Copyright by Valerie (Valry) Drake

(Before reading this article you should know that I am not qualified to give legal advice. I’m just telling you what I do.)

I expect that am just like most of you, I have never seriously considered copyrighting my artwork. But I am trying to get my artwork licensed, and the licensing industry is one of the fields where theft of artwork is not uncommon. I was dreading the process. I set aside a whole day to research the subject.

The first thing I found out is that, yes, my work is automatically copyrighted without registering it. However, there are no “teeth” to that automatic copyright. If someone decides to steal the work I have very little recourse because it is difficult to prove that it is mine and, without a registered copyright, I do not have the right to collect reimbursement for my legal fees.

I eventually found my way to www.copyright.gov where there is more information than any sane person wants to read or has the time to read. Besides, after spending a considerable amount of time trying to make sense of it all, it still had me confused.

Next step: I called the copyright office, 202-707-3000, expecting to be on hold for hours. Surprisingly, after only a few minutes a very pleasant and helpful person came on the line. I found out that all of my artwork could be included in one copyright registration and that I could complete the entire process online using the eCO.  See the large letter “e” with the blue circles around it? That’s the link to the electronic filing site.


US Copyright Office Web ShotI did have a very small amount of trouble getting registered to use the site because it requires a very strong and complicated password.

Back to my phone call the news kept getting better. The very nice representative told me that I could group my artwork and register the group all together. The group could be as large as I wanted it to be. I could, for example, copyright all of my artwork for the year, or the last 10 years, in one filing. All I had to do was include pictures of every piece. The hardest part was taking the digital versions of my artwork and reducing the file sizes so that they could be uploaded as one group.

Last, I was told that the filing fee was $35 – for all the artwork included in the registration.

All of this changes the idea of copyrighting my artwork from a subject I avoided thinking about, to an easy job that is high on my to-do list. Did I fill out the form correctly? I have no idea. Actually, I’m fairly certain that I did not. But even if I made mistakes on the form, the artwork is still copyrighted. It may be a year down the road that someone from the copyright office may contact me to clarify the mess I made of the form. At that time we’ll work out all the details and I will finally receive the paperwork back. Which doesn’t matter a whole lot because, regardless of the correctness of the paperwork, the art is legally considered copyrighted as soon as it is filed.

WhooHoo! It’s done!






Art Tips Contest Winner!

Jerry's is now helping artists help artists by sharing their art tips!  Art Tips are constantly being sent in and then posted in our Community section.  As a bonus, each Art Tip entered qualifies that person to receive a $250 gift card!  Robin Borland was our very first winner! 

Robin generously used her gift card to buy art supplies for the elderly.  She sent us some amazing pictures!



Don't Forget to Protect Your Artwork

Krylon Gallery Series Spray Artist Fixatives

You’ve just finished a piece of art – it’s fantastic and you can’t wait to display it or sell it.  You haven’t applied a protective coating because you love what you have done and are not sure what a coating will do to your art.  So you think you are better off doing nothing.  Here’s why you should change your mind…

Why Varnish A Painting?

Artist Varnish

•    If you don't varnish, over time dust, dirt, moisture and pollution will change the look of your painting.  Acrylics especially are like "dust magnets" that will attract dust and dirt to the porous surface; however, all types of paintings are damaged in this way if they are left unprotected. A final varnish will seal the surface of your painting to keep the dust, dirt, moisture and pollution out. Choose a varnish that is removable so that if the varnish layer becomes discolored one day (due to pollution or smoke damage, for example), the varnish layer can be easily removed and replaced with a fresh coat of varnish.  It’s a good idea to add the name of the varnish and other artist materials that you used on the back of your painting support for future reference.
•    Ultraviolet light rays can fade some of those beautiful colors that you used.  Even if you paid special attention to the lightfastness ratings of all paints that you used, you know that some colors are always going to be more likely to fade.  A varnish can provide additional protection to prevent color fading.  Krylon® UV Archival Varnish has an exclusive blend of powerful UV light absorbers (UVA) and stabilizers (HALS) to provide your painting with the most UV protection available in a fine artist quality product. UV Archival Varnish also allows you to display your artwork without using glass.
•    Paint colors dry differently because they are each formulated with different pigments.  When a painting is completely dry, some colors will appear matte, some satin and some glossy.  A varnish will even out the final appearance of your painting, giving it a consistent overall look.  Varnish can also further saturate your paint colors, giving them the look that they had when wet.  Krylon® Conservation Varnish saturates colors beautifully and gives the same appearance as a natural varnish, without yellowing.
•    Varnishes are available in many finishes from high gloss to matte.  You can choose a finish close to the sheen of most of the paint colors on your artwork for a more invisible looking finish, or you can enhance your painting with a stronger gloss or more matte finish.  It’s important to know that when using a matte varnish, you should only apply one coat or the matting agents in the varnish can give a “frosted” look to your painting. If you desire more protection than one coat of varnish provides, you can easily add multiple coats of gloss varnish and finish off with a coat of matte.
•    All paintings require cleaning over time; however, adding a varnish will reduce the frequency of those cleanings and reduce the risk of any possible damage to your painting, ensuring it will last beautifully for many years to come.  Always make sure you varnish your painting when it is completely dry, and remove any dust and dirt before applying in a dust-free environment.  A spray varnish applies two to three times faster, easier and more evenly than brush-on varnishes, and won’t change the look of your original brushstrokes. For the highest quality varnish protection, choose from Krylon® UV Archival Varnish and Krylon® Conservation Varnish, both part of the Gallery Series™ Premium Artist Spray line.

Artist Spray Fixatives

Why Use A Fixative?
•    If your drawing is touched either while in process or after finished, pigments can smear and smudge easily if your art has not been protected with a fixative.  An unprotected piece of artwork is exceptionally fragile.
•    Even when framing behind glass, loose particles of the media can dust off and fall over time, especially when your artwork is moved.  This is why spacers are used to keep the drawing away from the glass; however, this is still not enough protection to prevent the loss of fine particles of dry media which can also dust the inside of the glass.  Before applying a fixative, always make sure you remove any loose dust from your drawing with a soft brush or by tapping your drawing on its edge.  Once the drawing is fixed, the pigments will not dust off.
•    While glass offers some UV protection to fragile dry media, using both glass and a fixative with UV light absorbers and stabilizers provides the best combination of protection.  Additionally, using several coats of a UV protective fixative would allow your art to be displayed without glass.
•    Moisture can easily damage unprotected artwork – even if it is framed behind glass.  In humid environments especially, all artwork using dry media should be protected with a fixative.
•    Many times a drawing or pastel painting is not framed right away. If unprotected artwork is stacked while in storage, it will rub off on the drawing on top of it, possibly enough to cause smearing and smudging to your art.
•    Unprotected colored pencil drawings are likely to be affected by wax bloom, which is a white haze that appears over time as the wax medium rises to the surface. Using several coats of fixative will prevent wax bloom and preserve the look of your original art.
•    While watercolors are traditionally framed under glass, there is a trend away from glass that some artists are embracing, allowing you to make larger watercolor paintings that will be lighter to hang on the wall and won’t have the reflections from glass.   Spraying a UV protective artist fixative over the watercolor, and then finishing with a UV protective artist quality varnish will allow you to leave the glass behind.
•    Left unprotected, dry media will dust, smudge, smear, fade and be susceptible to moisture damage; however, not all fixatives are created equally and care should be used in selecting the right fixative to protect your artwork.  Especially when using chalks and pastels, most fixatives dissolve the whites and light colors to some degree.  Additionally, pump sprays easily spatter and will not provide the fine, even mist that aerosol fixatives provide. Never use hairspray – most contain hair conditioners, which are oils that could leave grease spots on your art; and even those without conditioners will likely yellow over time and discolor your artwork.  A high quality UV protective artist fixative is your best choice for a final fixative, and you should always test the product to be sure it performs to your expectations. Krylon® Fine Art Fixatif contains an exclusive blend of powerful UV light absorbers (UVA) and stabilizers (HALS) to protect your dry media, invisibly safeguards the look of your original art without dissolving whites and lights, and can be used as both a workable and final fixative.

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