A Cautionary Tale for Artists
Please read this, artists.
This is a very old commission that I have never posted anywhere publicly before now, and there's a story and lesson behind why.
I did this and a few other pieces for a very nice lady right after I graduated from Ringling and was still very green and very wet behind the ears, meaning I didn't fully understand my rights as an artist in practice. I've always really loved how this piece turned out (it was her and her friends' Inuyasha fandom muses, obviously), but right at the finish line she pulled a, "Oh you can't post this anywhere or use it in your portfolio. It's mine."
Again, I was very green.
The lesson here I want all young artists to know:
Clients do NOT have the legal right to do this to you.
That's the reason why I'm posting this all these years later; I still like it, and the image itself is actually mine to do with as I please regardless of what she believed at the time. The client did not buy me out of the copyright of the image, nor did she pay me for exclusivity. She paid for the service of having the image created, and that's it. That's all any client pays you for when they commission you! If they want control over the use of the image, that's extra. If they want to own everything about the image, strip you of your control of it, and be the master of that image's universe? Industry standard is 100%-500% the original cost of image creation.
That's how valuable an artist's rights are to their work.
Now I do want to clarify that I don't believe this client was acting maliciously at the time; I just think she didn't understand what rights she did and did not hold, nor did I. This is nothing against her. After that happened I told her she wouldn't have control like that again, and in retaliation she took her business elsewhere after spending a good chunk of money with me that I really needed at the time, being fresh out of school and starting up my illustration business. She is the reason why my ToS contains a clause outlining the fact that I own any image I produce, the client is only paying for the service of having it created, and any other rights will need to be negotiated and paid for separately.
Usually things like that aren’t really an issue because for individual little commissions like this it’s easy going and the client never has a problem with the artist posting or using the piece for self-promotion. This is the only client I’ve ever had in 13 years of being an illustrator who ended up being so unreasonable in wanting to rule my usage of my own artwork with such an iron fist, going so far as to tell me I couldn’t even use it in my own portfolio.
NOBODY can tell you that you can’t use your own work in your portfolio.
Basically: client work is trial and error. Hopefully this piece can serve as an error some of you can avoid so that, as my professors once told all of us, you can find new errors to make.
(In reality it was "so you can find new ways to be fucked over" but it sounded more “wise” the other way.)
PLEASE DO NOT REPOST OR REMOVE ARTIST COMMENTS
261 notes · View notes