Creator Spotlight with Illustrator Jam Dong

Illustrator Jam Dong

This week we’d like to introduce you to Illustrator Jam Dong.

What was the inspiration behind becoming a creator? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I believe everyone has something to share, and illustration is the way I communicate with the world. Telling stories is everything! I think there are so many interesting corners on earth that are worth spreading, but they stay unknown and I wish they could be seen and appreciated through my eyes. Every time I start building the imaginary world on a white canvas bit by bit, where everything is possible, I feel so free. And that’s the most enjoyable moment during the creative process.

Can you take us through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?

Most of my works are children’s books. I write stories and turn them into picture books. So, usually, I begin with the manuscript, then thumbnails and sketches, and finalize the pages with color. It sounds organized, but actually, there is a lot of back and forth. It could take around two years to finish a book, not to mention the idea-generating part behind the scenes. I guess it’s part of being a freelancer that we don’t separate work from life. Even when I’m away from the drawing table, my brain keeps working subconsciously.

Besides the assignments, I also spend quite a good amount of time practicing, experimenting, and self-promoting, which is also an important part of the freelance job that doesn’t bring me any money.

When did you first become aware of copyright, and why?

Probably when I signed my first assignment contract, and I realized that I needed to protect my work with copyright.

What do you do when you encounter someone stealing something you’ve invested your intellect, time, and money into?

I haven’t encountered big copyright issues yet, but I have so many artist friends who have been through such situations. Their illustrations are stolen and printed on iPhone cases, used in a graduation show by an art student, or their products are copied by others but with lower price and quality.

To be honest, as far as I see it, there are no good ways to deal with infringement because a lawsuit is such a huge burden in terms of time, money, and mental health. And the compensation may not be worth the investment. However, with the CASE Act being implemented by the U.S. Copyright Office, things are hopefully going to get much better for independent creators who need to file suit when their works are stolen.

What is the best piece of advice that you would give other creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?

My advice would be to support fellow creators, especially online. For example, when I see a tweet about an artist’s work being stolen, I will retweet it, not only to support the creator but to let more people know about the importance of copyright (especially for those who do work in the creative fields).  If more people make the effort to protect copyright, the environment will become more original-friendly and less tolerant of stealing. 

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