Monday, June 4, 2012

What Constitues 'Stealing' in the Youtube Beauty Community?

I was surprised to wake up this morning to quite a heated controversy. Did Pixiwoo 'steal' from Lisa Eldridge? Comments are flying, people are taking sides...after all, two of Youtube's finest beauty channels are being discussed here. It's not a typical catty battle between bedroom-based teens at each other's throats. There are valid professional claims and plagiarism concerns. Or are there?

First, here are the two videos that started the debate. Watch them with as unbiased an eye as possible and refrain from reading the comments, if you can.

Lisa Eldridge's video was posted first. A seemingly quite basic and flawless application of face makeup on problem skin:

Pixiwoo posted this video last week, dealing w/ the same subject:

Let me openly state that I am a HUGE fan of all of these ladies. Both channels contain a wealth of information, professionally represented, and featuring expert application tips. There is no doubt that Lisa, Sam, and Nic all have wonderful skills and that regardless of the number of years they have individually been in the industry-all are gifted. Lisa is my favorite makeup artist on the planet, but I'll admit that it is her passion for the past that has drawn me to her, rather than her fantastic skills as a makeup artist. She's a phenomenal artist, a master of technique, a soothing personality. These things are what initially made me a viewer, yes. But seeing her collection of vintage makeup, her love of history, and her videos dealing w/ authentic application of these products is what put her on a bit of a pedestal in my eyes. That said, I want to make it clear that I am not 'taking sides' in this particular matter because in all honesty, I'm not sure that there is really an issue.

When I first saw Pixiwoo's video on Saturday, I immediately thought of Lisa's. But not because I felt it was too similar or that it was a 'stolen vision'. I simply was interested to see how and what products Nic would use to accomplish the same task. I did not feel the film quality, direction, or background was 'stolen' either. Pixiwoo and Lisa have both been using white backgrounds for ages and it's one of the things that in my opinion, gives their videos a professional look. They are by no means the only gurus on Youtube making videos w/ great lighting and white backgrounds, but they are the most memorable due to their engaging personalities and consistent quality. Now if Lisa used a customized background featuring a boldly designed logo and then Pixiwoo started doing the same thing, I might feel differently. But when it comes to something as simple as black or white...nah.

As far as content goes, techniques and beauty philosophies are seemingly shared, at least in part, by most makeup artists. This does not stifle individuality or creativity but since the beauty industry has evolved over time, certain features of application success have become tried and true. Because of this, there will undoubtedly be similarities in most professional video tutorials, while still allowing for artistic differences from which we can take inspiration. Artists are also unabashedly inspired by other artists, and usually will give credit where it's due (Pixiwoo have done this on many ocassions, as has Lisa). If they don't give credit for something we see as similar, they have nothing for which to apologize. There is also such a thing as 'parallel thinking' in addition to standard technical proceess.

It was also pointed out since this controversy came out, that Pixiwoo did a 'No Makeup Makeup' look closely following Lisa's and that this too was 'stolen'. I've seen both videos and again, did not see the latter look as a 'copy' at all. MANY channels have done a look titled similarly and containing very similar techniques. They are not as renowned nor do they have the publicity; therefore they don't get the flack. Sad.

So now you know my feelings on it. But what then constitutes 'stealing', when it comes to Youtube tutorials? I'd be hard pressed to give answer. When I started making videos and gaining some views, I noticed that quite a few tutorials began to surface featuring a similar look to my filming style. I was bothered at first, but then decided that while I may have been one of the first 'vintage gals' on Youtube, I took my inspiration from a ton of other ladies over the years (both on Youtube and elsewhere) and would feel hurt if someone claimed I had stolen my video style or my content from any of them. It's so much easier just to admire, be inspired, and co-exist(giving credit where it's due and if we forget...hopefully being forgiven?).

Can't we all just get along?