Those of you who follow the Bay Area ceramic scene recognize the pottery in the picture to the right. That's my pal, Sara Paloma, featured very prominently on the cover of the latest Restoration Hardware catalogue. Pretty great, right? The pottery is (obviously) the most interesting thing in the room, and any artist would be pleased to be spotlighted on the cover of a internationally distributed catalogue.
The only problem is that Sara's work is not being sold through Restoration Hardware, nor is she even given credit for the work photographed here. A call to the 800 order number to find out how to buy the amazing pottery on the cover revealed an exasperated customer service rep who didn't know Sara's name, but had fielded dozens of calls from people interested in her work. Who is the winner here? No one, as far as I can tell. Restoration Hardware gets an eye-popping catalogue cover, but no way to distribute the work featured. This must disappoint and frustrate potential customers. Sara gets exposure, but no sales as only the most diligent and internet-savvy person is going to have the wherewithal to track her down and place an order.
How does this happen? Photo stylists and prop houses buy work from artists with an eye toward future photo sessions. There are no laws or regulations that say ceramic art needs to be credited in images, or that it is violation of copyright law to do so. I sell pottery to a prop house in New York City, and I have no idea where my work may show up. Here are my pods in another Restoration Hardware catalogue. My pots have also been in Design With Reach catalogues. Again, there no artist credit, and my fabulous name is not mentioned anywhere.
Sara and I started a discussion about this problem of not getting artwork credit after her RH cover came out. We are both used to our work being used to make interior design shoots look great, but this RH cover was too much. Why are we not given credit? Painters have to be given credit for their work; you cannot use an artist's painting in print ads without mentioning their name. But us mud-slingers are getting the shaft. If Restoration Hardware doesn't want to bother selling Sara's work, that's fine. But her name in fine print on the inside of the catalogue cover would translate into thousands of dollars in sales for her, and the recognition she rightfully deserves.
Ceramic artists need to start demanding that their artwork gets name credit in advertising. I'm sure companies don't want to do this, but since it is our work that making their products look more appealing, it's only fair. I would be very interested to hear what other people have to say about this.