Internship Journal Entry #14 – Ethics Entry #2

Throughout my years as a student and an intern in Graphic Design I have developed a habit of using images without noting where I got it from. While I do consider myself the type of designer to try to do everything myself, when I do have to use outside resources, like stock photos and stock footage, I don’t take extensive measures to give credit where credit is due.

After reading the Fairey Case file and the AIGA Ethical Guidelines I realize that now I need to be sure to give credit to where credit is due. As a designer, illustrator and a video producer myself, if someone else had used my work without even so much as saying my name I would speak out about it. Therefore, now I want to learn more about how to give credit or how to use copyright for my own work.

My only exception to the process of giving credit is if the person altered the work to not even make it recognizable. If I were to compare a work to its original source and if I can barely see any comparison then I would say that the artist might not need to cite where they got this reference from. I feel like this applies heavily in the Illustration field. Illustrators often use reference poses, look at other illustrators works and seek inspiration everywhere. So if the illustrator can create something that looks entirely different then its original source then I will not have a big problem with the design. Whereas, if someone used the image down to its bare pixel and didn’t acknowledge where they got it from, I would surely riot.

In the case of Shepard Fairey, the creator of the Obama Hope poster I think that the fact that Fairey tried to cover up where he got the image from was a mistake. I believe that honesty is the best policy. So while his intentions of making President Obama the ideal presidential candidate were good, what he did after that discredited him.  In terms of the artwork itself, I think that while it does seem like a copy of the original photo, I think that Fairey played with the image enough to call it his own, not AP’s. I understand the legal ramifications that can come with using someone else’s work but I think that Fairey changed it and stylized it enough to be his idea, the photo was only the starting point. As designers I believe we all need that starting point. I think now, along with gathering good references, we just need to take a cautious step when it comes to making sure to know where it came from, and acknowledging where it came from.