Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Permission & Brand association I never knew about

I've thought long and hard about writing this post and then I thought, yes, you must write it because we must all just keep learning and communicating openly through the sometimes murky waters of doing business.

So I had this scenario where my ‘Africa Reinvented’ artwork was used in a catalogue shoot for a local South Africa Brand. 

Nothing wrong with that.

Except that I was never consulted, the piece has not been credited in the catalogue and on another more personal level, my artwork is now associated with an industry that I am not a big fan of.  

It was all a big learning curve for me and for the company that used my piece.  For the record, we had a good chat about it and there are no hard feelings.  As I said to them, what’s the point of me getting worked up about it now as it is done but going forward we will both be more vigilant about managing where things come from and getting permission. 

So, I chatted with Adams&Adams Lawyers at Design Indaba, as well as a friend who is involved in all sorts of interesting things about this.  Both were adamant that it really is not on. 

But then I said, what if they had bought the piece – could they still use it in their catalogue?  The answer was categorically no.  You cannot use someone else’s artwork for promotional purposes without the permission of the artist.  

Is this is common practise in the industry in South Africa? 

Are artworks, pieces of furniture and other décor items being used in catalogue shoots with no credit to the artist/designer?  Or is my experience unique?  Are piece's generally used with permission, being credited correctly and said artist/designer is being paid a fee for the usage?

The most worrying part of it all is that I would never even have known that my artwork was in this catalogue if the actual brand had not dropped off one of the catalogues at my stand at DI.

The other interesting layer to this scenario is the brand association.  I have been involved with a conservation NGO call The Landmark foundation for a bit of time now and the brand that used my piece is a Mohair manufacturer.  Mohair Farmers are a group that Landmark is actively trying to work with to educate and change predator control methods used on farms in South Africa.  You can read more about this on their website. So now here I am having a conversation with a buyer of mohair and we are talking about my artwork that is in their brochure and my involvement with The Landmark Foundation. 


All I can say is that I am very pleased that the brand involved (and me) are open minded enough to see the value of talking things through.  We don’t need to agree on issues but that doesn't mean we can’t be friends and keep moving forward.

So in conclusion, it was a good learning curve and I'm glad it happened with a brand that could meet with me, have an open discussion about it immediately and shake hands.   

Going forwardI am chatting to all the shops that stock my artworks and products and have requested that anything going out on a shoot needs to have been cleared with me first.  I need to know whether it is for PR or a general shoot, what brand it is for, where it will be published and ensure that I will be credited.  

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