Can you take us through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
I use a mix of traditional and digital mediums and one may often inform the other.
I may use my iPad to try out an idea for a physical painting first since I can use infinite colors/tools and experiment with placement while easily being able to erase something that doesn’t work out. That way I have a much clearer idea of what I want to do when I move on to the canvas. Sometimes I may want to make a digital version of something I painted on paper or canvas so I’ll use my iPad to make a new version that can easily turn into products or be licensed by a brand. All of my client work is exclusively done digitally as it’s a lot easier to do revisions, create different options and send files for the final product. Timing can wildly vary for all of my personal and professional projects.
Not everything I make makes money. I’d say most of my physical paintings don’t make any money at all but they do allow me to explore new ideas and give me a sense of personal satisfaction. Maybe one day they will start to sell and I will get to enjoy that side as well.
Have you experienced copyright infringement and, if so, how has it affected you personally and financially?
I have experienced copyright infringement many times. It is always an extremely frustrating feeling to have something you created stolen by someone. At times, it makes me not want to share my artwork because it’s so upsetting; and in addition to the infringement itself, you sometimes have to deal with negative feedback from people online for speaking up about it. Financially, it affects me because someone else profiting off my work takes away from my earnings, especially if it’s a huge corporation. Then I have to spend money on legal services to stop them and hopefully get some money back.
What is your biggest copyright-related challenge?
One of the biggest copyright challenges is the sheer availability and access that everyone has to artwork online on different apps such as Instagram and Pinterest. It makes it extremely easy for people to take art/repost/use for profit while claiming they don’t know the original artist and since it was online that it’s free to use. Then there’s the time, energy and money you have to spend on going after these infringements. It can become extremely frustrating after a while.
What is the best piece of advice that you would give fellow creators about copyright and how to protect themselves and their work?
I would say that first you have to come to terms with the fact that your work will most likely eventually be stolen because that’s the nature of the internet. It’s not flattering and it’s extremely upsetting. Don’t be afraid to speak up about this when it happens, include all copyright notices on your website and all social media accounts. Absolutely be sure to register your works with the Copyright Office since that is the only way you will be able to sue someone for damages in federal court or via the CCB. Also make sure you understand any contracts you sign especially when it comes to the copyrights because you could be giving away more rights than you want to.
What do you do when you encounter someone stealing something you’ve invested your intellect, time and money into?
It’s never fun when it happens, but I always look into my options. First, if it’s on social media, you can report it and have it removed. It’s not a quick or perfect process, but most times it does work with a little bit of persistence. If it’s on a website, you can look up the host of the website and file a DMCA takedown and it is usually removed fairly quickly. Depending on the use and who the infringer is, it may be worth pursuing legal action, but that’s normally the last step.
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