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Permissions to use company designs in portfolio

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  • Permissions to use company designs in portfolio

    Hello! I'm currently searching for a new job after being let go from my position as graphic designer. The company I worked for was experiencing financial issues, as well as a declining work environment, and I was one of three employees to be let go for various reasons. Shortly after my leave, I contacted the owner to request permission to include artwork I had solely designed while working there to include in my online and/or print portfolio.

    Unfortunately, the owner only gave me permission to use two designs in my print portfolio. While this can be helpful, any future employers would only see this artwork if an interview is requested. This is incredibly frustrating as I worked at this company for almost three years and had designed a wide variety of products, so I feel it is important to show future employers what I am capable of.

    I also know for a fact that several current/past employees did not ask permission to use artwork on their online portfolio and have not had any repercussions. There are also a couple employees who did ask permission for online use and were granted it. I would have been comfortable using a selection artwork in my online portfolio without asking permission (with proper credit given), however during my employment I signed a non-compete/disclosure that states any elements used outside of the company (assuming this means portfolio work) must request permission to do so.

    So now I'm in a bit of a bind and am not sure what the best action should be. Do I suck it up and forget all the hard work I did while at this previous company? Do I contact the owner again and request permission again for select designs? Has anyone been in a similar situation, and if so what did you do?

    This position was my first design job out of college, so the only work currently in my portfolio is college projects. Please help!

  • #2
    Hi Mkaykrista and welcome to GDF.

    We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.

    Doesn't sound like a dilemma at all. You signed a paper saying you would ask permission. You asked permission and were denied. So you don't get to use the work. There is a paper trail. Whether other people did it or not won't hold up if you use the work and get busted for it. And if anyone you're interviewing with finds out you're using a previous employer's work against their wishes, that could eliminate the job you're trying to get.
    Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.


    • #3
      Is what you designed represented anywhere on the web?

      I'm not suggesting you hot-link. That would be bad.

      The other question begging to be asked here is, is your ex-boss going to be a good reference if someone calls to verify your employment there?


      • #4
        KitchWitch, I agree. It's just frustrating when many of the designs I created helped to boost the company.

        PrintDriver, yes! The designs are represented on two different websites. I had originally offered to link to the source so it was clear what and who I was designing for.

        Upon leaving, I was told a good reference would be given for me. However there were some hidden agendas going on so I can only hope for the best.


        • #5
          These links might help you to make your own decisions:

          Who Owns Your Portfolio?

          Fair Use or Infringement? ... the second question is relative

          In my opinion, the laws need to change. Since designers are hired (essentially) solely on their portfolios and work that they have created it seems to be unethical at the least to not allow someone to use that work to seek employment.

          I do understand when you are brought in to work on things of a secretive nature, or if your designs are of products/services that have yet to be launched, etc. Perhaps the safest approach is put it online behind a password. So that you can send it in a resume where your prospective employer can access it, but it's not "on the web" where former employers can find it.

          << Not a lawyer ... just an average designer
          I like to beat up pacifists, because they don't fight back ...

          N.A.N.K.A. "We Kick Because We Care."






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