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Art Student Told She Should Be ‘Flattered’ After Lecturer Allegedly Plagiarizes Her Painting

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Pablo Picasso allegedly once said “bad artists copy, good artists steal”.

Genius that he was, stealing being the mark of being a good artist is a highly questionable concept, as plagiarism can get you into very serious trouble.

Particularly at colleges and universities.

Redditor biggerbiggerlarge was less than thrilled to discover that one of her paintings for her art class was copied by a very surprising individual.

After confronting the culprit about this, the original poster (OP) was dismayed to hear that not only did this individual make almost no effort to deny any wrongdoing, but even went so far as to tell the OP that she should be “flattered” if someone wanted to copy their work.

Questioning whether or not she had the right to be as upset as she was in this ordeal, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for saying my lecturer plagiarized my painting?”

The OP explained how they were more than a little shocked by an email sent out by one of her lecturers, as it featured a painting which looked eerily familiar to one of her own.

“So I (19 F[emale]) am in art school.”

“I do fine arts and a couple weeks ago we had our final semester test.”

“We were given topics and we had to paint accordingly within 3.5 hours.”

“So I did.”

“Back to now, yesterday morning I opened the telegram group she has for people in her class and her sending picture of a painting as reference for people in her other class.”

“I was shocked to see that the painting was so similar to mine.”

“The building, the shape of it, the surroundings.”

“Even the little details were similar.”

“Only the colors were different.”

“Apparently it was her own painting that she gave to the students as reference.”

“I then took a screenshot and sent to a couple of friends to make sure my eyes weren’t fooling me.”

“They confirmed they both looked extremely similar.”

“So in the evening i messaged her privately to talk to her about it.’

“I asked her if I was credited for this painting at all.”

“She questioned as to why I needed to be credited.”

“I told her exactly why.”

“She then told me that she only took ‘inspiration’ from my painting and that I had no proof as to whether she actually took my painting as her own.”

‘She kept saying I was accusing her of something she isn’t doing and that she is my lecturer and why would she do that.”

“And she said ‘even if i did use your painting , shouldn’t you be flattered?'”

“To me its not a big deal that she used it as reference or didn’t even mention my name.”

“I would’ve appreciated if my painting was even shown or at least used as the reference instead.”

“But I still feel bad because its true that my painting was good enough to be used as a reference for other people.”

“So AITA?”

“As to whether this painting is from a picture, it isn’t.”

“The structural part of the building wasn’t completely all my own imagination but I did combine a lot of different structures together to make one unique structure so unless she found all the references I found and made the same unique edits I did for them then sure she could’ve done the same thing.”

“Except for the building which required aid and research, the details and the general expression of the painting were all completely my own idea.”

“My concern here isn’t really to report her to higher ups or even to even get her fired.”

“I don’t need any of that.”

“I would just like to know if I’m being irrational about her taking my work as her own for her classes.”

“I would’ve appreciated if mine was even shown or credited in some way.”

“I feel like my hard work was now credited to someone who didn’t do it.”

“Thats all.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The Reddit community agreed that the OP had every right to be upset, and was in no way the a**hole.

Everyone agreed that even if it’s not the outcome she wants, the OP should by all means report her lecturer, who they agreed absolutely deserves to be fired.

“In an American university I would tell you to go straight to your advisor.”

“They would be the ones to contact whoever needs to know about this.”


“If you have an advisor let them know about this.”- Substantial_Speed_79


“Isn’t plagiarism in post-secondary schools a serious offense?”

“She shouldn’t get off scot-free just because she’s your lecturer, that seems wildly unfair.”

“At the LEAST she should give you credit, but she should have asked you beforehand or just not copied you in the first place.”

“If it seriously bothers you, I wouldn’t hesitate to go above her with this issue.”

“It’s YOUR art and YOUR hard work and she’s just piggybacking off your effort and giving you none of the credit.”

“It sounds infuriating.”- castiela


“Screenshot the private messages between you and perhaps speak to someone at the university?”

“Or, if you have a tutor I would discuss the matter with them and they can advise you on whether this needs to be raised higher.”

“This doesn’t feel right.”- anotherpageturner


“I’m a firm believer that two people can come up with the exact same idea.”

“But between her getting so defensive and all of the details you put in your painting, that’s clearly not the case.”

“She’s basically saying ‘I’m not creative enough to come up with my own ideas so I’m going to steal yours’.”

“Those people are the worst.”- Pinetree218

“NTA and report her to her superiors.”

“This is a major ethical issue, and one that she needs to be held accountable for.”

‘It’s bigger than just your painting.”

“There is a chance she has done this before or may do it again.”

“She’s taken advantage of your work to pass it off as her own.”

“Get your proof together, as she may already be trying to cover her tracks and make it appear that you plagiarized off of her.”

“This conduct is unbecoming of a teacher.”- ChapSteve711


“It’s your original work, and she should at least have told you about the fact that she was using it.”-RedFlag_


“Her responses are all the proof you need.”- 9okm


“Go to the department chair.”

“This is a big deal.”

“If she’s done this to you she has definitely done it before.”- Encartrus


“If the conversation occurred on telegram, messages can be deleted without a trace or edited.”

“Gather evidence don’t let it be removed.”

“Also majorly NTA.”- Ianzhous


“Once someone starts with the alternative defenses like ‘even if I did do it, such-and-such-defense’, you just know that they’re full of it.”- MrKrory


“Go above her head.”- Eliyrian


“The teacher basically admitted to it.”

“I would be so angry if someone did that to me and would be petty and report her.”- AMCVart


“It IS a big issue and someone with no sense of intellectual property should not be allowed to be a lecturer.”

“She admitted to plagiarizing your work when she asked shouldn’t you be flattered.”

“As a fellow artist, please escalate this to administration and do not let go of the matter until she’s reprimanded.”- p3tiitp0iis


“Art professors should know better than anyone the rules about plagiarism.”

“What she did is illegal.”

“In the US it would be expensive to take her to court.”

“In the European Union they have laws that make it easier financially for artists to prosecute.”

“I think you just want your professor to stop using it or give you credit.”

“Go to the dean.”

“I would also go to the dean now in case she decides to mess with your grade.”-Sea_Yesterday_8888


“Academic dishonesty is academic dishonesty, the same in fine arts as it is with written work.”

“This needs to be reported.”- Ippus_21



“It doesn’t matter who your work inspired they should credit you and the inspo!”

I make the quilt myself, my hobby, but if I hang it in a show I credit the fabric designer, the pattern designer and my long arm quilter as they all helped in their own way to make this quilt.”

Either the fabric was my inspo, or I loved the pattern I saw for sale.”

“They AND YOU deserve the credit you worked so hard for.”

“Be strong, sending you extra strength to stand up for your work!”

“I believe in you!”- Accomplished-Dog3715

One can’t help but wonder if a teacher who flagrantly copies the work of one of her students is qualified to be teaching.

One can only hope the OP musters up the courage to report this, as this is a much bigger issue than simply copying a painting.

This seems like a pretty serious instance of ethical misconduct.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.