A Quick Diversion:

Just a quick little site update notice… I’ve added two new pages in the sidebar:

  • Nick15’s Store — Eventually I plan on creating an online store where I’ll be selling PA!-related merch and whatnot. But in the mean time, it’ll be a place where I can share my current eBay auctions and other eBay-related stuff to buy. If you want some really awesome tech and gaming stuff, check it out!
  • Pokémon TCG Blanks Download — When the time comes when I upload all of the various new blanks I’ll be sharing with everyone, such as my Neo Redux blanks, you can find them there. You’ll also see what other blank ideas I have planned for the future, including Shadowless Classic blanks, which apparently no one else has made after all these years! You can even see an example of a Shadowless Classic blanks on the right there… however, I’ll be working on those AFTER I finish the Japanese-style Neo Redux blanks, which are coming soon!

OK, that’s all of my minor site updates that I have to share. Onto the other fake card business!


The Actual News:

Ah yes, the classic 1991 song by Naughty by Nature, “O.P.P…F”. Ever see the cover for the single? Check it out on the right there; they CLEARLY were talking about “Other People’s Pokémon Fakes”! You can even see blank Pokémon TCG cards in their hands. In fact, this was the song that inspired me to make Pokémon TCG fake cards to begin with. Er… never mind the fact that the song was released in 1991 and Pokémon wasn’t a thing until 1996. This is totally a real album cover, you gotta take my word on that!

But anyways, I’m actually here to talk about two really nifty fake card makers who’ve really peaked my interests for the kind of work they do. And, curiously enough, both of them also just happen to come from Italy of all places! What the….? What is it with Italy and making really nifty Pokémon fake cards?? Not that I’m complaining… but maybe it’s all the Renaissance-rich water they’re drinking… full of important vitamins and minerals like marble and idealism. Hopefully some of it rubs off on your’s truly. Huzzah!


Pika Pika by Arianna

This one came from old skool PA! superfan and current “random Pokémon news discoverer”, Sylvie Wolf—aka chronikerDelta on Twitter—who spotted the following advertisement on Facebook:

Oh my goodness… selling fakes based on a customer’s own pet? …. What a wonderfully brilliant idea! For the record, this isn’t a sponsored post, but rather me being legitimately impressed with the small business that Arianna has put together here! If you’re interested in getting your own Pokémon-esque fake card made of your own pet, then you can check out Arianna’s online store, as well as her Facebook and Instagram accounts. Good stuff, good times!

 

But wait, selling fakes? Is that OK??

Truth be told, however, what got Sylvie to contact me about her discovery was because she had questions on whether something like this is OK to do. Afterall, during the old skool days of PA!, I took a strong stance against selling fake cards as they weren’t exactly mine to sell. However, over the past twenty or so years, the world of selling fan art has changed quite a bit. The legalities might remain the same, but things are a lot more nuanced, and companies that own popular franchises and IPs are a lot less willing to litigate against fans (though it doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention).

So, is what Arianna doing OK? Well, before I give any answer, I want to mention that I’m not a lawyer, and even if I was, the following information should not be taken as proper legal advice in lieu of that which comes from a/your lawyer. Rather, this is more of a general rule of thumb, or perhaps stories of my own experiences concerning this, as well as the experiences from friends who also sell fan art. With that out of the way…

Basically, yes, Arianna is OK to do what she’s doing. Frankly what she does, she does well, and I commend her for being able to turn it into a business like she has. So, yay!

Now the thing is, initially both Sylvie and I had thought that maybe Arianna might be treding on thin ice; her advertisement appeared to utilize actual Pokémon TCG art assets, and that is something of a big no-no. But upon further insepction on her website—a quick screenshot of her site is below—and by the looks of it, her products do seem to utilize 100% her own assets and 0% anyone else’s.

In my experience, I feel like nearly all of the problems that come with using popular yet trademarks characters or ideas, etc, and whether or not companies send a cease-and-desist letter out to a fan artist, is based on one of two things; of course copyright and trademark laws, artist rights, fair use, etc, adds a lot of nuance to the situation, but speaking generally, these two concerns tends to appear the most:

  • The artist is creating a product that directly interferes with the company’s ability to make money
  • The artist is using assets that the company produced themselves, and therefore putting little to none of the artist’s own effort into their work

The former issue generally boils down to potential customers of a fan artists who are not made aware that the fan art is NOT an official product, perhaps because the fan art uses the “official style” and therefore confusing customers into thinking that the fan artist IS an official artist for the franchise. Other times it’s because the fan artist is working on a fan project that is too similar to a currently existing or planned official project. The latter issue is generally as simple as using utilizing artwork, code, video, etc that the fan artist did NOT create on their own, but lifted it from official sources.

A perfect example of a fan artist that unabashedly crossed both lines was: a particular fan artist (who shall remaining anonymous) attempted to sell a poster of the entire cast of “Adventure Time” that they drew. However, the art style they used was almost exactly the same as the official art style. Frankly, it was SO close that it was frankly hard to dismiss any claims that the fan artist didn’t utilize any official “Adventure Time” assets. Furthermore, the fan art piece was not significantly distinctive in any other way, like perhaps placing the cast of “Adventure Time” in the world of “Robocop”, but was instead about as “normal” as an “Adventure Time” picture could be; this in turn would very easily interfere with Cartoon Network’s ability to sell their own posters of the entire cast of “Adventure Time”. Because the fan artist was so brazenly willing to sell a fan art piece which would have interfered with Cartoon Network’s ability to make money—as “passer-byers” might not realize that the picture was NOT an official art piece—and it could be strongly argued that the fan art used official “Adventure Time” assets, Cartoon Network ultimately stepped in to shut it down.

Knowing this, fan artists can, in turn, reduce their chances of getting a strongly worded letter by a franchise owner by:

  • making sure their fan art does NOT interfere with the company’s ability to make money
    • in particular, anyone who attempts to sell their fan art is able to make it unambiguously clear that the customer is buying an unofficial product
    • the fan artist should also be conscious of what official projects are being products, and NOT making anything similar to it; for example, maybe an official “Adventure Time × Robocop” crossover isn’t in the works right now, but should it happen, your own “AT×RC” fan art needs to be retired
  • the fan art doesn’t utilize assets created by the company itself
    • this can be as simple just drawing everything yourself, going as far as making it look very much unlike official art so that no reasonable person could assume that you used official assets

But ultimately, in both circumstances, whether or not a fan artist can get away with doing something is as simple as how far the owner of a franchise or IP is willing to protect themselves. For example, there is a huge ROM hacking community for the Sonic the Hedgehog games, going as far as SEGA allowing some of those fans to produce official Sonic games, including Sonic Mania. On the other hand, Square Enix is highly protective of their IPs, shutting down any kind of ROM hacking project that utilizes their IP or assets, such as Chrono Ressurrection and Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes. SEGA and Square Enix are perhaps the best examples of the two extremes—at least within the gaming community—of what a company is willing to allow fans to do with their products and franchise. On the books fan products may all be of questionable legality, but clearly SEGA has far less interest in litigating fans over it than Square Enix does. And perhaps more importantly, it seems as if more and more companies are following in SEGA’s steps than Square Enix’s when it comes to what extent they are willing to protect their rights from being used in fan projects.

PHEW! That was a mouthful. But how does this relate to Arianna?

Again, Sylvie and I were concerned that perhaps Arianna was using TPCi assets in her work, as that would draw attention from Nintendo and TPCi (and it would be a shame to see that happen!). But fortunately she is not; all card assets appear to be completely of her own design. Frankly that is what I would do too if I were to sell my cards… er, rather, it’s what I will do, as I’m definitely planning on selling fakes. The thing is, what matters is that potential customers don’t mistaken your work for the real deal; the best first step is making sure you don’t use actual assets, as that would make is very hard to differentiate your fan art from an actual, official product. It’s definitely even more safer to make your own assets look different, and the more different it looks, the safer things get. That said, that would be the most Arianna would have to worry about; since her business model is to make “Pokémon”-esque cards based on the pets of her clients, this isn’t something that TPCi nor Nintendo is in the business of doing, so there isn’t much of a potential for Arianna to interfere with TPCi and Nintendo’s ability to earn money off selling Pokémon TCG cards.

So, long story short, I think Arianna is pretty safe to continue to work on her fan project. Again, nothing is absolute, and I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not claiming Arianna or anyone else selling fakes is completely in the clear. But if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on selling fakes as a reasonably safe fan art business endeavour, moreso now than ever before. With that said, since I’m putting my money on a safe bet, maybe you could put YOUR money towards getting a fake card made of your pet!

 


ThP’s Castle of Cards

Sorry for the lengthy discussion on copyright and fan art… frankly this was something I’ve been meaning to discuss, and Arianna’s fakes was a perfect opportunity. ThP’s Castle of Cards, on the other hand, only inspires me to gush over the high quality of his work. And gush I will!

ThP’s Castle of Cards is run by Federico Lezzi De Masi, and what initially caught my eye was when Frederico has posted a Forretress fake card he made using my own Mayakashi Edition Forretress as his inspiration. Take a look!

 

In case you can’t see the tweet, or at least so you can compare Federico’s Forretress with my Mayakashi Forretress, you can check them out below:

Aw man, you can’t imagine how honored I felt to see such a wonderful faker making a card based on one of my own cards. It’s a nice coincidence too, because round about almost literally 20 years ago, I had originally released that Forretress fake. Check out my news post about it below:

Monday, February 5th, 2001
Posted by: Nick15 PA! v4.6.2
Here’s What’s New for Today…

• Two Fakes Du Jour / Bagworm?

Two Fakes Du Jour Fake Cards – 12 Midnight PST
Can someone explain to me why these are called “bagworms”?

Today’s cards are Pineco and Forretress.

Pineco #87/200
Forretress #88/200
More Mayakashi Edition Cards

Well, a break from painting and a revisit to the ever-so-popular 3d-CGI pictures.

Pineco… so the second attack isn’t all that original. I had to find a really good Bug-type attack for Pineco that Pineco actually knew how to use in the Game Boy game, and so Pin Missle was the one I chose. But, I added the Swagger attack as a useful back up for Pin Missle. Not only do you get a chance at extra damage (a possible 160 damage total), but also you can use it to confuse your opponent. How many damage boosting attacks can do that? ;)

Forretress a really keen Steel Pokemon. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to complete the entire Pokemon in time, so I did a really dramatic front-view version of it. Sla. …. Spikes is close to what it does in the GB game. Barbed Wire is a REALLY keen attack. Are you good at flipping heads? Good! In 3 turns, Forretress will do 80 damage. …. The deal with that attack is that with each heads flipped after you attack, the base damage is doubled. So if you do 20 damage, a head will let it do 40 damage. Then if you flip a head again, it’ll double to 80. Another head mean 160 damage. And so on. However don’t get a tails or else it’ll go back down to 20 damage. Hee hee!

Ok, that’s it for now. Stop by for the next update for more fake cards. I’ll surprise you this time, I won’t tell you what it is. Hee hee!

 

Hee hee! That said, one thing I left out of my original post was, one reason why I zoomed into Forretress’ face like that was because… well, I didn’t know how to design Forretress’ shell in CG like that. So instead of designing its entire shell, I decided to just design the metal “ribbing” covering its face, as well as a flat square for a face and two spheres for eyes. Easy peasy, eh?

All that said, Federico’s faking prowess isn’t limited to homages of my fakes… in fact, his entire series of fakes are based on the various prototype Pokémon seen in the recently dumped GS ROMS, similar to my planned Space World Block Set.

If his fakes tickle your fancy, then be sure to check him out on Twitter and Instagram. He also has a Twitch account that’s worth checking out. Good times!

 


Alreet, that’s all I have to share with you this time. Two great fakers doing great things with their faking. Great! Maybe I should start getting started with my own fakes soon? Well, just as soon as I stop being so lazy…!