From the initial buzz of working together and getting inspired by what each other is doing, to the issues of how the sales money is divided and the overall goals. Whose is the idea and who owns the copyright?

Who is the author?

In some creative collaborations it’s whoever presses the button on the camera is considered the author of the photo and thus owns the copyright. However, in cases where you are the author of the idea or you are the performer, using an assistant to press the button, then you need to clearly define the authorship at the beginning of each project. If you are playing together then co-authorship is fine too.

Credits and archiving

Giving a credit is essential, so the audience know if there is more than one author. I would suggest that who ever’s idea it is, then you use that persons camera (unless one camera gives better results), and if it is both your ideas, make sure you each have a copy in your portfolio and a credit when the image appears.

Defining a creative collaboration financially

Think about how you will feel if one of you sells a copy of the image? How do you divide the money? There is more to art than just making pictures and there is a lot of work to be undertaken before a sale can be made. Who chose the image? Who edited it? Who printed it? Who framed it? Who did all the advertising of the image? Who closed the sale? Who chose the terms of licensing? Who researched online selling platforms and image banks? Who made the upload and filled in all the data required and SEO tags?

Percentages of sales

As an example: When I sell some art, I take a third for the idea, 3rd for production costs (printing, framing) and a 3rd for marketing and sales. So my galleries get at least 30% of the sale price. So realistically, if you are both the authors of a piece, then it works out that 16.6% of each sale goes to the other collaborator.

In cases where the photo is just one element of a larger or more complicated piece with several layers, then you need to define what percent of the overall finished idea it is worth.

Artistic goals

If you are co-owners of the copyright, then giving each other artistic freedom may not be the best idea. It is important to think about the long term goals of how and when the image is to be used. Defining if you want to sell the licence to use the image and what the terms are. Is it for exclusive use, for a higher price or can it be printed many times over for a cheaper price?

The buzz and the issues

Collaborations are great fun – sharing the wonders of creating art, feeding off each other and working fluidly together is such a buzz. They don’t always work out though but when they do, deep long term friendships are forged. In cases where there is a problem, raise the issues and deal with them as they occur. If they cannot be sorted out, then ask around about who else has collaborated with that person, to see if anyone else is having the same problem with them, so you know it’s not just your fault.

License terms

The image on this blog post is one of my vector designs. I couldn’t think what image would suit this post, so I just used one of my flowers. Click to see more of my vector art, where you can also read the terms of my art licenses!


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