I’m really sorry this happened to you. Getting attribution for your work is like pulling teeth when dealing with other people. Some folks just might not be aware of who the author is due to an item having changed hands several times… or simply does not value attribution which is what we’re dealing with here.
This client not only committed negligence by omitting your name as the artist (thereby implying that they were the author, =/), but sort of taking business away from you by being something of a scalper.
The first thing to ask yourself here is: What do you want? Are you aiming to gain attribution or retribution? You have several options but the first thing to do is to contact this client. See flowchart below.
See big version here: http://sta.sh/01c76misb3xd
Attribution of work to the original author is not mandatory. Often it is done as a courtesy or FYI for potential buyers. Once you sell your work (leaves your hands, house, etc) it is no longer yours, you have no say on what happens to it. Businesses and communities that facilitate sales only care about transactions between a buyer and a seller. Since this transaction is taking place in a forum, there’s a very good chance that you can appeal the site admin for help.
Fortunately there is a changing attitude when it comes to creative attribution due to websites like tumblr and social media. People are more aware now just how important creative attribution is. It helps spread the word for a creative person and help more people find their work. It’s a two-way street where creative people get the exposure they deserve, and people who like their work get to see more and support it.
Some disgruntled artists or authors will find ways to restrict access to their work but honestly you just can’t do that, especially on the internet. Once something is shared and is out there in the wild, you just have to accept that anyone and everyone will do what they want with it. This really forces you to consider how to share your work.
From personal experience, I found that outlining terms and conditions on how your work could or should be used is really helpful. Most people are not jerks and do prefer knowing what is okay or not with the author. It’s all about consent.
You can do one of the following to ensure that you get credit one way or another:
Sign your work - Watermarks, signature on the physical item, a certificate of authenticity. Since we’re talking about dolls, some artists will sign the back of a doll’s head so that no matter how many times it changes hands it’s easy to identify who created it.
Portfolio - Create a public archive of all your work where people can easily find and reference that you made it. With recent technology, it’s easy for someone to cross reference a photo and find you that way.
Terms and Conditions - Not a lot of artists or authors stop to think about Terms and Conditions. Yeah, we all hate reading those long winded legal jargon you scroll past whenever you install software or sign up for an account anywhere but as a creative person you need one too. That’s why if you write your own terms and conditions, keep it clear and concise. It’s hard because you have to consider the ways in which you want your work to be shared and that requires a LOT of forethought. Most people are decent, conscientious and kind. Anyone who doesn’t respect your “terms and conditions” does not deserve your time and is someone you should not do business with.
You should look into Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/). It’s somewhat considered a “default” way of communicating attribution (rights and usage). You can use it as a template and add any details that isn’t covered all ready.
If you’d like to take a more “layman” approach, let me use “my” terms and conditions as an example. A lot of it is tailored based on my experiences and process. I state my skills, services, pricing (optional), and process. (http://www.nonaptime.com/commission/)
Now… the other side of the coin when dealing with this sort of situation: Seeking retribution. Most of us have an urge to try and pick a fight with someone who has wronged us. The truth is, you won’t have the energy or resources to pursue every single person who will have wronged you in this way so prioritize on what you’re aiming for… which in this case is to get attribution. That is all you can really do. Anything else doesn’t matter and keep it professional. Don’t engage in bad mouthing or name calling. Don’t engage in trolling. State the truth, the facts. Always be professional at every step.
I’m not sure what the quality of your relationship with this person was but I’m inclined to suggest that you contact them first to get attribution. Who knows, they might surprise you and comply.
No matter what happens, document the incident:
- Keep a record of your transaction with this person (Every single piece of communication exchanged through email or notes, their transactions at the forum relating to you)
- Write feedback or review. Since this was taking place in a forum, it’s likely that they have a section for member feedback. If it isn’t, write a blog article about it (remember to state only the facts and be professional). See flow chart above, I only recommend doing this once you have done the research and have all the information.
Documentation is important because some of us do research buyers to find out what their previous transactions were like and/or if they are scammers. This is part of why being professional is important. Conduct yourself in a manner that everything you say or do is subject to public scrutiny.
I hope this helps and good luck on whatever you decide to do! =)
We thought this was a really interesting and informative post, especially in light of a question we’d answered before:
You can see our thoughts and answers here:
There’s a good point in nonaptime's answer about benefit of the doubt and that not everyone is intentionally malicious/trying to sabotage or take advantage of artists; it may have been a simple if ignorant oversight and it’s good to be able to raise awareness and educate people.
If you check the activity on the post, you’ll also see how the story resolved:
Overall a good piece to help people think about situations like this and assist you in being prepared to tackle it, should you ever encounter it!