Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Radio Times Christmas Edition: Barber of Seville

A lovely job came through for the Radio Times last week. Stimulating subject matter in the name of the opera The Barber of Seville. I concentrated on the theme of the barber (Figaro) guiding Rosini and The Count to eventual happiness, having fun playing with the glasses and scissors to represent the barbers profession and the divide between the two leads. As the deadline was quite tight, for speed and efficiency the image was almost entirely created in Adobe Illustrator, with final tweaking completed in Photoshop. This seems to be my increasingly employed working practice where APS simply becomes a finishing tool and AI is used to build the skeleton of the image. A really enjoyable project from start to finish.
"Tony Award-Winning Broadway Director Bartlett Sher scored a hit with his first opera-this Met production of Rossini's Barber of Seville. His Looney Tunes-inspired staging was to prove as sharp as barber Figaro's razor. Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov is the wily Mr Fix-it here and the hilarious pre-marital upheavals of Count Almaviva and his bride to be Rossina are explored with vocal freshness by tenor Alek Shrader and contralto Isabel Leonard."

Monday, 10 December 2012

"Images 36: The Best of British Illustration 2012"

The latest copy of Images 36 has been sat on my drawing board for a few weeks now and I've just not got around to posting a photo of the image in this years annual. This illustration completed for the Radio Times was selected to go to print out of three other pieces and here it is on the page. The full write up and a little background info on the commission can be seen here in an older post.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Finishing Report Cover

Here's an interesting job I did a couple of months ago and have been meaning post on here and I've only just got around to it. A commission for a printing magazine where they wanted to show the key different finishing processes used in print binding. As a theme the client requested the following anthropomorphic figures: Stitch, Glue, Cut and Fold Figures to be depicted simply, but ascending a staircase. A really interesting challenge in having to design the figures and how they fit in with each on the staircase. A couple of different colourways and the printed image shown. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Radio Times: Old Harry's Game

Delighted to have recently worked on a Radio Times commission for the Radio 4 series "Old Harry's Game". Written by Andy Hamilton. 

"This two-part special inspired by the unavoidable and almost upon-us Olympic Games. Satan (the devilishly good Andy Hamilton) has seen it all before, ever since 776BC to be precise. Fellow inmate Edith (Annette Crosbie) the historian who who apparently committed suicide while watching Midsummer Murders, is delighted by the prospect. Satan has no choice but to correct her rose tinted view and carts her off to meet the Ancient Greek Olympics committee. They are all in hell, and we soon understand why. (lets hope the same same fate does not await Sebastian Coe). Next week's edition returns the wretched underworld losers to 2012. Satan agrees to take Edith to the London Olympics, but its more a case of going for Gehenna than Gold."

Great fun to revisit this character again for Old Harry's Game. To be broadcast Thursday 12th July. Can be seen in the current edition of the Radio Times, out on newsstands today:

Also featured on the LCS News section: Little Chimp Society Illustration News....

Monday, 2 July 2012

Happy 350th Birthday Mr Punch

A blast from my past with Punch and cohorts coming to news attention again as he celebrates a big birthday.

Its a few years since I worked on a Mr Punch image, but seeing the article on the BBC website (by Tim Masters) made me want to revisit the character again. Will see what time allows for a little playful reworking perhaps. Fascinating to read up about Punch on the BBC site and amazing to think that the character has been around for 350 years.

I remember visiting the British Toy and Model Museum at the time of this job and having a good look at some of the vintage props they had from various puppet shows. They were really helpful when I outlined why I was researching Punch and by appointment I was able to see and handle the puppets. I remember them being a little fragile, tired and a little passed their best due to heavy use and wear - exactly how they should be. When I designed the image for the stamps I leant away from the sinister side of Punch, making him softer in character and thought what would he look like when fresh out of the box.

Once all of the sketches were approved I remember painting this image on a tiny A4 watercolour artboard on my Grandad's kitchen table as that was temporary studio at the time - I was staying with him before I moved to London. Not only was this commission one of my all time favourites, it also remains one of my fondest memories too, as my Grandfather and I discussed the creative process when I was going through the ups and downs of the job. He witnessed the progress from initial rough sketches, revised detailed drawings and of course through the finished artwork stages. That memory means everything to me now.

BBC Entertainment & Arts

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Apple Mac G5 Update

Apologies in advance for this indulgent post - incorporating high levels of Mac tech info! But, If you are a creative bod who runs an old Mac day in day out for work, the following may be of use to eek out as much performance as possible from your old box of sparks.
I have two Macs: An old 2005 G5 (Non Intel, Power PC 2.5 Quad Core) for rendering images and an Intel MacBook for email comms, net surfing and general family use. Both are synced with Apple's MobileMe. With the imminent closure of MobileMe and the move to iCloud this June signals the end of Apple sync support for older Macs. What to do?
New Mac Pro / iMac updates were expected at WWDC this June, I had planned to replace the Mac G5 with the latest Mac Pro when announced. Very disappointed with Apple's derisory upgrade. After a direct email to Tim Cook from a disgruntled Mac Pro user (not me!), Apple's new CEO replied publicly and made the unprecedented announcement (for Apple) that they are working on a Pro machine for 2013. Faith restored for Apple's long term users, but no new Mac Pro for me just yet, I'll wait. Time to refresh the G5 while keeping to a modest budget and explore alternative syncing approaches, so buying a bit of time to see what Apple do next…

At launch the 2.5 Quad Core G5 was a potent bit of kit, but things have moved on in the last seven years:
Current Spec: 8 GB RAM. Two internal HDD Drives. First for OSX, Apps and Work Files. Second partitioned, one section as a Photoshop Scratch Disc, the second for back up. Both drives almost full with only a couple of GB to spare, so performance of the G5 was slow to say the least, and crashed pretty regularly. Decided to rebuild from the ground up, and after much net trawling a plan materialised...
1.First step was to ruthlessly delete space hogging files - reference for old commissions, alternative illustration versions, scanned sketches etc. Literally, GB's of data deleted. A cracking little app for the purpose: 
2. All of the applications that I'd tried as a demo, and never bothered deleting were trashed. Again, GB's of space reclaimed. Another handy app: 
3. The next stage was to pinpoint the work files regularly used (textures, backgrounds etc etc) and which little used files could be archived.This gave me an idea as to how much hard disc space I had to play with for when setting up the drives.
4. Before any further changes were implemented everything was backed up to three external drives. Two drives mirrored and bootable, one just another copy of work files.
The Kit
5. Matched pair 4 GB new RAM bought, giving a total of 12 GB.
6. A Solid State Drive (SSD) ordered. A low-ish capacity 120GB unit, to be used as the OSX boot drive. Not the fastest 6G available as it has to be back compatible with SATA1 transfer speeds. So a 3G SSD it was. Still a significant improvement over a mechanical drive!
7. Internal Drives configured: Drive 1 SSD 120GB (smallest capacity) now only holds OSX Leopard 10.5.8, accompanied by essential Apps, and the current working illustration file. Drive 2 HDD 500 GB (largest capacity) partitioned into two: 75GB for a Photoshop Scratch Disc. The remainder 425GB for work files alone. No internal backup this time round. 
8. An eSATA PCI Express card added to one of the spare PCI Express slots to speed up data transfer / write speed to the two external backup LaCie D2 Quadra Drives. The third LaCie connected via a Firewire 800 port.
9. Then, both internal drives were backed up to the LaCie's. I tend not to use Apple's Time Machine as it does not support a bootable backup.Two helpful backup apps...
10. I Installed Dropbox, Evernote and Syncmate. Three superb pieces of software that help with the communication between both Macs and overcome the syncing chasm left by the closure of MobilMe...

And there we have it. The outlay? Around £235 / $350 (inc tax & courier delivery). A relatively modest sum compared to a new Mac, which bought me a significantly snappier, refreshed box of G5 tricks. The result - Is it a new Mac? No, but its enough of an improvement to wish I'd employed these upgrades much much sooner.
The results by breakdown, not benchmark figures I hasten to add, just an everyday working perception as to how the workhorse Mac feels in use…
1. RAM: Noticeable difference, quicker application switching and less spinning beach ball of doom when waiting for rendering effects in Photoshop. Machine now much happier with multiple apps open at the same time.
2. eSATA PCI Express Card: Significantly improved write speeds to the external LaCie drives. Makes using them for storing often used resources (textures etc) viable, rather than just archive backup.
3. Drive Configuration: Using two separate drives for OSX and working files helped make the launch of apps snappier and sharper. 
4. SSD Drive: The best till last. Would I go back to HDD? No ! Some run times…

Bootup1.05 min / sec0.45 min / sec
Photoshop Launch0.15 min / sec 0.5 min / sec
Photoshop Open 1.85GB File2.55 min / sec2.10 min / sec
Overall I'd say that the Mac feels about 20% sharper than before. Well worth the outlay and buys me some thinking time while Apple sorts out the next Mac Pro.
Hope you find the post interesting - and congratulations if you have got this far without the use of smelling salts :-)  

Friday, 1 June 2012

Little Chimp Society News Featured

EDIT: A twenty stage step by step process showing how the Radio Times image was rendered is now availalbe on the Beehance Network.

I'm very pleased to report that the guys over at The Little Chimp Society have kindly featured one of my latest projects on their excellent Illustration website. LCS is one of the best websites on the net to receive the latest news about Illustrators and their work. Well worth visiting the site. Similarly to Illustration Age, they tirelessly showcase work from artists across the planet.

The image was completed recently for the Radio Times and is published in this weeks Jubilee edition. You can see the article here at LCS: Radio Times Illustration: People Don't Do Such Things. 

A further, more detailed write up including a step by step guide as to how the image was rendered will be published at a later date on my Behance Folio.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Illustration Age Featured

I'm delighted that Thomas James and the guys over at Illustration Age have kindly featured a few of my images on their superb website. For all things Illustration, one of the finest sites on the web. If you have not already visited, then its worth taking the time to look through the broad range of inspiring Illustration work they tirelessly showcase - featuring work from artists across the planet.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Euro Deflation

Is the end of the Euro in sight? Seems it could well be, certainly ominous as to what's happening in Greece, now possibly Spain as well, and the financial market reaction. An image exploring the deflation of the great hope that is, or could be was, the Euro. I've been working on this for the last week or so as the news of the crisis unfolds - working on and off between other things.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Twitter-Tastic ! I'm finally on the Twitter-Scape. Catch my 140 characters here: @Kevin_HauffIts taken a while (I know), but with one thing after the other its just something I've not got around to doing as yet ! Had fun quickly blocking out the icon, all ready for a pending website revamp.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Influences: The Haunting

Supernatural themed Horror Movies are a particular favourite of mine, especially the slow to build menacing films that unsettle after the popcorn spills have long been swept away and the unease lingers into the daylight hours. Growing up in North Wales where the winters, although mild, were often windswept and wild, meant weekend evening hibernation with the TV was a regular pastime.

Luckily my mother was pretty liberal in her attitude to me watching late night Horror and Sci-Fi movies (thanks Mum) and this opportunity I embraced with relish. There are many movies from this formative time where the impact has stayed with me to this day. One particular film still has the capacity to raise the hairs on the back of the neck. The Haunting was directed by Robert Wise and starred Claire Bloom, Julie Harris and Richard Johnson. Made in 1963 in the UK on a modest budget, it tells the tale of a group of visitors  to Hill House, assembled by Dr Markaway (R. Johnson) to assist his scientific investigation into the paranormal, each guest having some experience of the supernatural.

Around the age of eleven or twelve I stayed up late one saturday night and watched this on my own in the dark, Mum having long since sank into a duvet. Being a black and white pre Hammer colour movie I expected it to be a laugh out loud comedy fest of vampire bats on strings, gothic cardboard sets and obvious BOO! shocks. Not a bat on a string in sight. This turned out to be a very unsettling film, as it intelligently plays on the fear of the unseen but present threat, and where the house itself is also part of the malevolent spectre, reinforcing the feeling of threat in every shadow. The form of this unseen menace is presented almost entirely in sound - another clever twist. Superb cinematography, editing and outstanding sound design make for a heady mix. There is the occasional flurry of over the top acting, but overall its not a dish served with thick sliced HAM.

The remarkable thing about this movie is that it really does stand up well today. I watched it again recently almost by accident. One weekend where Su had gone to bed I was still up padding about in the small hours, sleep a distant desire as I just could not settle due to a heavy cold. So I plonked myself on the sofa feeling sorry for myself with a hot glass of cold remedy. Scanned the channels and found The Haunting about to start in ten minutes. Great! I told myself that I'd just watch the first fifteen minutes or so while I drank the honey and menthol brew and then head up the to see the sandman. Fifteen minutes passsed in an instant - The Haunting had me hooked again. I sat and watched the movie in entirety and to my surprise it still unsettles all these years later, albeit to a lesser degree. With the credits rolling I sat there thinking just how good a film this really is and that early impression it made was not without substance. If this movie had "Directed by Alfred Hitchcock" at the top of the credits or on the poster it would be revered as one of the greats. I've since found out that its one of Martin Scorsese's fav horror movies, but other than that it rarely seems to get a mention outside of genre fans. 

The CGI heavily laden 1999 remake is terrible, although for a satisfying Ham & and Cheese fest its a riot :-)

A full from IMBD synopsis:

"Hill House has an evil history with tragic accidents, suicide, and human misjudgement. Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson) is a pyschic researcher who assembles a group with histories linked to the paranormal. Eleanor (Julie Harris) was the subject of unexplained poltergeist activities as a child. She also is riddled with guilt over her mother's death. Theadora (Claire Bloom) is a clairvoyant who befriends Eleanor at Hill House. Russ Tamblyn plays the cynical scion of the owners sent to make sure that the property is not affected by the researchers. Together the group explore Hill House and their own insecurities. Director Robert Wise created a taut drama where the real question is who is haunted and who may be unstable."

Some more at IMBD and Wiki.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


A playful image of a flying saucer as a vehicle for exploring a couple of new crafting techniques / approaches. The subject chosen for no other reason than my affection for the beloved B Movie ! Two alternative colorway's shown. If pushed I think I prefer the blue sky version.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Association of Illustrators: Images 36

I'm delighted to report that I had three pieces accepted into The Association of Illustrators Images 36 Competition. The Annual will be out later in 2012. The full list of successful entrants can be seen here: Link.

Monday, 16 January 2012


2011. Spring cleaning the studio (and Mac of old pix) over the weekend my mind started wandering back over the last year. Blimey what a year! Its been a busy time in the Hauff household with ups and downs along the way. A few highlights and musings, mainly work orientated although intermingled with some personal stuff. Pix attached and in no particular chronological order....
  • I've drawn a lot more freely in my sketchbook, especially in the latter part of the year. Enjoyed the process and will continue in 2012. Felt like I'd rediscovered how to simply draw and create new work for pleasure as opposed for a deadline. A good feeling.
  • Enjoyed exploring Adobe Illustrator thoroughly this last year, using it more often rather than relying mainly on Photoshop. The benefits having flowed into my work in spades.
  • My little boy started school. Wow, how did that happen....?!?!?
  • Blocked drains. Twice. And the subsequent clear up. I never knew I could swear that much. Holy Mother of God. Enough said.
  • My little girl played her first musical solo piece to a school audience. Dad beamed !
  • I sold my trusty (very) old VW Golf. I'm a bit of a VW fan and even though its been an occasionally troublesome beast, to say it was hard to let it go was an understatement. Its gone to a good home (I hope).
  • We went camping this year. The kids LOVED it.
  • I finally got to work for the New York Times. An ambition achieved.
  • My kids make me smile and laugh more and more, but sometimes I wish they came with a 'How To' manual.
  • I revamped my studio a little. Small changes, but now a better working space.
  • DIY. A fascinating steep learning curve as at the start of the year (between commissions) I tackled a lot of house decoration to keep the costs down in these austere times of ongoing recession. Cuts and bruises? Check. Lots of swearing? Check. Relief when it was time to take a break and get back to creating work? Check! Lows were rebuilding a sewer manhole and drains. Sheesh. Highs were seeing my kids faces light up at their new bedrooms. Wholly worthwhile.
  • My trusty Mac G5 tower hard drive fried itself into oblivion with zero warning. LaCie to the rescue.
  • The Vets unprofessional but funny reaction to our big burly tom cat as we removed him the travel box for a health check: " Look at the size of that "…!
  • The untimely passing of Steve Jobs. My favourite Jobs quote on Design: "When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You'll know its there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through".
  • Winter storm watching over the Christmas holidays where we drove up the coast to watch the huge waves braking over the sea defences. Spectacular.
  • The joy at finally fathoming out how to set up a NAS drive for iTunes in my studio and getting it to work properly. Punch the air.
  • Now that the kids are back at school and Su has gone back to work, Its just too quiet in the house and studio. I don't like it. Time to adjust again. At least Podcasts and iTunes make for working company.
  • My best buddy and I got disorientated on a 'challenging' ridge of a mountain when a heavy bank of mist descended, reducing visibility to a couple of meters. Thank goodness for a map and compass. Very scary at the time.
  • More drip paintings with my daughter. She loves throwing paint around and it gives me the greatest of pleasure to assist her.
  • Running 10K for the first time was a big achievement. Started running again about fourteen months ago and steadily upped my distance each week.
  • Doodling on a friends iPad. Wow. It won't replace a sketchbook, acrylic paint, Photoshop, Illustrator and my Wacom tablet just yet, but the potential is tantalisingly evident.
  • Seeing Anthony Gormley's Another Place on Crosby Beach for the first time. There at sunset, the place was deserted, the tide all the way out and the weather conditions were still, making for a rather eerie atmosphere to be walking around the sculptures.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ronald Searle 1920 - 2011.

Very sad to read of the death of Ronald Searle this morning on the BBC website (also more on the NYT Site). Known widely for the St Trinian's characters, but perhaps not acknowledged as he should have been for his wider creative work, especially here in the UK. Some of my favourite work of his came from the film titles of that 60's movie "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines". Not widely referenced when his work is mentioned, probably not his most revered work, but they struck a chord with me when I saw the movie as a child - then having no idea what an illustrator did. Yet somehow those drawings had an impact at the time. It was with great pleasure that I rediscovered them in a Ronald Searle book in the college library years later. I also witnessed his astonishing draughtsmanship on display when I visited an exhibition of his drawings at The Imperial War Museum as a student. He was a prisoner of war and survived the forced labour of the infamous Burma Railway construction. Here he created an astonishing record of life under terrible circumstances. The drawings ache with the experience and are as powerful as any photograph could ever be. If you are not familiar with these images, they are worth seeking out.

When I was at Art College, I worshipped a Holy Trinity of three great contemporary artists and draughtsmen that I constantly referred to and (foolishly) tried to copy and mimic - failing miserably. They were Ralph Steadman, Gerald Scarfe and of course Ronald Searle. Thank you for the inspiration and guidance Mr Searle.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Radio Times: Living With Princes

Radio Times: Living with Princes. A lovely way to start the New Year. A challenging commission for the radio pages as the theme was rather complex. A snippet from the synopsis:"In 1588, the essayist and landowner Michel de Montaigne set out on a journey round the troubled kingdom of France. He was on a mission - to reconcile the Valois King Henri the Third, a Catholic, with his likely successor, the Bourbon King of Navarre, a Protestant. His mission had high stakes at play – with an intensified Civil War the price of failure."I decided to concentrate on the idea of the country being united (from a religious perspective) by depicting a hybrid giant crown / castle with a split down the middle of a central cross to show the divide between the two religions, the complexities of the problem at hand represented by the two convoluted sides of the crown. The client requested a symbolic approach given the limited copy available and I just kept coming back to this rather left field theme. Radio Times out on newsstands today. And more on the BBC Radio 3 broadcast here: Link

Ben Tallon: Blog contribution.

Ben Tallon is an award winning freelance illustrator and former student of the University of Central Lancashire. After graduating in 2008 he has gone on to become a very successful freelance artist. You can view his online folio and blog
and I highly recommend doing so. I had the pleasure of experiencing Ben's dedication and passion for the subject when I was working as part time lecturer at UCLAN. He was always that one step ahead of the rest of his year, either with the questions he was asking the staff or the creative questions and challenges he was asking of himself. One thing that set him apart from the herd being his steadfast refusal to accept the creative status quo, always willing to try something new, even to the point of failure, regularly sacrificing work considered below par. Always receptive to constructive criticism and unyielding in his ambition to move his work forward. A rare character indeed!
Ben recently contacted me and invited me to contribute to his award winning blog on the theme of copyright, especially as some clients seem to be 'adapting' their copyright terms of late, from his experience and also mine. The full piece can be read here in context: Linky ! Or below....

After an invitation from Ben to contribute, I’ve raised, pondered and addressed a few questions about how the current economic climate is influencing the way both freelancers and clients are dealing with copyright; mainly with regard to retaining and relinquishing copyright ownership. To begin there’s also a brief tale of one particular experience I had as a fairly new graduate with a prominent client who employed a rather dismissive attitude to copyright law. To protect all concerned I’m not going to reveal the end users.

Lord only knows I’ve made virtually every mistake possible in the illustration game, fortunately I was lucky to learn early on in my career about the benefits of protecting copyright. Having not been long out of college I was still very naive when it came to how copyright worked in relation to an illustration commission, cutting my teeth on editorial’s initially where the copyright rules were generally pretty simple. At around this time, I was taken on by an Agent so Design and Advertising work started to come in. Luckily this Agent was instrumental in my second education in terms of making oneself aware of the nitty-gritty that surrounds an illustration commission, and subsequently how to protect oneself against the occasional charlatan in the game, that beware, do exist.

I was invited to submit sketches for a national campaign, starting with a brochure, which would if successful, expand to many further commissions - the eternal carrot - how often have I heard this since in my career, especially “if you can keep the fee low”? Several artists were considered for the job, but I got lucky and my then Agent secured the commission. Terms including fees, deadlines, copyright usage and assignment were all agreed in writing. Copyright assigned for one print application only, full copyright and original artwork ownership retained by artist. The commission was then completed, any amendments dealt with and all the deadlines were met. Client pays promptly. Everyone happy. I thought that was the end of the story, little did I know! A mushroom cloud of initial disbelief, followed by frustration and anger erupted several weeks later. Up until now, all the companies I’d ever worked for had been as straight as an arrow. A baptism of copyright fire perhaps… After several weeks the Agent visited the client premises to pick up the original paintings (required for an annual book promotion) only to find the artwork had been applied to many items outside of the agreed terms, including cards, posters, exhibition panels, flyers, merchandise etc. All sat in the office, ready, waiting to be sent to the end user client. The agent requested to see the Art Director asap (without appointment) and refuses to leave without being seen - FIGHT! The agent politely pointed out the breach of copyright issue and requested extra payment for multiple copyright infringements. Art Director then bluntly declined. Agent (volcanically enraged) then consults end user client, informing them of Ad agency / Design Group malpractice re: copyright infringement. Agent consults (copyright specialist) solicitor, threatening end user client and Ad / Design company with a lawsuit for breach of copyright. End client user comes down on the Ad agency / Design Group like a ton of bricks having zero knowledge of the original copyright terms, threatening to retract their entire account if the issue is not resolved. Ad agency / Design Group finally admit and agree that they have ‘taken a few liberties’ in terms of the copyright assignment. Through gritted teeth, they finally agree to pay for all copyright infringement, then threaten to ruin both Agent and the Illustrator in the Art & Design business!

Copyright fun and games. What did I learn from this? ALWAYS, but ALWAYS ask for copyright terms as the fee, deadline and the theme of the commission are being negotiated, especially if the artists does not have formal representation by an agent. Once agreed, ask the client to confirm in writing so there is proof of the original arrangement where both parties are clear as to how the work will be used. I also learnt to generally stick to ones guns about retaining copyright ownership of artwork, but alternatively, when required, to be open minded and flexible too. In some cases I have signed up to abysmal terms with regard to the copyright ownership, for one reason only. I had the opportunity to work for a client that I’d always wanted to work with. Sometimes it can benefit in the long term to just grin and swallow the bitter pill, while gaining some satisfaction that the bagging of a high roller is payment enough for the deal with Beelzebub. It is just part of the game. Before this incident I would never have asked about copyright. I now ask every time I get an enquiry and commission from a new source. The most important thing is knowing what you are signing away in the first place, so that you can make an informed choice as to the best course of action to take when the thorny issue of copyright assignment and ownership comes up, and it will, its only a matter of time.

Constantly monitoring copyright terms with all of the other associated freelance paraphernalia is yet another issue to address and is usually never at the top of the freelancers list, especially at career start. Ignorance with regard to copyright ownership could be a potential stormy sea for the unwary, especially those afloat on a rough ocean of limited experience. When it comes to the potential for ripping off both artists and even photographers, some mercenary clients can be rather vampiric, sucking as much out of the commission as they can get away with. If copyright has been agreed and signed off by all parties then you would think that would be the done deal, adhered to by all. Sadly not always so, as in my little tale which went on for some time afterwards, resolved in the end, but was a salutary lesson to learn early in my career - agree terms in writing - and check on what the client is up to with the print run.

A few questions spring to mind with regard to the current illustration market place and how clients are changing and adapting their copyright requirements…

1. Are all clients circling sharks tasting the blood in the water ready to exploit their contributors? Thankfully not. Actually, the vast majority are a pleasure to work with, some are wonderful and even go on to become life long clients where a healthy working relationship brings great creative rewards for both artist and client alike. This makes the odd copyright trickster pale into insignificance. Learn the rules and its fairly simple to play the game - even defensively when required.

2. So where are we now and why do more clients seem to be requesting outright copyright ownership? From discussing this with clients of late, its all about maximising how far their budget will go. Quite simply, in this economic climate of restricted outlay the aim is to reduce their expenditure for extra usage on the artwork. If the artist owns the copyright, every time the end client wants to use the artwork for something new they have to consult with the artist, negotiate permission and pay an extra fee. Time, effort and money. If the client has copyright ownership, they can use the artwork wherever and whenever they want to, over any time frame, without consulting the contributing artist. Time and budget efficient. Worrying isn’t it? Especially when the piece of work concerned may well be something the artist has put heart and soul into and the manner in which the client is using the work starts to differ from initial expectations. Which scenario would you rather have, copyright retained or copyright sold?

3. Playing devils advocate; are clients protecting themselves from the artist with outright copyright ownership? In some cases yes, and rightly so. There must be some self policing and restraint by the artist, where the artist respects the aims and intentions of the client and their respective campaign in the manner in which they use the artwork for any future personal gain, be that promotion, resale, competition entry, stock sale etc. Consider the potential scenario where an artist gains a commission, retains the copyright as is their right, but then decides that in a few week or months to resell the rights of this image to another rival client. The same image now being used in two similar campaigns by rival companies, at roughly the same time. If the artist retained the rights, they would have done nothing ‘wrong’ from a legal perspective, but little consideration would have been shown to the original client who’s campaign with the original artwork would now be next to useless. Is it any wonder clients want full copyright ownership? After all they are only trying to protect their (considerable) investment in the grand scheme of their campaign. Perhaps, another reason why a client would like full control of the use of the artwork.

4. What can the freelancer do to protect their copyright? Read the small print! Firstly, know the basics of how copyright works. Secondly, ask questions when the client initially makes contact. Prepare a check-list in advance so that you are ready. They only need to be basic introductory questions: My intro list runs like this: 1. What is the theme? 2. What is the deadline? 3. What is the fee? 4. How and where is the image to be used? 5. What are the copyright terms? From those simple questions, either by phone or email, the freelancer should be able to gain enough info to start proceedings and then expand with more searching questions if the job progresses or the klaxon starts ringing. Thirdly, if very restrictive, the freelancer does have the right to say no to the copyright terms offered by the client, then perhaps renegotiate by submitting alternative ‘compromise’ terms to which the freelancer would be happy to undertake the commission. It is here that the tug of war begins and on more than one occasion this has worked out beneficially. Although I’ve found it best not to be overly pedantic as the client may become impatient and go elsewhere if a king’s ransom is requested as part of the deal. It is at this stage where negotiations get interesting. Finally, and probably most important of all, get everything regarding the copyright terms agreed in writing with the job purchase order.

5. Does the artist have to sign away their soul in blood with every commission? No. Although on occasion you may have to choose how much you are prepared to sign away. In the current economic climate, all freelancers are at the mercy of the clients, (any client), as not only are the number of commissions decreasing due to shrinking budgets for such a luxurious commodity as an illustration. The very future of the clients themselves are also in jeopardy, threatened by the these European / global forces of financial doom. How many Magazine, Design Groups and Advertising Agencies that you know of or have had dealings with have gone into receivership in the last few years? I would bet a pound and a dollar (but not a euro) on more than one. Is it any wonder clients are tightening their copyright terms? Quite frankly, I don’t blame them. Of course, it doesn’t make it correct or fair practice in terms of what we the freelancer expect or hope for when we sign on the dotted line, just a reality we have to deal with. Most commissions will remain with a copyright bias towards the artist, but it seems an increasing number will not.

6. What about the Internet? Copyright still applies and stays with the artist, unless otherwise agreed with the end user client. Although what I’m finding are that some clients are requesting copyright ownership for a short period of time only (often thirty, sixty or ninety days), where they can use the artwork for both print and web. I personally don’t mind this copyright flexibility for two reasons. Firstly, the client gets what they want (for a limited period), so if the client is happy and if the commissioned work is of high standard, then hopefully they will come back to the contributor for new work. Secondly, by using the artwork on the web the client allows greater potential for the exposure of the artwork in question, essentially free net advertising for the illustrator concerned, as well as the usual print visibility as well - as long as the contributor is name checked. All for a little open minded flexibility when copyright assignment is negotiated. One of those rare win/win situations when both parties gain from signing away the rights, the caveat being, only sign the rights away for a short time span, the aim is for the artist to keep the rights once the copyright allocation ends.

7. What does it all mean in the short term? Recent economic gloom + double dip (pending) recession + restricted outlay for all clients = fewer jobs for freelancers + revised copyright terms.

Something we are going to have to get used to unfortunately. It seems the recent golden period of illustration is now over. Its been tough, its tough now and its going to get even tougher if the news headlines are to be gauged as an accurate barometer. Consider this: If you do gain a commission, firstly count yourself lucky, you are producing work that is gaining the right sort of attention, but what happens if that commission is dependent upon relinquishing the rights on the job? What do you do? There are plenty of other freelancers circling each commission, ready to relieve it from your hands if you let it go. Only quite recently I had to make this choice. I chose to let the rights go. It hurt, but I deemed it necessary as the client was one I’d always wanted to work for and I also needed the income, so I decided not to miss out on the opportunity. Though it is not something I intend to do with every client. With the illustration market compromised by external economic woes I think it really is time to tighten belts and not only that, certainly in the short term future it may be time to be willing to sign away those precious, much prized and passionately fought over copyright terms for a lot less than you (or I) would ordinarily like, for the one clawing simple fundamental reason, the need and desire to survive…?

2012 !

Happy New Year! A prosperous year ahead to all :-)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...