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    Illustration Publication Help

    Hey everyone, I'm not sure exactly where to post this, but I guess it will work here.

    I'm a freshman in college majoring in art and I've recently been given the opportunity to illustrate a book of poetry. This is the first time my work will be published and I think it's a great opportunity for me to showcase my work and aid in developing a portfolio for an art school I hope to transfer to. Anyway, the writer and I agreed that I wouldn't be paid for my work, which I don't mind, as I am still an amateur and hope to continue my studies in art to become a professional illustrator one day.

    I'm almost done with all of the illustrations, which are all drawn in pen on plain white sheets of paper, and have given the ones already completed to this writer. We discussed the issue of the rights to my illustrations in her book, and she has stated how she will make sure I will be credited for my work and that all of my material is essentially already copyrighted by me and that she will return all of the originals once they have been scanned and copied into her book, and that they will only be used for that specific purpose.

    Although I believe her, I want to make sure I in fact do retain all of the rights to my work and that although I may not be paid, I will have some control over where and how my illustrations are used.

    So, in short... How exactly does the process of copyrighting illustrations for a book work?

    Any help would be very much appreciated!

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    Well, I've got a lot of pro-bono work out there in Novel covers, Graphic novels and SciFi software. Under stipulations that I'm fully credited throughout the materials that my illustrations/models appear in.
    I also request that I receive a free copy of the Book/Novel/Software to put into my portfolio cabinet for safe keeping.
    Always sign your work, and make sure the signature also appears in the book.

    I don't think you have anything to worry about.

    If someone copies the poetry book and sells the copies, I'm not sure how the legal system would cover you in that respect though.

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    Make sure you get all arrangements on paper (or at least in email form) and keep them as a legal contract, just in case.

    Also, never let go of the originals unless the client buys them. I usually ask what format/resolution they need and provide them with the digital files to print. Assume that nobody will treat your originals with the same care and respect as yourself, unless they pay good, hard cash for them.

    You're probably okay, but you don't want to risk your original work being eaten by someone's dog...

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    Technically, you do not need to do anything.
    The rights you are concerned about are granted by law upon the creation of the artwork.
    They are the default, so to speak.

    Technically, it should be they who are concerned, since they have no viable proof that you granted them printing privileges at all.

    If you are both concerned though, just draft a simple agreement, make 2 copies and have both parties sign it.
    It doesn't need to be fancy, just have it state in no uncertain terms that the art is yours, as are the originals, and that you have granted a single-time usage to said party... blah, blah.

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    You basically agree with the author exactly under what conditions you want your images used and state explicitly that you grant them no other rights than agreed. Then list the usages. Write it all down, together with conditions of processing the originals, and get them to sign it. Seeing as you're giving away your art for nothing and they, presumably, intend to sell their book commercially for profit, I somehow doubt they'll raise much objection to having to do this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Borisu91 View Post
    I've recently been given the opportunity
    Quote Originally Posted by Borisu91 View Post
    I wouldn't be paid for my work
    Some phrases just don't sit well together. Above is an example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Borisu91 View Post
    So, in short... How exactly does the process of copyrighting illustrations for a book work?
    http://www.copyright.gov


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    Thanks everyone! I really appreciate your help.

    And Baron, I'm afraid those two statements do seem quite odd put together, but as a college freshman without any real training, I feel I'm not at a professional level just yet and view this is more of an opportunity for my work to be published and seen.

    If everything goes well, this publication will allow me to participate in future projects where I'll actually be financially compensated for my work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnatude View Post
    Always sign your work, and make sure the signature also appears in the book.
    I don't know many illustrators who do this, or many clients who allow that. Only when the celebrity of the illustrator becomes an asset to the client will they leave a signature in (Frazetta etc). Also, it does not protect you from copyright infringement.

    FYI, it's not an opportunity for you, it's an opportunity and priviledge for them to get free work.

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    Considering how much money the average poetry book makes (<$0), I expect Borisu91 is probably getting market rate. The fact that the author seems rational about rights etc. is actually refreshing, since in most of these situations the unreasonableness of demands/expectations tends to be inversely proportional to the amount of payment.


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    RyerOrdStar, I suppose you can look at it that way, but considering I wasn't even working on any art for the longest time anyway, it's at least an opportunity in the sense that it can be added to my portfolio and has given me more experience working with the vision and demands of a "client."

    There's always a possibility that I'm just being too optimistic.

    And Elwell, you're unfortunately right. I've never heard of anyone recommending a particular poetry book in ANY situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RyerOrdStar View Post
    I don't know many illustrators who do this, or many clients who allow that. Only when the celebrity of the illustrator becomes an asset to the client will they leave a signature in (Frazetta etc). Also, it does not protect you from copyright infringement.

    FYI, it's not an opportunity for you, it's an opportunity and priviledge for them to get free work.
    Which is exactly why the artist should call the shots in this case.
    Pull my sig, expect a call from my lawyer and a big bill in the end.

    There is NOTHING keeping a person from copying and distributing your work, until they get caught. Just the way it is. It's pure luck sometimes when you catch them. Its when they are caught, after the fact, that you can do something.

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    You can only do something if you have copyrighted the works with the copyright office (as in damages). Pulling a sig from your work would only be breach of contract and then only IF you have a clause in there that prohibits them from modifying your work in any way. Mostly the client will ask you to take the signature out of your work before you submit it. Signing your work just doesn't protect you from anything. If you recognize the work as stolen then you will recognize the work whether or not your signature is in there. And no one's going to take your signature and put it on a work that's not yours.

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    There is a difference between what this OP has committed to, as compared to SELLING your work via contract for a book.

    Again NOTHING protects the artist from anyone taking/copying artworks, it will happen.
    If you catch the person copying, yes, you can proceed with the legal actions...

    The sig stays if its not bought and sold, my rules... client wants it off, then he/she better buy my work. To me, its not a case of protection, its a case of recognition.

    "Paid" illustrations, its a completely different case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Borisu91 View Post
    And Baron, I'm afraid those two statements do seem quite odd put together, but as a college freshman without any real training, I feel I'm not at a professional level just yet and view this is more of an opportunity for my work to be published and seen.
    I understand that, and I also agree with what Elwell says - poetry books almost never make a profit (or even recoup publishing costs), and I do get your point that it's something to put in your portfolio. But it's more that you are doing the author a favour, and in doing that favour you're also helping yourself. The latter does not negate the former. The opportunity is all theirs. It might sound pedantic but it's not a good mindset to be in, even in the early stages.

    And whilst I'm on with this I really don't agree with the idea that the author should not pay anything. That's the principle, not the money. If I were a penniless author who simple could not afford illustration costs, yet was desperate to publish an illustrated book with the unpaid help of an artist, I'd eat dry bread for a month, or sell something, just so I could give that person at least a token payment. It's this, in combination with your misplaced gratitude, that prompted me to comment.

    Anyway, good luck with the book and I hope it goes well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Borisu91 View Post
    Thanks everyone! I really appreciate your help.

    And Baron, I'm afraid those two statements do seem quite odd put together, but as a college freshman without any real training, I feel I'm not at a professional level just yet and view this is more of an opportunity for my work to be published and seen.

    If everything goes well, this publication will allow me to participate in future projects where I'll actually be financially compensated for my work.
    First I'll say, if the structured nature of working for a "client" helps you to produce artwork, then that's great. If there is something of value that you take away from the experience that is also great, so to that end don't let us nay sayers get you down about working for free. You do what helps you.

    However, all that said, I tend to agree with those who are saying don't work for free on anything you wouldn't do anyways. If you support a cause and want to donate your time, that is one thing, but feeling that because your work is below some imaginary line and thus should be free, is an insult to you. That you feel that you are not at a professional level is somewhat besides the point. They are asking you to work for them, so clearly the work is worth something.

    Now if you really do not think your work is fit to be payed, then what benefit is there to the supposed exposure? You are as much as saying the work isn't good. Why do you want other people to associate you with work you aren't happy with? That is no benefit at all. It is actually harmful to you.

    Also, but the old "if everything goes well, maybe we can pay you next time." is one of the biggest traps that new artists fall for. Do you know how many artists get a nice paycheck next time? I'm guessing almost none. A client who doesn't place value on the artwork will just find another new artist next time, assuming there IS a next time.

    I don't mean for all of this to be overly harsh. As I said at the beginning, you need to do what you feel is right for you, and where you see benefit. I just hope you and other new artists think a little more about supposed opportunities before they jump for them. They end up so often being a ton of work for almost no pay off.

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    I do think there are some cases, and this may be one of them, when working for free is better than working for not enough, in terms of the psychology of the artist/client relationship. When you donate your time and work, it's clear that you are doing somebody a favor, and it's much easier to be in control of the terms under which you do so. Also, there's the old adage about never entering into any negotiation you can't afford to walk away from, and nothing is easier than walking away from nothing. Whereas if somebody is paying for something, even at far below market rates, they often get a feeling of entitlement and ownership far beyond what their payment warrants. This is one of the chief pitfalls of dealing with amateur clients.


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    Is the poetry any good?


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    Baron, thank you for taking the time to further explain your point. I see where you're coming from, and actually do agree with you. If I were in the author's situation myself, I would at least find a way to pay (as little as it may be) the artist for their work and time, especially if they're already busy college students. I suppose I did come off as too eager and thankful to be working with this person, but I'll make sure to keep what you're saying in mind. It's important I start off my future in the art world with the right attitude and not become vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Thank you very much.

    And J Wilson, I also appreciate your advice in mentioning how I shouldn't really be putting down my own work, especially since it's at least worth something to the author I'm working with. I guess I just really hope to grow a lot artistically over the next couple of years, and feel this period is more of a transition rather than a point at which I feel proud and comfortable enough to really showcase my work. But, even in this stage, my art is at least getting me places, so I suppose it can't be too terrible! Haha. But seriously, thank you for your prospective.

    Elwell, I also see what your saying. There really isn't anything stopping me from just walking away from the whole thing. I guess that fact has helped maintain a willingness to work around my schedule and a restraint on putting any pressure on me (even though it's starting to shine through a bit now).

    And Black Spot, the poems deal with romance and the loss of love, etc. In general, poems with those themes aren't really my cup of tea, so I guess they're okay, but I'm not really one to judge. Hopefully they're good enough to sell these books though! Haha.

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