As an artist there is no guarantee that you’re going to make it. Almost everyone thinks they’re an artist. Unfortunately, the amount of people who actually have the talent are few and far between. In the art world it’s more a matter of who you can convince that you have the goods. This is true whether you’re a photographer, graphic artist, musician or writer. This is a general conundrum through out the creative world.
With such staggering odds, why would anyone want to pursue such a career? Sure, if you make it you can make a nice sum of money. However, the odds of making it are so stacked against you that it might be easier to go into a more safe career like an office job or bank teller. Both of which offer a certain amount of job security. You’re not subject to the whims of a fickle public.
The bigger hazard of being an artist is that someone, somewhere will take your hard work and try to turn a profit off of it. This, unfortunately, seems to be a growing problem with working in the arts.
Urban Outfitters was busted by a graphic artist for using a design that he originally came up with. SyFy and MTV advertised properties that were originally broadcast on the BBC as original properties (“Being Human” and “Skins”, respectfully). Stephen King created “Kingdom Hospital” that heavily borrowed from Lars von Trier’s “Kingdom”. Other artisans are finding their designs co-opted without consent by some corporate entity. As an artist, I find this trend quite unnerving.
The film industry also has this problem, in spades. Writers have had entire story ideas stolen from them and then produced under a different name. However, there seems to be more protection (or more easily obtained protection) over intellectual property in the film industry. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure these protections exist for other artistic endeavors.
Being a writer, I’m keenly aware of how easy it is to have your intellectual property stolen. I’ve read the release forms that you sign to send a screenplay to a producer or studio or even a reader. You sign away your rights as a creator to try and sell a screenplay. Something else that I also know is that those contracts are not even enforceable. The fact that you’re forced to sign something like that is insane. This is why I jealously guard any and all film ideas that I come up with. It’s too easy for someone to co-opt your story and call it their own. It’s sad that people are so desperate that they feel the need to steal someone else’s creative thunder.
How violated would you feel to see someone claiming that your hard work was completely their own?
I don’t want to find out.