@magnolia777 submitted:

Enthralling Victor from Magic the Gathering. Now that is what I call empowerment.

It’s good that they realized that in order to be a truly empowered hero, he needed fabulous hair and immaculate grooming too!

– wincenworks

themystisk:

I would just like to point out that WotC have addressed the state of dress that characters in the art for their cards are in, and for all of their other merchandise for that matter. They simply commission an artist to draw, say “Elf rogue in cityscape”, that the artist then hands them a female in skimpy leather armor, isn’t their fault. Essentially, they give the artists pretty free reins, and if they manage to fit the description given, it usually goes through. So blame the artists, not WotC.

I assume you’re referring to this blather where Matt Cavotta tried to explain that he didn’t want to be responsible for his decisions are Creative Lead and basically didn’t want to do his job (which is probably why he isn’t the creative lead anywhere anymore).  He also admits (Myth #5) that he doesn’t speak for Wizards of the Coast (WotC), just himself.

If you actually read it though, there’s a few very damning points here and a lot of strawmanning and standard issue rhetoric while throwing his fellow artists under the bus.  See how he keeps referencing the style guide and saying “Well they’re not doing anything they’re not allowed to… creative freedom!”

Style guides are not brief little guidelines with just a few bullet points and “be creative” in bold letters, they’re actually quite carefully constructed and complicated documents and contain many restrictions. 

image

Some examples:

  • Avoid making things look high-tech or sci-fi. Magic stretches the definition of “fantasy,” but there are limits.
  • Don’t use real-world letters or symbols. This includes religious symbols such as crosses and ankhs.
  • Keep gore at a PG-13 level.
  • Because we sell Magic cards in China, please avoid prominently representing human skulls or full skeletons.

And of course:

  • Make an effort to illustrate a variety of races, genders, ages, and body types.
  • Feel free to paint beautiful women, as long as they’re shown kicking ass. No damsels in distress. No ridiculously exaggerated breasts. No nudity.
  • Despite all the do’s and don’ts, we want you to have fun! If you want to experiment or bend a rule, just run your idea by the art director.
image

See, art directors and their bosses are supposed to supplement guides and provide guidance to artists so that the artist creates the best possible product for the company and the artist themselves.  It helps to fix mistakes and smooth out issues, this one was an issue in 2005 when Matt made his statement and it’s continued to be one.

Now, there are several things that WotC can and should have done before 2005 to fix this.  By could I mean both as part of being a responsible company and in terms of trying to maintain brand image and profits:

  • Amend the standard style guide to be more specific about the depictions of women
  • Tell the art directors, creative leads and other creative staff to be vigilant about this issue and to pro-actively provide guidance to the contracted artists
  • Include a separate document in the artist package stating their concerns and expectations specifically depictions of female characters
image

WotC easily had the infrastructure to do this by 2000 – I know this because I worked for WotC in the early 2000s (up until July 2005 in fact) as an online chat room moderator and even in this minor role I had to sign an NDA, memorize pages of regulations and undergo supervised training.  When I left, they were not slowing down on that in the slightest.

This has nothing to do with Wizards of the Coast wanting to be a cool relaxed company, or offer artist freedom or being somehow unable to make decisions on what they do and don’t publish – it’s that they simply haven’t cared to properly address this issue and set high standards for things other than being viable to sell in China and Walmart.

image

They publish things, they are responsible for the what they publish. It’s that simple. They have more power than the artists over what gets published because they have the ability to refuse, crop or edit submitted artwork – artists, on the other hand, can only get published if they meet the publisher’s expectations… and then it might get cropped or edited.

– wincenworks

Also, themystisk​, even if the nonsense you wrote somehow WAS true, it would still prove our point:

  • It would mean that Wizards of the Coast is completely irresponsible with how they conduct art commissions (because apparently they don’t care at all about what artwork is produced with their money). Such a sound business practice!
  • It would also mean that fantasy artists are by default all pervy and whenever asked to draw anything remotely female, they deliver “the sexy”, even when not asked for sexyness specifically.

Either way, it’s part of a larger problem with media’s and society’s expectations towards women. Blaming random bad artists for it is just a disingenuous, oversimplified answer and offers no solutions to the issue.

~Ozzie

I would just like to point out that WotC have addressed the state of dress that characters in the art for their cards are in, and for all of their other merchandise for that matter. They simply commission an artist to draw, say “Elf rogue in cityscape”, that the artist then hands them a female in skimpy leather armor, isn’t their fault. Essentially, they give the artists pretty free reins, and if they manage to fit the description given, it usually goes through. So blame the artists, not WotC.

I assume you’re referring to this blather where Matt Cavotta tried to explain that he didn’t want to be responsible for his decisions are Creative Lead and basically didn’t want to do his job (which is probably why he isn’t the creative lead anywhere anymore).  He also admits (Myth #5) that he doesn’t speak for Wizards of the Coast (WotC), just himself.

If you actually read it though, there’s a few very damning points here and a lot of strawmanning and standard issue rhetoric while throwing his fellow artists under the bus.  See how he keeps referencing the style guide and saying “Well they’re not doing anything they’re not allowed to… creative freedom!”

Style guides are not brief little guidelines with just a few bullet points and “be creative” in bold letters, they’re actually quite carefully constructed and complicated documents and contain many restrictions. 

image

Some examples:

  • Avoid making things look high-tech or sci-fi. Magic stretches the definition of “fantasy,” but there are limits.
  • Don’t use real-world letters or symbols. This includes religious symbols such as crosses and ankhs.
  • Keep gore at a PG-13 level.
  • Because we sell Magic cards in China, please avoid prominently representing human skulls or full skeletons.

And of course:

  • Make an effort to illustrate a variety of races, genders, ages, and body types.
  • Feel free to paint beautiful women, as long as they’re shown kicking ass. No damsels in distress. No ridiculously exaggerated breasts. No nudity.
  • Despite all the do’s and don’ts, we want you to have fun! If you want to experiment or bend a rule, just run your idea by the art director.
image

See, art directors and their bosses are supposed to supplement guides and provide guidance to artists so that the artist creates the best possible product for the company and the artist themselves.  It helps to fix mistakes and smooth out issues, this one was an issue in 2005 when Matt made his statement and it’s continued to be one.

Now, there are several things that WotC can and should have done before 2005 to fix this.  By could I mean both as part of being a responsible company and in terms of trying to maintain brand image and profits:

  • Amend the standard style guide to be more specific about the depictions of women
  • Tell the art directors, creative leads and other creative staff to be vigilant about this issue and to pro-actively provide guidance to the contracted artists
  • Include a separate document in the artist package stating their concerns and expectations specifically depictions of female characters
image

WotC easily had the infrastructure to do this by 2000 – I know this because I worked for WotC in the early 2000s (up until July 2005 in fact) as an online chat room moderator and even in this minor role I had to sign an NDA, memorize pages of regulations and undergo supervised training.  When I left, they were not slowing down on that in the slightest.

This has nothing to do with Wizards of the Coast wanting to be a cool relaxed company, or offer artist freedom or being somehow unable to make decisions on what they do and don’t publish – it’s that they simply haven’t cared to properly address this issue and set high standards for things other than being viable to sell in China and Walmart.

image

They publish things, they are responsible for the what they publish. It’s that simple. They have more power than the artists over what gets published because they have the ability to refuse, crop or edit submitted artwork – artists, on the other hand, can only get published if they meet the publisher’s expectations… and then it might get cropped or edited.

– wincenworks

Also, themystisk​, even if the nonsense you wrote somehow WAS true, it would still prove our point:

  • It would mean that Wizards of the Coast is completely irresponsible with how they conduct art commissions (because apparently they don’t care at all about what artwork is produced with their money). Such a sound business practice!
  • It would also mean that fantasy artists are by default all pervy and whenever asked to draw anything remotely female, they deliver “the sexy”, even when not asked for sexyness specifically.

Either way, it’s part of a larger problem with media’s and society’s expectations towards women. Blaming random bad artists for it is just a disingenuous, oversimplified answer and offers no solutions to the issue.

~Ozzie