View Full Version : A question of ethics....

12-08-2009, 05:03 PM
I am doing a series of very large paintings for a customer.
My Question is:
I have submitted what could be called templates (actual paintings in a much reduced size to the final work).
These were painted to give the prospective owner an idea of what the designer & I have in mind for his space.
Now that they are approved, and I will use them as a guide for the final works, What do I do with them when the full sized ones are completed?

My way of thinking is that they somehow belong to the person who commissioned the art work in the first place.
Kind of like painting a copy of a painting and charging original prices for it even though it is not really an original.

What can I do?
What am I obligated to do with these four paintings?

12-08-2009, 05:12 PM
I suppose if you conceived the idea and design for the paintings you could keep the templates as they could be used in your portfolio to show to future prospective clients. If you have a contract(verbal or otherwise) with the clients to provide a finished series of paintings then all you need to give them is the finished paintings.
I view my sketches(painted or in my sketchbook) as my property, they are used to help me and possible clients get an idea of a finished painting and also to work out any problems or changes. If the client would like to have the smaller paintings then I don't think it's unreasonable to ask them to pay for them.
As far as who actually owns the rights to the image that is also a gray area, if an artists wishes to paint a number of copies of one of their works and sell them as original they can do so, Picasso, Bacon and others all painting numerous copies of their paintings, granted they all differed slightly but then your smaller paintings will differ from the larger ones.
As with all ethical issues there is no definitive answer, which is why contracts defining the key points are really useful.
Not sure if this helps :)

12-08-2009, 05:19 PM
Easy, Canadian copyright law indicates that the copyright belongs to the person who commissioned the work unless otherwise indicated by both parties signing such an agreement. From: http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/wr00090.html#no4

Who owns the copyright?
Generally, the owner of the copyright is:

1.The creator of the work;
2.The employer, if the work was created in the course of employment unless there is an agreement to the contrary;
3.The person who commissions a photograph, portrait, engraving, or print for valuable consideration (which has been paid) unless there is an agreement to the contrary; or
4.Some other party, if the original owner has transferred the rights.

Ideally, the sample piece would be destroyed to preserve the integrity of the commissioned piece (least it becomes a derivative piece). I have a similar commission where the patron has asked for a smaller sample piece as a keep sake. I have altered the larger piece in subtle ways but in the Provenance, it is mentioned that the final piece is a derivative of the sample piece (just in case somewhere down the road both pieces end up being resold).

If you document it, then ethical issues become less of a problem later on.

12-08-2009, 05:39 PM
After reading a little into UK copyright law it seems it is actually the same as Canada, so my last post was wrong :o
Here is a quote:-
"# What happens when it is unclear who holds copyright? Are keepers owners, or is it far more complicated?

Ownership of a physical object does not convey ownership of copyright and the situation is indeed more complicated. As explained in the answer to the last question you will need to research copyright ownership. The creator may not always be the copyright holder. This can arise through two situations:

1. the person who created the piece of work was employed at the time, and the work was created as part of his/her duties. In this situation the copyright owner is the employer."

So it appears that if you have been employed to produce a painting the copyright of that painting/image belongs to the patron, however I couldn't find any info about who owns the sketches. Jack Vettriano for example has painted copies of his most famous work 'the singing butler' but in each of the copies he altered the colour of various things eg. the womans dress. However these paintings were not painted as commissions so erring on the side of safety I would either destroy the samples or give them as a gift to the person that commissioned the works.

12-08-2009, 07:37 PM
However, a customer is not the employer and the painter an employee... the relationship is quite different...

12-08-2009, 11:10 PM
I would say that they are yours to do with as you please. Oersonally,to keep good relations,I would offer them to the client.

12-08-2009, 11:23 PM
I hate ethics :)

12-08-2009, 11:31 PM
....Thanks all for your input re this issue.
I called my Client (who is the CEO of a very large oil Co. ltd. here, and has already purchased a number of canvas' from me), posed my dilemma to him.

He spoke with his legal staff. Like he said, thats what they get paid for.
We decided that once the large canvas' are installed, that the templates (for lack of a better word) will be placed in the Annual Charity Ball Auction for bids.
The monies realized will be split down the middle.
My half will go to Grandmothers helping grandmothers (the Stephen Lewis Foundation)
Their half will go to The Mustard Seed, a 1/2 way house/hostel/soup kitchen and food bank in down town Calgary for the indigent.
This way everyone is happy, good things happen because of them, and my favorite is that they will not have to be destroyed.
Thanks all for your help re this problem!:thumbsup:

12-08-2009, 11:34 PM
Cross posted Gayle.
You are all too funny.
problem is now solved without worrying about ethics LOL.

12-09-2009, 12:46 AM
Wow, that is wonderful, Kathleen! I saw your templates and was thinking they were really his anyway since it is a distinct scene he drives down, so therefore commissioned you to paint that very scene....his idea, his conception, your execution.