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Using designs I created at other agencies for my new business??

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by TheDesignerGuy, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. TheDesignerGuy

    TheDesignerGuy New Member

    Hey Everyone!

    I was wondering if there is any advice out there for me. For 13 years I’ve been a designer for many agencies, printers and marketing firms. Over the years I have designed for brands such as Marie Curie Cancer Care, Halifax Bank of Scotland, Glasgow City Council, Greenpeace, The Scottish Government and many other ‘big brands’.

    Now for the past 2 years I have owned my own business, but doing all the design myself. I am basically a freelance designer with a business name[​IMG] and front. The question? Am I able to use the work I’ve done over the years for these big brands to promote myself, or in this case, my business and what they can offer in terms of quality of design? The reason I ask is that I am worried that it is misleading potential clients to think that my current business has done this work with these clients.

    The design I created is 100% legit and I have permission by the previous agencies to use it to promote my own skills but the grey area is that I want to showcase them on my companies website. Is this cool?

    Thanks for taking time to read…. :)

  2. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    If you're not promoting yourself as an agency and rather as yourself then I don't see any problem, especially if you have permission.
    A credit back to the company you worked with in the description should resolve any confusion.

    "Worked with Agency X to create this project for Greenpeace" or something like that.
  3. TheDesignerGuy

    TheDesignerGuy New Member

    Thanks for the reply... This is the problem. I am promoting myself as an agency... so it's not cool then? :(
  4. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    If the work was done while working under an agency you likely signed away all your rights to use those designs for 'self promotion' with your 'contract' anyway, it's the same when you work for a design company in that the company not the staff own the copyright etc.
  5. TheDesignerGuy

    TheDesignerGuy New Member

    And if said company went under and made me redundant 12 years ago and haven't existed since? Would that be okay? The thing is I don't want my potential clients thinking I have done this work under my business name as this would defo be misleading...but the person creating their design is the person who worked on all these big brands...
  6. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    I'm not sure who owns the copyrights following liquidation, presumably the liquidators but that's speculation as I don't know the circumstances. Unfortunately it's unlikely to be yourself. If the work is over 12 years old then it's probably not worthwhile including it in your portfolio anyway. It could potentially have a negative impact if clients realise it's old too, though this depends on how 'dated ' (if at all) the work is.

    You could always put something in the blurb of your site that "ABC Studio is the creative practice of [your name], a designer with X years experience working with brands such as X Y and Z." Sometimes it's better not to show and instead hint at your skill and let the client fill in the gaps. For example, who's to say you didn't work with some of these brands in a consultancy capacity and therefore don't have any direct work to show for it?

    Mention on your site you've worked with these brands (maybe include some client logos), but leave it at that and let your recent work shine.
  7. TheDesignerGuy

    TheDesignerGuy New Member

    Perfect! Thanks Paul. That's a great idea. I'll do that, just hint... perception is everything in our industry!

    Thanks again to you and to the other posters for your input. Have a great New Year! :)
  8. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    Look, the worst that will happen is that you will receive a cease and desist order. And all you have to do is remove them from the website.

    Of course, be honest on your site and state that you've worked with these brands and when it comes to talking to the client and they ask then tell them exactly what it is you were responsible for.

    It's nearly no different to having a portfolio and going for a job. If you worked on the logo then that's something you can bring to your potentially new employer, your new client in essence.
  9. bonsdes

    bonsdes Member

    I've created new identities/packaging systems for clients whilst at 'x' agency, I now see other agencies locally who do work for the same (global) client and they've maybe slightly tweaked the original packaging & have it on their website….but you'd think they'd created it from scratch!…they get away with it so I would't worry. I'm in exactly the same position re - freelance under an agency name & always have a little note on work stating "an 'x' agency project' and as I'm happy that I created the jobs in their entirety I can talk through the projects from concept to completion with potential clients in confidence ( meaning I've caught out other designers claiming to have created designs when being interviewed which I knew had been created by someone else at the same agency - bullshit is rife in design as in every walk of life!) As said before, use the stuff & if an agency says please remove then do so. Best of luck :)
  10. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    In the past I worked for a company where I came up with the idea for a product, conceptualised it, designed it, took it through proto and into production. Even did the POS and packaging.
    Some of them sold by their millions and still do.
    Is it going in my folio?
    You bet your sweet ass it is! ;)
  11. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    I'd be a little bit wary of using client logos, especially if your connection to the client is via an agency: the client probably has no knowledge of your existence and it's unwise to associate yourself/your work with a brand without permission. On the broader point, asking for permission is good practice and people are generally happy to grant it so long as the materials in question are public-facing.
  12. Boom Create

    Boom Create New Member

    I think a studio isn't likely to come down hard on an individual for putting work in their portfolio and labelling it as a collaboration piece with said studio. However I am in a similar situation, and am now operating under an 'agency label', and I will not be putting work online from other studios as this is a guaranteed way to cause a problem.

    However, my offline portfolio, which is sent direct to prospective clients is a different matter.

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