As the UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organization (PCO) points out, it’s always been an uphill struggle for cartoonists to get their work recognized and exhibited in museums and art galleries.
So when another artist makes a print of your cartoon, displays it at an art fair and sells it for £150,000, you can understand how a cartoonist would get upset.
The cartoon in question, an uncredited piece, was used as the basis of a silkscreen print by American artist Richard Prince, and sold at the Frieze Art Fair.
“Mr Prince made his name “rephotographing” existing works,” Royston Robertson posted on The Bloghorn, the PCO’s official blog. “His image, “Untitled (Cowboy)” a photo of a cigarette advert, was the first photo to raise more than $1 million at auction, despite the obvious copyright violation.”
Last week, Wall Street Journal illustrator Noli Novak posted a caricature of Barack Obama she drew being co-opted and displayed by another artist under the guise of appropriation.
With staff and freelance cartoonist jobs shrinking as the economy remans stagnant, many cartoonists are rightfully angered and afraid of what the future holds in terms of the ownership of their original work.
“Unfortunately with the ‘Orphan Works’ act, which most countries are trying to push through, there will be more and more cartoonists and illustrators open to exploitation,” said English cartoonist Ian Ellery.