USN - Illo Watch
posted: November 21, 2006
Everybody needs to make a living. Some people make a living as an illustrator. Still others make a living illustrating like other illustrators. Chris Gash is just such a fellow, making a living illustrating in the same style as the well established illustrator, Mark Matcho. People who watch illustration (there are probably a dozen or so) are well-aware of Matcho and also most likely aware that Gash does Matcho pretty well. Not a big deal, really. It happens in all walks of life. Copying someone who's popular to make your way in life, it's bound to happen. What normally happens with illustrators who make a living by working in the style of a popular illustrator, is that they work along the fringes of publishing. They work the small magazines, much like a Kiss cover band gets to play the local clubs, but not much more. But, when an internationally recognized and well respected magazine like US News & World Report decides to hire Gash for a multi-page, three spot story (November 27, 2006 issue - pages 67-74), it might give the hard working professionals, who've staked a lot of time and money on refining and promoting their unique style, a bit of pause. The Kiss cover band is suddenly playing Madison Square Garden. What’s happened here? No doubt about it, the excellent art directors (and they are excellent) at USN have known about Matcho for years. The man promotes himself well. He's been at the drawing board for almost twenty years now. And, also without a doubt, the art department of USN is aware that Gash is lifting the stylistic chops of Matcho to make a living. Anyone with an eye for art can spot the alarming similarities without effort. So, let me ask a question. If Matcho is Kiss, and Gash is the cover band, and US News really is Madison Square Garden, hasn’t everybody that bought a ticket just gotten ripped off? The sad conclusion that I reluctantly arrive at is that USN simply doesn't care that much. The public won’t know the difference, unless they’re sitting on the front row like myself. It looks like Kiss from the cheap seats. Who cares? Right? Well, I for one want my money back. Mark Matcho - Chris Gash
David Flaherty November 21, 2006
You never know, maybe Kiss could not play?
Zimm November 21, 2006
Oh yeah, I can hear that conversation! They call Mark and he's too busy, but says "Yo! Hire that guy that draws like me!" - right.... No, you get AeroSmith insted, dude. Come on...
Edel Rodriguez November 21, 2006
Yep, or Van Halen, or Def Leppard, maybe even Poison! Not the cover band.
Tim O'Brien November 21, 2006
I don't really feel all that comfortable commenting on the professionalism of a fellow illustrator. Mark came first I guess is the point here. Chris must have seen it or follows it, and is inspired to draw influence mostly FROM it. It's immoral to many illustrators, but legal. Music is FILLED with this phenomenon, as are crappy television shows and movies. We all hope the AD's we work for art illustration connoisseurs. They may just be consumers who need their product today, and... what?....what's this?...a mailer? Who did this?...Hal Jalikakick? Ah, I like this style! I think I'll call him.
Leo Zeppelin November 21, 2006
I totally get it, Zimm. This is like "Copycat for Dummies". I thought, well, cover bands might charge cover band prices, but that's not true. They get full KISS treatment. Meanwhile Aerosmith is waiting in the bus to start a good gig. I want my money back too!
rag November 21, 2006
Its amazing that Gash has "Who's Robbing Who?" as his first drawing on his website.
Zimm November 21, 2006
And if USN hired a Naomi Campbell look-alike for a photo-shoot? Guess what? They'd never do it because they know better. It's not illegal, it's just poor form. If the same judgement call doesn't extend to illustration, then get ready to be out-sourced to China.
David Goldin November 21, 2006
I saw KISS at the garden, and that is NOT KISS. I also want a MATCHO T-Shirt.
Tim O'Brien November 21, 2006
Oh, if one of my clients uses a competitor I get really down. I do. I spiral for days. I hate it, but what can I do? Blog, I guess!
Mark Fisher November 21, 2006
I have never liked seeing someone appropriate the style of another illustrator. After checking out both I have to say that Gash's work although in the same stylistic vein is quite different in execution. His people are quite big nose goofy without personality,while Matcho's have the feel of being based on real people and then cartoonized. The strength of Matchos layouts, concepts and execution have not been stolen and that is what makes it HIS look. Over time the similarities will grow wider and less noticable.
Zimm November 21, 2006
It seems to me like there used to be a silent, or even spoken code in the art directing community that immitators don't get access to the big markets. I think it was called "integrity" or something like that ... and I think there was even a good reason for it. I think that was called "innovation" or something like that ...
Robert Saunders November 21, 2006
I tend to feel similar to Mark in that I see differences in the style of the two which would generally prevent me from confusing one for the other. But I can see areas in which elements of Matcho's style seem to have been appropriated.
Zimm November 21, 2006
Pick up a copy of the latest USN and then get back to me. No confusion on my part.
rag November 21, 2006
Is Mark M following any of this? You out there, Mark? What do you think about this guy's style? Matcho fans want to know...
nA November 21, 2006
I think a big part of the problem, if that's what it is, is that it's a transient business, and there may not be the institutional memory you might expect from these folks. Maybe a particular AD actually didn't know who Matcho is. I've been at this for 15 years and I'm still discovering artists I should have known about. Some of you are right here. I will say, at the risk of being cast out... oh, yeah, I can't be cast out...that they both look about equal to me. This is a business, and market forces are a factor, and maybe one guy is cheaper than the other. Maybe the guy you don't like has worked with an AD at USN before and did good job, built a relationship, etc. Maybe someone had the opposite experience with MM. nA
Edel Rodriguez November 21, 2006
Hey, Dale, There's no one more experienced and easier to work with than Mark Matcho. No one has had a bad experience with him that I know of. Pleeeeze. And, this has nothing to do with money. Matcho will help anyone out. This is a very simple matter, you shouldn't make it so complicated. Your first paragraph is more on the money.
Zimm November 21, 2006
NA makes a valid observation, but just doesn't know all the facts. I did maybe 400 jobs for USN before unofficially retiring from doodling for dollars. I know the staff there and they are all veterans and still intact (except for Rob Covey). They are some of the best in the business in my experience, real pros. I also subscribe to USN and this is the first time Gash has appeared between the covers. The department there knows a cover band when they see one - guaranteed. My lament is that they bought into it - and consequently send the hard working professionals a really bad message that we're commodities, not creatives.
nA November 21, 2006
Okay, my bad on Matcho. I only used him as an example because he's one of the guys mentioned. I'm glad he's got such a good rep. I feel that whenever any of us gets work, we reflect on other illustrators and illustration in general as being a valuable part of the way media is presented. At worst, this other guy has literally painted himself into a stylistic corner, and at best, probably did a good job for USN and made the idea of using an illustrator seem like a good one. It's too bad that there's time being spent hunting down artists to scold. I'm willing to bet that Zimm didn't send a link to this article to the alleged perp himself.. nA
Zimm November 21, 2006
Yo - "NA" - my name is right here on this page. I don't mind taking the heat or credit for what's on my mind. How about you do the same? Wanna wander around drunk at the party and nobody knows who you are? Cool!
nA November 21, 2006
Okay. So I may have put a toe off point, but not any more than that. I post as Not Allowed because I figured that since I didn't pass the smell test as me, maybe posting annonymously would allow me to be heard without any prejudice. I do sense a certain unease, albeit not without fascination, with my posting under a name not my own. As for "walking around drunk at the party". If that's the case, then liquor has probably revealed me to be a most agreeable drunk. Illustration is a small world, and when I do venture out into it, I try to practice the good karma law. I don't think I've broken it in any way here. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, I've never been ripped off. Or if I was, the poor guy should have ripped off someone who's more...profitable, shall we say? So who am I to say I kind of feel bad for a guy who's obviously a good artist, but will just never be accepted into the cool kids club. And it's all market forces. We just have to force the market back our way. Dale
Bob Staake November 21, 2006
see, THIS is why i quit drinking 20 years ago. if anyone needs a ride home, consider staake your designated drawger.
Mahatma Matcho November 21, 2006
HEY FELLERS- Thanks fer the excellent read, and heads up- While USN never approached me about a three-spot job, opting instead to utilize the aforementioned Mr. Gash, I can't get too worked up about it, one way or another. Maybe I burned a bridge with somebody over there, at some point in my spotty career. Maybe they just like his stuff more. Or maybe they're blackballing me, for my suspected affiliation with the Communist Workers Party! Re: Chris Gash- I dunno, he might've seen a piece or two of mine at some point along the way. Then again, having spent many a year toiling away, desperately emulating the talents of John Howard, David Suter, Allison Seiffer, Daniel Torres, Herge, F'loch, and the great Stevie Waxman, among many others, I'm in no position to point fingers. And, as any fuel know, I'm still lifting stuff left and right, but I stick to mostly dead guys, these days. So pip pip, cheerio, and let's all drink up, to this tempest in a teacup. Thanks for the well-considered and thoughtful responses, and nice to see you all again-
Edel Rodriguez November 22, 2006
"Might've seen a piece or two of mine at some point along the way" HA!!!! Hey Mark, we're keeping your seat warm here...
Rob Dunlavey November 22, 2006
Thanks Mark for setting us all straight and leaving me in a good thankful mood heading into this most American of holidays. Dale, you have an interesting voice/opinions. Sorry about what happened. I do suggest you move on from the "nA" stance though. I, for one, get it and it gets old (I first thought "nA" was JC on his meds!). Glad you're contributing. Be Thankful for good work, good competition, thoughtful colleagues who aren't necessarily good dance partners, and that Staake is driving --or is it Annu?. Cheers!