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Guild Protests Federal Agency’s Logo Design Contest

Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 21, 2015

SBIR/STTR logoThe Guild has sent a letter to the Small Business Administration protesting the federal agency’s crowd-sourced “Seed for the Future” logo design contest. The agency is soliciting a logo for their Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs, an “innovation effort focused on research-driven, innovative and cutting-edge small businesses.” In exchange for a logo which will be utilized in print, on various federal agency websites, and for conferences, events, television, and other media outlets, the agency is offering a $2,500 reward to the “winning” logo designer. The designer will also be recognized at the National SBIR Conference, in National Harbor, MD, but is expected to cover all travel costs. The contest rules stipulate that the designer will grant the agency a comprehensive, exclusive license to the logo.

The Guild’s letter points out the irony of the Small Business Administration promoting innovative small businesses, by underpaying small business owners (independent designers and illustrators) for speculative design work through crowdsourcing:

“Does the SBA believe that underpaying American artists for speculative design work through crowdsourcing is the acceptable means ‘…to build a strong national economy… one small business at a time?’”

Additionally, the proposed reward greatly undercuts the value of a logo design for an organization of this size, as is reflected in surveys published in the Guild’s Handbook of Pricing & Ethical Guidelines. Lastly, the contest rules require the crowdsourcing artists to take on liability for actions of a third party that may occur after the submission designs, effectively asking individual artists to indemnify a federal agency at their own cost.

Recognizing that federal agencies must be deeply budget conscious, the Guild proposes that the agency instead issue a Request for Proposal, including their overall budget, and follow accepted best practices in reviewing and selecting a designer. Perpetuating the unfair labor practice of speculative work and underpaying American artists through crowdsourcing is the height of irony, and undercuts the constituents – small business owners – the agency purports to serve.

The full text of the Guild’s letter can be read here.

Copyright and Creators: Addressing Anti-Copyright Sentiments

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 30, 2015

John DegenJohn Degen, novelist and Executive Director of The Writers Union of Canada, recently engaged in a back-and-forth of the value of copyrights to creators. The discussion was precipitated by a question Degen had been asked on developments in Canadian copyright law. As described on The Writing Platform, “In Canada, a small tweak to copyright legislation resulted in a large loss of income for many writers when the principle of ‘fair dealing’ was extended to include education and interpreted by educational institutions to mean unlimited copying of relatively large portions of works.’ Degen summarized the importance of copyright to creative professionals as, “If you create it, you own it. If someone wants to use what you own, there needs to be a discussion.” He later elaborated on his point in a series of tweets, including one that compared an attack on copyright as a land grab.

This lead to a response from an academic in Finland, who asked whether copyright, as other legal concepts, should “develop and evolve” – a point of view that Degen describes as, “I'm not attacking your rights; I'm merely questioning whether or not they actually need to exist.” In the resulting Twitter exchange, Degen referenced the change in “fair dealing,” describing how a push by academics in Canada led to the elimination of collective licensing of written works for education, and resulting in a loss of income for writers. In the meantime, the price of the educational materials and tuition – ostensibly the reason for the law change – continued to rise. The result, Degen wrote, was “an attack on workers’ rights, creative livelihoods, on academic freedom, on students.”

Degen’s full article can be read on his blog.

Photo of John Degen used with permission.

Keep Your Art Director Happy: 10 Mistakes Illustrators Make

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 24, 2015

Guiseppe CastellanoArt director Giuseppe Castellano has compiled a list of 10 common mistakes illustrators make in delivering their artwork. The advice covers basic errors in file delivery that are guaranteed to sour a working relationship. Much of the advice covers basics, such as file type, color space, specs, and cropping. However, Castellano also provides insight into what makes art directors sing when he asks illustrators to push beyond the obvious in selecting their color palette, and in considering composition and point of view.

His strongest advice is to avoid springing nasty surprises on the client – by producing something unexpected, being late, or being unprofessional. He reminds that art directors have a hierarchy to answer to, and often have the training and experience to work with illustrators who are struggling with an assignment. Castellano encourages illustrators to keep their art directors abreast of any difficulties they’re having with meeting the terms of an assignment: “As long as you stay communicative, you and your client can work through any issue together.”

Guild Joins Organizations in Protesting the “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use”

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 16, 2015

CAA logoThe Graphic Artists Guild, together with National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), PACA Digital Media Licensing Association, and Professional Photographers of America (PPA), has published a letter addressing concerns with the College Art Association’s “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts.”

Specifically, the letter contests a major conclusion of the study, that “copyright acts primarily as a barrier, encouraging self-censorship; and that artists are in an adversarial relationship with the marketplace.” The letter points out that artists only seek fair compensation to their work, and that the study fails to educate its audience on options for licensing work. The letter also notes that the study fails to address commercial applications of fair use made by museums and non-profits in the creation of objects and coffee table books for sale. Lastly, the letter expresses the dismay of the organizations that none were invited to particpate in the study groups leading up to the creation of the Code.

Some of the weaknesses identifed in the study, including incorrect assumptions of industry practices, misplaced recommendations, and the inclusion of personal opinion as factual information. The letter concludes that “Without participation from all of the stakeholders in the visual arts community there can be no consensus, let alone a set of “Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts.” As developed, rather than “providing a practical and reliable way of applying” copyright law and fair use, the document creates far more misconceptions than it resolves and encourages misappropriation of copyrighted work rather than the practice of due diligence and licensing.”

The full text of the letter can be read here.

Guild Joins CreativeFuture Coalition to Address Piracy

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 12, 2015

Creative Future logoThe Graphic Artists Guild has joined CreativeFuture, a coalition of over 350 companies and organizations that seeks to address piracy. The coalition has three primary initiatives: mobilizing the creative community to speak up about the harm caused by piracy; advocating for policies which will staunch the flow of funds to pirate site operators; and educating youth about the cultural, ethical, and economic value of creative ownership. CreativeFuture is spreading its message via social media using the hashtags #RespectCreativity and #PiracyIsNotFreeSpeech.

Other coalition partners include major film studios and broadcast companies, as well as small, independent filmmakers, film festivals, professional associations, and IATSE International. The Executive Team at Creative Future includes Executive Director Ruth Vitale, formerly of Paramount Classics and Fine Line Features, and Director of Communications Chris Ortman, formerly appointed by Barack Obama to the US Department of Homeland Security.

Individual creators and organizations are encouraged to join Creative Future in taking action.

Below: A video produced by CreativeFuture describes value of creative works to the US economy, and how the for-profit black market in pirated goods undermines it. The organization has published a variety of educational materials on their website.

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