You want to start a clothing brand? That is super cool, you should definitely do that if that’s your heart’s desire. You’ve seen my work and like it and want me to create for you? I’m flattered, thank you, I’d love to work with you given I am fairly compensated. But I need to let you know some things.
You can’t send an artist a couple of photos (or other art) you don’t own the rights to and tell them to make that a t-shirt design. That is not legal or ethical, and I won’t do that for you. I won’t even replicate the concept for you. What I can do though is maybe use that as inspiration for something different/original, if you are serious about this. And trust me, if you give me the chance to actually be creative and NOT rip someone off, I’ll will do something much more interesting than combine this photo you found in google images, and this logo that you made from a free font. Not only are asking me to rip someone off, you’re asking me to make bad art. I’m better than that, and your brand deserves better than that too.
I’m not even mad, I understand that these things may not be as obvious to some people who don’t create things themselves. Let me try to make you see it from a creator’s perspective though. Imagine you are a photographer. Taking pictures is your passion, and it is also how you make your living. You’ve been taking photos since you were a kid. You’ve always loved it. You majored in photography in college. You invested in a really nice expensive camera and over years have cultivated techniques to be better at what you do. Even though it looks easy to other people you put a lot of thought into your work, and sometimes you even have doubts about whether your stuff is good enough, you might even want to give up sometimes, but you don’t, because something inside you wants to take pictures for better or worse until the day you die, it’s in your bones. You are a photographer. Photography means something to you. You have an idea for a photo, and you execute it, and you’re proud of it, you showcase it on your website as an example of your skill and creativity.
Then one day, you’re walking down the street, and you see your photo (the one you took the time conceptualize and hire a model and get the lighting right and find a location and take several different variations of to capture it perfectly and whatever else you had to do) on some douchebags V-neck with some ugly logo under it. Your photo is on this shirt, someone’s profiting from it, and not only have you not received any compensation or attribution for this, you weren’t even notified, it as if you didn’t even exist to them, and you know what you didn’t. You never even occurred to them. Your work to them was like a nickel they found on the street that was free for the taking. Can you see how maybe that’s kinda… uncool?
Now, think of this. You are an artist. You’ve drawn since you could hold a pencil. You love it. You love being creative and using your imagination. You went to school to refine your skill and now your thousands of dollars in debt. But it’s okay, you’re trying to make it as a freelancer, it’s not easy but the more you work the more your goals come within reach, and you want any opportunity you can to show that you can do good work and get to where you want to be. Then someone e-mails you and instead of wanting you to utilize your skills and creativity, they want you to rip off some other person’s skill and creativity.
You didn’t realize this, but you’re simultaneously being a dick to 2 different creative people, who take pride in their work and who live off their work, for your own selfish reasons.
It’s okay. You didn’t know. But now, you do. And not only can you go forward treating creators with the respect they deserve, maybe you can actually get unique interesting work out of them that will only help your clothing brand become something you can be proud of.
Sincerely, a guy who draws stuff for money