I agree, that portrait of Mr. Jingles really rocks. I did an awesome job if I do say so myself. Everyone who sees that portrait all matted and framed and hanging in your hallway loves it. Your son, your daughter and your great aunt Tillie have all asked for a copy of it. Uh oh.
So really, the last thing you want to do is commission another 20×24 canvas at $450 a pop for every person who loves that portrait of Mr. Jingles. I get that. That’d be nuts. But fear not, there IS a way to make everyone happy without breaking the bank. Custom prints.
What is a print? A print is a high quality copy of an original piece of artwork. Signed prints are a fixed number of limited edition copies, signed and numbered by the artist. In years gone by, prints were done on an inked printing press. The lower the number, the less muddled and gunked up the press and therefore the better the quality of the print. Nowadays, that’s done less and less and the copies are printed digitally so there is no loss of clarity and quality.
You’ve seen those pictures online with the faded out name of the artist or photographer printed across them. That’s called a “watermark”. That’s so, in theory, a person can’t just download the photograph and make a bunch of copies of it without paying the artist. The reason is this. Selling their work is how artists survive. This is our way of protecting our work so that if someone wants it, they have to buy it. Because it is a “product”. Just as a lawyer is paid for his hours, we artists have invested cost and time to create our product and it is only right that we should be appropriately compensated for said work.
When I go trolling on the Internet for a great photo to paint, I need to request permission from the photographer to use that photo. I don’t own it. Or, there are sites that allow you to pay a fee to use a particular photo for such a purpose.
So speaking of lawyers, let’s take a moment to talk legality. Now, I’m not particularly litigious, and I take no real offense to clients photo-copying my work, in fact, I find it quite the compliment. But, that said, a girl’s gotta earn a living…
Except from an article featured in the New York Times….
When It’s Illegal to Photograph Artwork
By JENNIFER SARANOW SCHULTZ
September 21, 2010
“If the painting is in the public domain, you can take a picture of it, you can reproduce it,” said Chris Sprigman, an intellectual property law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law who has written on copyright issues for the Freakonomics blog.
But if the work of art is more recent, the artist generally has the exclusive right to any reproduction, and the piece is generally covered by copyright law.
In this case, “if you take a picture, you are making a reproduction and that is a copyright violation,” Prof. Sprigman said. And that applies even if you are just planning to hang the reproduction for your own private use. “That’s still a violation,” he said.
In other words, if the artist somehow finds out about your copy, you could be sued for copyright infringement and substantial damages.”
Yes, I do sell custom prints! If you want some, just ask and I can have them made. Prints are available in all sizes and paper qualities and are quite affordable. So the next time Aunt Tillie comments on how she’d “just love” a copy of Mr. Jingles for her bathroom, consider having a print made for her. She’ll be thrilled, and so will I. Win-win. -m