This is really just a sad story. A freelance artist claims to have been commissioned by the ad agency working on marketing Spike Lee’s new Oldboy to do some mock ups for an eventual one sheet, but that it then went really disastrously wrong. The artist, Juan Luis Garcia, has penned an open letter to the director, telling his side of the story.
Among his many grievances: the agency promised him very little money for the initial comps, but more if Lee and the studio chose his concept, and then made a lowball offer when his concept was indeed chosen, telling him the money wasn’t as important as the exposure. He ended up not getting paid at all, but told he could put his unused designs in his portfolio, then being threatened with legal action when they went viral.
Finally, just recently he saw his own posters up on Lee’s 40 Acres and A Mule Filmworks production company’s Facebook, with copyright and all. Ouch.
I feel for this guy, and having worked in advertising, can attest that this kind of thing does happen. It’s hard enough for freelance artists to work for almost or literally nothing when pitching comps, but then to be chosen and still treated so poorly is just really beyond the pale. Obviously it’s the agency monkeying around while playing middle man between the artist and the filmmaker and legally there might not be much to be done, but perhaps if enough attention is paid something positive can come of this.
DISCLAIMER: We don’t know why the agency isn’t named in the letter, or why this artist isn’t pursuing a normal legal procedure instead of this public airing of his grievances, but we’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt. At the same time, there’s no actual evidence of agency wrongdoing here except one person’s claims. The truth will out and we hope that any wrongs are righted.