Online businesses offering ‘substitute drawings’ for children’s art competitions raise concerns

A recent investigation by Beijing Youth Daily has revealed the existence of online businesses offering drawing services as substitutes for elementary and middle school students. These businesses hire adults to create artworks and sell them to parents, who then submit them under their children’s names for various art competitions.

The investigation found businesses claiming to provide services for drawing substitute competition entries, some even advertising that certain competitions only require artwork submissions without on-site drawing. Prices typically range around 100 yuan ($14), and many businesses use promotional language like “award-winning,” “first prize,” and “competition” to attract customers.

One business advertisement boasted that their substitute artists are art teachers with extensive experience in drawing competition entries and guaranteed first-prize-winning artworks. Another claimed to tailor drawings to the child’s grade and gender, ensuring age-appropriate styles and superior composition compared to their peers.

Experts warn that using substitute drawings can have detrimental consequences. Chu Zhaohui, a researcher at the China National Academy of Educational Sciences, believes competition organizers should authenticate artworks and implement on-site drawing requirements to select students with genuine skills. He also expressed concern that some schools still consider art competition awards as a measure of students’ abilities, leading to unfair pressure on parents.

Lawyer Han Xiao from Beijing Kangda Law Firm stated that participating in competitions with substitute drawings constitutes fraudulent behavior and copyright infringement. He called for joint liability for the businesses providing these services and urged online platforms to actively regulate such activities.

Beijing Youth Daily has reported the situation to the relevant online marketplace, raising concerns about the ethical and legal implications of these substitute drawing services.

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