Everybody needs to make a living. Some people make a living as an illustrator. Still others make a living illustrating like other illustrators. Chris Gash is just such a fellow, making a living illustrating in the same style as the well established illustrator, Mark Matcho. People who watch illustration (there are probably a dozen or so) are well-aware of Matcho and also most likely aware that Gash does Matcho pretty well. Not a big deal, really. It happens in all walks of life. Copying someone who's popular to make your way in life, it's bound to happen.
What normally happens with illustrators who make a living by working in the style of a popular illustrator, is that they work along the fringes of publishing. They work the small magazines, much like a Kiss cover band gets to play the local clubs, but not much more.
But, when an internationally recognized and well respected magazine like US News & World Report decides to hire Gash for a multi-page, three spot story (November 27, 2006 issue - pages 67-74), it might give the hard working professionals, who've staked a lot of time and money on refining and promoting their unique style, a bit of pause. The Kiss cover band is suddenly playing Madison Square Garden. What’s happened here?
No doubt about it, the excellent art directors (and they are excellent) at USN have known about Matcho for years. The man promotes himself well. He's been at the drawing board for almost twenty years now. And, also without a doubt, the art department of USN is aware that Gash is lifting the stylistic chops of Matcho to make a living. Anyone with an eye for art can spot the alarming similarities without effort.
So, let me ask a question. If Matcho is Kiss, and Gash is the cover band, and US News really is Madison Square Garden, hasn’t everybody that bought a ticket just gotten ripped off?
The sad conclusion that I reluctantly arrive at is that USN simply doesn't care that much. The public won’t know the difference, unless they’re sitting on the front row like myself. It looks like Kiss from the cheap seats. Who cares? Right?
Well, I for one want my money back.
- Chris Gash