Thursday, June 18, 2009

Raining on my Parade

I suppose I should have looked into this sooner, but in my last post, I asked about copyright issues with reference material, and now that I've looked into it a bit, it seems that what I've been doing is completely illegal. All of my reference-using drawings are considered "derivative" works, and the originals (the sources of which I don't even know) are protected by copyright law. Evidently, the only LEGAL references (other than things from publications which explicitly state that that's what they're for) are those you create yourself.

So my accordion guy pictures, three of which I absolutely love and was thinking about perhaps making into cards, are Not Cool. This bums me out.

When I made the illustrations for Flat Earth, Round Earth, I used my son, his best friend, and a friend of mine as references. I took pictures of the boys in all the poses I could imagine wanting to use, and made three or four sketches of my friend. I even had my son's friend's mother sign a release form allowing me to use images of him in the book. THAT was all the way it should be.

I guess I was thinking (no, I really wasn't thinking at all) that since these were just things I was making for myself, and other people, that it didn't really matter. The likelihood of getting CAUGHT are almost nil. But since I would like someday to expand into doing something like this for real, and would need to put together some kind of portfolio, and send samples to folks, those things had better not be things with someone else's work.

So after being bummed awhile here (and eating far too many crepes that I made for my son for breakfast, and there was a pile left over), I'm thinking about how I can procure my own accordion-guy (and other musician) images. It's not like I don't know dozens of musicians. It's not like I'm not around them playing ALL the time. It's not like I can't say, "Hey, I'm making some drawings of musicians; could I take some pictures of you to use for references?" I can't imagine any of them saying "no." So there. I can do that.

Right now I'm working on two drawings of my sons. They're fair game.

(I wonder if I should delete all my posts that are violating copyright laws--most of the pictures are very different from the originals, but still....I bet some of them would be recognizable--29 out of the 54 pieces I'd say have for a reference something that was published elsewhere). Argh!

Too close?


  1. Hi Coreopsis

    Copyright stuff can be a real minefield so working from sketches is a good way around it. Thank you for your comments on my blog, I work from on sight sketches and memory usually made in coloured pencil, Im lucky to have a very visual memory, names and numbers, forget it, images no problem.

    All the best


  2. As long as you aren't selling them, I really don't think you have anything to worry about. I believe if someone came on your website and recognized their likeness and couldn't bear it, they might ask you to remove it. A for instance: A photographer I knew once spotted somethingof his which had been lifted and used in an ad. He took the people to court and they paid him a fee for what the judge considered to be its worth for that use - fair enough. I would like to see what you do working with a model.

  3. At the risk of running on, here's an art tribute site:

  4. Wow, I am completely surprised by this. I make my children take particular poses for me sometimes, but not as often as I use other people's photos to "derive" my pictures. Yikes. I wish I lived in a place where I could get a figure drawing group together. When I lived in larger towns that helped a lot.

    How great that you are always around musicians. Surely they will let you sketch them.