I love the work that I do. It is so great to see an idea in my mind and make it come to life with the tools I have at my fingertips. It's not easy work to make it happen, matter-of-fact it has taken me almost twenty years to develop these skills, and I have tons of experience and owe plenty of student loan money to prove it.
What absolutely sucks about this career path I've chosen is the lack of respect I experience regularly in regards to the use of the work I've created.
As an artist/designer I can tolerate having to constantly be on my toes to defend the validity of the work I do, but that doesn't bother me so much. I can talk anyone into the ground about why the arts and design disciplines are important. But what I absolutely can't tolerate is someone using or selling my work to promote their brand without permission.
In the last few years since I've launched I Love My Hair, I have written numerous cease and desist letters and have been emailed several links to people who have used The Only Regret illustration for t-shirts, logos, web site graphics, etc. without my knowledge let alone my permission. Which pisses me off. Why? Not because of money or damages, but because it's just absolutely wrong!
In some of these cases the owners of these brands have been duped and have paid money for something they genuinely thought was an original (at least I hope), therefore I cannot fault them. So it comes down to the "designer" who thinks it's ok to pull designs and use them as their own.
I can slightly see non-designers/artists doing this; some people just don't know or understand copyright-protected materials or that you just don't steal other people's work and claim it as your own. But fellow artists and designers? That is just unacceptable. This field is already tough and highly competitive. We know more than anyone how difficult it is to make it happen — must we shoot one another in the foot to get an extra buck?
With that said. Be careful. Whether you are hiring a designer or using images you've found you need to be absolutely sure it is an original. Do your own research, ask around, and make sure you're using a reputable source. Reach out to other clients of the designer you're working with; and make sure you totally understand the royalty use of any image source you use. Just because it's on the web doesn't mean it's free.
If you have any questions about using designs, illustration, or other imagery for your brand please feel free to email me. I'd be happy to share what I know. I believe the only way to stop this is for all of us to understand the laws and know that artists have rights, too.
My fellow comrades, have you experienced this? How did you handle it?