"The Ugly Side of Art"

by - 19:00

For my current Work and Society class, I'm undertaking a research project concerning art and copyright - "the ugly side of art", as my friend called it. As I scoured the library for sources, I came across a book that pretty much has everything that I need; entitled Legal Guide for the Visual Artist and authored by Tad Crawford, the book is a complete 101 with regard to the need and acquisition of copyright for artwork. I'm surprised at how complicated the legal side of art can be... and how daft I am at this stuff, basically :|

Here are some things that I've discovered:
  1. Apparently, there are two kinds of copyright that can be attributed to an artwork: common law, and statutory. Common law copyright ensures protection of an artwork as soon as it is created, and until the work is published, at which protection will be terminated; and statutory copyright protects artworks that have been registered or published with copyright notice;
  2. Artists do not only possess the claim to legal rights, they also possess inherent moral rights that exist independently of legal rights. These moral rights ensure that an artist can demand or refuse recognition of authorship - of a distributed work, say, or a distorted version of his or her own work;
  3. Since I plan to sell my work some day, I should, according to Crawford, first produce written contracts indicating items akin to a library card: my name, purchaser's name, date, title, description of the artwork, price, sales tax due, total amount payable. The receipt, formally known as Bill of Sale, acts as a record of transaction as well as a means of keeping track of sales, so if a painting gets lost somehow (knock on wood), you can use the Bill of Sale as a sort of recourse to insurance coverage.
It's all very technical, what I've gathered so far, but very interesting, and it makes sense; I always thought when someone buys your painting, you just give it to them :P Shows how little I know! I can't wait to thoroughly read the book.

Speaking of selling works, I mentioned before that I'm working on my future exhibit pieces. Here's the sneak peek I promised:

Haha, you can see how messy I am when I paint; usually I just paint the areas that appeal to me at
the moment, and then I work my way around. :3

Also, I recently bought varnish and a giant paintbrush to paint the varnish with, but I discovered that the brush is less than ideal (I got one with course bristles when it should have been soft). I'm trying to comb the internet looking for directions on how to use this particular brand of varnish (the bottle label doesn't give any), but without much luck. I figure I'm just going to test it out first before applying it to my landscape. 

Speaking of art materials, I plan to invest in paint retarder, which slows down the drying time of paint. Acrylics dry incredibly fast, and it usually happens that while I'm painting a color I mixed, the mixture itself dries faster than I need it to - and this can get slightly frustrating for me especially because I mix on the canvas, not on a palette. 

I'd better get back to studying; to think I have only six weeks of school left (six weeks!!). Hope you're all doing well, readers! :)

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  1. Can the book be also applied to aspiring photographers like me? :)) And about your painting.. Y SO AWESOME. YOU (and strong emphasis x 1001 on the YOU) better not forget about me when you get famous and have your own exhibit. :)) I'll cover your event! :> YIII~

  2. Yes it can! :D Photography falls under visual art, and it definitely applies in the whole copyright thang. I'll bring the book back to school so you can see it!

    And that is IF I even get to have my own exhibit, haha! But YOU better not forget me either, you're already making your way into professional photography! I'll do the background for your magazine feature :> 

  3. When you sell your painting, there should be a certificate of authenticity (COA) attached to it. Mine has an inventory number for personal reference. All my commissions have an electronic contact as well. I learned about these things back when I was just starting out because I know a lot of people who have gotten involved in copyright problems and bad clients. I think that people who are involved in the graphic design industry face commission problems a lot more often than artists (partly because anything digital is more transferable). Back in the day, I started earning from graphic design so I got a lot of copyright knowledge/procedures from that.

    I think that these days, it's a lot easier to defend your own work through for example, photographic proof and the existence of draft/preliminary work. Although the biggest struggle rarely has to do with defending if a certain work is yours. A lot of problems I come across have something to do with location/language barriers and uncooperativeness of the offender. If it's local, it can be easily solved just with the proper evidence. But if you're dealing with say, China, good luck nalang. Laws are different per country and there are places when the reproduction of work is done through the black market (ie. the art on cheap graphic tees you see in tiangges are most likely stolen and the supplier is almost untraceable). Oftentimes it boils down to how powerful you are. Some artists can't afford a lawyer, and that's really sad.

    There was an instance where a (commissioned) logo I made was reprinted by someone else, suspected that it was in HK. The logo is already under legal copyright but the problem is, we cannot trace who reproduced it, so items with the logo are being sold in other places in Asia. I think these are things that are beyond the artist's control already. So yeah copyright and paperwork can only do so much. (Medyo hinayaan nalang namin to. Mas problem siya ng commissioner kasi siya nagbayad ng work. Haha.)

    And about fashion and knockoffs, that's an entirely different matter, much much dirtier, I believe but I guess that's the beauty of utilitarian goods. This is an interesting vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL2FOrx41N0

  4. Btw, lovely work, as always! <3

  5. Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to write all that! <3 You've also given me some ideas for my paper, haha!

    In any case, it's horrible to think someone reprinted your logo; I'm always afraid my art will get stolen in some way, especially since I'm just about starting out and haven't any experience with any of these things. It's difficult to keep track actually; but it's good that you pointed out photographic proof is always helpful; I've got loads of those, haha! I just hope I'll never have to run into something as messy as copyright infringement, which is why I'm sticking to traditional art. The next time we see each other, I'll have to ask you about your inventory system, if it's okay. :)

    As for fashion, I'm not particularly worried about it. Although fashion illustration is something I'd like to try just for fun :)) It is an interesting video though; there's so much I don't know about the fashion world. Or the copyright world, but thanks for reminding me that it's always best to know and to be aware. Thanks so much again for your comment, I really appreciate it! <3 :)