Last week one of my workshop students was kind enough to message me that she had seen prints of one of my paintings for sale at a Hobby Lobby (in Georgia). She recognized the painting (pictured above) because she was in my workshop when I painted it! She also found it online for sale on the Hobby Lobby website. Although you would expect me to be happy and excited, I was angry. No, worse than that. Super pissed!
Hang in there and I will explain why.
A few years ago I signed an art licensing agreement with a woman who had come recommended to me by two artists I knew online (and yes, I called them and checked her references). Things went great for the first year and then my "agent" (as I will refer to her), went cuckoo on me. Her behavior became irrational and she started calling me all of the time to complain and scream about things that had nothing to do with me! I checked in with my artist friends to see what was up and they both informed me they had dropped this "agent" a while back when she went cuckoo on them.
It got so bad that I tried to get out of my contract with her. Then she started threatening me and it got worse when I told her there was no way I would sign another contract with her. (Seriously? How could she possibly think I would sign another contract with her?) Her last comment to me was "I will ruin you Leslie. I will prevent anyone from using your art for licensing and you will never see a penny from me." Nice ...
So, here we are, a year later and my contract with "my agent" expired nearly a year ago. Even the "six month cooling off period" (or whatever it is called) that allows her to still collect on my art has expired. But do you want to know the really bad news? My "agent" signed an extended contract with a publisher for my art work. And that contract didn't expire until recently. Even though she didn't have a valid contract with me!
So, what does all this mean? It's pretty cut and dried. My "agent" is getting paid for this. Not me. There is a zero chance I will see a penny from the Hobby Lobby deal. I know what you are thinking. "Take her to court!". "Sue her!". Yeah sure. I am pretty sure it would cost me a lot more in legal fees than what I was likely to collect.
What makes this whole ordeal so ironic is that last Thursday we did a show on the Artists Helping Artists show about legal issues for artists. We discussed art licensing and how you need to protect yourself. And it was only three hours after the show that I got the message about my art in Hobby Lobby. Ugh. Now that is pretty weird.
Listen to the AHA show. Hopefully the information will help protect you from the nightmare I have been through ...
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