When I was in high school, I remember hearing about a student who had written all the answers to a test on a pencil. No one ever saw it but it was talked about for the longest time. Another student typed up a cheat sheet with 6-point font, rolled it up, and hid it in their water bottle sleeve.

The very lengths people go to in order to cheat to avoid putting in the work of studying is sometimes so outstanding that you often wonder if it would have taken less effort to actually study.

Regardless of the method, everyone was in agreement on what was considered to be cheating on a test or closed notes assignment, but can we say the same thing about art?

I have heard artists and art critics on one side who say there is no such thing as cheating in art, and on the opposite side artists/critics who claim that using any sort of visual reference is cheating.

Well, there’s a reason art is one of those subjects that is referred to as subjective.

Is using the grid method to enlarge your sketched out thumbnail considered cheating? Some people say yes, some people say no.

Is digital painting considered cheating? Again, some say yes some say no.




“What if I made them myself?”



See how confusing and subjective this can get?

Do I plan on solving one of the most argued points in a blog post? No, I do not think I could even cover each point, the only point I hope to make is what seems to be the common denominators in most points of argument.

Let’s go back to high school for a second, remember that teacher who wouldn’t let calculators be used in their class and made everyone show EVERY step to every problem? Unless you happened to be a math wiz this was the teacher that students either loved at the end of the semester or resigned themselves to just being happy the semester was over.

Why? Because at the end of the semester those that were happy put the work in and actually learned how versatile an equation like y=mx+b can be, and intern was grateful for the teacher. The other half didn’t understand why they could not use a calculator was not allowed to solve even the basic formulas in order to save time.


Want to know a secret? Neither party was really right.

Your accountant probably got a degree in math but is still going to use a program to calculate your taxes.


Art is not math but does it have fundamentals that are still important to learn? Yes! If a professional artist chooses to focus their time with paint and color rather than spending the time sketching the subject from memory and using a still life reference; is that considered cheating?


What if someone chooses to focus their time on sketching so they choose to use a program to add in color?


Art is not simple, and does not have a finite answer therefore one cannot definitively say an artist cheats or not.

Let me know what you think in the comments or feel free to send me an e-mail!

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