Did Jake Parker plagiarise Alphonso Dunn's book?

Update Oct 2022: The legal case has ended and Dunn wasn't able to prove that Parker violated his copyright. More info here

I was alerted by a follower on Instagram that Alphonso Dunn has put out a video (below) alleging that Jake Parker's new book Inktober All Year Long has plagiarised his Pen and Ink Drawing book published in 2015.

Jake Parker's new book will be out in September 2020, and he has posted some preview pages and video in an Instagram post.

I've watched the flip through video from Jake Parker and it looks good. It was only after I watched Alphonso Dunn's comparison video that I could see the similarities. It's not an exact copy obviously but there are similarities in layout and examples. Right at the end of Alphonso's video you can see all the notes and drafts he has made for the books.

Some in the comments section of Alphonso's video said that pen and ink techniques and concepts have been around since the Renaissance. True. Value scales in boxes have been around for decades, centuries.

So the differentiating factor will come down to the artist's unique style and interpretation. I've featured numerous books on Pen and Ink and while some may feature similar techniques, they are no where similar to Alphonso Dunn's book. I've featured even more watercolour instructional books and even when books have similar structure, chapters and techniques, ultimately what differentiates the books come down to the explanation of the concepts, more specifically the artist's personal take on the techniques.

The problem I see here with Jake Parker's book is his take on the techniques is quite similar to Alphonso Dunn's. My guess is Jake Parker probably hired a ghost writer for the book. And if he wrote the book himself, I would love to see the notes and drafts he made for the book.

Anyway, from what I can tell from the limited number of pages, the flip through video and Alphonso Dunn’s video, there may be some instances of possible plagiarism, but certainly not to the extent that Alphonso Dunn has claimed. Areas where it’s really questionable to me are the part where the light source shining on the blocks, and the list of unconventional tools is definitely heavily inspired.

I'll need to get Jake Parker's book myself to make the comparison myself. So far what I've said comes from what I've gather from videos and photos posted.

Some parts are a gray area – although it seems that Jake Parker clearly copies Alphonso Dunn. Like the first sentence in this article: "I was alerted by a follower on Instagram that Alphonso Dunn has put out a video" rewritten to "A follower on Instagram drew my attention to the fact that Alphonso Dunn has put out a video". Exactly the same in a slightly modified words or images.

By the time you get to 37:14 in the video, at a complex block, it's obvious that Jake Parker is copying Alphonso Dunn.

I hope that the publisher of "Inktober All Year Long" will not release the book after all.

Jake Parker used several of Alphonso artwork in his book.

The concepts are the same but you know that the presentation is all too similar. Such a disappointment, not a surprise though. Jake very rarely does anything if it's not for profit. He should scrap it and start from scratch. In any other field he'd be professional ridiculed and ousted.

Here's my issue with this whole thing. Jake's book looks like a carbon copy of his inking class on SVS learn which has been out since before the Alphonso's book soooooooooooooo...... same drawings same teaching styles, same layout.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

right, but Alphonso has been teaching pen and ink on yt 4 years before svs learn was a thing. The teachings from both are similar to other books that are even 100 years old but the order and example drawings were just way too similar.

Jake Parker complete copied Alphonso's book cover to cover, then added some of his cartoon style drawings. Jake park is a cartoonist, he dose not ink like a fine artist. What makes it worse is that Jake Parker Trademarked #InkTober and claimed it as his own, Jake Parker is a scourge in the art world.

In reply to by Karen Serpa (not verified)

The specific similarities which Alphonso Dunn talks about in his video, I have also seen in the teachings and tutorials of other artists besides Jake Parker. The formating and breaking down of the subject matter, the language used, techniques, and methods are not original to Jake or Alphonso. It is the same as some of the undergraduate courses I have taken. Alphonso and Jake are from the same draftsmanship school of thought so of course the same material is covered. As an example of another very similar artist: James Douglas demonstrates texture using blocks, simple values, line variation, and complex blocks in his youtube tutorials.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Can you prove that? Seeing Jakes videos doesn't show a date on it at all. Alphonso has notes and what not and his book was published what, 5yrs ago?

So did Jake publish that video in 2014?

Thanks, Teoh for your thoughts and updated info.

In reply to by Vonedward jordan (not verified)

You do know Jake Parker created Inktober, right? He trademarked it because it is his own creation. People can still make books mentioning Inktober without mentioning or paying him.
As far as the book's contents go, I wish Dunn luck if he uses lawyers but I suspect the similarities are not close enough to win a copyright infringement claim.

" Ultimately what differentiates the books come down to the explanation of the concepts, more specifically the artist's personal take on the techniques." - I think you really hit the nail on the head on that one. It's not the technique, it's the presentation.
Also, didn't think about a possible ghostwriter but that seems plausible.
On another note, if I want to support your blog & channel do I have to click on your affiliated link every time I shop or does it "remembers" for a month or something?

I know Jake Parker and he has impeccable integrity. There is no way he plagiarized anything from another artist. He is one if the finest people I know. Justice will prevail. He deserves the chance to show he did nothing wrong.

In reply to by Mika Mor (not verified)

@Mika Mor
About the affiliate links, the duration of their tracking depends on the company.

Amazon tracks only 1 day so you have to buy stuff within the day you click.

Book Depository, Dick Blick and Jackson's Art track longer. But I can't remember how long exactly.

Those are the four main affiliates that I use.

Thanks for your support! Really appreciate it.

In reply to by Teoh Yi Chie

DeviantArt disassociated themselves because they don't want to have legal troubles by having the Inktober trademark on their website.

I think that J.P plagiarized Alfphonso Dunn's book. The content of the books might be the same, as drawing techniques are very specific but the structure and the layout and the way that Parker arranged his book look as a copy paste from Dunn's book.

P.S Check your mail please..

In reply to by Vonedward jordan (not verified)

That's pretty salty take there pal. Jake has been inspiring people to draw for years. I don't follow or know who Alphonse is, but I am sure he has been inspiring people as well.

But I believe Jake when he says he didn't plagiarize anything. My wife was accused of the same thing by a more established artist, because she making paintings of birds and other animals with gold leaf backgrounds. The other artist claimed that animals and gold leaf were her thing. It blew over but really upset my wife who hadn't ever seen her accusers paintings. I feel like this is probably a similar situation.

I watched the full video and I do feel for Alphonso Dunn, who is clearly upset and feels his work has been stolen, I don't think the evidence supports declaring plagerism publicly.

Some of the headers were similar enough to justify the suspicion but a legal demand to the publishers to see the rest of the book and possibly delay/prevent publication would have been sensible. Instead, he has - without seeing the whole book himself - used his substantial platform to attack Jake Parker and damage his book before anyone has read it. If he's wrong, he's responsible for substantial defamation of character and loss of income.

Watching the flip through again without sound, he isn't really comparing many pages - and most of those pages look very different, lots of Jake's are skipped through, and Alphonso is having to scroll back and forth in his own book to find the comparisons, which would suggest that the structure/order of the books are different. People say he's not claiming fundementals, but he does complain about very standard techniques, demos and terms, even if he came up with them independently.

I think it is a prime example of confirmation bias. Suspicions raised by the wording of the example pages meant he looked through the flip through ignoring all the differences, cherry picking the similarities, and deciding that any differences in those pages were subterfuge to cover up the similarities.

Jake likes Alphonso's book, and it is possible that his familiarity or agreement with Alphonso's explanations has influenced his book, consciously or subconsciously and it can be looked at legally to see if a line was crossed. But declaring that it was substantially copied and in bad faith, I think that was unfair.

Clearly he was upset, but we are a few days now from the initial upload, and he hasn't ammended his title, thumbnail or told his fans to calm down and wait to hear Jake's explanation or see the rest of the book.

YouTube is not the place to address a case of plagiarism, period. One loses so much credibility going about things the way Alfonso has. Complaining on YouTube in a way that may have wrongly damaged the launch of Jake's book over something da Vinci was teaching was dumb. Artists blindly bandwagoning on either "side" with immediate cancel culture BS is dumb. Y'all should be ashamed of yourselves.

In reply to by Teoh Yi Chie

Haha, sure thing :)
Your blog and channel helped me make A LOT of good purchasing decisions and save money in a few cases, so I would love to show my appreciation of your work.

I know one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but do yourselves a favor and look up Alphonso’s “Pen & Ink Drawing Workbook” - case closed!

I would like to give Jake the benefit of the doubt but after watching the video it's way too similar. Anyone that has tried to teach and find an original way to teach a concept knows how much time and effort it takes to collect those thoughts and present them in a simple way. Jake or his ghost writer took the quick route and just copied Alphonso. It's not the techniques or tools that are the red herring. It's the overall collected presentation of thoughts. There are so many ways to teach, yet almost every page is a carbon copy of Alphonsos book. The clincher to me was the page that showed the value scales that use 2 values, then 3, then 6 values. That is such an arbitrary way to break up values. Why would they be exactly the same? Why would every page be almost the same? The overall content of each book is way too similar and anyone that has tried to teach will know it.

Please watch these two videos from neutral parties. The first is from a book designer that shows the books are different in layout and illustrations. Then explains this. They are not even the same dimensional size or page count. So how can one be a direct page for page copy? Both videos show examples from books printed years before Dunn's that show the same techniques, illustrations, wording, layout..


Here is another link to an artist who did an art book the same year as Dunn.  He shows it at the 14:38 minute mark as an example.  He also shows the art instruction book he's currently working on.
He talks about this without taking a side. https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=2392112844430167&_rdr

I had a quick look the video and the first 20 mins, the first examples are a real stretch. That's basic stuff that's in any text book. Maybe some unconcious copying, they'll change the headers and art and voila, no case.

I don't think he has a case currently btw.

In reply to by Cade Halada (not verified)

@Cade Halada
The value scales part is, in my opinion, actually the weakest part of Alphonso Dunn's argument. Value scales has been used for any medium, eg coloured pencils, graphite, any sort of paint. Value scales have been shown in countless books, dark to light, light to dark, in 3, 5, 7, 10 steps. Up down, left right in whatever direction you name it you can find it in any book or online.

Value scales are fundamentals.

What I would look for are examples of how those fundamentals are applied.

In reply to by Teoh Yi Chie

That's what makes the value scales page so suspect to me. You can show those in a hundred different ways yet the two pages are near identical. Why did jake with 2, 3, and then 6 values? They are just arbitrary numbers. And it happens over and over again. I agree with you though. If that page was the only thing, it would be inconsequential. When added to all the other evidence it made me think, "you copied the value scales too? How lazy you gotta be dude?"

really? the guy who reviews art books doesn't know how many art books are out there with identical foundamentals and teaching methods cause there is only one simple way to do it? even my watercolor books have the exact same naming system, layout,and tools. now we can't use the words like " value" and " line weight" cause he thinks he invented those? how can you buy into this, he is doing it to boost his own sales
if this is gonna get legal ,the guy is looking for a defamation lawsuit

I urge anyone to form your own opinion based on more information. The carefully crafted video shows only what the creator wants you to see. Why would anyone blindly follow what he says when no one has actually seen Jake's book? Herd mentality occurs when we allow our emotions to be manipulated. Find voices on YouTube that refute this claim and make an independent decision. No one deserves to have their integrity attacked based on speculation. Above all, please remember that both artists are real people with feelings and families.

In reply to by sup (not verified)

Which is why I said "ultimately what differentiates the books come down to the explanation of the concepts, more specifically the artist's personal take on the techniques."

If you look at your watercolour books, they may teach the same fundamentals, talk about the same techniques, but the painted examples will be different.

Anyway, selling books does not earn much money unless it's a bestseller for months. People don't sell books to become rich.

And people who say Alphonso Dunn is doing it for the views... That guy has 600K subscribers, those extra views from the controversy are just marginal.

In reply to by vcdesigns (not verified)

You can still get the book. From what I see, there are just slight similarities.

From the flip-through video I've seen, which has now been taken down, the book on a whole appears to be visually appealing.

Let’s start with the definition: Plagiarism - the process or practice of using another person's ideas or work and pretending that it is your own.
It’s apparent that Jake Parker used another’s ideas or work and is saying it is his own. There is proof, and, regardless of his teams intent, Parker has The ultimate responsibility to vet any information going into his book that he, personally, did not write or illustrate. This man is a fraud and his book should be pulled from Amazon u til an independent study of his book against Alphonso’s book has been completed.

Thank you so much for writing this post, Teoh. And thanks to the more thoughtful and fair-minded comments too. I respect both artists and was troubled by thus controversy, even wondering whether to participate in Inktober this year. It seems to me that an impartial judgement would be based on viewing both books in actuality, not flip throughs. Combined with that, surely drafts, notes, outlines and working copies of the books would clarify the process used. I feel relieved not to have to take sides after reading your post.

Thank you for posting the video, Teoh. I look forward to your review if the book is published. For the moment my bias is with Alphonso. I am so over Inktober at this moment... And the worst thing is that I bought the (expensive) Scrawler Inktober Box this year even though I am not even into inking! I just hope they send out items that can also be used for watercolours and that are worth the money because small companies are supported.

In reply to by Teoh Yi Chie

I'm afraid you are wrong on this matter Teoh. People do sell books to make money as they don't get money from the sales of their books only, but from other sources too. When the content of a book is mentioned, republished, reprinted, or used by any other way, the owner of the intellectual rights of this book, ( usually the writer) gets paid.

Having said that and talking about this particular case, the person who have already trademarked his brand name is Jake Parker and not Dunn. If Jake Parker is indeed using Dunn's teaching method in his own book, he actually puts the copyright of this method under his trademark and brand, which means that if J.P's book will be published as it is now, Alphonso Dunn might be legally liable for having already publish his own teaching method!
It sounds a bit tricky and some sort of reversed logic but that is how it works. Dunn has a teaching method but not a trademarked brand name that gives him that extra rights to run after anyone who is using it for any purpose as a trademark doesn't cover only the brand name but also the content that goes along with that/any brand name.
As for Jake Parker: he has shown already in public how he is managing his trademark. He has a legal team that runs after anyone who is using this trademark ( and whatever content that trademark covers).
Dunn played it safe when he published his case on his video and blocked with this way the release of Parker's book, sending actually the ball to the publishing company!

Otherwise he should have to sue afterwards both the publishing company and Parker himself ( with whatever that means in legal costs) in order to prove that there is indeed a case of plagiarism as otherwise he would have found himself being sued from Parker's legal team for copyright infrigment.

Those who talk about "cancel culture" don't seem to understand what exactly are the implications of such cases. And also seem to forget that there is the legal style of cancel culture too that have been repeatedly used in the past from companies like IBM, Microsof etc.

Hello Teoh. As a YouTuber and content creator, as well, I think this is the kind of thing we all fear. Even a small channel like mine can be harvested for content and I may never be aware. Scary, for sure and Alphonso was spot on about protecting ourselves (which is why I add a copyright to every video and in the notes).

Still, the whole situation is unfortunate for both parties. What's worse, is that it is being played-out publicly on social media, which may affect both artists careers and ability to generate income from their work. If we remove the words "think, believe, or feel" from the discussion, then what is left are two parties in a legal entanglement involving alleged plagiarism and copyright infringement.

It's sad because I will take part in Inktober this year, despite the controversy; however, I can already see how it is affecting the overall community and people are placing harsh judgements on people they don't even know. That's just terrible to me.

Anyhow, I hope you and your family are all doing well. Thank you for the informative conversation.

Cheers! ~ Mark

In reply to by M.D. Campbell (not verified)

I aggree with you mark i am too participating and it will be my first year. Trying to inform myself with all the controversy before it begins. I have not formed a true opinion on the matter because not all evidence has been provided. However it does seem like it is a slippery slope and it is very important to educate oneself on what is going on and the laws behind the carrer you are pursuing.

Hi Teoh,

thank you for your summary of the Inktober controversy.

In some ways I feel for both artists but maybe it's also a lesson to avoid taking a legal spat onto social media.

I hope it doesn't put any aspiring artists off sharing their work. Everyone needs to understand copyright, IP and trademarks better, so maybe this will help artists think more about what this means for their own work.


In reply to by sup (not verified)

No, it’s more like it’s because he’s reviewed so many art books that he can tell when books are seemingly so similar that it’s uncanny. I say seemingly because Jake’s book technically isn’t out yet.

Dunn himself claimed he doesn’t own the fundamental concepts; that’s a strawman. What concerned him was the overall layout, organization, and specific diagrams used in the book. The two are completely different from each other and he is, at the very least, within the grounds to at least bring it up as an issue.

Not once did he ever say you couldn’t use line weight or values, just that he formulated proprietary systems to explain them, and those systems also happens to appear in Parker’s book. What really makes Parker look bad is that he has showcased and praised Dunn’s book in the past. If he was at the very least inspired by it, he should’ve at least cited Dunn’s book. Maybe he did in the back of the book, but we won’t find out until the book has been released.

In reply to by Jeffrey Riddle (not verified)

You mean the book about drawing, had similar drawings to another book about drawing? oh no the world is ending.

In reply to by Karen Serpa (not verified)

if you rewrote that first sentence, it wouldn't be plagiarism, because you're changing it to write it in your own words. Slightly modified words are the easiest way to get out of plagiarism.

In reply to by Devon (not verified)

Even if you slightly modify words, you still have to cite the person you took the information from. I've studied Fair Use law extensively, as it was my job to check textbooks to determine if all of their citations were done legally or not. It's about stealing an idea, not the specific words.

In reply to by Cade Halada (not verified)

I have not seen the videos or read the books, today is the first I heard of this controversy. I do have a BA in fine art. 2, 3, and 6 are not arbitrary for value scales when teaching drawing. In Drawing 101 my professor was teaching us about making judgments, first is black and white (2), is it dark or light? Then we started with a neutral gray, and had to decide if a color/shape/texture etc. in the still life we were drawing was lighter (white) or darker (black) and draw it that way (3). From there, I can see moving to 6 values from choosing lighter or darker of your white, gray, and black, i.e. shades of gray = value. We practiced this concept many times in many ways starting with simple - a starkly lit table and its cast shadow (blocks) for black/white, and eventually moving to complex - round objects (fruit and reflective objects) for shades of grey. Am I close to guessing what and how they presented it?

In reply to by Marialena Sarris (not verified)

Interesting observation you make about the trademarked ‘Inktober’ and how this gives Jake Parker a stronger case. The date of the trademark puzzled me. Why would you trademark a hashtag ten years after starting it? It might not have been a coïncidence though, knowing now that he has been writing (or copying) this book. Could he have known that he’d build a stronger case himself?

About the issue of plagiar itself: I know that in my country things like “style” and “original input of the creator” play a bigger role than if you happen to have a trademark that happens to be at the book itself. When this case is about style and original input, I think Alphonse Dunn does have a case. Here is a rule that the original work that inspired you, can be taken into a new creation for maximum 10%. Considering the choises Dunn makes and the style of drawing he teaches (i.e. his own style) give strong arguments for plagiat by Parker. Not only he makes simular choises in a simular way of building the book, as it seems from the video Dunn made, also he teaches drawing in Dunn’s style, which is very different from his own style.
If I compare this with Walter Foster for instance, he teaches the same techniques, but in a different way and in a different style. (Which I guess is typically Walter Foster’s style.)
Would such arguments make sence in the USA as well?

In reply to by nada (not verified)

Actually SVS started in 2012, 8 years ago. The same year Dunn posted his first video on inking. 9 years ago Parker posted a flip through of one if his published sketchbooks full of his pen and ink artwork 4 years before Dunn published his. In Parkers earlier book it shows all the techniques he talks about.

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