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Graphic Artists Guild

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We’ve Been Busy! 2019 Recap of Guild Activities

If you’ve been following Guild news, you know 2019 was an extraordinarily busy year for us. We spent a lot of time advocating for the CASE Act, traveling back-and-forth to Washington, and participating in panel discussions and presentations. But the advocacy is only one small piece of what the Guild board members have been up to. In case you missed it, here’s a recap:

Educational Events: Webinars, Live Chats, and Events

We kept up a robust schedule of monthly Guild Webinars in 2019, on topics such as financial management for creatives, legal issues, marketing, and WordPress. Some of those webinars were offered as free events as part of our student-oriented “Ask a Pro” webinar series. In 2019, our two Ask a Pro webinars given by working illustrators, who passed on their advice to illustration students. Priscilla Alpaugh and Ed Shems spoke about best practices for using social media. Crisy Meschieri and Liz DiFiore revealed mistakes made and lessons learned when starting off as professional illustrators.

Our South Region took the lead in organizing and conducting a series of Guild Chats. Every month, creators were invited to participate on a Twitter chat on topics such as copyrights, running a creative business, and working with difficult clients. Southern also took the Guild Chat Live, hosting two panel discussions last spring in Florida and Georgia. The talks, branded as “Conversations that empower and educate graphic artists”, pulled in local design leaders for free-wheeling discussions on professional life.

We also took advantage of having our national board meeting in Charlotte, NC by hosting a Pricing Game at the local library. While the event was intended to train our national board members on running the event, we invited the local community to join in. That event was so exciting and inspiring that right now we’re looking to bring Guild Live Chat nationwide, featuring the Pricing Game!

Building Community: In the US and Internationally

Connecting with the larger community of designers and illustrators is an important part of our mission. This year, instead of attending large trade shows, we focused our outreach on small design weeks. That permitted us to talk to communities of designers in an intimate setting. We participated in design weeks in Huntsville, AL, Modesto, CA, and Charlottesville, VA (where we also conducted a Pricing Game). The experience gave us good insight on the innovative work and professional roadblocks faced by designers outside of major urban areas. We also had a presence at Creative Pro, and kicked off the week with a gathering in a whiskey bar.

We continued to build our connections with creators internationally as well, attending the ico-D events in Vancouver, BC. Guild board member Yanique DaCosta represented the Guild at the 28 General Assembly, the biannual meeting of member associations, and participated in the Platform Meeting the following day. The Platform Meeting theme was “Design is Professional,” and discussion focused on defining the design professions, setting a code of ethics, and collaboration. Attendees broke into small discussion groups and participated in “speed dating” five-minute idea exchanges. The event was a wonderful opportunity to connect with design associations and institutions from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and Latin America. We’re hoping to conduct some joint virtual events with international associations this year. Guild Advocacy Liaison Rebecca Blake was also elected to a second term as ico-D Treasurer, furthering our commitment to international outreach and coordination.

Celebrating our Members: Increasing Involvement

Every year ico-D celebrates World Design Day on April 27, and last year’s theme was Women in Design. That presented us with a great opportunity to celebrate 12 of our women Guild members: illustrators, fine artists, installation designers, publication designers, educators, etc. We interviewed our members on how they feel design and the visual arts contribute to positive change globally, how they collaborate, and who their role models are.

We celebrated members in another way – by welcoming a large number of new (and one returning) board members at our National Board meeting in November! Two of our Regional Reps – Linda Secondari and Yanique DaCosta – moved into positions on our national board, joined by long-time Guild (and former board) member Rose Lowry. We welcomed members from East, West, South, and New England regions onto the board as our Regional Reps: Katy Marshall (East), Tammy Fluech (South), Liz DiFiore (New England), and James Stowe (West). Running a Guild region can be a daunting task, so they’re being assisted by dedicated volunteers, regional Associate Representatives: Crisy Meschieri and George Lopez (South), and Karl Heine (East).

Advocacy, Advocacy, Advocacy: It Never Stops

Guild Advocacy was on steroids this year! The big news is that the CASE Act passed the House, and the Senate version of the Bill is ready to go to the full Senate once Senator Wyden lifts his hold on it. We gave presentations on the bill, wrote a ton of articles, sent hundreds of letters, and begged, hectored, and nagged our members to contact Congress. (BTW, thank you for doing that!) We collected a couple of infringement stories to tell Congress what we’re up against and why we need the CASE Act. (We need more infringement stories – contact us if your work has been stolen!).

But perhaps the biggest splash we made is when we sent four board members to DC to stump the halls of Congress (in 100+° weather) and coordinate with a wide range of creators and advocates: photographers, songwriters, novelists, science writers, copyright lawyers, and advocates from ASMP, NPPA, APA, PPA, and NANPA. That networking lead to a wonderful event East Region cohosted with ASMP and the Authors Guild, sponsored by Trupo, a new Guild partner which offers supplemental benefits specifically to creators.

Although it may seem like it, the CASE Act wasn’t the only focus of Guild Advocacy in 2019. We responded to the Copyright Office’s Notice on Inquiry on Registration Modernization, weighing in on where we think the copyright registration process is particularly cumbersome for illustrators and designers. We also warned Guild members about the replacement of the Unpublished Collection option for copyright registration with the extremely limited Group Registration of Unpublished Works (GRUW) option. We were able to express our disappointment with GRUW, and our concerns with the registration system, in meetings with Register of Copyrights Karen Temple.

During the course of the year, we wrote several articles on a case involving the State of Texas using the copyrighted work of a photographer, and evading a copyright infringement lawsuit by claiming state sovereignty. A separate case involving state sovereignty and copyright infringement is before the Supreme Court, and we joined  an amicus brief authored by NPPA and ASMP. We also participated in ongoing discussions with stakeholders on modernizing the Copyright Office, presenting the perspective on independent designers and illustrators. And we attended the IFRRO General Assembly in Edinburgh, representing on behalf of creators and creators’ associations, a constituency we feel is underrepresented in the organization.

At our National Board meeting, we charted an ambitious plan of action for the Graphic Artists Guild. Expect to see more local in-person meetings, more representation at conferences, and more Guild member benefits. We’re already looking at amicus briefs we want to join – the Supreme Court is considering a lot of copyright-related cases this year! – and are working on a response to a Copyright Office notice on published/unpublished status. We’re well underway on the next edition of the Handbook (look for our emails on our surveys), and we’ve got the first batch of Guild Webinars scheduled.

And of course we’re working the last big effort: getting the CASE Act passed in the Senate. (Apologies in advance for the multiple emails that’s going to entail.) Let’s hope that 2020 is the year a small copyright claims tribunal becomes a reality!