Today I came across an interesting post about the mystery of the Major League Baseball logo designer and it brought up one of the interesting oddities of what graphic artists do for a living. Unlike fine artists we are work for hire, no copywrights for work, no royalties, no claim whatsoever. Those copywrights go to our clients that have paid us for the work. Withttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhout going into a long and never ending debate about copywright law, I'd like to discuss something that goes along with it: credit.
When there's no registered copywright, there's no registered credit. Even when the mark is first designed there's no byline or signature so the credit is unknown to many. How many of you non-designers out there know who designed the Nike logo? The post on ESPN is about two designers who both claimed to have created the logo. No, not two guys who worked together at the same agency or anything, two totally separate designers who both believed they designed it. Neither, however, have any proof. You can't really blame them though, the logo was designed 40 years ago. Who keeps their files that long? All Major League Baseball has is the name of the agency hired, not the individual designer. In this case, that information and a little math did the trick, but what about when the name of the agency isn't enough? Then you need agency files and people's memories to figure out who individually gets the credit. Even in this digital age, files can get lost, agencies can go under and memories can falter.
I have a few logos out there the I'm proud to have designed. Maybe they'll stand the test of time, maybe not, but I think I'll go back up my files anyway.