When inspiration goes bad.

There is always a hot topic discussion in the art world between inspiration and plagiarism. Was your work “inspired” by another artist, or did you just flat out rip off their work? Intellectual property can be a little muddy if you don’t know the ins and outs of copyright and trademark and you could find yourself deep in lawsuits. Our Professional Practices class was fortunate enough to hear local attorney, Mattias (Matt) Jannerbo, discuss this very topic. Mr. Jannerbo gave a presentation to a mixture of both students and professionals and there were questions abound. Mr. Jannerbo outlined legal definitions of both copyright and trademark and timelines of each. One thing I learned was that once an artist creates a piece, the copyright is theirs. I always assumed a copyright was something official that had to be filed. Of course, there is an official copyright and it was also discussed when it would benefit from actually filing for a copyright.

One thing that was very evident from Mr. Jannerbo’s presentation is that a clear and upfront contract between designer and client is a must. There were a few questions regarding verbal contracts and email contracts and bottom line is they may not be in your best interest as a designer. Being upfront with your client about who has ownership of the files and property from the beginning can eliminate much headache down the road. I was very glad to learn this information as a student so I am a little better prepared for designing in the “real world.”

Check out this link to Jessica Hische’s hand-drawn diagram on “Inspiration vs. Imitation.” She is hysterical (and knows her stuff)!


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