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Illustration

The Guild Signs on to Comment Letter on Group Registration of Photographs

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on January 31, 2017

Copyright Office logoIn conjunction with the Coalition of Visual Artists, the Graphic Artists Guild has signed on to a comment letter in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, “Group Registration of Photographs,” issued by the Copyright Office. In the Notice, the Copyright Office asked for feedback on proposed changes to the group registration of photographs. The letter submitted on behalf of the Coalition applauds the Copyright Office’s initiative in encouraging greater participation in the registration system by photographers, but raised concerns with some of the proposed changes. Of particular concern to Guild members, the letter raised issue with the exclusion of graphic artists from the group registration option.

In drafting the changes to the group registration of photographs, the Copyright Office is seeking to encourage copyright registration among photographers, streamline the registration process, and improve the recording of works by requiring digital deposits. However, graphic artists such as designers and illustrators are excluded from this option, despite the fact that these artists create works such as comps, sketches, and revisions that are delivered to clients and are ripe for infringement. The comment letter urges the Copyright Office to “offer a group registration category to all visual works.” It also points out that many visual works are mixed media, and that limiting the registration to still photography does not address how many artists work.

The comment letter addresses a number of other concerns with the proposed rulemaking, such as the limit of 750 photographs for the group registration (problematic for photographers, who often outstrip that number in the course of a single shoot), and the separate registration requirements for published and unpublished works.

The letter was submitted to the Copyright Office by Lisa Shaftel of Shaftel & Schmeltzer on behalf of the Coalition of Visual Artists. Signees to the letter include American Photographic Artists, American Society of Media Photographers, Digital Media Licensing Association, Graphic Artists Guild, National Press Photographers Association, North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America, PLUS Coalition, Shaftel & Schmeltzer, and Doniger / Burroughs

“Women Who Draw” Directory Showcases Diversity in Women Illustrators

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 19, 2017

An online directory of women illustrators is attracting a lot attention, and redressing a wrong. At first glance, “Women Who Draw” simply features work by women artists. But look a little closer: through dynamic filters, visitors to the site can cross-select women illustrators by ethnicity, sexual orientation, location (every continent is represented), and faith. Registered illustrators can select as many categories as they choose, and identifiers appear underneath the thumbnails of each artist. The result is a website which celebrates diversity in all its complexity.

According to its About page, the website was founded to increase the visibility of women illustrators, particularly members of under-represented groups, such as LGTBQ and women of color. In fact, the indentifying categories do not include “white” and “straight” as selection choices, in part to encourage visitors to seek out illustrators in less visible categories. (Although the website permits users to select from a global list of locations, the ethnicities are for the most part limited to categories common to the United States.) While the site calls itself “Women Who Draw,” trans and gender-nonconforming illustrators are welcome, and the liberal use of an asterisk appearing after the words “women” and “female” reinforces the site’s inclusiveness on gender identity.

As revealed in interviews in Slate, BBC, and Huffington Post (among others), Women Who Draw was founded by Julia Rothman and Wendy McNaughton. In an interview in Vogue Magazine, Rothman related that the impetus for the site came from the realization that her favorite “prominent” magazine carried almost no illustration work by women illustrators. In an interview on the SVA blog Features (Rothman teaches at SVA), the founders elaborated:

“We noticed that a prominent U.S. magazine only hired four female illustrators out of the 55 illustrated covers they commissioned in 2015. So we created the directory to provide an easy way to find talented professional female* illustrators and promote the work of women, women of color, LBTQ+ women and other minority groups of women illustrators. This way there would be no way any publication could ever say they’d hire more artists in these groups ‘if only they could find them.’”

The website has been wildly popular; there have been very few accusations of sexism or playing gender identity politics. In fact, within the first 24 hours since it was launched, the site crashed from the overwhelming interest — over 1,200 illustrators submitted applications to be listed. To meet the demand, the site has posted a “Support” page. Donations help defray the cost of reviewing and posting applications. To join the website, illustrators must submit an illustration of a woman and provide a link to their professional website – social media sites and shopping sites such as Etsy do not qualify.

The website also builds community through public collaborations. Illustrators are invited to post work created around a common theme, and post it to social media with the tag #WWDTogether. A curated selection appears on the Women Who Draw website.

Below: The #WWDTogether Twitter feed displays the current topic.

Free Art Licensing Q&A with J’net Smith, December 14

Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 29, 2016

J’net SmithJ’net Smith of All Art Licensing is running her free Q&A on art licensing on December 14th. The session is open to designers, illustrators, cartoonists, and surface designers. Registrants can submit their questions in advance, and Smith typically covers 15-25 questions in each session. Because of the popularity of the sessions, participants are encouraged to register early to get their questions in the queue. Participants will also receive a free copy of Smith’s ebook, 20 Rules for Starting Your Art Licensing Business.

J’net Smith has contributed frequently to Guild resources. Most recently, she conducted a Guild webinar, “The New Art Licensing: Beyond the Basics,” which was well received this fall. She also extends a discount to Guild members on her licensing products and services. Currently, that discount is 25% off on all products and services, available for Guild members only through December 31st.

Illustrator and Lawyer Collaborate on Law & Artist Videos to Inform Graphic Artists

Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 08, 2016

In a bi-coastal collaboration that benefits artists, illustrator Mark Monlux (Seattle) and attorney Daniel Abraham (New York) have been producing Law & Artist, a library of videos on legal issues of interest to illustrators and designers. The videos are short, ranging from three to 12 minutes in length. Notably, they tackle some thornier areas of confusion, or bring to light considerations which are often overlooked. The information is peppered with examples pulled from case law.

For example, in an episode on derivative art, Monlux and Abraham use Shephard Fairey’s copyright infringement in his HOPE image as an object lesson. A two-part series on fair use goes into greater detail on parody and satire, and which is permitted under fair use. (News flash: parody and satire are NOT synonymous.)  And an episode on attorneys’ fees delves into how those can be leveraged into any settlement an artist might get in a lawsuit. Monlux and Abraham consistently add to the series, permitting them to delve into the finer details on a number of thornier issues for artists.

Monlux and Abraham are a well-qualified team to advise artists. Mark Monlux is a cartoonist and illustrator, as well as an artist advocate. For many years, he served on the Guild’s national board, and he’s produced articles, videos, and animations educating designers and illustrators on legal issues. Daniel Abraham began his professional life as a professional illustrator before studying law. As a copyright attorney, he primarily represents creators. He publishes the blog Legal Easel, and has run seminars for the Graphic Artists Guild of New York.

Below: Off to a good start! The first installation in Law & Artist cautions visual artists to get the terms of their agreements in writing.

Relief for NYC Visual Artists: Freelance Isn’t Free Act Passes Unanimously

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 31, 2016

Freelance Isn't FreeOn October 27th, the New York City Council unanimously passed groundbreaking legislation supporting freelancers: the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act.” Introduced by Councilman Brad Lander last December, the act redresses the growing trend of non- or late payment experienced by 71% of New York City freelancers, according to a survey conducted by the Freelancers Union. The bill requires employers to make payment within 30 days after a freelancer renders a bill, and gives freelancers recourse through the Department of Consumer Affairs or through small claims court to enforce their rights.


Below: Councilman Lander’s jubilant tweet:


Non-payment is a huge issue for freelancers nationwide, as documented by the Freelancers Union.  In a nation-wide survey of over 5,000 freelancers conducted by the Union in July of 2015, 71% of respondents reported that they’ve had difficulty collecting payment over the course of their careers, and 50% of respondents said they’d encountered that within the previous year. Of those reporting difficulty in collecting payment, 34% were never paid. The survey results indicated that annually freelancers lose about $6,000 from nonpayment, and experience late payment on an average amount of $5,743. That’s a steep financial burden for most freelancers.

The act redresses non- and late payment of New York City freelancers by several means:
•  Clients (not freelancers) are required to issue a contract for any freelance work that will total $800 or more over a 3-month period;
•  Payment must be made within 30 days after serviced or rendered, or within an agreed-upon date;
• Clients cannot press freelancers to accept a lower fee in exchange for timely payment;
• Freelancers can file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs, or bring a court action against deadbeat clients;
• If the court rules in the freelancer’s favor, the client may have to pay legal fees and fines up to double the owed amount; and
• Repeat violators may be fined by the city up to $25,000.

For the act to be written into law, it must be signed by Mayor Bill DiBlasio. However, indications are that will happen, and support for the bill is widespread, as evinced by the unanimous vote. NYC Public Advocate Letitia James is a vocal supporter of the bill, which she and 32 City Council members co-sponsored. The Gothamist also reported that in an email communication, City Hall spokesperson Rosemary Boeglin indicated support for “laws that protect all New York City workers.”

In addition to conducting the payment survey, the Freelancers Union ran an extensive campaign to publicize and promote the act. Union founder Sara Horowitz co-wrote an op-ed on the issue with Brad Lander, the Union marshaled freelancers to rally at City Hall, and Union members testified before the city council. The Freelancers Union also ran an online petition supporting the act, published freelancer payment horror stories, and posted “The World’s Longest Invoice,” a running tally of the amount owed to freelancers.

Now that the act is practically a reality, the Union isn’t done. They’d like to take the initiative national, encouraging freelancers to propose similar legislation in their municipalities. They’ve kept up their petition to “Bring the Freelance Isn’t Free Act to your city.” So far almost 10,000 freelancers have signed it. The Graphic Artists Guild was proud to back the Freelance Isn’t Free act in New York City. We hope to have the opportunity to do so elsewhere.

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Looking to keep up with industry trends and techniques?

Taking your creative career to the next level means you need to be up on a myriad of topics. And as good as your art school education may have been, chances are there are gaps in your education. The Guild’s professional monthly webinar series, Webinar Wednesdays, can help take you to the next level.

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