Reduce, reuse, and recycle, right? But when it comes to custom work, is it okay to reuse it? The short answer: it depends. You can and should ask the artist who is creating the custom work, and he or she would be able to answer for you.
As an example, Julia reached out to me about creating a chalkboard sign for her wedding. The boards are re-purposed for this project, and she wanted to create something that she could pass on for a friend to use in their wedding too. Julia asked me if this was okay, and I said yes.
Pay attention to your contract.
The standard clause on intellectual property in my contract states that “Calligrapher grants to Client a non-exclusive license of designs produced with and for Client for intended use in displaying chalkboard signage at Client’s wedding and personal use only so long as Client provides Calligrapher with attribution each time Client uses Calligrapher’s property.”
Translation: I can reuse this design again (it’s not exclusive to you), and I’m letting you use it in a personal capacity (you cannot resell it or charge other people money to use the design). Basically, you are paying to use the artwork in a personal capacity.
By default, the artist owns the artwork.
Unless the artist licences his or her work to you, he or she still owns it. You should not reuse their work without their explicit consent, even if you are paying for the work.
Contracts are for both the creator and the user. A good contract lays out very clearly what is and isn’t allowed, and what each party is responsible for. If you read the contract and follow it, then everyone is happy!
It is never okay to copy.
If you’ve worked with me before, then you know that I ask for inspiration images so I can get an idea of what you are looking for. I want to do my best to get in your head and see what it is that you’re thinking! But I will never, ever, copy another designer’s work.
If you like something enough to want exactly that design, then you should contact the original designer and hire them, not me. But if you like my work’s style, then hire me.
In the same way, you cannot copy my work either. I am more often than not generous with my work, so please don’t hesitate to ask me. We’ll find a solution together to meet your goals, give you value, and not copy anyone’s work.
As you can see, the wording Julia and Jeff chose for their signs doesn’t include their names or the date of their wedding. This is because Julia knew from the start that she wanted to make a welcome sign that a friend could reuse.
Julia checked with me first, and I am totally a-okay with her sharing this sign with her friend, and I did not charge her any extra to license it this way. So please, please check first!
I turned to Stephanie for help with a few decor pieces for our wedding. She was super responsive and patiently helped me nail down my vision before she got down to business. The end result? Fabulous. Stephanie is professional, talented, and as sweet as ever – I’m so glad we found her!
Photos taken by Laura Kelly Photography at Julia and Jeff’s wedding.