Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Illustrators Agreements & Contracts Part 2: Restrictions

Contracts that are generated by clients will always present a list of restrictions. Expect that clients will be looking after their own interests. It is important to be aware that restrictions can be negotiated, and if acceptable to all parties, be altered.

© 2012 Don Arday.
Contracts written and presented by illustrators should not be so self-deprecating. Just as clients will be looking after their own interests, it is important for illustrators to protect theirs. Some of the restrictions below benefit the client while others benefit and protect the rights of illustrators.

Illustrator Provisions

Relevant Illustrator Activities

This relates to the “expertise provided” component in Part 1. It is usually more specific and quite often works positively toward the decision to hire an illustrator. For example: When being considered for an illustration assignment with Marriott Hotels, a successful track record of illustrating for the hospitality industry, specifically for Motel 6, would be relevant, and would be a plus.

Illustrator Conflicts of Interest

Many contracts require an illustrator to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. Conflicts can occur through a personal relationship. For example: Being a blood relation or spouse of a person directly involved with the illustrator’s assignment. They can also occur due to a business relationship, either past or present. For example: An illustrator hired to produce work for Dell Computers has also recently been hired to produce work for Hewlett-Packard. It is important to note that disclosing a potential conflict of interest may not necessarily result in prohibiting the illustrator from being hired for an assignment. Conflicts can also be related to a client’s activities or a product itself. For example: I know of many illustrators that will not produce work for tobacco products, but they might for a non-tobacco company affiliate. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest can avert consequences. See below.

Illustrator Insurance Responsibilities

Somewhat rare, but still worth mentioning, are activities that might call for an illustrator to carry special insurance. For example: Situations that pose a treat of injury such as having to climb scaffolding to paint a large mural.

Illustrator Legal Responsibilities

The illustrator’s legal responsibility is now a standard clause in nearly every contract, and it is mainly due to the improper use of copyrighted materials by illustrators for image reference. Clients seek to protect themselves against legal actions that could result from an illustrator infringing on the rights of other copyright holders, see “10 Digital Art Copyright Definitions” posted 9/11/12. Legal and monetary responsibility for any copyright violation falls squarely on the illustrator. So it is very important to be aware of copyright statutes concerning rights of ownership and the creation of derivative works.

Illustrator Outsourcing

This provides clarification for circumstances where an illustrator needs to outsource certain types of services. In most cases, where copyright ownership issues may arise, the client hiring the illustrator may need to grant permission for outsourcing to occur. And, the client or the illustrator may need to have an agreement or contract in place with the outsourced party.

Illustrator Employment Arrangement

Under most circumstances an illustrator is hired to produce work for a limited purpose. While doing so, the illustrator retains a separate status from that of a company employee. This separate business status allows the illustrator to retain the copyright ownership of the work produced.  Although a “work-made-for-hire” agreement may be for a single assignment, it is equivalent to being hired by a company as an company employee. This means that under a “work-made-for-hire” arrangement, the copyright ownership of any works produced would belong to the hiring client, not to the illustrator. The client could then control and profit from the use of the illustrations. The client could reproduce them, or create derivative works, all without having to compensate, or even credit the illustrator, see “10 Digital Art Copyright Definitions” posted 9/11/12.

Illustrator Intellectual Property

The intellectual property right refers to the ownership of the copyright of an illustration. Simply put, the right to control the usage of an illustration. The illustrator is the copyright owner, which should be plainly stated in an agreement or contract -- unless the copyright was sold as a buyout, assigned over to another party, or the work was produced under a work-made-for-hire agreement. For more information on intellectual property see “Copyright Intellectual Property” posted 11/6/12. For more information on work-made-for-hire see “10 Digital Art Copyright Definitions” posted 9/11/12.

Intellectual Property Future Use
Future use should be addressed. This relates directly to the copyright ownership. Illustrators should retain the rights to future use of the images they create, including the right to create derivative works from their original illustration. Unless specified by an image “buyout” or a “work-made-for-hire” employment arrangement, the illustrator shall retain the copyright to the illustration(s) created for a client. This means the illustrator has the right to resell the illustration, create other illustrations based on it, and use it for any form of self-promotion they wish.

Derivative Intellectual Property Ownership
The ownership of any derivative works based on illustrations produced for a client should be clarified in an agreement or contract. Relating to copyright ownership, derivative ownership conditions that are noted in an agreement, provide additional clarity and protection for the illustrator if an illustration is altered and used by a client without the consent of the illustrator.

Client Provisions

Client Intellectual Property Rights (Non-Illustrator)

Some illustration assignments become part of, or are absorbed by, the intellectual property rights of the client. There are many instances where this can occur.  Common ones involve illustrated trademarks, service marks, or illustrations applied to inventions or patents. In these instances, through contractual agreement, the copyright ownership of the client or company will supersede the copyright of the individual creating the work.

Client Confidential Information

Illustrators are considered consultants by the clients that hire them, and by the very nature of an illustrators work, clients will often provide confidential information to illustrators in the form of project input and company inside information. Clients will require that illustrators, i.e., the image consultants, not disclose any proprietary confidential information.

Client Confidential Information Content
Confidential proprietary information can take many forms such as product information and development, marketing or communication strategies, content of publications, research and development activities, company policies, inventions and technical information, trade secrets, management and financial strategies, etc.

Client Confidentiality Timeframe

The timeframe of confidentiality depends on the type of project and the type of information involved with it. In the case of an editorial illustration for a magazine, the confidentiality timeframe usually ends when it is published.

Client Property Handling

A property clause is to address the handling of property provided to the illustrator for use during the course of an assignment. This provision defines the date, cost arrangement, and method of return of company property.

Client Work Restrictions

Related to “Illustrator Conflicts of Interest” and “Client Confidential Information”, it is not uncommon for a client to limit an illustrator from providing work for a third party, usually a direct competitor, while the assignment is being produced and/or for a period of time afterwards. Through disclosure of prior working relationships with other competitive clients, an agreement limit can be appropriately managed. Agreements and contract limitations should never extend beyond what is reasonable. It is not uncommon for illustrators to be able to work for a third party, with the understanding that they be bound by an agreement or contract terms of confidentiality. Especially if the type of work done is dissimilar.

Client Non-Compete Restriction

Similar to the concept of an illustrator work agreement, a non-compete restriction goes one step furthering restricting the employment possibilities of an illustrator. It specifies that the illustrator may not become a competitor to the client. Although seemingly obvious and avoidable, illustrators should consider future opportunities that could arise before agreeing to any non-compete provision. Non-compete clauses demand careful consideration.

Here is a relevant story. A freelance illustrator completed a storyboard assignment for toy product commercial for a local ad agency. The agreement had a limited work restriction, so the illustrator could not produce a storyboard for another toy company for one year, but the agreement signed for the storyboard also contained a non-compete clause. Soon after, the illustrator was offered a staff position by a different ad agency in town, and because that ad agency had an account with a toy company, the illustrator could not accept the position without a special negotiation with the first company.

Client Restrictions Timeframe

One or more specific restrictions can be bound by a timeframe. Alternatively all restrictions can fall under the timeframe for the entire agreement or contract.


Breach of Confidentiality

In some agreements or contracts, clients reserve the right to take action against a consultant, i.e., the illustrator, for any disclosure of confidential information. Rarely limited by specification, clients prefer to leave the ramifications of a confidentiality breach, and course of action in dealing with one, open ended.

Breach of Contract

Clients reserve the right to take action against a consultant, i.e., the illustrator, for a breach of contract. This could involve a breach of one or more components, provisions or “terms” of the contract.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Illustrators Agreements & Contracts Part 1: Components

Part 1 will focus on the basic components needed to create or interpret a contract or agreement. More and more, these documents have become a required piece of an illustrator’s assignment. This is an article intended to help illustrators deal with agreements and contracts.

An "agreement" is most often in the form of a contract, and a contract is an arrangement between two or more entities that creates a legal obligation to do or not do a particular thing or things. Although many clients have contractual agreements they present to illustrators when initiating a job, illustrators should also consider developing their own contract to address the issues that take place in the course of an assignment. Although the component explanations below may be long, in practice, each section of an actual agreement or contract may only be a sentence or two.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Agreement Title

The agreement title can be just about anything, but it is best if it contains the project title. For those who use a job numbering system, it can contain a job number. For example: PH0012 – Parkland Hospital Pathology Brochure Illustration.

Project Description

This should be a concise description of the work to be provided. For example: One full-page, full-color, cover illustration, and two full-color, interior half-page illustrations for the 2012 Eaton Corporation Annual Report to Shareholders.

Usage and Leasing

Usage, as it implies, defines any limits that are to be placed on the publication or distribution of the illustrator’s work. Usage is a vital component in a contract or agreement. Although created for an individual client and a specific use, in most cases, the work is being “leased” by the client for a specific limited term. There are also non-lease situations such as “buyouts” and “work-made-for-hire”. See the Intellectual Property component below. Any conditions of the usage and usage term should be spelled out in writing. Usage limitations can be based on quantity, time, location, or any combination. Here are examples.

Quantity Example
The Parkland Hospital Pathology Brochure Illustration usage is limited to an initial print run of 5,000 copies. So, reprinting the brochure would require a renegotiation of usage, i.e., an additional fee.

Time-Based Example
The illustrated character for Coca-Cola usage is restricted to print advertising for a period of two-years. So, migration of the character to the web or broadcast media would require a renegotiation, i.e., an additional fee.

Location Example
The promotional poster illustration for Fidelity Investments usage is limited to internal display in Fidelity offices in the US. So, a distribution of the image to the public would require a renegotiation, i.e., an additional fee.

Agreement Timeframe

It's extremely important to spell out the time frame, i.e., schedule for the project activity. This can be done in terms of time such as days or hours, or it can be done using actual dates. Naturally, a project's timeframe will reflect the complexity of the assignment. Multiple image assignments may have multiple sketch approval and delivery dates. Here are two sample timeframes:

Date Model
Start Date:                                                 1/15/13
Sketches:                                                   1/20/13           
Input or Approval from Client:        1/22/13
Revised Sketches:                                  1/24/13
Approved Sketches:                              1/26/13           
Delivery of Finished Project:            2/03/13

The date model is used for assignments that have a finite inflexible delivery date, such as time sensitive publications for events. So it’s important to have the dates nailed down in the contract. This works well when all parties agree and sign off on the schedule. A date-based schedule helps decision makers to comply with the schedule dates. One unfortunate consequence for illustrators when using the date model is that clients who don’t abide by the schedule are often also unyielding when it comes to the delivery date. This shortens the amount of time available to produce the work.

Time Model
Start Date:                                                 Notification of Approval to Begin
Sketches:                                                   5 Working Days
Input or Approval from Client:        2 Working Days
Revised Sketches:                                  2 Working Days from Input
Approved Sketches:                                               
Delivery of Finished Project:           7 Working Days from Approval

The time model, which is based on the amount of time it takes to complete each stage of a project, provides some protection for the illustrator when a client decides to prolong their part of the decision process. When this happens is quite common for the final delivery of the work to be adjusted according to the amount of additional time that has been taken up with any delays. I have had far greater success using the time model because, by its very nature, it necessitates a flexible delivery date, and most clients understand this.

Timeframe Penalties
Be aware, some contracts for time sensitive projects specify a monetary penalty to the illustrator if the work is not completed on schedule. Fortunately this is relatively rare, and usually is tied to large multi-vendor, multifaceted projects.

Agreement Beneficiary

All companies or persons who will receive a benefit from the services provided should be listed. It is very common for an ad agency, design firm, public relations firm, or marketing company to outsource an illustration assignment on be half of a client. Sometimes more than one company may be involved. All parties should be considered beneficiaries. For example: Creative Soup (the design firm) contracted by McCann Erickson (the ad agency) on behalf of Coca-Cola (the client).

Expertise Provided

This can be stated simply as "Illustration", or it can be written more specifically. For example: Dimensional Illustration, or Digital Illustration for the Technology Market, or Illustration and Design for Packaging, etc.

Services Provided

Services provided is an expansion of the project description that includes working process and description of deliverables. For example: Subject research, concept, design and layout, two proposal sketches per image subject, one round of revisions per subject, final illustrations, and delivery of digital image files.

Agreement Start Date

The start date is usually when one or more of the following occur: When the contract is signed, when the job compensation is agreed upon, when project input is delivered, and/or when delivery deadline is set.


Payment for services can be in the form of a lump sum payment, a schedule of payments, a fixed wage (hourly rate), a sales commission, or a trade of goods or services, a combination of types of compensation.

Lump Sum Compensation
Lump sum compensation can be in the form of a single payment due at a specified time when the commission is completed. For example: $2250 due upon delivery of finished art. It can also be broken down into installments to occur during the course of the commission and/or after. For example: 50% payment due ($1125) when sketches are approved and 50% payment due ($1125) when the commission is delivered.

Hourly Rate Compensation
Some types of commissions call for all, or part of the compensation to be in the form of an hourly rate. For example: $20 per hour (20 hour maximum) for development and completion of Fidelity Mortgage Illustrated Pie Chart. Service type work and the non-creative portions of a project can also be billed by the hour in addition to a lump sum for the create work and finished art. For example: $20 per hour (5 hour maximum) for digitizing traditionally produced artwork, digital file preparation for reproduction, and file or image duplication, etc.

Commission Arrangement
Taking payment for work in the form of a sales commission is an option, albeit a risky one. Commissions are usually a low percent in comparison to the value of the commodity being sold. In essence a fair wage becomes dependent on high volume sales, and high volume sales in some cases are hard to predict.

Exchange Arrangement
Compensation may also be arranged in the form of an exchange of services or goods. For example: One set of Cartier Trinity Platinum (Item CTP 3414) pens and pencils in exchange for the cover illustration for the Fall Colorado Pen Company Catalog.

Kill Fee
A kill fee is a specified amount to be paid to the illustrator in the event that an assignment is discontinued after the illustrator has been given the go ahead and begun work. This happens more often than any of us would like, so it’s important to have the kill fee spelled out. For example: An assignment discontinued during the sketch stage would incur a fee of 50% total payment. An assignment discontinued during the final art stage would incur a fee of 100% total payment.

Schedule for Payment

A clear statement of when you should be paid. It is best not to leave this aspect of compensation undefined. And, although it now seems fashionable for clients to delay payment much longer than they should, a payment schedule can be very effective at keeping receivables on schedule. For example: Payment due 2/28/2013. The same due date should be reflected on the job invoice.

Intellectual Property Right

The intellectual property right refers to the ownership of the copyright of an illustration. Simply put, the right to control the usage of an illustration. The illustrator is the copyright owner, which should be plainly stated in the agreement or contract -- unless the copyright was sold in a buyout, assigned over to another party, or the work was produced under a work-made-for-hire agreement. For more information on intellectual property see “Copyright Intellectual Property” posted 11/6/12. For more information on work-made-for-hire see “10 Digital Art Copyright Definitions” posted 9/11/12.


Materials Expenses
Material expenses can be either the responsibility of the illustrator or the client. Usually, this is factored in to the overall payment for the project, in which case the illustrator is responsible. However there are sometimes expenses that occur beyond the norm. For example: The painting of a mural might require a substantial outlay for materials such as paint, brushes and cleaning supplies.

Outsourced Expenses
Outsourced expenses can be either the responsibility of the illustrator or the client. An outsourced expense is one that requires the use of a service or hiring of a person or company. For example: Hiring a model to use for reference photos, or purchasing reference from a stock photo agency, or hiring a photographer to photograph the final work for digitizing.

Resources Support
In lieu of expenditure, many clients will provide resources in support of a project. It is advisable to make arrangements for, and list, any resources you feel the client should provide to you. Publishers will often provide reference photos, and clients in manufacturing will furnish products that need to be illustrated. I’ve had machine parts, high tech gadgets, and toys provided. I even had an actual Emmy award statue sent to me.

Company Support
Company support is usually in the form of office space, company access, or company staff services.


Assignment Initiation Person
This is usually the person who is working directly with the illustrator. Most commonly it is a designer, art director, creative director, account executive, marketing person, author, editor, company executive, or the company owner.

Assignment Authorization Person
This may be the assignment initiation person or a secondary person within an organization. For example: A magazine editorial assignment is usually “initiated” by an art director, but the magazine’s editor is the “authorization” person. It’s usually the editor that grants final approval of an illustrator’s work.

Financial Contact Person
It is extremely important to have all contact information for the person the invoice is sent to. It may be the person that is the assignment initiation person, i.e., an art director, or it may be an entirely different person within the company. And, it might even be a person at an entirely different company. For example: When an illustrator is hired by the agency or design studio on behalf of a client, but must bill the end client directly. It is my recommendation that this kind of situation be avoided at all costs. He agency or studio should be responsible for compensation, and most are.

Agreement End Date

The agreement end date should be stated in advance. It may be when the project has been delivered and payment has been received or it may not. It is altogether possible for an end date to extend beyond the point of completion. For example: The restricted nature of some types of assignments may be subject to a confidentiality restriction that extends far beyond the completion of the work. A situation may also occur where an illustrator may be bound by a limited non-compete restriction. For example: In producing a character illustration for Coca-Cola, the illustrator agrees not to produce a character illustration for any other soft drink company for the period of two years. As an option, agreement end dates can also be made renewable. For example: Coca-Cola may wish to extend usage of an illustration for an additional period of time. For a negotiated fee, the extension might also include lengthening the non-compete restriction.

Assignment Approval

Last but not least, a statement approving the project and the terms specified in the contract with a start date. Lines for authorization signatures and signature dates should be included for both the client and the illustrator.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eraser Facts and Fiction

Now, being an illustrator that works digitally, I mainly use the delete key, but when I’m drawing from the figure, or preparing a sketch for a client on a real piece of paper, I use an eraser to do my editing. There are several types of erasers in a variety of shapes and sizes, and each has a different purpose. There are a number of websites that present comprehensive information about the history of erasers, their material make up, and how they are made. This article will be about everything else.

Eraser Credulity

It should be obvious that erasers were made to remove marks from surfaces. Erasers are standard equipment in every artist’s, and draftsperson’s arsenal of drawing implements. Artists need them, especially those who tend to be a bit free spirited when it comes to drawing the figure. And then there are the rest of us, who can never get things right the first time. It is always desirable to have a tool to eradicate marks that don’t belong where they somehow happened to appear.

Pencils are the most common items erasers are used for, so this discussion will focus mainly on methods and materials using pencils. Although it’s my understanding that an eraser can be used to level a wobbly drawing table. In fact, I’ve seen whole classrooms full of useless drawing tables become fully functional by way of a box of erasers. Now, you may think I’m getting sidetracked by my mentioning it, but if you ever tried to produce a drawing on a piece of paper that was taped to a wobbly table, then you know that sacrificing one eraser to steady the table will result in a lot less mistakes that would probably require several erasures to fix.

Eraser Physics

Erasers pick up graphite particles thus removing them from a surface such as paper. There are erasers that do this because they are made of a tacky material, like a kneaded eraser, and there are erasers that do it by attracting the particles through fiction, like a pink pearl or plastic eraser. The friction produces a molecular attraction and adhesion. Smoother surfaces produce less resistance, resulting in less friction, while rougher surfaces result in more resistance creating more friction.

Each of the several different types of erasers corresponds to the properties of the surfaces they are applied to. So when using an eraser it is very important to pay attention to the surface property of the paper being used. For best results select a rougher surface eraser for a rougher paper such as a cold press surface, or laid paper. Select a smoother surface eraser for a smoother paper such as a hot press, or vellum surface.

Another lesser consideration, but none-the-less an important one, is the type of pencil or graphite used. This can sometimes have a bearing on which eraser will work best. A Dixon Raven has more graphite content than a Prismacolor Ebony, which has more carbon blended into it, so the choice of eraser may also vary.

The Goldilocks Theory

Recalled from the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, when an eraser is too rough it usually damages the surface of the paper by removing any coating that might exist and dislodging the paper fibers. This alters the way the paper surface accepts new pencil marks, which in turn, causes the erased section of a drawing to have a different appearance than its surrounding areas.

When an eraser is too soft, or too smooth, the paper surface remains intact, but the graphite becomes smeared and lightened rather than removed. More pressure or friction may still leave a ghost mark on the surface. And, in the case of art gum erasers and some plastic erasers that are made of a soft material, the eraser actually breaks down, or crumbles before any damage occurs to the paper surface, but also before any marks are completely removed.

When the abrasive roughness or smoothness of the eraser matches the surface of the paper, pencil marks can be removed easily without an excess of rubbing or the application of extraordinary pressure. The match of eraser to paper is just right.

Eraser Exposé

Art Gum
I have a vivid memory of myself, and three or four of my friends sitting around one day chewing on art gum erasers after our stash of Halloween candy had run out. I recall they were crumblier than Rice Krispies eaten dry. Most of us were familiar with that consistency, because back in the day, art gum erasers were also called soap erasers, and mothers galore would stick them in the mouths of their profanity-uttering children. And speaking of profanity uttering children, industrious pre-teens carve them into heart or skull shapes so they can stamp out the symbols of admiration they send to their fellow pre-teens.

Chewing gum. © 2012 Don Arday.

Eraser Bag
The last time I checked there were only three people on earth that knew how to properly use an eraser bag, and no two of them live in the same hemisphere. One day an eraser manufacturer was wondering what to do with all the excess flakes and powder that was created when real erasers are cut down to their actual shape. Then eureka! Stuff them into a cloth bag and sell them to baseball pitchers so they can mop the sweat off their brows. After all, the bags certainly couldn’t be used to erase anything.

The pitcher's best friend. © 2012 Don Arday.

Kneaded Eraser
Kneaded erasers are great for sculpting small figures and animals. A lot of dimensional illustrators use Glow in the Dark Sculpey® to fashion figures, but why waste money. As long as you don’t mind that greenish gray, goose poop color, you’re good to go. And they never dry out. So, if you don’t like cute animals, you can smack them down and turn them into candy shapes for playing tricks on your friends and loved ones.

Kneaded duck. © 2012 Don Arday.

Plastic Eraser
Back in the 60’s eraser manufacturers paused in their rubber eraser making frenzy, and took a look around them. They saw that silverware, dishes, lamps, garden tools, dog’s houses, children’s playgrounds, and even automobiles were being made out of plastic. And all were selling like hot cakes. It was time to get on the bandwagon. The first attempts to make plastic erasers resulted in little brittle blocks that didn’t erase anything. This result was later dubbed “the conspicuous Lego block mistake”. Soon the inventors realized they needed to find a substance to soften the plastic, and after chicken soup didn’t work they were stumped for a while. Next they tried formaldehyde, but this meant that plastic erasers were off the menu for starving artists. Then they tried non-toxic antifreeze, which worked wonderfully and allowed artists to store their plastic erasers in the freezer next to their popsicles.

Early plastic eraser prototype. © 2012 Don Arday.

Vinyl Eraser
An eraser manufacturer in Germany found several cases of a white material that had been buried during the First World War. And, even though they were clearly marked polyvinyl chloride, the inventors tried to make a batch of erasers out of them. The material worked quite well, but for only one thing -- drinking straws. Naturally artists found this less than acceptable for erasing, but quite useful for blowing pastel dust off of drawings. Well one day, a plumber had a brilliant idea while he was sipping on his milkshake. He could profit more if he replaced copper tubing with the straws. The rest is history. The PVC pipe was born. Well now. Where did this leave our poor eraser manufacturers? Gradually, they were finally able to make the material pliable again by adding, of all things, sardines and kippers. And, by keeping chloride in the mix they, once again, had not only created an edible eraser, but one that promoted healthy kidney function.

Vinyl infused with fish oil. © 2012 Don Arday.

Pink Pearl Eraser
The eraser of choice for adolescents, the Pink Pearl, in addition to removing fingerprints from gin bottles, has many innovative uses. Teachers beware; the answers to whole social studies tests have been scripted on the backs of pink pearl erasers. I’ve seen it! And, easily thrown and caught inside the classroom, the pink pearl is the preferred method of texting. Reptile owners will enjoy the fact that a pink pearl can be used to safely prop open the mouth of a rattlesnake so the venom can be extracted. And with a bit of whittling, pink pearls make great toe separators for those who enjoy a fashionable pedicure. Lastly, men and women the world over know, that a brisk rubbing with a pink pearl will remove unwanted body hair.

Pink Pearl with entire Gettysburg address. © 2012 Don Arday.

But Seriously

For illustrators, erasers are not only eradicators, but are valuable tools that can be used subtly or boldly to enhance the tonality in a drawing.

Kneaded Eraser
The kneaded eraser is primarily a tonal alteration tool. It is very effective at lightening an area of a drawing, and it can do this without any rubbing. And as erasers go it stands alone with this distinction. It’s putty like consistency allows it to be shaped for special situations. It can be formed into a point for delicate applications, or flattened to lighten a broad area, as need be. When it gets dirty it can be “kneaded” back into a clean state.

Special note: Other putty products I’ve seen used in place of a kneaded eraser, e.g., Sticky-Tack or Blu-Tack putty, although seemingly the same material, are more pliable and tacky. And, they will leave an oily stain on the paper surface.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Art Gum Eraser
It is easy to use up an entire art gum eraser on one drawing if it is the only eraser used. Art Gum erasers aren’t meant to last. They are designed not to harm the surface of paper, and they do this by crumbling apart. In fact you can split them with your fingernail. Therefore they are only light duty erasers.

Special note: Art gum erasers leave deposits on the surface of a drawing. So removing the residue from the surface should be done with care. I’ve seen drawings smudged by brushing the surface with the back of a hand to clear off art gum shavings.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Plastic Eraser
Plastic erasers have a very smooth surface and are relatively non-abrasive. They work best removing graphite from smooth surface papers. They tend to smudge pencil marks on rough surfaces and even drive the graphite into the paper fibers.

Special note: Often confused with vinyl erasers, plastic erasers are harder and less flexible. Also, plastic erasers harden and become more brittle over time, even more so than rubber erasers. The ones that contain colored dye can transfer some of the dye onto the paper surface if overused.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Vinyl Eraser
A very good all purpose eraser, vinyl erasers are slightly rougher than plastic erasers and much more flexible. Because they generate a fair share of friction they can remove pencil marks completely, or smudge them for effects if need be.

Special note: The surface of vinyl erasers tends to get quite dirty, and can actually put smudge marks onto the paper surface instead of removing them. It is sometimes necessary to using a spare vinyl eraser to clean the one being used.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Pink Pearl Eraser
Pink Pearl erasers fall into the class of rubber erasers, and are made out of natural or synthetic rubber. They are more abrasive than the other forms of erasers and are best used where aggressive erasing is needed. They work far better on rough surfaces than smooth ones. Ebony pencil, a laid surface paper, and a pink pearl make an excellent drawing combination.

Special note: Pink Pearls suffer from all of the other detriments mentioned above. They get dirty, leave reside, and dry out, and when dried out they can deposit dye.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Eraser Bag
An eraser bag or cleaning pad is a porous cloth bag filled with powdered eraser material. The eraser powder when deposited on paper and gently rubbed can remove light smudges and handprints from graphite drawings.

Special note: The eraser bag should be gently squeezed and shaken above the surface of the paper to deposit the powder on the surface. A soft cleanable cloth can then be used to wipe the smudges off. It is best not to use the bag itself. When the bag is used it gets dirty, and once it is dirty it cannot be cleaned or washed.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Non-Art Eraser

Magic Eraser
Not to be used as a drawing tool, the Mr. Clean® Magic Eraser is none-the-less a very useful tool for artists. It will remove graphite from the surfaces of objects that artists use in conjunction with their drawings, e.g., pencil cases, pencil handles, dirty erasers, drafting tables, etc. It’s very useful when managing the residual graphite that can contaminate a drawing.

Special note: The Magic Eraser uses a mild chemical abrasive to clean surfaces. The chemical can cause skin irritation for some people, and it can damage the surface of some materials, especially if it is used too aggressively. Although it doesn’t seem so, the Magic Eraser is actually a sanding sponge.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Copyright Intellectual Property

The work that we produce as illustrators falls under the category of Intellectual Property when it comes to copyright definition and legal protection. The term “Intellectual Property” began to be used in the mid 19th century in reference to early copyright statutes and patent law. However, it was not until the late 20th century that the concept was adapted in a broad sense. Intellectual property refers to “creations of the mind”.  Recognition and protection of creations of the mind is intended to stimulate creativity towards the advancement of research within a field for recognition and/or financial gain. Illustration, design, and art fall within this creatively based classification.

© 2012 Don Arday.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is divided into two categories: The first is copyright classified works, which includes artistic works such as illustrations, drawings, paintings, designs, photographs, and sculptures; literary writings; musical works; theatrical works; software; and architectural designs: Although not part of this discussion, the second category consists of industrial classified works.

Intangible Assets

So where does the work of illustrators, designers, and artists fit in to the definition of intellectual property? Works of art, musical compositions, literary works, phrases, designs, discoveries, inventions and other forms of creation are known as “Intangible Assets”. Intangible assets are defined as identifiable assets that cannot necessarily be measured but none-the-less were created through the application of a particular time and effort. Sometimes referred to as “Invisible Assets”, these assets must also be original in nature, in other words, not derivative of someone else’s intellectual property.

Intellectual property encourages the disclosure of intangible assets involving creative investigation to the public through publication and distribution of new discoveries, rather than keeping them a “trade secret”. It also acknowledges commercial success as a motivation for the presentation of creative works.

Intangible assets are divided into two categories: The first is “legal intangibles”, which includes copyrighted works such as works of art, designs, service marks, trademarks, formulas, and patents; generally speaking, assets that are attached to a fixed state of display. The second category is “competitive intangibles”, which includes knowledge-based activities such as working methods, strategies, collaborative discoveries, and subject knowledge. Competitive intangibles directly influence the creation and effectiveness of legal intangibles, and therefore are intellectual property.

So how do intangible assets relate to the work of illustrators and artists?  Illustrators and artists not only produce copyrightable works, but many of those works are produced using unique individual approaches to materials, or even unique combinations of materials. Additionally, nearly everyone creating original artwork uses a very personalized working method. This is where the descriptive term “intangible” comes in.

Here’s an example of how important an intangible asset can be. Art produced by Jackson Pollack has become a “tangible asset”, each painting he produced may be worth millions of dollars. However, because a very personal intangible asset, his indelible way of laying down paint relating to his own physicality and emotional state, died when he died, his artistic contributions cannot carry on. For traditional media illustrators, it may be the flick of the tip of a brush, or a unique color palette, etc. For digital media illustrators, it may be a custom designed brush, a unique color scheme, or a sequence of operations, etc.

Quantifying an expressive way of applying paint, or how reference sketches are evolved to produce a finished work would indeed be very problematic. So, for the sake of simplicity they are classified as the intangible assets of a work of art.

In the Too Much Information Category

“Intellectual Capital”, which is sometimes confused for intellectual capital, in so far as definitions exist at this time, is an investment measure of the valuation of a company. The measure takes the form of this equation: Tangible assets minus the market value of a company. In other words, the intangible gap between hard assets and the assessed value of a company is a company’s intellectual capital, i.e., it’s workforce knowledge. Hardly ever acknowledged, intellectual property and intangible assets, comprise a portion of this determination for the value of the intellectual capital of a company.

Here’s an example of how important intellectual capital can be. When Steve Jobs had to step down as CEO of Apple, the investment valuation of the company fell markedly. It was the result of a one-person shift in personnel. When Jobs died the value of Apple's stock dropped again. CEO’s come and go at corporations without any effect on the bottom line, but that was not the case with Jobs and Apple. It was his ability to generate intellectual property and his worth as a visionary contributor of intangible assets that increased the company's value.

Forms of Intellectual Property

Copyright means the right to copy. “Copyright protection subsists … in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” All art is copyrighted from the moment it is produced or becomes a fixed copy. Copyrights cover, works of art, designs, literary works, musical compositions, sound recordings, theatrical works, motion pictures, architectural works, and software.

© 2012 Don Arday.
A patent is a legal property right for an invention given to the inventor to protect the right of the inventor to capitalize on their invention for a limited period of time. The invention may take the form of a product or process. The property right is granted to the inventor in exchange for a full description of how to construct or perform the invention. Patent categories are utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.
A name, word, phrase, image, symbol, design, logo, or any combination of these elements can become a trademark. The purpose of a trademark is to differentiate the goods of a company or individual from other like situations. A trademark is a unique identifier used to aid consumers in recognizing the particular source of goods of an organization or individual.

Service Mark
A service mark is a name, word, phrase, image, symbol, design, logo, or any combination of these elements. It is essentially the same as a trademark except it relates to only to services. The purpose of a service mark is to differentiate the services of a company or individual from other like situations. 


Illustrators, designers, and artists sometimes fail to recognize the value of the intangible aspects that contribute to the creation of their intellectual property, i.e., their work. Artists should acknowledge, through a self-appreciation and appraisal, not only what they produce, but also how their artwork comes to reach its finished state. And finally, to realize that there may be, not just an intrinsic value to it, but a financial value as well.