This was originally written in response to a comment on the profile of the MLP-VectorClub. A portion of that comment has been edited for clarity and reproduced here:
I need your guys' opinion about something that has been bothering me recently...
I'm going to try to be as non-partisan as possible; anyway, browsing around dA, I've seen people that say that frame traces in particular are an insult to the art community and, I quote, "not considered art," and people who do frame traces are, I quote, "attention-whores," and they attacked this group in particular. Being a part of the brony fandom and this group, I really didn't know what to think of this.
You raise a very important point, and one that has oft been on my mind since I joined the pony vectoring community. A lot of what we aim for in the MLP-VectorClub is to make a perfect (or better than perfect) reproduction of a piece of a screenshot. Is that art? Does that belong on a site that describes itself as a "vibrant social network environment [that] receives over 160,000 daily uploads of original art works"? Probably not. And yet it is here.
In the face of this, we must find a reason to justify this groups existence. The common one that is given, and one that you may have heard before, is that vector traces are provided as a resource. They are used as references by many, and are often incorporated into wallpapers, PMVs, website banners, and all manner of other works. This is a useful service to the greater MLP fandom. Thus we have a justification for tracing and for this group's existence. But this justification has always left something to be desired in my mind, and I have just recently figured out why. It justifies the MLP-VectorClub's existence, but it doesn't justify the existence of it on deviantART.
And so I put forth a second justification. To quote deviantART's about page, "deviantART was created to entertain, inspire, and empower the artist in all of us" (emphasis mine). As an admin of this group for almost a year now, I have seen first hand how that applies here. The growth I have seen amongst some of the budding young artists in this group has been astonishing. Many people visit the MLP-VectorClub, and many are entertained. Of those that are entertained, a smaller number are inspired to try their hand at vectoring. Through the tutorials in the gallery and through the guidance of admins and veteran members alike they are empowered to create. At first, most people create traces. But through their growing mastery of the tools of vector graphics that they gain by their experience tracing, I have seen many deviants make the artistic leap to creating original pieces. Many of these people never thought that they could be artists, never thought that they had an artistic bone in their body, but now find themselves making art. And surrounding them, supporting them, helping them grow, they have watchers and friends, many of whom they gained while tracing. I'll quote deviantART again: "deviantART was created to entertain, inspire, and empower the artist in all of us." I'd say that's exactly what we do here at the MLP-VectorClub.