I’ve seen tons and tons of fanart on the internet and sometimes they’re being sold as prints. My question: is this acceptable? Is it legal? Here two examples:
With both the cases the…
I completely understand what you’re saying. I totally get that those character designs are owned and not by the artists of the pieces that are being sold. But these laws are put in place really to stop the thieving and claiming of ownership of a concept/design/art work and so on. These people don’t claim the ownership of these properties.
Now, I don’t know what background you have, or where you’re from or where you live and what kind of art community/fandoms/geekdoms you belong to or have contact with. But I read comics, I work at a comic book store. I go to comic book conventions. If you’ve gone to a comic book convention you’ve seen an ‘artist alley’. Or you’ve seen the “professional” artists selling their art of a copyrighted character design. It has been stated that it is their art, but not their design. But, If the companies that own the rights to these characters (Marvel Comics [owned by Disney] or DC Comics) don’t have a problem with it, set up a booth next to them and actually hire from that pool of “fan” artists. I don’t see a problem with it and I don’t see how you should either.
If you are worried about your art/designs/creations being used/sold by fan artists, you need to stay out of the field of published graphics, i.e.: gaming, comics, animation, anime, manga and so on. This is an industry made upon using the the designs and creations of artists that then get owned by the companies that publish them. And I’m sorry, but your [Inspiring Illustration’s] response about Jack Kirby and “…Read your contract very well before you sign there!” I find that a bit offensive and insulting. You can’t tell me if a major graphic publisher [Disney, Marvel or DC Comics] decided to hire you for design/art/creative work you would turn them down? This is a line of work that I want to get into. A field that I have a true love and passion for. Do you know anything about the industries that you’re talking about? I doubt it. I also doubt that 85% of any major graphic publisher’s-[Disney, Marvel, DC Comics or any other] designers/artist/creators are getting royalties. That isn’t something that really happens in these businesses. You’re an artist/creator/designer. You are paid to do that task and thats it. You don’t get to keep your creator rights in most cases. That’s why in the 90’s there was a boom of creator owned comics and publishings. However, you do get to make a name for yourself. You get work experience working for these publishers that allows to continue to generate work and gain fans that will follow you and buy you work. It’s a trade off that has been going on for 50 something years at least? My point really being is, to complain about fan art breaking some legality to an artist is a bit ridiculous when you’re only defending the companies that own the rights to the characters. Not the artists that created them.
We live in a time of the digital age. This is one of the best times to break into the business of graphic publishing. Professional Creators, Artists, Writers, Publishers are online, they are on Tumblr, Twitter and Deviantart. Because you are posting your art of Wonder Woman, or selling a print of your pulp styled covers with a company’s characters you could possibly get a job. Just off the top of my head I can name two artists that are now working professionally for DC Comics that were convention goers, fan art posting and fan art selling artists that were seen and hired. With a little time and research I bet you I can find a lot more. I also bet there are a lot of artists that owe their career to peddling their ‘fan art’.
So, I digress. If you are afraid of someone making a little bit of cash off of fan work of your design. You need to stick to a classical or fine arts line of work or something different altogether. Because, in the world of big publishing especially in the graphic media of Comics for example, there is a give and take. And you know or learn that you are just an artist and you are paid to be and do just that, art.