Thursday, September 5, 2013
You lose some
In a weak moment I visited the Website for which I had been commissioned to create a pinup-inspired woman for a startup establishment.
Against my inner voice of restraint, I just wanted to see what the start-up got that was different or better than what I was working to give. The client canceled the project, said we were on different tracks, and paid me for my time to that point.
What the start-up got was better: It used the very art it supplied as inspiration for the illustration they wanted from me.
What's better than riffing off Vargas or Elvgren to create a custom illustration? Why, ripping off Vargas or Elvgren, of course!
Maybe the images used are royalty-free. Maybe they're low-cost stock images. Maybe they're just pulled off the Internet, already in low-rez jpeg format suitable for use on a Website. Who knows? Either way, none of the artists get credit on the site.
With pin-up girls, I've come to learn, ownership of art may be scattershot and frazzled. Vargas' and Elvgren's and others' work shows up in tattoos and modified on the Internet. Credit? Recompense? Hardly.
I sketched some of the famous poses hoping to help the client decide which kinds of poses were wanted.
One Elvgren painting I found originally shows a woman kneeling forward in a sheer low-cut coral-colored dress, bare beneath. Without too much work I found a version of the painting, identical in every way except someone has applied an intricate tapestry of tattoos over her breasts, down her arms and over a thigh. The result looks organic, as if part of the original art.
Sorry, Alberto and Gil, your work appears to be fair play.
I don't know what the start-up is doing for its ancillary promotional items, for which it wanted a two-color image from me. Maybe I don't want to know.
It reminds me of when I developed a logo for proposed establishment near the Gulf Coast. The clients had seen a logo I created for a classical guitarist and wanted that same look, a guitar turned into a crowing rooster. I drew them many many images incorporating their establishment's name and the story behind it, varying the basic bird-cum-guitar concept.
OK, but we really like that other logo, the clients told me. I mean, we really, really like that logo! Why can't we have that logo?
Because … someone owns it … ? You'll have to talk to the owner of the logo. Oh, he doesn't want to sell? Whatcha gonna do? They dropped off the earth. Every once in a while I check to see if that establishment ever got off the ground, and if so, whether it just pulled a jpeg of my logo off the Internet.
Sometimes in this business, I'm dead where I stand.