Monday, May 26, 2014

Graphic Arts and NON-professionals... #RomFantasy

When I started to write a blog today, I had a very different topic in mind than the one I’m going to talk about now. Something happened that diverted my attention back to an incident that began on Friday, an incident that incensed me then, and still does.

First off, you have to understand that there aren’t many things that will piss off authors to the point that they go public with their displeasure. And what I’m about to talk about won’t sit well with everyone who reads it, but I’ve never backed down to speaking about things that are, quite simply put, WRONG!

On Friday, a friend and fellow author came to me, her publisher, and her cover artist with a concern she had about a banner that had been made without her consent. The team that made this banner probably did so with the best of intentions, but in the process they cut two covers and put the pieces onto a banner to promote the author. All well and good–except one of those covers is for a book that the author fought for years to get back from the shady publisher who published it – and after a class action suit, the book is no longer in print and is undergoing revisions in hopes it can be sold elsewhere. The second cover was done by an award-winning and very well-known and respected artist.

As all professionals know, when stock art is used to create a book cover, there are certain rights and legalities the artist accepts; the terms of service. If a third party decides to take a cover and do anything to it that doesn’t fall within the user rights the artist has accepted, there can be hell to pay. Copyright violation is a tricky business, and ANYONE who wants to work in graphic arts needs to understand the limitations and terms of use when they use other images. As many people are discovering, taking images off the internet can get you into hot water very quickly if you don’t have permission to use those pictures. (The image on this post, just for the record, was purchased from Canstock for use on my blog.)

The artist and the publisher were both at day jobs when we were informed that the banner contained the artist’s cover, or at least a portion of it. So, knowing all parties, I said I would inform the “company” that they lacked permission to use the images, and it would be a good idea for them to remove the banner from their showcase slideshow. I was polite, professional, and informed them to investigate the legalities of copyright and image use if they wished to continue doing graphic work. At the very least they should contact the author, and ask if she/he would want their work.

WARNING: From this point onward, the Sarcasm Fairy will probably drift by a few times.

What follows is the highly professional reply I received from the people involved, and this is copied word for word from my Facebook inbox (fractured grammar and all):

Conversation started Friday:

23/05/2014 21:54

We will remove it from the vid & will NOT make anything banner wise using THAT Authors or that persons covers AGAIN

We made THAT banner for _____ with her permission & were NOT informed that it wasn't allowed by THAT cover artist.

Denysé Bridger
23/05/2014 21:56

THAT cover artist has a name - and _____ says you did not have permission from her. I suggest you take it up with her. Your attitude is hardly professional, and I'd suggest you learn your business if you expect to have a place in the Graphic Arts arena.

S Squared Productions Graphic Art
23/05/2014 22:03

The vid was REMOVED & we WILL speak to _____ as she was the one the banner was made for

Denysé Bridger
23/05/2014 22:04

Good luck with your business.

We were told afterward that this “company” was run by two role-players, so the journey into LalaLand fantasy is on again. The truth of this fact became apparent with a look at their company page: S Squared Productions is what happens when a Charonte Demon aka SimiDemon Xiamara Parthenopaeus & a Psychic Extraordinare aka Selena Devereaux Laurens comes together ... Making Graphics art banners for Authors & Bloggers, along with book trailers & eventually book covers ...

So, two of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters have started a business–not their real life counterparts. Very professional this is, hiding behind fictional characters to run a creative business you want to have taken seriously.

They list a website:  You cannot even VIEW samples of their work until you register for use of the site–so they get your info and your email before you can even judge if you want to do business with them. Think about the professional artists you know of if you’re an author, Fiona Jayde, April Martinez, Kayden McLeod, to name a few. Do any of these artists require your information to view their work? Are they so paranoid they won’t allow a casual observer to look for fear something will be stolen? Hardly.

Apart from the fact that I am still seeing red over the ignorance and childish response to a perfectly reasonable request–the repeated references to the artist in question as “THAT artist” are so rude and unprofessional that it makes me want to reach out and touch someone. Seriously, if you want to do book covers and graphic work for authors, learn your business, and above all, learn to behave like adults, not snarking kids. At no time since this began on Friday has it occurred to these two that they owe anyone involved an apology. The appropriate response would have been along the lines of thank you, we’ll speak with the people involved, and are sorry for the inconvenience. At the minimum, that response would have been appropriate. I did inform them via their page email that if an apology was not forthcoming, then I would tell other authors and professionals to avoid them. Maybe that got lost while they were banning me from their page, but three days later there was still no effort to write a simple sentence that would have ended the mess. So, here we are.

To any author out there looking for a cover artist–use this “company” at your own discretion. To S Squared Productions Graphic Art–LEARN a little professionalism, a working knowledge of copyright and usage, and most of all,  some basic manners if you expect to deal with professional people.


  1. Thank you for taking on a job that was not yours to take on. The cover art in question belongs to a book that is in one of my publishing companies. I literally could not believe it when I saw the response and had I been anywhere near a computer at the time rather than my phone, said company would have gotten an eyeful and an earful to boot.

    Copyright violation is a huge deal, and when the cover artist has put herself and her work out there, the bare minimum I would expect from someone hoping to get it to this business, is respect, and a desire to learn. Had they said, Thank you for drawing my attention to this, and we will do what we can to make it right, I might have been lenient. As it is, I am advising everyone I know to stay as far away as possible. While I know the argument is that not all roleplayers are the same, my experience has been more like this, dealing with unprofessional wannabe's that hinge on paranoia mania. If you cannot stand up for yourself with your own name and have to hide behind some made up character, that speaks volumes about your own character and not in a good way. Thank you Denyse for dealing with them, however I am sorry for the subsequent fall out.

    1. No worries, what's done is done - and the reality is, the truth is now in plain site.

  2. Stonger Origins is a paid website space so that the Stronger Origins RP group has a place to RP and socialize outside of Facebook. For the most part the group is peaceful and is stock full of loyal Kenyon fans. S Squared did another banner for me and it looks very good. I believe once they learn the ropes they may be quite successful.

    1. The truth is, Nikki, none of that matters a damn. UNprofessional is still all over this. At no point in time do these people even admit they screwed up, and their attitude is on a par with children. As an aside here, no one who wants to be taken seriously runs their business from a restricted role play site, either. Nor do they attach all their work to fictional character names. They had a chance to learn one small but important lesson on Friday, they spewed childish, rude responses instead. I'm out of tolerance for this kind of bullshit, it now gets called precisely what it is - Bullshit.


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