Q: Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
A: I’ve been an internationally published illustrator for almost 40 years, and more recently began doing personal work which I’m showing in galleries.
Q: What art technique do you use, and what motivated you to use that technique?
A: I use watercolour and acrylics. I always thought that water based materials were easier to use, and now I’m thankful that I never used toxic materials because of their cumulative effects!
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be an artist? And has the internet become a good or bad aspect to life as an artist?
A: I was 5. My uncle was an illustrator whose motto was “art for education” so I realized then that art didn’t need to be merely decorative but could perform a bigger and more meaningful purpose within the culture. The internet is the biggest paradigm shift since the industrial revolution. It has changed the way we do everything! So I don’t attach any particular morality to it, rather I am concerned that people seem to feel as though everything on the web is free for anyone to use, which becomes problematic.
Q: What do you dislike about the world of art?
A: Some of the elitism that I’ve witnessed. And the systemic sexism.
Q: What is the toughest thing about being an artist?
A: Trying to figure out a balance between feeding my soul and feeding myself!
Q: What’s your message to the World?
A: I wouldn’t presume to have that kind of power. Rather I make work that is really about my thoughts about various topics, whether that’s in the form of gender issues, our own cultural narratives or the state of the natural world and how poorly we treat the planet, which in turn threatens our very existence.
Q: What was your first case of a piece of art being infringed upon?
A: Not sure of the first one, but I currently have 2 images that have gone viral. People are using them to brand their companies, without any credit or payment to me. And that has an exponential effect.
Q: How did you feel about someone stealing your artwork and making money from your hard work?
A: Well not great. And I’ve contacted people who have infringed on my work only to have them react in a hostile manner! Very surprising and unsettling. They feel entitled to the work. So now I use a lawyer.
Q: Do you feel it’s a necessary part of the market, to allow for free advertising?
A: There’s certainly a balance. Even the best artist won’t be acknowledged unless he or she puts the work out into the public, and then the unintended consequence is of course potential infringement.
Q: What would you say to the infringers if you had the chance?
A: I don’t any more. That’s my lawyer’s job.
Q: How do you think this situation could be resolved?
Q: Have you ever been approached about infringement you have caused, or sent an email?
A: I was sued over an idea that I did as a cover for The New Yorker. I didn’t do it, but still the case was in Manhattan civil court for 4 years. We won the case of course, but it was nightmare.
Q: What is your view on copyright?
A: I think the strength of copyright needs to be maintained not eroded which is what I’m seeing. And everyone should register their work with the Library of Congress. That’s the best insurance policy I can think of for an illustrator.
Q: Have you ever innocently, or without knowledge of copyrighted laws used other’s material for your own work?
A: I don’t think so. I really try and respect people’s copyright. I even teach a course in conceptual portraiture wherein I teach how to effectively use a reference photo without infringing on the photographer’s copyright.
Q: How do you protect your own work against copyright theft?
A: I have registered ALL of my work with the LOC (Library of Congress). And I rigorously defend my work and copyright.
Q: Do you think companies on the web do enough to protect artist’s work?
A: I don’t know. Likely not.
Q: What do you think about Creative Commons and Public Domain?
A: I think that the Creative Commons is wonderful. Particularly when used to help humanity in some form. But I think it should be up to the artist whether or not his or her work should be used in that manner. Where and how my work appears should most definitely be my choice. And Public Domain status should be used responsibly.
Q: What do you think of artists that abuse this feature?
A: Obviously it’s a problem. The web has grown so quickly that the law hasn’t been able to keep up.
Q: Any other points you’d like to raise or comment on?
A: Artists, register your work!!