Monday, 24 September 2018

Stylized!

Nope, the awesome company Funko did not make one of their classic 'Pop' toys out of one of my witch designs! I put this mock-up together to show what the design of one of my characters could look like in the Funko Pop toy style to illustrate a point.

I'm going to talk a bit about DESIGN versus STYLE. (....again)

If Design is the structure, style is the manner of presenting it.


I recently blogged about a sensitive issue (here). Someone had been copying my designs for years and profiting from them - by gaining fame and recognition across TV shows as the creator of these characters, by selling them as figurines and by teaching others how to sculpt them in workshops at her gallery. I found out about it and with some difficulty the issue was resolved and she will no longer do this.

My story about this issue was shared thousands of time on the web and I was comforted by friendly comments but also taken aback by less friendly voices.

Here I address the unfriendly comments. I'm not doing it to vent, but because I honestly think it will be helpful to other artists who might have some of the same questions.

1 "She's allowed to copy your work - it's just fan art..."

Artists may recreate the designs of other artists (someone else's IP - "intellectual Property") as a learning technique / for their own pleasure etc. If that artist then sells that work or profits from it monetarily, then it is no longer 'fan art' and becomes a case of legal copyright infringement. It doesn't matter if the artist is copying me (a small fish) or a huge studio like Disney or Marvel. If you create Disney themed artwork / sculptures / creations and then sell them on Etsy for example, you have broken copyright and are liable to be sued. What you should have done is sought the right to create and sell your artwork based on Disney's IP and paid the licensing fee. Many official companies make Disney or Marvel or Warner Bros. consumer products but they all pay a LICENSING FEE to the owner of the IP.
This is the only correct way to do it.

Here are different artists making my Elga design without permission. I had to ask all of them to stop doing it - which they did.



2 "Looks inspired by your work, but not the same style. You should leave her alone."

Inspiration is fine. Imitation is not. I created a world of witches and each carefully thought-out design is solidly part of my world and my IP. Recreating my design in a different style is still copyright infringement and harms me. To illustrate my point I made my character Elga as a Funko Pop toy. Funko Pop toys take the design of a famous pop culture character and redo it in their cute style.
When other artists take Elga and remake her, it's still recognizable as my design, my character.
This actually does hurt my brand and damage my chances of success with this project 'Good Witches Bad Witches ™' before it has had the chance to flourish.

Look at this wonderful Disney design for the character Maui in Moana. And here he is as a Funko toy. You can tell that it's him because even though the style is so different - the design is the same.




More images to help explain the difference between DESIGN and STYLE! *






3 "Nothing is original. It's probably a coincidence you just made the same looking character"

Refer to previous answer! When the design is so clearly the same, it's a copied design. There's simply no way that she coincidentally came up with the idea to make a grumpy, one-eyed old hag with a floppy wide-brimmed green witch's hat with a brown hen on top, and wearing a purple/grey dress, green plaid (tartan) shawl, over layers of dotty and stripy skirts.. oh, and also carrying a cauldron / basket.
I find the suggestion that it was a coincidence laughable.


4 "You just copy Tim Burton anyway."

Well no, I do not copy Tim Burton! I love Tim Burton's style and his body of work. He's one of many inspirations, along with Arthur Rackham, Edward Gorey, Gustav Klimt, Norman Rockwell, PJ Lynch and Jim Henson. I certainly love to create my 'bad' witches in a dark fairy-tale Brother's Grimm sort of way and like a lot of illustrators I love stripes. I think there are certainly themes I share with Tim Burton. However, I don't create in his style and my designs are extremely different. Take a look at his illustration (designs) of witches and my illustration of my Hortense witch below.




I do understand the need to compare my work to Tim Burton or to Laika - the main reason being my work has the same stop-motion animation look. Below you can see Tim Burton's witch figurines and my Hortense witch figurine. Perhaps Hortense could walk into a Tim Burton film and not look super out of place, but clearly the facial structure and design, and really the whole design and style is different and my own. :)




Finally, I leave you with some artwork by illustrators Arthur Rackham and Edward Gorey who are an influence / inspiration to me.




*Credit to artist Andrew Tarusov for creating the Disney characters artwork in Tim Burton's style. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

A Tale of Two Sculptors


In the remote countryside of England, Great Britain a girl was born into a tiny 1000 year old rural village. Since early memory she knew two things; 1 - she was crazy about film and someday wanted to work in the film industry in some capacity - ideally writing and designing her own family/kids movies. 2 - She was fascinated by fairy-tale witches and either sketched them, wrote stories about them or even at times dressed up as one. (As a child of course!) At 8 or 9 she got a little attention in the local paper with her first book, 'The Witch's Day'. This girl grew up, traveled to Los Angeles, fought tooth and nail for a Greencard (sacrificing her life's savings to cover the costs and visa fees) and then worked every day for years creating her own IP (intellectual property) called 'Good Witches Bad Witches™'. This English girl, Caroline McFarlane-Watts (me) works 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week on this project (or making miniatures for clients in order to fund this project). I sculpt each character by hand after weeks of designing each one, researching the country she is meant to come from and writing her background. I often share images of the process in order to inspire / entertain others and to build up the interest in this witchy world.


On the other side of the world in Tehran, Iran, a girl was born at roughly the same time. Artistic like me, she grew up to be a sculptor. Not much is known to me about her life until three years ago when her success really became apparent. She become so successful with her hand-sculpted characters that she started making frequent appearances on television in Iran, including on Mehr (a news station) and on the Islamic Broadcasting Organization of Iran etc, where she is billed as a "master fantasy sculptor" who comes on the show to teach others how to create her unique designs... many various colorful female characters...
Her success isn't limited to acclaim and praise on television shows as a master fantasy sculptor. She went on to open her own gallery in Tehran, 'Gallery Padma'. Her pretty gallery is light and colorful. The shelves are lined with modern white cube shelving showing off her characters. The floor-length glass front shows off several other characters inside. This gallery is also a studio where she teaches workshops year after year - showing others how to make these characters of hers. She also sells her work to her many fans. It seems the German character 'Grimhilt' is very popular. The Irish character 'Elga' gets a lot of attention too - seen alongside her on TV during her appearances at 10 am in the homes of Iranians.



So? What's the point?

This sculptor, Sanaz Azad Heidari (مجسمه سازازازاد حیدری) didn't design any of these characters on her gallery walls, demonstrated in her numerous television appearances, taught in her many workshops and sold to her fans. All of these characters are mine. She stole the designs. Her success, her income, her acclaim, her fame... is all greater than my own. And it's based on my characters, my designs, my hard work.


I hate it when people say this, but literally it's built on my blood, sweat and tears.

Ugh. I tried really hard not to make this personal but it is so deeply personal. It's far worse than last year when a woman in the Netherlands (who had been writing and selling books about how to sculpt since before I was born), started replicating my designs and selling them at European fairs, even using my name on the banners to con people into thinking they were buying my genuine work. I wrote to her, she was remorseful. I never exposed her name when I blogged about her here. But this person in Iran,  Sanaz Azad Heidari... she wont even reply to my messages. I'll have to wade in with a lawyer and take precious time away from my work to deal with this.


Questions you may have...

Why does it matter if people copy your work?
I'm still building my IP 'Good Witches Bad Witches™' and have not even released any of the storybooks yet. It hurts my brand and affects my chances of publishing / selling the script etc if everyone and their dog is recreating my designs and putting them out there as their own.
Also, (less important) it hurts me financially. I have begun selling my characters as collectible figurines. If others replicate my work and sell then these are sales I lose out on.

Can I do anything to help?!
Yes!
Help me police the copycat artists! I am offering 10% discounts FOR LIFE (or as long as I'm in business) to anyone who reports to me someone who is plagiarizing my work (who I do not already know about). So if you bring to my attention someone copying my character design work (someone I don't know about and have not addressed), then you can have 10% off anything I create forever. You can even apply it on top of sales and other coupons. If I am offering 25% off my works then you'd be able to claim 35% off.

Also, you can support my work!
Supporting includes following on social media places and / or tagging friends who might like the kind of work I do.
You could also support my work by purchasing from the store. I have one character available for pre-sale at the moment and if this run of figurines is a success then I'll be able to release many others... :)

(Social media places)
Facebook - http://facebook.com/TallTalesProductions
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/talltalesproductions
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/TallTalesProductions


Why are you revealing this copycat artist's name? 
I normally would not and I deal with most copyright infringement issues privately. However, when a copycat artist contests my accusation it makes things much more difficult and as such I've been advised to openly use their name until this is resolved. It's possible their name will be edited out of this post at a future date if she stops doing what she's doing.

Why are you telling us this personal story? 
I dislike revealing too much of my personal life but if this story helps one person who loves my work and is inspired by it to STOP and reconsider copying my designs, then good. I don't mean to sound cold. I am so glad that my work makes people happy and inspires other artists. That's a wonderful thing. But to be honest, people even post public comments on my Facebook page or write to me directly and say things like "I love your work  -I'm gonna try and do that". (Arg!!!)
Just, please - be inspired, by all means ask me questions about technique and I'll be happy to answer... but create your own work. So long as you want to see me keep doing what I do, don't make it harder for me to do it. :) I really say this kindly and with appreciation that you even like my work and are taking the time to read this now.

A word of thanks
I want to thank everyone who follows my work and supports what I do. I really do appreciate you all and I try to answer comments you leave but if I ever miss a comment it's not intentional and you can always get me at my email if you need a response. Especial gratitude to everyone who has purchased a Hortense Pompeux figurine - you guys are my favorite people on Earth!


Finally, I've included some images that I am using to build my case against her if this has to go to court. Click on an image to enlarge it.

Her gallery...




Her use of my designs...





Her TV appearances...



Some more copyright infringement examples


And finally... proving (in case anyone doubted it) that it is my work. :)


laika, cs mcfarlane-watts, caroline mcfarlane-watts, tim burton, stop motion, toys and figurines, witch figurine, witch sculpt, sculpture, halloween sculpture, good witches bad witches, aardman, dreamworks, disney, halloween movies, stop motion animation, copyright, copyright infringement, copyright issues, copyright artist, copyright sculptor, copyright theft, art theft, plagiarism, plagiarizing art, maquette, tall tales, tall tales productions
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...