A Thought About Manipulating My Work

April 23, 2013

*Read Update Notes Below
So, as a general policy. When you commission EWG, you are buying the art, the client gets the 300dpi file, but not the source file, with which they are free to do with as they please. Even says so on my invoices, 'yours to post, print, wallpaper or eat, whatever you want'. All I require is retaining credit for the hard work and ability for EWG to use it in promotional ways for the purpose of acquiring more commissions. Always in print or low-res file kind of ways there for never cheapening the client's own acquisition.

That being said, why in the same email, would you go 'holy cow great work!' and then also say 'i dont know how you feel about others tampering with your work.... BUT HERE I MESSED UP THE SCALE AND MADE IT LOOK SQUEEZED AND DISTORTED AND ALSO CHANGED THE COLOR SOME AND RE-POSITIONED THEM TOGETHER HOW DO THEY LOOK NOW!?'.

If you pay for the commissioned work, and don't even ask me for changes, why did you mess it up? Ugh. Makes me regret putting so much into it if the person is just going to screw it up like that. 

My first response was to be like 'yeah fine whatever you want'. Then it sorta started eating at me.  So if you take work I did, that came out perfectly fine, and "...make the girls less thick" (which is absurd  I draw fine looking ladies thank you very much) by squeezing the horizontal scale and completely blow out the scale and proportion of the whole figure and call it 'improved'. Thats your business. But I do not want credit for it. Please make sure, if you manipulate my finished work, that credit for the original piece goes to me but that you slap a big ol sticker on it that you tinkered-the-holy-hell out of it because I don't want people seeing the EWG logo/signature on it and thinking that EWG did that. It didn't look HORRIBLE, but it wasn't good either. And my issue, in closing, lies in this:

Okay, you can mess with the finished art you bought all you want. But are you posting that up with my logo on it? Are you crediting me to the version you end up with? Or you removing the logo and claming the work as your own? Where is the line between what should and shouldn't be credited to me, and how is the general public or others supposed to tell the difference?

Perhaps I'm over thinking this? He can edit and use it as he wishes I suppose I just don't see where the line is. Where is it? I can't see it? *Squint*.

So maybe, in conclusion... my diagnosis of this problem is. Please just don't. Leave the art alone, the way I made it, or ask me for changes. Otherwise, its just not my work. And all that time I spent on it was for nothing, because I don't want my logo on it anymore.

*Update Several Hours Later: Thanks to all who have read the article here/ on the EWG website, my original intention is to create a thought process in readers about where the line is between work that's the artist's and at what point its not acceptible for work manipulated by others to have your logo on it. I have edited the article to better drive home the point and make it less about dissing the client, who I realize was just experimenting learning/ playing with the piece. Infact, as it says in any 'fine print' of a EWG invoice or contract the finished hires art is for the client to print, post, use for toilet paper whatever they want. But, all that is allowed as long as they do it without altering it. If they start altering it, at what point should the logo not be on it, or at what point should it still be on there. This is the gray area I find most confusing. THX for reading, now back to the original article, though it has been revised a bit.


  1. Anonymous said...:

    Hi there.

    I'm the client in this discussion and some questions have been asked, so Ill do my best to answer them.

    Why would I say, holy cow great work and in the same email say "I don't how you feel about...."

    Well, the answer there is that I didn't. I said, "Thanks so much! :) Not sure how you feel about folks messing with your artwork. I played around a little in photoshop and made the girls a little less thick and changed the coloring...."

    Why didn't I ask for changes instead of trying it on my own? It was the spring sale special and give that there were no proofs offered, I surmised that the reduced price included no opportunities for adjustments. I didn't think it was my place to impose.

    You do draw fine ladies. I enjoy your artwork quite a lot and have commented so. In this particular case though, the figure of the lady that was drawn did not, by my eye, well represent the particular character in mind. Additionally, she was simply in the wrong color outfit. We're talking a superhero here, and the colors are important.

    I never did say that I had "improved" on your work. Only that I had messed with it. I'm sorry you judge me efforts as not good and as having tinkered the holy hell out of it.

    Am I posting that up with your logo on it? Claiming the work as my own? No.

    What I did was make my best effort at getting the artwork that I had commissioned to more closely represent the character I had in mind. I then emailed you privately with the results to get your opinion. Nothing more.

    I didn't ask for changes because I didn't think such a request would be welcome and I didn't want to ask for more work than what was paid for. I would have of course happily accepted an offer to make those changes had one been made.

    As to the general topic, is there a level of acceptable modification?

    Should a client be able to turn a piece into line art for use as a coloring page?
    Make a flip copied and use both as column borders on a webpage?
    Crop a close up of a face to use as an icon (which would probably strip out the attribution mark)?
    What about stripping out the background completely and only using the character as a graphic?

    How much artistic integrity should be expected with electronic artwork commissions?

  1. Probably no different than someone taking an illustration of Iron Man or other Marvel character and "messing with it". Just give credit where it is due and make note that it is not the original artists work --- yes, remove the logo - because it IS NOT the original artist at that point.

    Nuff Said!

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