This evening I was enjoying my weekly indulgence: the Sunday New York Times Book Review, the Sunday Magazine, Arts and Leisure, and the Sunday Styles section. I would be lying if I said I read the Sunday Times cover to cover every week. Sometimes I will read a little something in almost every section, but more often than not, I only glance while I manage to read the Book Review, Arts and Leisure, Sunday Styles, and the magazine (in that order).
So tonight I got to the paper late.
It was a good thing. Had I read the Styles section earlier my whole day would have been ruined.
On page 14 was a full page advertisement by the NY Times Store: "Introducing Callaway Classics. Fine Art prints from your favorite children's books." The page had art by Jeffry Fulvimari and Loren Long from the first two children's book of "she who will not be named," (hereto referred to as "The M Word") It also had some art by David Kirk for two of his books, including Miss Spider's Tea Party: Miss Spider's Web of Friends. At the bottom of the page was art by art by Fred Marcellino for two Puss in Boots books by Charles Perrault. Here is a link to the store section to learn more. It seems I cannot link to an actual page in the paper if it is just an ad.
(BTW, the art pictured here is a piece by Loren Long for that book by the M Word. I like to think that the man and boy are looking into the wind which is blowing away all the money Loren Long SHOULD have made on that book.)
First of all: I CHALLENGE YOU TO FIND ME ONE PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH, ASIDE FROM HER OWN KIDS, HER HUSBAND, AND HERSELF, WHOSE FAVORITE CHILDREN'S BOOK IS ONE BY THE "M WORD".
Second: selling high quality prints of original art is certainly not a bad thing. And it is especially nice to sell prints from children's books. I sell prints myself from Tex and Sugar. But why is it that only Fred Marcellino seems to own the copyright to his own art? And why is there a head shot of ONLY of the M Word, and not the artists, and why is "M" written on the prints, as though she had a single, damn thing to do with the talent that went into creating the art!?! And who does the money go to , anyway? Are Loren Long or Jeffrey Fulvimari seeing a good portion of the proceeds from their own artwork made into prints? I want to know the answer to this. Or is this going into the coffers of the M Word again and her so-called charity?
One reason for the artists NOT owning their own art copyrights is clear on the celebrity books side: When it comes to celebrity books, it is often the case that artists get stuck with a "WORK FOR HIRE" contract. WFH means that they will do the illustration for a one time fee, relinquish all rights, and never receive another penny, ever again. Furthermore, their art can be used for anything on the face of the earth, i.e. lunch boxes, pocketbooks, boxer shorts and sippy cups, and they will not profit from that. Period.
Every single illustrator I know has, at some point in his or her career, done work for hire for one client or another. We all frown upon it, and many of us have reached a point where we say "NO MAS" (myself included), but some of us still have to do it because it is one of the evils of being an illustrator and making a living at it. To those who decry the practice altogether, mock the artists who do work this way, and adopt a "holier than thou" attitude, I say, "A POX ON YOU!" Because sometimes rent does have to be paid and food has to be bought.
But to those celebrities who work with illustrators on a work for hire fee basis, and then take that art and their millions in sales and royalties sharing nothing at all with the lowly artists, I say, "A PLAGUE ON YOU!" because, really, it is a crying shame.
Take the M Word, for example. She even had the gall to ONLY PUT HER FREAKIN' NAME ON THE COVERS of her books. That has to be the biggest example of total celebrity arrogance that I have ever seen. And do you think this once working class chick would have the decency to spread the wealth a little? Noooooo.
I would like to hear from John Lithgow, Katie Couric, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Joy Behar, just to name a small few. Do any of you share the royalties to your book sales, or are you taking advantage of the illustrators by making them do "work for hire?" Aren't the millions you make enough to put some extra dough into the bank accounts of hard working, underpaid illustrators? And if you happen to think that being associated with you is reward enough, think again. It ain't.
Please feel free, if you are a celebrity author to respond with the shameful or not so shameful truth in my comments section. Tell me I am wrong. Tell me you actually gave a share of the royalties to the illustrator who brought life to your stab at creating a children's book. Prove me wrong.
As for M word, with only your own single, pretentious name on your books' covers.....well, you need not respond.