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“Before You Say I Am Stoling This Art, Let Me Explain You A Thing” is an expression derived from a description on the art sharing site deviantART by a user who had reuploaded an older artwork to a new account. The strange sentence structure, combined with the misspelling of “stealing”, led to several reposts of the phrase on the blogging site Tumblr, where it evolved in to the snowclone, “Before You Say I Am Stoling This X, Let Me Explain You a Thing.”
On November 16th, 2012, deviantART user Gamer98 uploaded a piece of The Lion King fan art in submission for a contest run by deviantART user Rinjapine. At the top of the image description, Gamer98 added a disclaimer: “Before you say that i am stoling [sic] this art: I want to explain you a thing,my old acount [sic] was [thelionofdeserts] and i’m reposting this art of TLK here in my new account, [Gamer98]” in effort to deter other deviantART users from claiming that he had stolen the artwork. The user’s old account, thelionofdeserts, has been deleted as of March 2013.
Also on November 16th, the novelty Twitter account @TextDeviantart tweeted the phrase with the usernames and links removed. As of March 2014, it has been retweeted more than 445 times and favorited more than 233 times.
Before you say that i am stoling this art I want to explain you a thing— Text-only DeviantART (@TextDeviantart) November 16, 2012
Also on the 16th, Tumblr user wtfstuck shared a screenshot of @TextDeviantart’s tweet on the microblogging network, accruing more than 25,000 notes by March 2013. The phrase did not appear again until February 25th when Tumblr user yoshika420 made a text post using the phrase in an imagined scenario (shown below) where it was used as a response to paintings being stolen from the French art museum the Louvre, gaining more than 10,000 notes within a week. Three days after this post, the phrase was used on the World of Warcraft forums in a thread about fan art to explain how people tend to respond to accusations of art theft. As of March 2013, additional image macros based on a snowclone version of the phrase can be found on Tumblr with the tags “stoling” and “let me explain you a thing.”
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