Get YOUR NAME out there!
My first experience with THE PLAGUE was when I was 16-ish, my aunt and uncle approached me to design a border for their menu at their newly opened restaurant, Gatsby's. I proudly spent HOURS hand-drawing decorative ivy with a pigma micron pen and presented it to them in exchange for a couple of free meals from the menu and the bragging rights in my family. I was extremely proud to do that for them, and to see my drawing in reproduction was REALLY COOL, and I would do it again for them in a heartbeat.
Many years later, I graduated from college and was working in a small graphics firm and went out to lunch with a co-worker…and to my surprise, when I sat down (at NOT Gatsby's) there was MY hand-drawn border…on a different menu! … (and it was some el cheapo pizza joint, not a fantastic and nice place like Gatsby's!)
After calling the restaurant owner and complaining, it turns out that when the menu had been printed, the art was saved by the printing company, and used for numerous other customers over the course of many years. WHA?! Other than a few nasty words, I had no recourse and no idea if there was anything I COULD do, or where I could turn to undo this...
I definitely felt violated (for a lack of a better description) this was an agreement I had made with only my family!
My memory is fuzzy as to how it turned out, I believe the printer agreed to not utilize that art anymore going forward, but what was done was done, and Gatsby's no longer had a unique and personalized work of art for their business.
There seems to be a long standing tradition of screwing artists, and this PLAGUE seems to have no chance of ending anytime soon. Most of us don't have Marvin Gaye lawyers and Robin Thicke money to pay off those that "inspire us", or the means or assistance to track down those that infringe on our artistic property and rights. Most people do not have ill intentions when they rip-off an artist, or produce work that is too closely inspired by another, but it hurts us financially (and emotionally) nonetheless. It's time we talk about it and make an attempt to END IT, and also to CALL OUT those that perpetuate this game.
Accepted behavior like this hurts the artists, the market, business, and the future hope of us having a bit of respect and earning a decent (or even modest) living as creative people.
It's time we don't accept "Starving Artist" as a given.
There is a plague of these "contests" on social media, in which artists submit their best work, and they choose from it, and you WIN!!
What exactly do you win? The glory of having your art used by THEM.
THEY win because they don't have to pay an artist what they are worth.
Artists…DON'T devalue your work and fall into this trap.
Ya see, THEY are seeking YOU out because THEY don't have the skill that YOU have….
(or because they just can acquire art for free, i mean…why not? right?!)
YES we all have to start somewhere, we have to learn, we aren't that great at what we do when we first start out, we may not be selling art, we may need to fill our portfolios, and show a work history, and a Joss Stone album cover sure would look great on our resume….
Or will it?
Joss Stone held such a plague on social media in 2014…the winner got two tickets to a concert and a signed t shirt or some shit. Hotel and travel costs were not included. Joy.
I'm eagerly anticipating the winner, because I hear they are going to be showing in a retrospective at MOMA this year.
Alright, I get it, I'm on the side of bitter…
(poverty will do that to a person)
You have every right to enter into these agreements as you see fit, or for fun.
I mean, you have already spent TONS of free time honing your skill, and agonizing over your artistic skills…hours alone at your desk sketching, or days testing settings on your camera, or maybe you've handsomely paid a professor to help you learn these things.
You've spent years sketching, discovering, thinking, looking, exploring, testing and growing and now everyone wants you for it.
By all means, draw for your Auntie for free once in awhile, donate a painting to the hospital that saved your life, or design your friends album cover because they rock….do it because they are deserving and amazing (or they make amazing kale soup) but PLEASE stop feeding into this PLAGUE that companies like Dick Blick are perpetuating…
Dick Blick is currently holding a plague contest….wait, who's Dick Blick?
That's the art supply store that has already made thousands off you by selling you art supplies, and now they want your art too.
Blick Art Materials is holding a social media contest, you submit your spring and flower art, and the winner (drawn at random) wins $500 of Chartpak art materials.
Sounds great right? and YOU get the honor of retaining the rights to the original…BUT according to the terms of the contest…
Providing a Submission constitutes your consent to give Sponsor a royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, create derivative works from, and display such Submissions in whole or in part, on a worldwide basis, and to incorporate it into other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed, including but not limited to on any and all Internet media, including Sponsor’s web sites and properties and on social networking sites (i.e., Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc.), for any legal purpose whatsoever. The participant retains copyright and ownership of the submission.
So what that means is basically, they are able to collect, and retain, rights to possibly thousands (if not more) of the submitted images. They have just bought a HUGE database of images for pennies, something that should cost them thousands of dollars or more.
They will use them on instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to draw in paying customers with posts about art supplies and links to their catalog included.
now….lean in…listen closely…
I have to now tell you something, that is….a little bit difficult.
Those customers will not buy your art.
IF you are lucky, one or two (or if you're REALLY lucky, a few) will google your name and search you out to see what you do, and of course, you will be able to add it to your resume.
2015 - 2088 - worldwide (i'm not sure where) my art was utilized by Dick Blick, it may be in their catalog in India, but i'm not quite sure. It may be on their instagram, but I got sick of searching for it after a few months, and when I called, no one there has ever heard of me.
But i'm quite sure they adore what I do.
written by: Erin Duquette
PS….just THINK about what would happen if NO ONE submitted art to these contests...
they would have to….(ahem)…. HIRE artists
or (GULP)…. PAY them.
Art, Culture, Unity and Soul