This is going to be an emotional roller-coaster. Enjoy. : D
I have been accused of plagiarism in my current class.
Those words hurt. Typing them hurts. Reading them in the feedback from my instructor was an emotional slap in the face this morning as I did laundry, enjoying the day and looking forward to the apartment shopping that needed to get done.
I was still feeling like a badass for finding a microwave at Goodwill for $15 verses the $100 I was about to drop on one I found on Cragslist. Yeah. That’s right. Got a full set of matching dishes, too. Like a bawce. And a whole bunch of other really cool stuff that I’ll write about later, because they’re all good things and right now I’m too focused on the fact that I’m a failure to want to tarnish those memories with my negativity.
I want to explain the whole story because I feel it’s important.
The first assignment was to find some sort of box packaging and to recreate the template for the box. Basically, unfold it, trace it out, made an outline of it in Adobe Illustrator, print out the template, cut out said template, fold it up, and take pictures of it.
It was a silly assignment, but fun, and I did it. And I think I did it well.
Cool. One assignment down. One to go.
The main project for the week was to create our own packaging. Similar for what we had to do for another class, but this one was a little more involved.
I took inspiration from the first assignment. I hated the box I used. At least the design on it. I mean… really… look at it… It was an ugly color, with a dated looking graphic… It just wasn’t appealing.
I want to take a second to also mention this wasn’t my peppermint extract. It was something I found in the spice cabinet that happened to fit the size requirements of the project so I used it. It belonged to one of the guys, or one of their former girlfriends who happened to leave it at the apartment, or something. Important thing. It wasn’t mine.
So. Ugly box. What would I do to make it less ugly? I don’t know. I really don’t care. First things first. Research the market. Who else makes peppermint extract… apparently no one. There’s a lot of peppermint oil, which may or may not be the same thing. I really didn’t look that far into it because I had an idea forming in my head already.
If so few companies actually supply this product, why don’t I create a package as if they just started marketing it. Problem solved. It would be a unique design in a way. My design doesn’t exist. This product doesn’t exist. It will be a challenge in a way, too, since I’m trying to create something new while still having to adhere to an already established style and theme.
The hardest aspect was going to be finding the proper fonts because if the text doesn’t match then the whole design falls apart. The text is the main visual element. It will be what makes or breaks the design.
I feel like I nailed it. It was a serious study in typography. There were several fonts which came close but the serifs were slightly different, or the x-hieght wasn’t the same. There were so many small, little differences in so many of the fonts which made them all different but similar, and this assignment made me really stop and look at them all. It made me really compare and notice things from a design stand point.
There was problem solving involved, too. How was I going to create the logo, which, yes, I made it by hand (computer?). I didn’t copy and paste an image is the main thing in this area. I actually went through and made every element on my own. I went to the store and took pictures of the spice aisle to have color reference material and an idea of how my product would stand out against competition. What is the advantage to this design over something else? Why did the company invest money into this packaging?
I even bought a lemon extract box so I could have a model to create the template reference from.
I literally made my own Publix box essentially. Though, to be honest, when you print it out the green is too dark… I think my color space is wrong, but that’s a different tangent.
I figured I would lose all of the points for creativity. 20 points. Assuming I got everything else perfect, which I doubted, I was looking, at best, at an 80, which I was ok with.
I loved my project. I thought I did well. I thought it turned out well and even if it wasn’t unique, I felt it showed skill with the program. I also felt I had gained a fair amount of knowledge from the project.
But I got a zero on it. Or rather, I can accept a zero for my grade and the instructor will pretend like nothing happened. Or I can escalate this, run the risk of being expelled, and see where things go.
There was nothing mentioned about “You did well replicating the design, however…” or, “I understand your reasoning from your creative brief, unfortunately…”
I was told, “I appreciate you submitting work. This is plagiarism and I can’t give you credit. You can accept a zero and we’ll pretend this didn’t happen, or I can report this and there will be repercussions.”
I feel like I have been told my work is worthless. That everything I thought I had gained from this assignment means nothing.
I thought I was past the point of caring about my grades. I thought I was more than my grades.
But I guess I was wrong. If I didn’t care I wouldn’t be bothered this much right? I wouldn’t have gone home after holding it together for the rest of the laundry cycle only to crawl onto the couch with Zane and cry my eyes out because my instructor thinks I’m a just a shitty student who can’t come up with their own idea so they rip off an already established brand.
FUCKING ARTIST PROBLEMS >.<
Why does it have to bother me so much? I didn’t do the assignment for my instructor. Only… I sort of did because he told me to do it. And really, isn’t this my own fault? I didn’t really like the assignment, so I tried bending the rules a bit.
I’m not going to do it 100% the way you want, but it’s cool because it’s still within acceptable guidelines.
Only I guess it wasn’t. It’s totally ok for art students to copy and mimic styles for the sake of learning, but I’m not allowed to.
I guess I’m moving on to the anger side of things.
I’m angry. I’m hurt. I want to know why there couldn’t have been one nice comment in my “you’re a shitty student” feedback. To be fair he didn’t actually say that, and this is my right brain being all irrational and shit, but yeah, it wasn’t warm, fuzzy, or understanding. It was like being given a grade from a brick wall. One that I ran full force into apparently.
Could you at least have said something about my creative brief to let me know that you cared enough about my thought process to see if I even thought I was doing something wrong?
I’m not a failure. My work isn’t worthless. In fact, most of my freelance has been creating something that exists inside of an already established style. Concept artists for games and movies and all sorts of other artsy things constantly have to mesh with an art style that is not their own. They are paid to replicate, to match, to fit in.
It’s so hard to feel ok with the situation, though. It’s hard to feel like continuing the degree is worth it. This one instance, this one bad experience, make me want to quit. And I told Zane that. I told him the whole situation. He doesn’t think I should quit.
“If I quit then I let them win,” was my reply, and I don’t want them to win.
I’m better than a zero. The work is better than a zero. I’m not a failure. I’m not a zero. I’m better than that. My work is better than that. I loved my project until I got your feedback so why is it that it feels like my project, my pride, my sense of purpose has been shattered to a thousand pieces?
I don’t have an answer right now. And I’m hungry. It’s midnight. I’m tired of being at school typing. The only reason I came here was to drop off my lunches so I wouldn’t have to worry about biking to work with the extra weight on my back.
I’m tired of letting this sap the awesomeness from my day. I got a new pot set and shower curtain set. I have a memory foam bath mat. I didn’t know my feet could feel so awesome.
I have a life I need to go live instead of sitting here stewing over something that is so completely trivial and bullshit and “unfair” as my right brain keeps crying out.
Who cares if it’s unfair?
You know what’s fair? Ice cream, and cat cuddles, and warm blankets and dark rooms and not giving a fuck about what other people think about my work.
I’ll deal with everything in 7 hours when I wake up.