Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Predatory Practices

Recently I saw a call for entries for a new local hotel looking for artwork. There wasn't much information, so I emailed the contact person and they sent me the prospectus (I've bolded the parts that concern me):
Announcing a new competition to find a few local artists to produce original artwork for the new NYLO Hotel under construction in Las Colinas, Texas located at 1001 W Royal Lane, Irving, Texas 75039.
The contest is open to everyone and particularly we hope to attract the interest of up and coming local artists and art student and faculty at local schools. The contest runs August 1, 2008- October 31, 2008.
Please submit a digital copy of your work along with the release form to Amanda Emmo at by October 31, 2008.
After submittals, the NYLO judges (which shall consist of the NYLO executive team and perhaps one or two persons active in the local art community) will have an artist luncheon to meet the artists.
Prior to embarking on your work we urge you to please visit our website and, if you have the chance drive by the site to get a feel for the setting. More details about what the hotel is looking for:

Guest Room Art Specifications:
1. One large or three smaller but related pieces of art on canvas (oil, acrylic or mixed media)
2. The pieces should involve the use of colors
3. Emotive Objective
• Loft living
• Relaxation
• Local Connection
• Romantic / Sexy
• Warm
• Western/Texas Lifestyle
4. The pieces will be displayed in each guestroom within an area of 7 feet in length x 3 ½ feet high above the sofa (we will have 200 total guestrooms).
5. Dimensions of each of the three pieces should be 24 inches long x 30 inches high (or thereabouts at the artists discretion) – or alternatively, one large piece of no less than 4 feet long x 30 inches high.
6. The winning pieces will be reproduced utilizing a gicleƩ process so that the original integrity of the artwork is still upheld and displayed in the guestrooms.
7. No artwork including nude subjects will be taken into consideration as winning pieces.
Corridor/Public Space Artwork Specifications
1. Photography
2. To be displayed on acrylic
3. Emotive objective
• Urban / Industrial City Scenes
• Loft Living
• Nightlife
• Partying/ Entertaining
• Energy
• People
• Living
• Western/Texas Lifestyle
• Lone Stars
• Ranches

There will be three main winners in each of the two categories, guestroom and corridor. The cash prize breakdown is as follows*:
Guestroom: 1st place - $2,250
2nd place - $1,750
3rd place - $1,250
Corridor: 1st place - $1,500
2nd place - $1,000
3rd place - $750

There are also other considerable “perks” to winning such as:
• Media exposure
• An invitation to the art contest luncheon with members of the NYLO design and management team
• Artwork displayed on the hotel website with contact information for the artist
• Guests can purchase the artwork at a reasonable price determined by NYLO**

* Each contestant acknowledges that it is NYLO’s intent to ultimately use the winning artwork in each of its guestrooms, corridors and public space and therefore, each winning contestant shall agree to transfer all copyright and ownership rights with respect to such Artwork to NYLO in exchange for the cash prize awarded and shall execute all documents necessary to provide for such transfer of rights. NYLO may choose to purchase additional artwork outside of the predetermined prize values listed above.

** The art will be for sale to all our hotel guests/visitors and to people who visit our website. NYLO does not intend to profit on the sale of this artwork. Proceeds of an artwork sale will work as follows:
• 100% to NYLO until costs of the contest and acquisition are recouped
• Thereafter, 90% to the artists & 10% to a charity to be selected by NYLO

Entry & Release Form
NYLO Hotels- Drive Our Innovation through Your Passion for Art
Submit this form with your entry requirement materials to NYLO. If your artwork is selected as a “winning” piece, your entry will not be returned. Other entries will be returned by request only.
(Select all applicable entry(ies) that apply:)
o Guestroom Artwork
o Corridor Artwork
o Public Space Artwork
By signing this Entry & Release form, I acknowledge that I understand the competition criteria accompanying this form and agree to abide by them. I represent that the attached work qualifies for submission to this competition. “Authorized Parties” as used in this release means NYLO Hotels, LLC and its affiliates (“NYLO”), and any other persons, entities, or organizations that NYLO authorizes to carry out the rights or actions set forth herein. I hereby irrevocably give my consent to each of the Authorized Parties to directly or indirectly photograph, film, and /or videotape me and/or my artwork, and to quote and record statements made by me and to use, reproduce, modify, publicly display, distribute, sell, and/or create derivative works from any of the above (with or without my name) and to identify me by name and/or with school and employment information, in all forms of media now known or later developed, including, without limitation, on the Internet, for any editorial, promotional, advertising, trade, commercial, or other purpose whatsoever, in perpetuity and for no royalties or other remuneration throughout the world. I understand that the Authorized Parties shall not be responsible for unauthorized duplications, reproductions, use or modifications by third parties on the Internet or otherwise. I hereby release the Authorized Parties and their respective successors and assignees from any and all claims and/or damages that may arise regarding the dissemination, use, reproduction, display, distribution, and/or sale of my image, images of my artwork, any information related to my artwork, or statements made by or related to
me as consented to herein, including any claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, infringement of moral rights, rights of publicity, trade dress or copyright. By signing this form, I also certify that any work submitted is original and mine alone and that I have the right to grant the permissions set forth herein. I hereby agree that if my artwork is a “winning” piece, I hereby assign all right, title and copyright in and to the artwork to NYLO and agree to execute any and all additional documents requested by any of the Authorized Parties in order to fully transfer all copyright and ownership rights in the artwork to NYLO or its designee.
I have read and understand this form.
OK, so, where to start?

I can understand that a young artist just starting out might jump at the chance to have his or her artwork featured in a hip loft hotel. And if it were just a contest where they chose some paintings, hung them in their hotel, and gave the artists a cash award, then that would be fine.
And if they wanted to create reproductions of your work and gave you a percentage of sales, then that might be OK.

But. They want artists to sign over their copyright. If I interpret this correctly, if I won, I would get $2250 and they would get my painting, all rights to do whatever they want to with it, whether they identify me as the artist or not, and the right to use my image (in video and photographs), and my words however and wherever and for however long they want.

Maybe I'm being paranoid and they're great people and would never do anything mean or evil with my artwork. But they could. Or the evil corporation who buys them next year could.

They can do whatever they want. Think about it. After you get your $2250, your artwork is theirs. They could make your painting their logo and you wouldn't get anything. They could create a line of linens featuring your artwork and sell it at Macy's for $500 a pop and you wouldn't get anything. Or worse. They could print your artwork on tissue box covers and sell them at WalMart for $2 and you wouldn't get anything. Except the reputation of someone who sold out to WalMart...

And you couldn't use that image in your portfolio or on your website. They own it.

Oh, right, you get their "perks." Media exposure, your artwork on their website, a free lunch (artists *do* like food!), and they'll sell artwork for you. But that last one is a little iffy. Check out the fine print:
** The art will be for sale to all our hotel guests/visitors and to people who visit our website. NYLO does not intend to profit on the sale of this artwork. Proceeds of an artwork sale will work as follows:• 100% to NYLO until costs of the contest and acquisition are recouped
• Thereafter, 90% to the artists & 10% to a charity to be selected by NYLO
This is what gets me: "...until costs of the contest and acquisition are recouped." And when will that be, exactly? And they're setting the pricing. And what if the charity that they select is something that you're morally opposed to?
I was afraid that maybe I was interpreting this incorrectly or maybe I'm naive and this is just standard practice in the hotel industry, so I asked my friend, Robin Walker, who does a *lot* of work for hotels. She said,
When I do work for a hotel, they first pay for the originals, and they pay a royalty ranging from $3 - 5 per print for room art. For public spaces, I am paid for every original I produce (usually by commission). I NEVER convey a copyright! The reproduction rights are always mine, and that's a standard not only in the hotel business but in all art business.
She also had a few more choice words, but I'll leave that to your imagination.

So I guess my advice is just common sense - read the fine print and make sure you know what you're getting into. But I would advise artists to steer clear of these types of "contests."

I must stress that I am not a lawyer and have little knowledge of legal matters, so I apologize if I'm getting any of this wrong. I also don't intend to bash this company. They may be completely benign and truly think they're helping artists. But I think the only thing this contest does is help them get cheap artwork for their hotel.


Charlotte said...

Wow! That left me a bit stunned. I wonder if we could pay them $2k and get unlimited use of their hotel for the rest of our lives?

Deanna said...

Ha! Good point!

Anonymous said...

Good catch. I am always wary about contests, but sometimes that fine print slips by.

Right, the general rule is *never* give up your copyright. You may decide to grant them some limited rights (such as allow the hotel to create a limited edition), but always for a substantial fee.

Anonymous said...

Oh god, this is horrible.
Just like Daniel mentioned, in art school they told us to NEVER give up our copyright.
Another key word to look for is "modify", which I notice is in the contract. That means they can do anything to your work - crop it, photoshop it - you could end up with some REALLY ugly work out there representing you.
These people should be ashamed of themselves, exploiting inexperienced artists like this.

elisa said...

Yikes. The whole thing is awful. What scares me is that there are artists out there who aren’t going to read the fine print and who are going to submit to this “contest” and are going to be totally used by this hotel. I like Charlotte’s idea – unlimited use of their hotel for a flat fee. They would never do that – why do they expect us to do this?

Robin Pedrero said...

You are right to be cautious and not participate in this abuse to artists.

mcdc3s said...

Looks like they are trying to skip the middle man and attempting to get artists to submit to them to pick and choose - where normally they pay a minimal fee for the time and effort of the artists attempts. If your willing to do and let go permanently... then go for it... I read the book LEAP and found it to be a wonderful resource for making decisions like this.

Elisa H. Hamilton said...

Excellent post; thank you for being such a fine advocate for emerging artists who may not know yet to be aware such things.

tlwest said...

Never Never Never unfortunately there seems to be a lot of people out there that think artists are cows and they own the cows and are selling us - doing us a favor leading us to the slaughter.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me like a great plan to sell a lot of prints and make a lot of cash! Well thought out by whoever wrote this.... it is written with the full intention of selling prints and making profits from the winner.

Yuck. Always read the fine print I guess is the moral of the story.