Fanart in a Portfolio?!
chrisaakins last edited by
I did three illustrations for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and posted the last one on my Instagram last week. A Narnia fan page had picked up the series with the first piece, but somehow this last one just exploded! (By my modest standards, at least.) I suddenly have a lot of new followers, many of whom are obviously Narnia fans and who post imagery from the movies.
It hadn't even occurred to me that I was doing fan art! I was just looking for a fun text to reimagine. I have liked the Narnia series since I was a kid, long before the movies came out. When I did my own illustrations I went out of the way to read the text carefully and not take my imagery either from the movies or from Pauline Baynes's lovely original illustrations. Any apparent similarity is either from the text or from my study of 1940s evacuee clothing.
So I guess I fall into Lee's second category. Let's just hope the film producers or Douglas Gresham don't decide it's theirs! I just wanted something to show consistency in my portfolio. But would it be legal to sell prints if someone asked?
@LauraA You post an interesting question!
First I think it's important to distinguish the definitions of "fan art". The distinctions got a bit muddled during the podcast conversation
The question asked in the podcast was about "fan art". That is, artwork based on intellectual property owned by someone else (Batman, Captain Marvel, Star Wars, etc). In this case the fan-artist is looking at an image already created and then making a "new" image that looks substantially similar. In copyright law this is called a "derivative".
Fundamentally all fan art of this kind is an infringement. To legally reproduce it requires permission from the current IP owner.
As was mentioned in the podcast this fundamental infringement can (and often is) allowed/tolerated/sometimes encouraged by the IP owner for a variety of reasons that Jake covers in the podcast.
Now there's what you created for Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe . . .
What you made (while certainly artwork of a story of which you are a fan) is not "fan art"
The copyright to a text applies ONLY to the text and is owned by the author.
The copyright to an image applies ONLY to the image and is owned by the illustrator.
As you wrote:
I have liked the Narnia series since I was a kid, long before the movies came out. When I did my own illustrations I went out of the way to read the text carefully and not take my imagery either from the movies or from Pauline Baynes's lovely original illustrations. Any apparent similarity is either from the text or from my study of 1940s evacuee clothing
With this piece you've done exactly what every illustrator who has ever worked with an author has done for decades. The author can never claim ownership of the artist's visual interpretation of the written text.
You mention the "film producers". The film producers of LW&W created and own only their version of the story (the script) and their versions of the characters (actors likenesses and costuming choices)
Any similarities between your illustration and the movie interpretations CAN overlap but must be limited to the description in the original text. If your illustration looks significantly like the actor, or use a distinct costuming choice from the movie then you've crossed the line into infringing on the LW&W movie.
In this post I'm talking just about copyright. One of the fun new wrinkles for IP is that of trademark. I did see the there's a "word mark" held by the C.S. Lewis (PTE.) Ltd. for "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe". So if you were going to aggressively promote and sell the print I would suggest contacting an IP attorney
Jeremy Ross last edited by
Nice piece @chrisaakins!
@davidhohn Thanks for your detailed reply! I feel a little more relaxed knowing that I didn't do fan art in any strict sense. Maybe I was thinking about the fact that my Lucy has a green cardigan and a bobbed haircut combed over into a barrette on one side, like Lucy in the movie. And my Susan has longer hair like the Susan in the movie. But the green was because I didn't want any one of the children's clothing to stick out too much my compositions, and those hairstyles were just very common at that time. I don't think my faces resemble those of the actors very much.
Now here's where the real irony kicks in. My husband is an IP attorney! But he is a patent attorney who now works more in international client relations, so like a typical attorney he doesn't want to give an opinion on my copyright questions .
dickdavid last edited by
Another great show!!
Speaking of the "For All Mankind" show. I agree that it's a brilliant concept. However, I could use a little less of the soap opera and more of the sci-fi.
As somebody living/working with a pseudonym, I completely agree with what was said on the podcast. Do what you like, but stick with it. Mine was easy because it's an alliterative version of my first and middle name, and a lot easier to remember than my last name.
Lisa Clark last edited by
I looked up your Narnia illustration and it is amazing. I've read all of the books with my kids and we love Narnia! I love that you included a dog as they're such a fun part of that story. We would totally buy a print!
dickdavid last edited by
I can totally relate to the 0 to 1 hurdle. The hardest line that I make in any drawing, is the first.
Alzamon last edited by
Just had to add some comments on @Will-Terry 's anecdote sharing around the 37 minute mark. Man, those stories get to me — specially since I've known what it is to go through long, dry spells of work (and money), therefore you think not twice, but thrice about leaving a dull-but-profitable day job in favor of living the wild artist's dream you always wanted.
What I have learned and experienced is that the fear of not getting enough time to flex your artistic chops gives way to the fear of not getting enough money to live in, which becomes a bug in your head that won't let go. How do artists manage to keep their spirits high when they don't know where or when their next pay will come from? Equally as Will says, having multiple sources of income is fundamental; savings, investment funds, any other skills you can sell besides illustration. I've come to a point where time is a more valuable asset than money for me so I'd happily consider stepping down to a part-time job position to test the waters, but these are a hard sell in the fields I've grown up professionally (IT and UX design).
@Lisa-Clark Thank you, Lisa! I love the dogs in Narnia too--they are so doggy!