Q: Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
A: I am a full time artist. I am mainly interested by sketching and painting women. Most of the time, I paint them from my imagination but I also do commission portraits and celebrity portraits.
Q: What art technique do you use, and what motivated you to use that technique?
A: I am mainly a painter and I use acrylics on canvas. I like working with acrylics as I always felt they were more adapted for my style. I also do water-colour drawings on paper and sometimes digital illustrations for greetings cards or private commissions.
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 always felt like an artist. I drew and filled dozens of sketchbooks ever since I was able to hold a pen. But I was also told for as long as I can remember that there was no such thing as making a living from art. I went to Rennes University do an art degree but I feel that this was a bit of a waste of time. I started to paint and exhibit in bars and restaurants whilst also doing other jobs. I had a great response and it made me want to continue. I decided to make art my full time activity when I felt confident enough with my style and that was about 8/9 years ago.
I think the Internet is a great thing for artists. For me it has become a good aspect definitely. A website is essential. It is your “carte de visite”.
Unfortunately, it can also be used the wrong way.
Q: What do you dislike about the world of art?
A: Pretentiousness and tight arses. Also competitions among artists. We are all different and that is the beauty of art.
Q: What is the toughest thing about being an artist?
A: Still having to explain to some people now and then that yes, doing artworks is your job and not a hobby. It is rewarding but there are ups and downs like in every job.
Also not finding enough time to create what I want whenever I want. There are a lot of things that I would like to do.
Q: What’s your message to the World?
A: You don’t need to know anything about art to enjoy it. It’s a feeling. Style, taste it’s all the same. It’s about who you are as an artist or a viewer.
Q: What was your first case of a piece of art being infringed upon?
A: Somebody reproduced at least 50 of my paintings (I don’t even know the exact number) by painting and I suspect by using Photoshop with some of them too. She was claiming them as her originals, signing her name on them and selling them on ebay as originals and prints for cheap prices with certificates of authenticity. I found out when a client told me after one of his friends saw her Facebook page. They were blatantly copied and she was proudly taking all the credit for it. The fakes have been removed from most of the websites she was using to promote her infringement but still today, some are on Ebay. Despite reporting the infringement to them countless times, they have done nothing so far such as removing the copied works. Her sister who is also an artist was the eBay account user.
Q: How did you feel about someone stealing your artwork and making money from your hard work?
A: I felt sick, disgusted and angry. A witch hunt started and I wasted at least a week reporting her everywhere. I also contacted a lawyer who sent her a letter of cease and desist forthwith. She was not ashamed at all. Her sister even had the cheek to tell me that I should feel flattered by this. Fortunately, I had loads of support from everyone and especially from other fellow artists. There were several articles in the newspapers. The girl as a good con artist even tried to turn the situation to her advantage by saying she had loads of support from the readers and propositions from modelling agencies.
That was the funny part!
Q: Do you feel it’s a necessary part of the market, to allow for free advertising?
A: Advertising is very important as it helps artists to become better known inside or outside their home area. The downside is you are at risk, as in my case, when people decide to copy your work.
Q: What would you say to the infringers if you had the chance?
A: Get a life! (And get a psychiatric appointment too).
Q: How do you think this situation could be resolved?
A: The infringers should be registered on a public list. Named and shamed and not being allowed again to use social networks etc…It is too easy for them to get away with this.
Q: Have you ever been approached about infringement you have caused, or sent an email?
A: I received a mail a week or two before that story happened from one of the online galleries where I show my work. They removed one of my paintings showing 2 waitresses holding drink trays with bunny ears and sexy outfits. Playboy Enterprises International, Inc. had complained about it. Perhaps because I called it “Bunny business”.
Q: What is your view on copyright?
A: As the internet is now part of most people’s life, copyright should be explained to pupils at school. They are the future generation and they need to be taught that there are rules. Notices should be made bigger in online art galleries.
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 am inspired by many artists (alive & dead) and I love discovering new ones all the time but I have never copied their work. There is a difference between inspiration, homage and blatant mindless copying.
Q: How do you protect your own work against copyright theft?
A: I guess lawyers’ letters, name and shame press articles and letting the infringer know exactly what I think of them has worked best so far. Unfortunately legal costs are too high to go any further.
Q: Do you think companies on the web do enough to protect artist’s work?
A: Definitely not! The artists have to deal with this. They are not too bothered it seems.
Q: What do you think about Creative Commons and Public Domain?
A: I think it should not be used excessively and be perhaps more controlled.
Q: What do you think of artists that abuse this feature?
A: They should try to be more original. There is a lot to be done; creation is never ending whilst there is nothing creative, original or enjoyable about simply copying someone else’s work.
Laetitia mentions a newspaper article in one of her answers. We have added a visual copy of that article, for reference.