don't think I need to elaborate any further.

There is no grey area no possible remote chance. You and I having the same pattern on our fingerprints is a greater liklihood.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I never wrote that I anyone has license to rip-off another artist. In fact, I don't even agree with claiming that a work using another artist's photo is "original" even if you "distort" or exaggerate a little. The only thing Joe really exaggerated was the forehead. The values are not so different from the photo.

Second, the two pieces are NOT exactly the same. The eyes are different, the nose is different (one points up and one down), and the hair is different (the clumping is different). Again, the only thing that I can say matches Joe's work more than the photo is the forehead, and she could have chosen to do so to contrast and balance the heavy chin of the Washington drawing.

Third, I used to live in Orlando and although I had heard of Joe, I had never seen any of his work. For that matter, there are thousands of artist who live in Florida and have never heard of Joe or seen any of his work. So that argument just doesn't fly, since that photo is more easily found than any of Joe's work. Sorry Joe, no offense , but it's true. (I found your blog 3 days ago)

And Joe, I don't want to post a cartoon of Lincoln that the Best Caricature Artist Ever, Thomas Nast did, because I don't want to break copyright laws (like posting another person's work without permission). Although this drawing is over 100 years old, I'm sure someone owns the rights, so here is the link

The piece is called: The Grand Peace Overture to "Our Wayward Sisters."

I submit that the face, with the exception of the slight downward slant of the corner of the mouth is almost identical to your drawing. Again the only difference is that long forehead (Which I have already theorized that she could have made the decision to elongate the forehead do to Washington's chin) , but the hair clumping is "the same" as you all say, the hairline and the values are pretty dead-on. If you do your little animation trick you can see that the face of Mr. Nast's drawing aligns almost perfectly with your own drawing.

And about the one in a billion (excuse me, 100 billion). I don't think that is the case since the choices you make in a drawing will greatly be minimized when you have never met the person you are drawing, you are using a reference photo and want to maintain a likeness, and as a caricature artist, I don't see that much difference from Joe's drawing to the photo. It's not an extreme exaggeration.

Is it possible, maybe even likely, that she plagiarized you drawing? It is. My girlfriend definitely agrees with you. However, this to me is like accusing a person of rape or child abuse. It's very damaging to the person, and if it's not deserved it would be a greater tragedy to damage the person's reputation and career. God forbid any of us ever be accused of plagiarism (especially those of us who use other's reference photos).

As artists, let us not only be more careful about how we use other people's work (yes, photographers are people too), but let's also let us be more careful about accusing other artists of plagiarism and crucifying them and destroying their livelihood. Would I ruin someone's life over this? hmm, we aren't talking about a million dollar drawing here, are we? if Yes, then go for it (I'm a starving artist). If no, no I wouldn't.

"Let Ye who is without sin cast the first stone". OOOPs did I just plagiarize the Bible? Sorry Jesus, I hope he forgives me.

Joe, I know you feel very strongly about it and I understand. Don't take my oppositions as personal. My purpose in this is to get people to see the other side of things and this is a big deal to an artist. I know you are pursuing this and I hope that the truth is found. I think that if you continue this to the point of lawyers getting involved, that they are going to ask these questions, so maybe I just helped you to be better prepared :-)

Anyway, you do good work and if you are ever drawing in Orlando again, I would like to see you work. I have heard very good things.

Good Luck

Joe Bluhm said...

Vic- look here:


I have a caricature in this group- this is just the AMERICAN page of the Caragiale Exhibition. This has been running for 5 years. Tell me that you can find TWO drawings that are as similar as mine is with the Sarasota graphics editor, on that page... explore the site. There are only 4-5 reference photos on there, and these worldwide artists came up with a unique take EACH TIME.

This illustrate's Mugshotz' mention of improbability. It is plagiarism, and plagiarism cannot be legally disproven by the accused.

I wouldn't ever make an accusation without being 100% sure, and I hope it doesn't make it to litigation, because I have faith that the Times will make the right decision and fix what went wrong.

Lastly, my drawing is very different than the photo- the composition is important as well (reference is cropped to match). I made decisions at every turn, to distinguish this as MY version of this photo. This is history and Matthew Brady (the photographer) is long dead and gone, and his work is now a part of popular culture and imprinted recognizability. The changes I made are drastic yet recognizable. That is my craft, and the craft of many caricaturists.

Your Thomas Nast comparison is not true. As you can see, I've attached the same setup and it's drastically different. Yes, we used the same reference photo (that's very clear), but we both made different choices all over the drawing, whether it be shading, proportions, spacial relationship or shape.

And by that token, you would deduce that this would be plagiarism:


Well, it's not- it's a unique piece of art that is as individual as a fingerprint. It is clearly based on the same photograph, but it is one man's interpretation and abstraction, as small as that abstraction may be. He is not saying it's an original photo. He's not selling it as "what abe really looks like" - he's selling it to viewers as a crafted representation of a man in history, via one or more photographs.

I would never wrongly accuse anyone.

Joshua James said...

I'm with Grigorilla!

Stop stealing that poor lady's work Joe!

Anonymous said...


You're kidding, right?

Anonymous said...


Let's make this clear. Drawing using a photo for reference is NOT plagiarism. You aren't trying to fool anyone that it is a photograph. It's not even the same media. A caricature is a distortion which even further reinforces this notion, that it's not trying to fool anyone into what the original source is. A caricature is an editorial based on the artist's own perspective of a source material. Whether live or a photograph.

Frankly your idea that drawing a caricature or any artwork based on a photograph is not original is quite insulting to the art world in general. So any illustration in Rolling Stone or Time magazine or any other publication is not original? Sebastian Kruger is not an original artist? It's not what your source is.. it's what you can create with originality from your reference source.

The person who created the piece for the Sarasota newspaper clearly downloaded Joe's artwork and ran in through a few filters in photoshop, including the contrast setting. That explains why in the plagiarized piece the nose appears to tilt up because the shadow is stronger and some of the hair is not present. If that is your only argument why they aren't exactly the same, does your girlfriend look exactly the same after she gets a haircut? Not exactly, but you would still be able to tell it's her without a shadow of a doubt.

Is it worth ruining someone's career over plagiarism? If you saw someone mugging someone (which what plagiarism is, it's stealing) would you not call the cops because you are worried about ruining the muggers life? What about the person being robbed? Do they not deserve justice? The mugger made a choice and has to live with the consequences. If you don't call them on it, the crime has no consequence. What's to stop them from committing the same offense again if they can get away with it? Is Joe's career any less important? He afterall did all the hardwork. She just right clicked.

As an artist you don't seem to have a grasp on what is involved in the process of drawing or notice the subtleties in artwork, or seem to place much value on origional artwork in general. I'm quite suprised as a fellow artist you would take this point of view.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I think you did the right thing in calling the paper to start an investigation. Is there enough similarities in the two pieces to suspect plagiarism? Yes, of course. I'm not contesting that. However, why make it public until it's decided? If she were to prove that she used the photo and not your image to make her piece by providing the files she used, you could be up a creek. If you've defamed her publicly, this would be libel and could have repercussions for you.

Like I said, my opposing commentary is not personal. Please, believe me, I am not against you.

As far as the guys who talked about the haircut and mugging... come one... not even related. No body is in physical danger here. Get real.

The following is not aimed at any particular person:

If we agree that she used your drawing to create hers and only changed it a little bit and this is plagiarism, why then is it not plagiarism if a painter uses another's photograph to create a work of art? Because he changed it more? How much is enough change? Is there some criteria I don't know about? Is a photographer not an artist? To me, it may be an original interpretation, but not an original idea nor a completely original work of art. It is derivative of another's work. No matter how good the painting and no matter who is the Painter. Even if it's a caricature or did one of you invent caricatures?

I personally respect political cartoonist and think that they are the true caricature artists (and the best). Especially the one's who use their OWN impressions of the person be it in from knowing the person or from an impression he has formed from many different images that are now in his minds eye and not just one photograph which the alter and distort for no particular reason other than to show off their skills. In my opinion, political cartoonists really say something with their caricatures. Not just a "look what I can do" drawing.

That's all I have to say about that.

Anymore and I may have to start my own BLOG.

Joe sorry for taking up so much space on your blog, and I hope there are no really hard feelings. It was fun :-) Do you still want me to email you?

Tom R said...

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... it's a duck. This is no random accident of similar execution. It would take any artist real effort and time to physically draw a caricature of Abe Lincoln that so exactly matches Joe's with respect to the structural forms, shapes and other decisions if they directly used Joe's drawing as their only reference, let alone having never seen it before. The odds are FAR more likely I'll win the lottery than someone would randomly draw such an exacting duplicate from just the same photo reference. To suggest such a thing is insulting everyone's intelligence here. This image was stolen, modified slightly in PhotoShop and presented as an original work. Nothing else explains the exacting similarities.

Joe Bluhm said...

vic- you're not making sense. If you want to chat more about it, email me.

Anonymous said...

hey. its that kid from last summer at paramount's great america in the bay area. just wanna say take no prisoners and give em hell.

Joe Bluhm said...

Vic- you don't want to email me?

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Anonymous said...

I think what has happened here is that she has used your art and modified it to suit her own preference.
But it's definitely copied.
Maybe she has traced it (along with the other image) to make a "bastardized" version.

As long as you can provide an original piece then I think it's clear you are the author and her work is a derivative.