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Old 09-24-2003, 10:14 PM   #11
Linda Nelson Linda Nelson is offline
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Heidi,

Congrats on your work so far, and I hope this decision works out for you.

I think a lot of people here have brought up some extremely valuable points. I'd like to add some other comments though, as I think, although you don't want yourself to be taken advantage of, you're better off working anonymously while gaining more experience at what you do than working with your name proudly on your chest at Burger King.

First your age, or better, your "level" - Do you have an impressive portfolio already? If so, are they of works that could lead to the right type of commissions (by that I mean look at your portfolio from a marketing perspective). Now weigh that against what type of works would you be doing under this role - commissions of busts of real people, or making copies of some other person's style (aka knock off art). If it can't help your portfolio, it's not worth it. If it can, spending some time in the trenches anonymously can give you some valuable experience.

Next issue - He's providing the clients, but who's providing the "art direction". If you are making things to his order that may still have some value, as you get to see how that world works and how a project gets executed. If you get a promised agreement to be able to advance so to meet and art direct with clients directly, even better. If you have to simply take orders, then take what you can from the experience but have an exit plan.

Will he try to get a "finders fee" from whatever works you may be receiving, including those that come to you independently? Here I think the anonymous thing under him is an advantage. This way you can argue that you will still be free while working for him to find customers independent from him that are not his in any way, and use as justification that since you're "anonymous", in no way is his advertising expense getting you clients independently from him - get what I mean?

So you work for him and in the meantime you learn how and where he finds prospects, how he talks to them, manages them, bargains with them, etc. Then as you build your great portfolio you'll learn how to conduct yourself with clients, and, with luck, your style will emerge to the point you go solo with confidence.

I'd be sure to have a clear "out" clause, a clear termination to the contract, a clearly stated right to use images of what you produce under his tenure and that they are usable in your own self-promotion in the future, and a clear limit to what is his art and what is yours. (For example, if you make a sculpture for yourself while under his contract, it may be his.)

I think it's important to skip having an agent if possible, but IF you're someone who: doesn't know or doesn't like being a salesman, who doesn't know or doesn't like marketing, well, then there's another compelling reason to do this. I met a portrait artist one time who confessed he had absolutly no rapport with people, including the people he paints. Yet he loves to paint people. He was so hoping to have a rep so he could just paint people, and maybe even avoid ever meeting them. Now that's extreme, but hey, you have to be honest about whether you are a people person or not.

If hope this provides some other angles that aren't too silly to consider. I'm sure you'll make the right choice for yourself.

Linda
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Old 09-24-2003, 11:20 PM   #12
Heidi Maiers Heidi Maiers is offline
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I like the way you think Linda and agree with you completely.

I don't feel like I am being taken advantage of by working this way and I indeed view it as a learning experience. The pieces that will be produced will be very tasteful and will hold great sentimental value to the clients and yes, the pieces will be portraits of actual people. Normally, I make life size busts, but for these commissions, I will be making smaller scale full figure portraits which will be great practice for me and can only help my career and my level of expertise as an artist.

I don't know how I would define my current level. I considered myself a hobbyist from 1989 to 2000 and only made about 100 portrait busts during that time. It's only been in the last few years that I've really tried to pursue sculpting as a career and have been making great leaps forward. It's my dream to be able to quit my day job and sculpt full time and this fellow seems to think that he can get me enough work eventually that I can do just that. I'm already in my 40's and wish I had pursued sculpting seriously while in my 20's.

It is a good idea to have an escape clause - even though I could see myself making these for many, many years to come. You make a good point about not being able to claim credit for sales I make on my own - although I don't think I would have needed to concern myself with that anyway.

I view having an agent as just an additional avenue through which to sell one's work - the more avenues we have open to us, the more likely we are to reach our goals.

Thanks for putting so much thought into this Linda - you were very helpful.
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Old 09-25-2003, 07:13 AM   #13
Stanka Kordic Stanka Kordic is offline
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I'm glad your stepdaughter is an attorney. I nearly jumped through the computer screen when I read that he would only keep you 'anonymous in the beginning'. I'm glad Mike addressed that as well.

I really don't mean to be so negative, but this guy gives me the willies, and I have a strong feeling that his credentials are so impressive because he rides on the coattails of other artists. In my experience, the client looks at the WORK not the credentials.

Good luck...and congratulations by the way.
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Old 09-25-2003, 08:25 AM   #14
Tom Edgerton Tom Edgerton is offline
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I don't know if in this instance that work for hire would be a problem for you, since these works would be of specific people, and might not have another use. But work for hire is generally not a good idea because:

1) Under copyright law, you keep the copyright and control the use of what you produce. No one can reproduce your work without your permission.

2) If you produce work for hire, you relenquish the ownership of this "bundle of rights" to the person that hires you. You no longer have control over how, and how many times, your work is used.

I don't know the specifics of your deal, but here's a hypothetical: you produce a specific portrait sculpture of a child, under a work for hire agreement, and are paid a modest amount for your effort. Subsequently the work proves to be so beautiful and universal in appeal, that your client and the subject's family decide to mass-market copies of the work in gift shops, garden fountains, on tee-shirts, on greeting cards, on key fobs...you name it. Suddenly the work is as ubiquitous as bad copies of Rodin's "The Kiss. Your client retires on the proceeds to a house in Malibu, and collects royalties on the image's use for the rest of their life.

Under work for hire, you get nothing more than the original fee.

I'd advise that your contract specifically states that you are granting only the usage rights for the original purpose, and that any subsequent use be subject to additional fees, and that the work is specifically not work for hire. Get a lawyer who understands copyright law to help you with the verbiage.

Best of luck--TE
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Old 09-25-2003, 09:50 AM   #15
Lisa Gloria
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Hi Heidi -

It sounds like you have made up your mind. If you got your client through the same site as we talked about before I would caution you too.

Before you sign up, see if the anonymous thing is still negotiable (provided you haven't already). Sometimes people say stuff that just rolls off the tongue and sounds more set than it is.

Also, give yourself an out. I can't tell you how many contracts I wanted out of before the first month was over, and found myself thrashing around mentally like a racoon in a leg trap. It's such a relief to know you can renegotiate in 6 months, or whatever.

As an added incentive, you can offer to help with promotion, say, showing up at unverilings, writing your own press releases, or something. It would be a shame to do a bunch of work that wouldn't add to your portfolio, due to ownership problems.

I totally understand where you're coming from and think it's wise to compromise when the hounds are a-barkin' at the door. Just don't lock yourself into anything you'll regret when success rolls around again.
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Old 09-25-2003, 10:54 AM   #16
Linda Brandon Linda Brandon is offline
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Hi Heidi,

I just wanted to echo what Tom said: get advice from a lawyer who specializes in copyright law. I have a law degree and I wouldn't sign anything pertaining to my own financial future without running it past somebody who deals with copyright on a daily basis. It's just too important.

Here's a site that might help you somewhat, I don't know if it's posted elsewhere on the Forum:

http://www.arts.endow.gov/artforms/M...opyright2.html

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 09-25-2003, 02:36 PM   #17
Heidi Maiers Heidi Maiers is offline
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A different approach

Stanka - I can tell you have stories. You crack me up

Tom - excellent advice. I will be sure that the contract presented to me addresses all of these issues and is written in my best interest before having an attorney look it over further.

Linda - thank you for the link. That is a good resource on artist copyright.

Lisa - you were right about what rolls off the toungue not being written in stone.

As it turns out, before I even had a chance to talk to him about it (his ears must have been burning), he is changing his mind about marketing strategy and is planning to feature me and my work on his "Sculpture and Design" brochure as more of an introduction. He will be featuring my work, plus a photo of me working in progress on the first prototype I will be starting on soon. Of course the portrait statues orderable through his design company.

I will make sure I retain copyright and that only sales made directly through him and his company are subject to the finder's fee (yet to be determined).

I'll keep you posted on the outcome of this endeavor.
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:24 PM   #18
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
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Update?

I was searching for something and found this topic...and noticed that it was about 6 years old.

If you're still out there Heidi, can you give us an update?
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:05 AM   #19
Heidi Maiers Heidi Maiers is offline
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Hi Karen,
My, this has been a long time since this was posted and I'd forgotten about most of it.
As that experience turned out, I still think the guy was absolutely well intended and a nice fellow but - like a lot of people I've met since - turned out to be someone with big dreams but never got his project off the ground. I did make several sculptures for him for his own personal collection, which he bought, but that's as far as it went.

Have been approached by other people since then who also had big ideas, but I don't think realistically had the know-how or experience to turn those ideas into anything concrete. Others were purely out to make money off of me, and those were pretty easy to spot.

So, for the past 6 years the direct-client portrait commissions have been all I have been doing (that, and my regular day job) and I have had a long waiting list for the past 3 years now and am turning down most projects. Ideal situation I think, because I can pick and choose the jobs that interest me and am not having to deal with any 3rd parties. I still don't sculpt for a living, but I've come to the realization that that is by choice. I just like the safety of my dependable income too much.

Of course, even as I write this, I am yet again entertaining the idea of doing some commercial work for a guy in LA that would involve making a line of sculptures (about 1 per month) and receiving royalties on the sales of those. Jury is still out on whether to consider it seriously or not. May just be another person who is all talk and no show, but you never know and don't want to blow off something that could turn out to be a great opportunity.
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:23 AM   #20
Karin Wells Karin Wells is offline
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Thanks for the update.

I am a full time portrait painter. The pressure is on to generate enough money - and, like most of us, I'd rather be at the easel than doing "business things."

But that comes with the territory.

Good luck with the line of sculptures - I hope it works out for you.

And by the way, your Video was wonderful - I really enjoyed it. In my next life I want to be a sculptor.
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