Copying other peoples art for money is the lowest form of art you can make.
Legally, the writers own the copyright to the written text, and to some extent, the story. They can't own the copyright to your visualization inspired by the text, because that didn't exist until you created it. It may have been suggested by the text, but in a way too vague to copyright. What you could get in trouble for would be re-doing the entire story in a visual form, for instance if you re-did it as a graphic novel or film without permission, because then you ARE using the copyrighted written story directly. For that matter, you could be sued if you wrote a story that too closely resembled another copyrighted written story (so no, you won't get away with writing the epic saga of Larry Totter going to wizard school at Bogwarts and fighting the evil Moldevort...)
Where people tend to get in trouble is when they create visual works based on an already existing visual property that was based on a book. So, for instance, if you draw "Alice in Wonderland" pictures based on the Disney or Tim Burton movie versions, that's problematic and you could be sued. But if you draw your own original "Alice in Wonderland" illustrations inspired purely by Lewis Carroll's text, that's totally okay. You're not ripping anything off, you're merely using text as an inspiration for new images.
On the other hand, if you do "Alice in Wonderland" illustrations ripping off Tenniel or Rackham's illustrations, that's technically legal because they're out of copyright, but you're going to look and feel like a knock-off, and anyway, where's the joy in that?
First of all I'm going to totally agree with dpaint and Queen above. Written and illustrated characters are two completely different arenas.That’s a very interesting distinction, and I wonder how it would work in a test case, particularly with more modern properties rather than those over a hundred years old. I think the production of fan work, or an illustration based upon the sort of properties you mention are indeed probably fine. Many of them are in the public domain, or have at least become 'public property' purely by their longevity and the countless interpretations that already exist. However, I wonder how H G Wells might have felt about having his characters or situations drawn by an artist not associated with say, 'War of the Worlds' then sold off as ‘fan art’? Is it merely the passing of time and copyright that makes it 'OK? Or are 'morals' just about expediency? Writers create ‘art’ too, just through writing, and their creations are as valuable to them as the painter or the draughtsman. Why is it different to take say… Superman, do your version of him and then sell prints, as compared to Captain Nemo, also do a version and then sell prints? There is actually little difference in my view. Both are intellectual properties ( as we’re now supposed to say ), but one has a definitive visual design/representation, whereas the other, through a non visual medium, only has a description. But neither belongs to you, ie: the fan artist. But it actually comes down to something very prosaic… what you can get away, who notices and on what scale you are doing it.
A personal example is the character ‘Death’ from ‘The Sandman’. The internet is ripe with interpretations of her, and I’ve done a number myself, for fun. The Nucleus gallery a couple of years ago held an ‘Endless’ exhibition where many established artists, some who’d actually worked on Sandman, (but plenty who hadn’t) exhibited and sold their work. Now I don't know whether they were licensed to do so, but there is a point where fan art becomes gallery art, and the Nucleus exhibition was an example of this because it's a 'take' on a property. I actually bought a painting exhibited there by John Watkiss of ‘Death’ because I loved it. Did a percentage of that fee go to Neil Gaiman? Highly unlikely. It's a grey area as Dusty says, and it should remain so. Fan art is not a black and white issue.
Maybe there are too many different definitions of fanart. What I understand is that fanart is a copy of another person's visual character, e.g. Homer Simpson. There is always someone's own way of doing it simply through the way one moves a hand or which brush one chooses. But it is a copy none the less.
The example of Gallery Nucleus and character interpretation is different. It is a long standing art form using parody, satire, etc. If someone just repeated a character exactly as seen I doubt it would add much to the show.
Maybe I'm sensitive but I like the Golden Rule. If you had spent years of training thinking and development and come up with a character that you love then turned a corner at a con and saw a wall full of copies done by someone else who is lining their pockets with money that should be yours how would you feel? I have had it happen on a smaller scale and it feels like crap.
I am all for young artists being influenced and copying my work as tribute and exercise but don't make a business of it. You won't make any money from my work anyway.
If people are doing this as fans of the property, why sell them? Especially if the money is not the issue then give them away. All I hear are excuses. No one has made the case why this is a good thing to do.
The only reasons so far are:
its an easy way to make money/ get new clients/ further my career
It doesn't really hurt the owners
Its too hard to come up with my own stuff
Other peoples stuff is already popular
Its not that bad compared to other slimy things
people on DA do it
Pretty lame in my opinion.
Oh crap I missed that part. Sell the shit out of fanart then.people on DA do it
I agree with D paints last post. I think you can still do fan art but give it away. I have a coworker that is a wonderful artist. He does lots of fan art. But he has never sold any. However he has paired it with his actual work so if people buy his original they get a choice of the fan art they want as a freebie. I dont know if thats is the same thing so.
1. Some authors will throw cease-and-desist letters at everybody for everything, whether they have any legal leg to stand on or not. For instance, the Twilight franchise apparently trolls certain sites and sends automatic takedown orders for any submission with the word "Twilight" in it, even if it's something utterly unrelated to the franchise like "Photo of Lake Mishegosh at Twilight"...
2. Some franchises have trademarks. This is where it gets complicated. Trademarks are different from copyrights. Copyright applies automatically to every drawn or written work, and covers that specific work as a whole. It doesn't cover ideas, or names, or phrases, or colors, or most specific details of a given work - just the work as a whole.
Trademarks, on the other hand, can cover all kinds of vague concepts under certain circumstances. Hence Coca Cola can trademark their particular shade of red as applied to beverages (though I doubt they could sue someone for using it in a painting.) Some franchises trademark - or try to trademark - their character or world concepts and names, under applicable circumstances. Hence Norman Bridwell can trademark Big Red Dog characters in children's media, and can trademark the names "Clifford" and "Emily Elizabeth" as applied to cartoon dogs and cartoon little girls - but I doubt he can sue real people who happen to have been named Clifford or Emily Elizabeth...
So where trademarks exist, tread warily. Even if you're in your legal right, you might get sued anyway by overly paranoid authors. If in doubt, stick to older books for inspiration.
@Tinybird: Dunno about "hourglass eyes", dunno what those are. But as for gold skin, white hair, red cloak, come on, that sounds like a million and one OCs... And you can't copyright a specific color combination for a character. (In spite of all the sparkle dog artists claiming that their blue and pink sparkle dog can be the only blue and pink sparkle dog EVAR.) Possibly she can trademark it as applied to a specific named character under specific circumstances, but it's pretty damn broad, so I don't know...
Last edited by QueenGwenevere; August 30th, 2012 at 10:11 AM.
That's not the "original" artist's (well who knows) because I've seen that print in different booths each year I've gone.
https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Amuria , but... it's ED, a lot of drama and DeviantArt, so... be careful...
EDIT: I GUESS it's Amuria, but maybe is someone who was inspired by her.