Submitting artwork to competitions

24 Feb 2009

Q: Could you shed some light on the validity of work submitted for competitions? For example, is it OK to enter work done in a workshop or work started in a workshop and completed later in a competition? Is artwork created from a photo that someone other than the artist has taken valid? Do you have to have a model release if you use a person/people from common areas, such as outside in a park or at an event?

A: All your questions are based on ethics and law. The first concern is an ethical one. Artwork started in a workshop may suggest that the instructor had a hand in the work and it would be the instructor who would make the objection. A juror for an art competition, on the other hand, views a submission without questioning the process. Photos used as reference, especially for a competition, should be taken by the artist because many professional photographers have won lawsuits for plagiarism. Models usually require a documented release for paintings. When painting the general public outside, it is acceptable to paint figures if the artist keeps them as roughs in the painting—detailed renderings, however, would infringe on their privacy. You may want to contact a lawyer who specializes in these matters as well as copyright laws and artists’ legal rights.

--by Camille LaPointe-Lyons

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