THE BABY’S FEET
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An Original pencil drawing by June Pauline Zent 14×18 inches on archival linen board.
This drawing features the hands of William C. Watson and the feet of his son William Jr. My husband and our son.
The drawing above was copied by a thief who made cheap massed produced prints for sale and marketed them in the same state where I reside. the perpetrator was arrogant to the point of leaving the signature as it appeared on the original.
Here is what happened: I was in a small restaurant waiting for lunch and started scanning the wall decor out of boredom. My eyes fell on an image across the room that I recognised . It was the drawing above framed and occupying a prominent space. Since I had printed a Limited Edition for sale finding one in this casual place was at first pleasant. Viewing it up close I was horrified because it was a very poorly done photo print with no hand written signature, lacking in detail, not archival watercolor paper, and no certificate of authenticity. In fact the copy was warping as the cheapest paper used in a home printer will do.
I approached the owner who described a man in a SUV who sold it to him for a few bucks and stated that he had hundreds of them. The restaurant owned said that the image grabbed him and he couldn’t believe the small price. I wanted to track this thief down but he said that it had been several months ago. what bothered me most was the degrading of the image that I had taken the utmost care to produce both in creating the original and the best printing technique available.
I bargained with the owner to bring him a much larger legitimate hand signed and numbered print in exchange for his relinquishing the poor fraudulent one. He agreed and at least I had removed one hijacked imitation out of circulation. From that experience I developed the habit of looking for these offenders everywhere I go.
Even more diabolical are the low life’s who see my work and recruit real people to pose exactly like one of my compositions down to the colors of clothing, ages of hands, and exact background, etc. They actually believe that because it is not paint or pencil they cannot be faulted. Wrong! It only has to be 70% like the original composition for me to have a case with merit.
Of course it is easier and cheaper for them to suck up the creations of others than to hire an artist or to create something worth while themselves. The irony is that I share limited copyright for individuals to use at little – or in the case of charities- no cost. However, I have never not been contacted by a charitable organization wanting to use one of my images to raise funds. They appear on pamphlets, book covers, and other advertisements for worthy causes. I am very proud of that! My son is handicapped and I have received their guidance and resources for him proving the legitimacy of their causes.
But here is another way that large business firms use to make money for themselves and a tiny amount for charities. In other words USE the charities. On one occasion I opened Time magazine to a double page spread of a campaign called “Choose to Make a Difference” Staring back at me was my own artwork except it was a photograph of real people posed exactly as my painting: ages, colors background, and they even placed it in a frame. I ran out and purchased other major magazines and sure enough there it was! The football super bowl was on TV. There was my work again running several times.
The painting was “They Walked Together” and the tagline of the ad was “TOGETHER we can make a difference” In their arrogance also using part of my title. They gave a very small percentage every time someone used their card but it was tiny compared to the millions made for the business. I found the name of the CEO and managed to get him on the phone. He said that the image was taken from a photo bank and they had paid for its use so the photo bank was responsible. But that is not true! You must always research any images origins and contact the artist. In addition credit to the artist is required. If I had agreed to this and been given credit think how great such exposure would have been for my art. However, I would not have agreed because 3% is nothing compared to 97% It is a joke and a misuse of otherwise worthy causes.
I packed up several magazine ads and a print of my original sending them by mail to the CEO. Even after my phone call to him the ad was taken off the TV and did not appear in any more magazines. I contacted a lawyer who said the case had merit but would take years to litigated and I would be responsible to finance it.
Here is was a single parent raising six kids with one handicapped and grateful for a roof over their heads with adequate food. You can guess the outcome. It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the hurt and anger that you feel when someone steals a part of your heart and soul because that is what artist’s creations are. They impart themselves into their creations; they are extensions of the artist’s essence!
This happened and there have been others less dramatic but I am not in the same situation now. My children are grown and doing great and my hurt son is in a very protective environment where I have worked to see that he has the best quality of life possible. In addition I am now lucky enough to be one of the few artist’s who actually make a living with their creations.
So, if you are considering using my work for your monetary gain think about this: I will not rest until I find you and you will pay much more that you would have with my blessing. the internet makes it much easier to track offenders. I will do this for my art and for the sake of every other artist who is blocked from justice or circumstances that prevent them from demanding recognition and compensation for a creation that is truly a part of themselves.