Category: Ethics and Sustainability

This was an interesting, but certainly not the most thrilling lecture ever. Necessary though for the minefield of issues and legality caused by copyright in today’s creative industry, so it was good to clarify a few points.

Copyright is determined by the ‘Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988’ and protects the creator from having their work used, or copied by another person. It gives the creative holder the right to be ‘identified’ as the creator, and protects their skills, their labour and their time – however this only covers ‘original work’.

Copyright comes into force as soon as the original piece is created, you do not have to apply for it, and however my issue with this is that you need to be able to prove WHEN you created it, not just the fact that you did create it. There have been cases where people have designed something and it has been taken by some big company and they have produced it as their own, but the creator has found it hard to prove the date they created it and also when you are up against a big company that probably has a team of lawyers you either need a lot of luck or a large bank balance to be able to bring it to court and win.

 Myth 1 – that copyright can protect your ‘ideas’ – unfortunately no, as they are in your head, it HAS to be recorded. It has t be a tangible piece of work. It is a shame as someone recently took one of mine, that I had told him or her about, the lesson there has to be to keep quiet until you have actually done it or created it – not matter how trustworthy the person may ‘seem’.

Copyright can be so complicated as well; it does also give you ‘moral rights’, paternity rights, and the right to be identified, even if you do allow someone else to use it. It also gives you integrity rights as well – this can stop someone using your image in a negative way.

All work created AFTER 31st July 1989 is covered by the law mentioned above, the copyright for work before that date belongs to the person who commissioned it. (However even now, if you are EMPLOYED by someone to do some work, the copyright belongs to them, not to you as the employee. I came across this when I wrote courses for colleges whilst employed by them.

 Myth 2 – that if you send the work to yourself in a sealed envelope that can prove the date of creation. This will NOT stand up in court as you could have tampered with the envelope. It would count though if you sent it to a solicitor, but there would be a charge. My inclination would be to scan it or photograph it, and attach it to an email and send it to an alternative email address to prove its date of creation.

****something is copyright for the whole of your life plus 70 years after you die***

 Myth 3 – You can use 10% of somebody else’s work without it breaking copyright – the answer to this is NO, it depends on the quality of what you are using not the quantity, so if it is core work/material then you can’t – and I suppose if it wasn’t ‘core’ you wouldn’t want to use it in the first place would you?

 Myth 4 – everything on the internet is public domain and free to use.

The answer again is that no, it isn’t, and the same rules apply. The problem can be though that the internet can be a fantastic marketing tool and so sometimes we have to take the risk of people doing screen shots and copying work in order to get our names out there.

You can try to protect your work by creating ‘low res’ images or water marking your images – but to be honest I have a friend who told me that he could access any image and remove any water mark, on saying that though it does give people extra work to do!


How do we protect ourselves in the industry from having our work taken?

It is important to check the terms and conditions really carefully in contracts, as they can be very confusing. Janet gave us an example of someone that had illustrated a range of children’s books, and when she checked the contract carefully she could see that they wanted her to hand over the copyright to the publishers. At the time she was new to the industry and wanted to get her name known so she thought she would take the risk and agreed. Unfortunately though the company then went out of business, and of course her copyright had gone with them. It took her months to persuade the company to hand back her artwork and assign the copyright back to her so that she could get her work published by someone else.

Janet said that if you are going to sell the copyright the person buying it should pay a LOT for it!!

The BRIGHT AGENCY recommends that you never sell the copyright – there are different options _

 ‘Buy out –  – this is where the whole of the copyright goes from the illustrator to the company, and the company has total control over what it does with your images.

 ‘An exclusive all media license’ – this is where there is a ‘defined’ scope of usage for the images, that is decided by the 2 parties and there will also be a time limit to this license where after that all rights return to the illustrator.

 The Bright Agency recommends that you license your images for 3 – 5 years only.

Useful addresses  (licensing agency)   (association of illustrators)   (design of artists copyright society)


Last week we had a Critical Studies lecture that talked about what sort of message we as designers and artists are putting out there to the world. We were shown some really quite shocking adverts that had been around in the 1940’s and 50’s where women were belittled, and patronised and shown as being less of a person as a man, and although we all laughed at the images they did at the same time feel uncomfortable to look at, as we all seemed to agree that this just wasn’t right. However, when it came to images that were still being created in the modern world, where supposedly inequality is no longer an issue, i was mortified to see an image that was put forward by Dolce and Gabbana in 2007 that displayed an image that showed a woman laid on the floor with a man on top of her and other man standing around in some sort of voyeuristic male activity.

I noticed on the following website that the author tried to defend the company, even though the advert had been banned in Italy, saying:-

“What, exactly, is going on in this Dolce & Gabbana ad and does it really matter? Don’t fashion labels get a pass when it comes to raciness and imagery that connotes culturally questionable activities?


An interesting thought is that the words i put into the search to get this image was "Dolca and Gabbana, gang rape" and this is what comes up!!a


I wonder what exactly went on in that meeting room when the presentation for this advert was given, and what the sales pitch was? You do not expect this to be happening in the more ‘enlightened times’ we are ‘supposed’ to live in. I have also come across a photographer who also creates images that i find questionable. I have challenged him as to why he feels the need to create these images, and his answer is that it is ‘Art’…i think we need to be very careful what we categorise as Art, and also about what message we put out to the world and where our responsibilities lie.


For what reason??



I think there is enough genuine suffering in the world without us feeling the need to 'stage' it!



How old does this girl look to you? - what message does this put out to the world? - that it's ok for young girls to be so outwardly sexual? - who is the target market here?


I have to say that all of the above images sicken me, the made up images of violence particularly as i have been a victim of violence myself and don’t feel it should be portrayed in this way, and especially the last image, probably because i am a mother myself, but i am sure that my feelings are echoed by many.

Below are some images of furniture made by an artist called Allen Jones – again, they are simply beyond belief….a woman is obviously (in his eyes) a sex object that holds such a low station in life that you can sit on her or rest your drink on her..

Allen Jones's 'chair' creation

A range of furniture, including a Hat Stand!

I understand that in the Art world there should be room for creativity without too much censorship, but i feel that we have now entered an age where ‘shock tactics’ are often used under the heading of Art, and that with the knowledge we have we should be far more responsible and take into account the message we are putting out to the world!

Love this guys work!!

“Environmental campaigners have built a temporary hotel largely from rubbish in the Italian capital, Rome, to raise awareness of European beach pollution.

Save the Beach Hotel, taking guests for four days only, is adorned with debris from the world’s beaches.

Its five rooms and reception are lined with 12 tonnes of rubbish, including toys, cans, car exhaust pipes.

Danish supermodel Helena Christensen, who has stayed at the hotel, said it was a striking work of art.

“When you’re inside the house, there are walls as there would be in a normal house, but they are all made of inorganic waste,” Ms Christensen, who is also an environmental campaigner, told the BBC.

A man looks out from a bedroom at Save the Beach hotel in Rome, 4 June 2010

The hotel will be open to guests until 7 June

“And then the outside… is completely covered in everything that we throw on beaches.

“And so you can basically just go around the house, and look at a lot of very personal objects, and some of them make you really wonder what made a human being throw this away on a beach.”

The hotel, which stands beside the 2nd Century Castel Sant’Angelo on the banks of the Tiber, was created by German artist HA Schult.

“We are in the trash time,” he was quoted as telling AFP news agency.

“We produce trash and we will be trash. So this hotel is the mirror of the situation.

“We have to change the world, before the world changes us.”

Would-be guests at the hotel will have to hurry to book a room: it is open from 3-7 June, and bookings may be hard to come by on 5 June, which marks World Environment Day.


Today i went into the old dark room at Uni and with the help of a broom, a cloth, and some sticky tape – converted one end of the dark room into a small Gallery…

This enabled me to display the posters in the way i would like them to be viewed. The display is meant to be interactive, where they can be read, and touched at the same time.The posters include those written in Braille and also created from textured Fur Fabric.The photographic image is not meant to detail the content, rather to show the context that the posters are shown in, and how important it is that things are displayed in an inclusive manner, and accessible to all.

The posters were placed at a height where they could be accessed and touched by wheelchair users as well as able-bodied. The Wheelchair has been put into the photo to show the height of the posters and also to acknowledge that the aim of this project was to bring the issue of disability into peoples consciences, not to hide the wheelchair at the side, with a token reference to it – but to put it slap bang in the middle of the photo – which to me represents the position disabled people deserve to occupy in society!

When i first received the Professional Development Practice briefs in January i struggled to understand exactly what we needed to produce by the end of it.Part one of the brief was to create a blog, and to focus on issues such as ethics, sustainability and borders and boundaries with reference to working as a designer. This i could get my head around, and got to grips with the world of blogging quite quickly, as you can see (although i don’t think there will ever be a day when i can class myself as an expert blogger – but i muddle through!)

The second part asked you to choose one of the issues listed above and to create ‘something’ that put across that issue to the audience (our made up audience being the design museum in London). As a lot of my blogs have been about the issue of being’ inclusive’ within our work , i found that the topic of ethics would be the best one to go with. I do find that my list of ethics has grown and grown as i have got older, and inclusivity is something that i am very passionate about, and have always been within my work as a Teacher ( i still find it hard to sit in a ‘lecture style’ session where the Lecturer talks ‘at’ the audience, and only addresses ONE learning style – and all the Dyslexic students just have to like it or lump it!!)

As our assessment deadline has suddenly, for some strange reason, been brought forward a week, and now the stress levels are turned up, i really wanted to feel i was nearing the end with this project, and have worked very hard on it – only to be told by one tutor the other day that i had ‘gone too far with it, done too much work…..and totally ignored the design process!!!’ This comment came about as i tried to explain why i had produced 5 posters for my display and not just the one as i initially intended (even though i did mention that i had discussed this with a tutor and been advised to do more than one)

Therefore i will explain – step by step – why i decided to go down the route of creating multiple posters ……..

The journey began a couple of months ago when i visited an Art Gallery in Conwy, North Wales with my ten-year old son and my friend Karen..

The room was empty, except for us, and deathly quiet as if we had just walked into a morgue.You sort of had the feeling that you needed to whisper, as if you were in a Library and were going to be told off for making a noise – this i found to be quite ridiculous! There were a few paintings that caught my eye, and we stood and looked at them for a moment and discussed why we liked them very quietly, of course….. I remember thinking how quiet the room was, and how it could be enhanced by some sort of atmospheric music etc.I also noticed how bored my son was, even though he has a keen interest in Art. I became aware of how Art Galleries, in general, really do not interact with the audience at all ( although i have to say that the Tate can be an exception to the rule) is it any wonder that most of the galleries are empty, and children would rather pull their teeth out one by one than have to be dragged round one?

I also noticed that all of the work was paintings, under glass, half way up the wall…one after another….. we stood there with our arms folded, just looking, and when i saw one piece that was a little more textured i remember thinking how great it would be if i could have run my fingers over to feel the texture, and experience the painting.

When i came home i started to wonder what it must be like to be blind (it has always been my greatest fear) and how if i suddenly lost my sight i would no longer be able to experience any form of art ever again…

This set me off on my quest that Art needed to be inclusive, as at the moment it is often exclusive to those that have the benefit of sight. (If you look through the ‘PDP’ posts,and ‘Ethics and Sustainibility’ you will find other blogs that i have written on issues of inclusivity, and also an exhibition that i found in Australia that did actually cater for visually impaired people and encouraged them to touch the Art – but Australia is a long way to go..)

The statement i wanted to make was that  Art was for everyone, and so wrote my first poster saying – ‘Art is for everyone, not just for the ones that can see’, and then decided that i wanted to create the poster in Braille as well as  Typographically. This was no easy task, and i decided to create a Collograph plate in order to do it – using split peas and lentils.(i had changed the text by now to ‘Art is for everyone,  not just the ones that can read this!’)

 From this i created my paper Collograph (after serious discussions about whether or not the peas were going to rip through the expensive University Printing Press blanket……

I can’t say that the Collograph was really that successful as the press ‘popped’ the split peas as it went through, and then of course there was no more time to make another plate,but it was a good experiment, and gave a lovely textured feel, and an insight into reading Braille.

But i then thought that just producing a Braille poster in itself was being exclusive to those that could see, and i am always wary of ‘highlighting’ disability in a way that makes disabled people somehow different to all the rest, and that this statement should be inclusive to all, not just the visually impaired. So i then decided to create three more posters, so that the set was as follows:-

  1. Plain black and white text – for people with no disability.
  2. Braille poster – for visually impaired.
  3. A brightly coloured, distorted one that raises awareness about Irlens syndrome (which i suffer with myself and struggle to read black on white)
  4. An alternating red and green text poster that raises awareness about colour blindness.
  5. A textured, muted coloured poster, made with fur fabric, on rough board, that is totally inclusive of all abilities as it can be read, touched and read, and doesn’t affect those that have Irlens or Colour Blindness.

The posters are shown as follows:-

Black and white poster - suitable for those with no disability

Poster that affects us Irlens sufferers!


Poster that affects sufferers of Colour Blindness

Braille Poster - for the visually impaired

Inclusive, textured Poster - suitable for all abilities

The text in the poster is made from fur fabric and is raised, so that the letters can be touched and read.This time the posters wording has changed to show that now the Art is for everyone!

The last thing i need to do, which i will do tomorrow, is to display these posters in Uni, in a way that is also accessible for all. In order to do this the posters will be placed in a row, at a height that can be reached easily by the hands of any wheelchair users.I will then photograph the display and put the photo on my next blog (just in time for submission on Thursday!)

I have found this brief very interesting as it has taken me on a real journey of discovery. I have learned about what Art really is, and also learned about how our role as the designer is to make sure we offer our work in an inclusive a way as possible. There may always be some sector of society that cannot be addressed or represented through our work, but i think the aim here is so be of good intent, and to show that we can include all abilities in a natural and easy way, that doesn’t highlight disability, and make people feel disabled, but that recognises the fact that we all have an equal share on this earth, and need to be recognised as such.

So i hope i have answered the question to the tutor who thought i had done too much, and have maybe argued my case as to why it was necessary to include more posters in the display than just the one? If not……then what the hell…it works for me!! :0)

Two quick colour quiz’s….. do them quickly, and be honest…..

quick quiz 1

and now the second one…

Quick Quiz 2

Did your choice change at all? The interesting thing is  – what information do you use to make a decision? If a man is asked if he likes pink the chances are that he may say no as society tends to say that pink is for girls and blue is for boys etc (a bit outdated i know, but it does still exist), and yet the second one, as the colours are on faces, might lead people to think that they were choosing a race rather than a colour – and this may alter the outcome?

Would be interesting to know though.In the same way do we judge how good a piece of art is by who has created it? Have some of our more famous Artists gained such recognition that they could produce anything and it would be classed as great art? Someone, somewhere (can’t remember who – and it certainly wasnt me) said that Anthony Gormley could ********** on a tissue and it would get into an exhibition (personally i think that is a disgraceful comment about one of my favourite artists, but it is a little funny).

Whether or not things are Art, isn’t always the factor that gets work shown, and certainly isn’t what determines how much it will sell for!

I came across a programme on Allen Jones on Sky Arts TV one night, and felt so appalled at the ‘furniture sculptures he tried to pass off at Art that i made a mental note to put him on my blog as soon as i had a minute, particularly as the issue i have decided to concentrate on for our professional development practice was that of ‘ethics’.

Allen Jones went to Art School in the 1950’s, along with other famous artists such as Peter Blake and David Hockney, and was around at the time when Abstract Expressionism was being taken over by a new form of ‘Pop Art’. The first painting he sold was entitled ‘interesting journey’, which i absolutely love! The boldness of the line, the contrast of the complementary colours, and the lack of need of detail makes for a truly powerful image.

It was said of Pop Art Portraiture – in the London Evening Standard (… the following :-

“Portraiture was at the heart of Pop in a way that it hadn’t been in art for decades before. Instead of obsessing about paint texture, brush stroke gesture or basic bodily functions, Pop artists obsessed about the visual totems of their society. They wanted to capture in their works the hypnotic spell of instantly recognisable images from the media and advertising industries – an aura which was easier to represent visually than explain verbally. This was a matter of both style and subject.”

And so i wonder why he moved from such amazing work to the creating the figures below?Here are a couple of images showing the piece he created called ‘the chair’ (created in 1969)



The image above also shows an upright piece that he calls ‘hatstand’. His comment about the pieces is that he is ‘inviting the figure  to come out of the picture’, and i am all for sculpture and different forms of Art, but i wonder why his focus is on women posed in such a degrading and submissive manner? The fact that you can sit down on one of the pieces whilst she is positioned in such a vulnerable position only exaggerates the feeling that this is maybe how he views the womens role in society? The fact that they are all dressed in a similar style often seen in S & M situations would also suggest that he likes the thought that women are there to be dominated?

Maybe i am wrong, and that he had some other reason for creating these images, which are now classed as forniphilia (a form of sexual bondage that involves making furniture designed to incorporate a bound person). I do have to say that i wouldn’t be as outraged if i could find  creations by him depicting men in similar submissive, and dominated styles.

After he had crested the chair someone threw acid over it in the Tate Gallery in London, causing great damage to the piece, as they said that he shouldnt be allowed to insult women in this way. I have to say that i totally disagree with any form of vandalism and think there are other, and better ways of putting your point across, but i do have to agree to the sentiment, and i think that as Artists, who create images for public consumption, it is important to look at our responsibility to society, as well as our morals and ethics, and what message we are putting across to society as a whole. Each one of us has freedom of expression, and should be allowed to create whatever we want, but maybe his works should not be shown not be endorsed by the Tate (which is what they do when they agree to display them) and in fact should be restricted to being shown in S & M dungeons and get togethers, or kept in Allen’s front room?

How may of us moan that we have too much to do, or that we just don’t know how we are going to fit things in? How many grumble that we can’t lose weight, or go out and buy the things that we desire? Alison Lappers story is both an inspiration and a lesson to us all. I watched her recently in interview on the Jeremy Kyle show, and was bowled over with her positivity and passion for art, her son, and life in general.

Born with no arms, and shortened legs, and being given away at birth, Alison has overcome all of these obstacles and is now a highly successful woman.The fact that she got a first class honours degree in fine art, and is also raising her son as a single mum is a testament to her sheer determination.I finished watching the programme being quite resolute that i would no longer moan about the limitations in my life, instead i would embrace my abilities, and make the most of them, as to not use them would indeed be  crime.

I didn’t watch the programme feeling sorry for Alison at all, as i knew that pity would be something she would abhor. Instead i found myself feeling quite envious of the amazing passion she had  for life, and the fact that she truly loved herself just the way she was – and why not? she is not only a beautiful woman, but also a beautiful soul as well. 

The majority of her art is very digital/photographic  based,although she is also a mouth painter as well.She addresses the prejudices that exist within society about disability.In fact she doesn’t just address them she smacks them in the face!!!!

I totally agree with what she says, and although not disabled myself i have a strong passion for the fact that it is us able-bodied people who often enhance others lack of ability and indeed dis – able them more. We need to realise that we are all the same, and we all have the same share of this earth, and should all have the same rights and privileges. I recently spoke to someone who said they were annoyed that when they got on the bus with a pushchair they couldn’t put it where they used to as its now reserved for wheelchairs! My reply was that she was capable of walking to the back of the bus, but the wheelchair user wasnt, and that maybe she wouldnt be saying that if she was the one in the wheelchair? I think my words were wasted though…

I am so happy to see that a 12ft high statue of Alison ,created by Mark Quinn, has been left for 18 months on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, at the end of Anthony Gormleys ‘Fourth Plinth Project’ for us all to see – in amongst all the heros from the wars, we now have a new hero – an unmarried mother, with no arms who paints with her mouth, and is amazingly successful at it! Personally i think it would stay for a lot longer than 18 months, or at least until i get down there to see it!


‘With endearing honesty and vulnerability, Raghava KK tells the colorful tale of how art has taken his life to new places, and how life experiences in turn have driven his multiple reincarnations as an artist — from cartoonist to painter, media darling to social outcast, and son to father.'(

How amazing is this young man? His sheer determination and ingenuity puts many of us to shame.In this talk he shows how his artistic life has evolved, and how he has seized every opportunity that came his way! Watch the video at the address listed above.


(I really like the emotion in this piece)

At the beginning of his journey into paint he utilised a lot of  ‘Jackson Pollock’ type techniques , throwing paint onto huge canvases on the floor, using his hands and feet also, and then painting images into them.He even enlisted some friends to dance on his wet paintings to bring them to life, and to bring energy into them – wow! i just love the fact that he obeys no rules in art, but paints from his soul! He has painted on any surface he could get his hands on, billboards, cars etc.He also shows how important it is to just ‘get yourself out there’ and that you can be the best artist in the world but if no one sees your work then you will never be successful, and he used many sneaky little tricks to cut through the red tape and get himself noticed!

I do feel though that what you give out you get back, and this guy has taught children cartooning and done a lot of work either for free, or in exchange for promotional services, and that is what it’s all about! He does say in the video that he wanted people to ‘feel his art from their gut’ and i think this is achieved because he also paints from there.

He wants his art experience to be like a ‘magic carpet ride around the world’ and i think he has definitely achieved it, and is an inspiration to me, and hopefully others.

It’s all about the passion!!! isn’t it!