Who or what is Adcom?
Adcom is a creative training institute that uses artwork tracing as a method of learning. This is not something new or unheard of.
But Adcom has gone beyond the pale by using traced works in their advertising.
What exactly has happened?
When confronted by Lau on Facebook, Adcom did not take any action beyond an apology, going so far to dismiss their “copying” as a simple training exercise.
It’s more than that. It’s harmful.
Why is this harmful?
- Using traced and copied art in promotional material misleads the viewing public to their first and original creative source.
- It legitimises traced works as 100% original, again without acknowledging their source.
- It insults the effort put in by the original artist, whose art is being effectively used without their knowledge or permission for the profit of a third party.
- It does a grave disservice to any original creative efforts of its staff and students, wittingly or unwittingly making them accomplice to art theft.
- It is professionally unethical, and sets a bad example for the current and coming generation of creative professionals.
- As Todd Lockwood pointed out in a Facebook share, these acts weaken or destroy copyright protection. (Thanks to the Facebooker who alerted us to this point!)
But it was just once, right?
Upon further investigation, it’s possible that Adcom has done this at least
three four times:
- Student work, March 2012, vs Wang Wei’s Hellboy illustration
- Student work, Feb 2012, vs Olev Shekhovtsov’s God of Pretence
- Student work, Dec 2011, vs Dave Allsop’s Cemetery Reaper
- Student work, Jan 2012, vs Tiago Hoisel’s Chico Bento
So what can I do?
Please reblog, link, tweet or share this blog within and beyond your circle. This is especially important for those working or residing in Malaysia and Singapore, as a creative professional of any capacity.
If you see an Adcom ad with content you have seen elsewhere, let the maintainer know through the ask/submit button.
Also feel free to contact Adcom   and make your case, politely: that their use of traced/copied material in promotional items cannot be condoned and must not be repeated, and that their inaction at policing student works—or condoning the use of traced work in advertising—helps nobody. In fact it hinders not just themselves, but the regional creative industry as a whole.
Who’s behind this, anyway?
Just another young Malaysian professional. It does me no good to point out the failings of my industry and its ethics. But art theft affects us all, and I cannot keep my silence on a problem that seriously affects others in my field.