Crediting artists on Twitter destroys the medium, says Elon Musk

2B - Nier Automata
[Image: Meli Magali]

Do you like the look of the image above? It's called 2B - Nier Automata, and it's by Meli Magali. Crediting artists like that is not only easy, it's also good practice for the creative community in general. One person who doesn't agree though is tech billionaire Elon Musk, who stirred up a Twitter storm recently by refusing to credit Magali for her amazing work.

It all started when Musk tweeted a picture of Magali's artwork on 15 June. When someone likes your work enough to want to share it around, that's usually going to make an artist feel good. And when that person in question has a whopping 27 million followers, the reaction should be one of overwhelming gratitude.

After all, an audience of 27 million people isn't easy to come by. And having a celebrity share your art gives your work an immediate sense of clout. If one of the richest people on the planet likes your art techniques, you must be doing something right... right?

However the experience was bittersweet for Magali. Her art might have been shared by an influential person, but with no credit, the whole experience had been tainted. The artist shared her reaction in a tweet that balances disbelief with irritation.

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You'll notice that Musk has since deleted his original tweet. That's because the story doesn't end there. Shortly after Musk shared the image, which he had cryptically captioned with "2b", Twitter users were quick to rally around Magali and demand that he credit her.

Sounds like a reasonable request to us. But for the man behind Tesla, this was apparently too much of a tall order. His reply was initially a curt decline.

Twitter response by Elon Musk

It's not asking for the earth, is it? [Image: Kotaku]

But it quickly escalated into the outrageous. Social media users took issue with Musk's refusal to credit Magali, so he replied with one of the most baffling leaps of logic we've seen in quite some time.

Elon Musk Twitter reply

Where to begin? [Image: Kotaku]

The issue isn't so much that Musk didn't credit Magali. Lots of people share art without crediting the creator, even though chances are the artist wouldn't mind a shout out. You could argue that the inability to edit tweets is destroying the medium, but as for crediting artists? Nah, we're not buying it.

The problem here is that Musk stubbornly refused to add a credit when people asked for one. There's no reason not to do so. All it would take is a few seconds to type Magali's name, press tweet, and hey presto, everyone's happy.

He wouldn't even have to include a link to her Twitter profile or Artstation page. Although we'd argue that, with 27 million followers, this would've been the courteous thing to do. Either way, it would've saved Musk from the headache of dealing with angry notifications.

Having said that, it looks like Magali has got the art of self-promotion down. In the wake of this Twitter storm, she's set up a pinned tweet that showcases her work and links to her portfolio. We've already seen how a pinned tweet can win you new work, so here's hoping Magali will land lots of clients off the back of all this drama.

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Musk later claimed to have deleted his Twitter account over the situation. But given that he did this via a now deleted tweet, we're taking his announcement with a pinch of salt.

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Dom Carter

Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.