How NDA’s work. And an example.
An NDA is an agreement, a contract, between two persons (in the case of art, usually the artist and the person/company that hires you) that sets the legal boundaries around displaying and referring to images made under that contract. Essentially, companies that are producing books or games do not want the public or (and more importantly) competition to find out anything about their product before it is done and complete.
Now most people think this is annoying, why cant we see anything about the Hobbit now already, or HalfLife3 or whatever we are interested in? Think of it like this:
If you have to change something along the road, the fans will be disappointed.
If your competition finds out, they will do something to make sure the buyers have an alternative, usually both cheaper and better since they know what you got coming.
If the fans already know what’s coming, why do they need to buy the product?
Nobody wants to take that risk, and quite often, the best for the customer is actually in mind (because the better the customer feels, the more likely that they will keep being the customer, common sense really).
NDA’s can vary in form. Some are strict, keeping the parties involved from saying anything (and then I do mean ANYTHING) about the described items in the NDA. Others leave room to mention that you are working for a certain company, or that a project you are working on is concepts for a game. There are even NDA’s where you can tell just about everything you know (which usually isnt that much) but can’t show a single written line or sketch on the project.
Some NDA’s are for life. You made something, but you can never tell anyone it was you who made it. Thats okay, you get paid for that.
Some NDA’ prevent YOU from saying anything about it, until someone else has said something about it.
NDA’s can be long. I have strict NDA’s stretching back several years that are still in action and I cant say anything more then that I have NDA’s on stuff.
Some NDA’s can be over very fast, or at least in parts over. I made an image for a new RPG game earlier this year. I signed the NDA and a week after the work was done the company published info on the game and my image on their website (a prerequisite for allowing me to put that image in my online portfolios and to tell people I made it).
Sometimes, you have to find out yourself when a NDA has met the prerequisites of letting you show and tell.
I’ll give you an example.
The image attached is an image I made about a year ago. I recently got to look through an RPG book of a friends and found my image in the book, a prerequisite for letting me share this image with you guys. I searched the internet for finding out exactly when this book was released and as far as I can find it was released in February…
Usually I find out faster, but the past year I have started to accumulate more work and as such it is getting a little more difficult to know when I can post certain things. Rather then upsetting my employers (and their lawyers) I don’t publish anything until I KNOW that I can. I’d like to be able to keep doing this.
Rest assured, though, that I will be posting works as soon as the NDA’s out of the way. Or at least when I find out 😉
The image, then, is Admiral Nathaniel Horne (p.60, “Battlefleet Koronus”, Fantasy Flight Games).
In the book, the image is flipped and desaturated. That’s the prerogative of the publisher and I thought it came out VERY well in the book. I thought I’d give you guys the chance to see my original though.