Artists VS Copyrights

Commissions. The money generator for the starving artist. Many artists use commissions as their career; powering their lives by taking paid requests from clients. A drawing of a fox here, maybe an otter or two there, or even original characters doing their thing. All of these are totally legal and fine to do. Let’s talk about something that isn’t so legal. Copyright infringement.

Before I begin, let me lay down a quick disclaimer: I speak the truth! What I am about to describe IS indeed illegal and counts as copyright/trademark infringement. Whether or not the copyright/trademark holders will actually bust you for it is another matter entirely. Just know that, should they turn their baleful gaze your way, your legal defense is nil.

Being an artist myself, when I have commissions opened, I will occasionally get a request to draw things such as Nintendo characters, Pokemon, etc. I end up having to turn these down more often than not, because I do not own the characters in question, and neither will I draw the characters for free. (Repeat to yourself: “Exposure doesn’t pay rent”)

Well now, how is drawing these characters for money illegal, you may ask. Simple. Copyright. You CAN draw any character under the sun regardless of who owns it; however, you CANNOT receive money for such drawings. The moment money crosses hands, you’ve violated copyright by profiting from a character that is owned by another entity without permission.

If you’re drawing a character belonging to the commissioner, they are, in effect, giving you permission to make money off of their original character (do not confuse this with the popularized concept of an “OC”. More on that later) for this singular instance and then revoking that permission once the drawing is finished and paid for. They cannot provide legal permission to draw, say, Pikachu, because they do not own Pikachu. Gamefreak does.

Now, what about “OCs”, (the popularized version) that is to say, characters BASED off of owned properties? For example, a Pikachu that’s wearing a bow-tie?

Still illegal. It’s still a reasonable facsimile of a copyrighted character. Even if it’s different colors, wears different clothes, and has different abilities; if it’s still presented as [NAME] the Pikachu, it is in violation. I would also argue that that does not make it an “OC”, as that is an oxy-moron. How is it an “Original” character if it’s based on a copyrighted character? I personally feel “CC” or “Custom(ized) Character” is more appropriate, although I doubt it’ll catch on.

Alright, so… what about an anthropomorphic fennec fox wearing a top hat and aviator shades?

Totally legal. Nobody owns the concept of a fennec fox, therefor you’re in the clear so long as that top hat doesn’t have a Nike symbol on it or anything like that. This also counts (in my book) as a true “OC” because while fennec foxes are a real thing, and your character is based off of them, again, nobody owns the concept of a fennec fox. They just are. This means you’re not basing your work off of anyone else’s work, but rather off of the seeming randomness of reality.

So basically, you can draw whatever the hell you like no matter who owns what, BUT, if you charge money for it, you’d better either have ownership of the characters in question, or have permission from whomever does. Derivatives of copyrighted characters are no exception to this; however, derivatives of non-copyrighted characters are. These laws help keep art thieves from getting away with whatever they please, protecting large companies and individual artists alike equally. Oh, and if you were wondering as to how to acquire a copyright on your own characters… draw them, and make sure you have a signature/watermark. Preferably with a date. (I include the current year in mine) That’s all you need. The signature/watermark isn’t necessarily required, as simply drawing the thing makes it yours (unless it’s derivative or explicitly NOT yours) but having a provable identifying mark on each of your works, this concept being the origin of the word “Trademark”, helps.

Now go forth, and sin no more!… or do! I’m not the boss of you. Just be careful and don’t be a scumbag who rips off poor artists. This post’s featured drawing is from 2012, and features my signature from back then.

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Here’s what I’ve got in mind for this…

I like to ramble, yes? I mean, it’s in the title of this blog (presuming you’re viewing this on WordPress) so… where’s the ramblings? En route!

To be perfectly honest, I’m not completely sure which direction I should go with this. I’ve got many varied interests including art, programming, videogames, and the like, but I’m at a loss as to what potential viewers would like to see. That said, how about a big ol’ cornucopia of whatever happens to be on my mind?

Basically, this blog shall earn it’s name by becoming a sort of “mind dump” at first, then, through viewer feedback or wherever the winds of thought take me, the blog will adapt to suit that need.

I will say though, before we head down this road, I must promise the following:

  • I will NOT rant about politics.
    • Politics are something I pay passing attention to, and can occasionally be passionate about, but for sake of brevity and maintaining a positive environment, that is not something I will be discussing here.
  • Discussions/drawings will remain work-safe.
    • I could go the other way with this…. but nah.
  • Discussions concerning photography, art, and programming are from the perspective of an Amateur/Hobbyist.
    • Take what I say with a grain of salt. I could very well be wrong!
    • If you know better than I, constructive criticism is appreciated.
  • Discussions surrounding controversial topics such as LGBTQ ethics shall be avoided.
    • While I support LGBTQ people and their rights, I am an outsider and am thus ignorant, so for the sake of not making myself look like an idiot, or giving the wrong impression, I’m saying nothing on this subject.

How often can you expect posts? I… dunno. Subscribe to the RSS to make sure you don’t miss anything, if not missing anything I post happens to coincide with your ambitions. :3

Lastly, about today’s featured image, this was a fun thing I made in… late 2015? I can’t remember exactly, but it was made in Corel Painter 2016 using a Wacom Intuos 5 Touch. Could’ve blended the clouds a bit more, but I do love the shadows/highlights. A fun technical exercise to see just how much I could do in Painter. Turns out, quite a lot!

Drawing: The Coming Storm

The Coming Storm
Raegal watches as a storm slowly draws near.

This one is pretty big mc large huge. I was feeling pretty down, so I decided to play around in Photoshop, then this happened.

I don’t often put meaning into my artwork, but this is kinda how I’ve been feeling lately due to a long streak of very bad luck.

Here comes some art! Day 6: Hyenas Rock

Hyenas Rock!
Billie (left) and Tina (right) jamming out like the spastic hyenas they are.

One of my more recent pieces, here is the last of this batch! On the left, we have Billie the female spotted hyena from before. On the right, we have Tina, another ‘yena. This time a dude! (Yes, Tina is male.)

Billie belongs to me, while Tina is a character made by a friend of mine.

Now that the ice is broken, what do you think? Do you have any questions? Want to know how this stuff was made?

Made in Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Here comes some art! Day 5: Boggy Wallpaper

Raegal Wallpaper
A bunch of Raegal doodles turned into a desktop wallpaper.

Did I mention Raegal was a shape-shifter? No? Well he is. He’s a boggart, specifically. Not quite the Harry Potter kind of boggart, but more akin to the Susan Cooper variant. Quite the little trickster.

This was made mostly in Corel Painter X3 with background work done in Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Here comes some art! Day 4: Nurse Billie

Nurse Billie
Billie the Hyena in her work clothes.

Here we have Billie the female spotted hyena nurse! She’s one of my favorite characters because I feel she is adorable. She’s also one of my newer characters, so her back story isn’t fully fleshed out just yet.

Tomorrow, we go Digital!

Here comes some art! Day 2: Lorelei on a Stool

Lorelei on a Stool
Lorelei the Otter sitting on a stool.

This piece is the second of six! This one features an otter character of mine named Lorelei. As you will soon see, I specialize in cartoony anthropomorphic animal characters, rather than humans or architecture or whatever. I just prefer to draw these sorts of things versus those.

Here comes some art! Day 1: Raegal Doodle

Bored Boggy
Fuzzy critter boredly writing things on paper.

Now that I’ve got a minute, let me share with you some of the things I’ve drawn in the past. I’ll be sharing a new drawing each day for the next six days, just to mess with posting queues.

This little fellow? His name is Raegal. Think of him as my personal mascot. He looks rather bored in this image. Click it for the full size version.