Photo by Niall McInerney
A month ago Fredrik Tjaerandsen, CSM Womenswear student, was preparing for his final degree show as winner of the L’Oreal Professional Young Talent Award. The Bubbles subsequently went viral on social media.
Whilst we will always celebrate the successes of our students, widespread exposure and acclaim bring their own challenges for both the students and the staff who support them.
Read on to learn more about some of the key considerations Roxanne Peters, Intellectual Property Lecturer at UAL, highlights to Fredrik as he moves his embryonic career to the next level...
Fredrik’s story so far
In early June student Fredrik Tjaerandsen (BA FashionWomenswear, CSM) showcased The Bubbles as his final degree show. The collection was captivating, inspired by Tjaerandsen’s childhood memories, and part of an experimental process.
Overnight he gained 80,000 social media followers (and counting), and within days he was the name on everyone’s lips, from A-listers to industry heavyweights.
Now with a number of interviews under his belt and meteoric exposure, it’s essential that Fredrik can manage the way he is represented and ensure that the principles of what his work embodies are appreciated in the right way. How can he manage his work and navigate these early and promising days of his career?
As UAL’s Intellectual Property lecturer, my role is to support creatives in recognising the value of their intellectual property (IP) (that is, copyright, trademarks, trade secrets, design rights, patents) as their personal currency; a vital tool for creatives as agents of change and in building sustainable futures. IP is like a silent business partner oiling the wheels of trade, encouraging creative and cultural exchange.
Is fashion a work of art or purely functional?
Fashion is one of the hardest to define in a legal sense. Is it purely aesthetic? Purely functional? A work of art? A performance? Is anything original or always inspired by what’s come before? What is culturally appropriate? What was the intention of the creator? The list goes on. For more information on how fashion might be considered the Europeana Fashion IP Guidelines provide a good overview of IP and fashion heritage from a UK and EU perspective.
Fredrik considers his work as works of art and especially in the case of his bubble dresses, which have a performative element to them as well as the garments themselves. The garments fulfil the criteria of copyright (which protects artistic works) of being ‘fixed’, which means that copyright arises automatically on creation and creators benefit for their lifetime plus 70 years.
Anyone who makes a copy of someone’s copyrighted work (this includes taking an image and using it without permission) needs consent from the creator. In this case and for many creatives, it’s really important to keep a record of the process (sketchbooks, images, documents etc) signed and dated to reinforce the value of your IP.
What to consider when building your brand identity
I had the opportunity to meet Fredrik earlier this week and we spoke about some of the issues he might consider next. There’s a lot to consider: from thinking about his identity and the impact he has the potential to make, to how to make informed decisions about who he works with, manages how his images are used and how to best steer the representation of work within the industry. He is also in contact with a legal representative to help support him in managing his profile.
The following is not a definitive list but here are some tips for building and managing your brand identity when starting out and thinking about your business strategy:
● Recognise your value. Never compromise, unless there’s mutual gain
● Remember IP is your personal currency. It’s powerful!
● Get legal advice on what to register to protect your brand
● Be selective with what you share, when you share it and how you share it
● Think about how to decide who to work with, and make any agreements in writing
● Be familiar with how to manage anyone who challenges the integrity of your work
I feel privileged to have met Fredrik in the infancy of his promising career and wish him all the best with his next steps embracing his IP, making it work for him and inspiring others through his creative practice.
UAL's website creativeip.org is designed for anyone studying in the creative disciplines. It aims to make intellectual property law accessible to all via blogs posts, interviews, case studies and useful tools and resources.
Roxanne Peters is Intellectual Property Lecturer at UAL, within the Careers and Employability team. Contact her to find out more about the support available to UAL students and staff firstname.lastname@example.org.