I often speak about creators avoiding making a quick-buck on “fan art”; basically making prints out of popular characters that belong to big media companies. I’m sure that you’ve seen them: Batman, Dr. Who, or Star Trek prints – that usually don’t belong to the artists that are selling them*.
From my high horse, I’ve even scolded other artists for taking “the easy way out” by selling their own prints of characters that are already popular – instead of developing and investing in their own characters.
Plus, it violates US copyright law… so it’s not a great idea for one’s longterm success.
Daniel Takes the Easy Way Out
In late 2011, I offered Phoenix Comicon some art for the program cover, which should depict the pop-culture super-hero nature of the show. Since my characters/worlds are Steam Crow Centric, I opted for having fun with popular (Marvel, DC, Darkhorse) , and illustrated my own kawaii inspired super-deformed versions of them. Later (being short on time) I chose to use this art as my Con Exclusive print.
I instantly regretted the decision. Friends contacted me and said “I thought that you said that you didn’t do this sort of thing.” Other folks snickered, while I continued to talk about “why artist’s should NOT rely on fan-art.” They were right.
We Can’t Have It Both Ways
So, we’re withdrawing this Phoenix Comicon Exclusive print:
We’re not selling this stuff
It doesn’t fit into our “do it yourself” DNA. It doesn’t fit our MAKE THE WORLD BETTER WITH MONSTERS theme. It’s not US.
These superhero characters are under copyright. We don’t have the right to reproduce them. So we wont.
This print would have sold really well, and we’d have made good money on it (and yeah, we could use the income)… but it’s not the Steam Crow way.
We apologize to folks who were expecting this print. We hope that maybe you’ll consider our replacement print (that I’m working on next.)
We apologize to folks who questioned our integrity. You were right, Steam Crow makes MONSTER STUFF, not superhero stuff.
We’re far from prefect, but we’ll try harder to do the right thing in the future – and focus on creating the best creative stuff that we can.
*There are artists that are allowed to do such things. (And it’s perfectly legal to make a drawing or painting of these characters.)
For example AZ artist Spencer Brinkerhoff is a Lucasfilm approved artist; he’s gone through the trouble (and paid the licensing fees) to do Star Wars character art.
Also, if you worked on a big property – you sometimes have the rights to sell art in that vein.