Selling Your Creative Ideas


Lesson Info


I wanna talk a little bit about ownership. Because even though I feel that you shouldn't be, you know how little kids when they're like drawing something, and then they'll put their arm up like this. And they're like, don't look. Right? (laughing) Don't be like that. (laughing) Okay? I don't want you to have a feeling of, you're so protective of your idea, you're angry that people are even suggesting. You're gonna start a T-shirt company, and you heard this guys gonna start a T-shirt company. He's totally copying you. Please don't be like that. I'm not suggesting that when I discuss ownership with you, but it is a very real concern, especially as you get into the expression of your idea. Again, your idea is not private. It is not yours. You got it from someone else, I promise you. You may not even realize it. Ideas should be free, and they should flow. And that is the only way that you're gonna be in the dreamer phase, and you're gonna explore new ideas, and you're gonna breathe throug...

h the failure, and so on, is changing the idea a lot. So it's not the idea you're owning, but there are gonna be issues of ownership as you get into the expression of the idea. So what do I mean by that? Okay? US copyright law, US any intellectual property law, at least US based. I know I have folks here today that are watching from Eastern Europe. It's not that different there, but there are subtle differences in the way that you get a trademark registered in your various countries. But what I wanna talk about is how, not just to protect your idea, because you can't protect your idea. You can only protect the expression of it. But how do you protect something? You can only do it when it's tangible. So, for example, your idea is to do a cat cafe. That is not protectable, okay? Everyone's already doing that. What's protectable is what you call it. So if you call it Whiskers, (laughing) Whatever. I'm having fun, you guys. I hope you're having fun. Well, whatever. If you call it something, then the name of the cafe can be protected. That is a tangible thing. You're using that as a trademark, as your mark of your trade, okay? Assuming that it's original. If there's already something up the road called Whiskers, you're in trouble. But that's because it's something that's tangible and real. So, for example, I mean, you've all heard, like if you have an Uncle Phil who thinks that he's the one who came up with the idea of driverless cars back in the 70s. Like he's been saying it all along, and somebody owes him money because he already thought of that, and everyone knows it. No one cares. No one cares that your uncle thought of it. Everyone thinks that they thought of something first. Like, I already thought of, you know, jet packs. Okay, great. (laughing) But you didn't do jet packs, so you don't get to protect it. And that is the difference, and that's where copyright law comes in. So I wanna explain these to you briefly. So copyright is not a verb. So when people talk about something being copy written, that is one of those errors based on the idea of writing copy in the arts world. So you write copy for a newspaper. And so people have gotten that confused with the idea of a copyright. So you can't say, oh, I have an idea and it's copy written. No. This is not write. This is right. It is the right. It is the legal right to copy something. So what do I mean by that? So let's say I drew a picture. I'm holding it up in front of you right now. I just drew a picture of a monkey, alright? I have a copyright on this, 'cause I drew this picture of this monkey. And now, I am the only one who's aloud to put this on T-shirts and sell the T-shirts, 'cause I drew the monkey. I have the copyright. I have the right to copy it. If you see it, and you think it's awesome, and it's famous, like Shepard Fairey's Obey Giant. And you go out there, and you make a simple drawing of Andre the Giant, and you start selling T-shirts that say Obey on it. We'll they probably ought to come after you. Although, he might not, 'cause he's really awesome. But the exclusive right to copy something lies with the artist. And that is more or less universal, but I know US copyright law better than others. Trademark is a different thing. A trademark is not about art. So copyright applies to artistic creations, such as my drawing, my imaginary drawing of this monkey. It also would apply to music. There's a copyright that can be registered for the words to the song, for the performance of the song. So there are different things that you can have a copyright to, even within one work of art. Especially if it's a collaborative thing, like a work of music, right? So that's copyright. It has to do with artistic creations. Think of the monkey drawing. A trademark is a mark used for trade. That's it. You're just declaring that you're gonna use this to run a business. So if you do a monkey logo, and you're opening a milkshake place, that's called Bananas. (laughing) See, I'm full of ideas, you guys. I'm so full of ideas. Sell all of them, please feel free. But if you have a logo that has a monkey in it, then that is a mark used for trade, and it's a copyright. So it's two different things actually. But they're not interchangeable. What it means is, let's say you got your cousin Jeff to draw the monkey for your logo. Jeff actually owns the copyright to that monkey sketch that he created. You own the copyright to the logo because it's your chocolate shake business. So that's different. So there's different levels of ownership there. You have gotten the license from Jeff to use his monkey in your logo. That's because he's the only one who can grant the right to copy it. And he can grant it to someone else. He can say, sure, buddy. Yeah, I'd love for you to use that as your logo. And he might have even sold it to you instead of doing it for free. He might have said, that'll cost $200. You gave him $200, and that was for the right to use it in your logo. Can you make a T-shirt out of the monkey? No, only Jeff can. Unless in your contract, he signed over all copyright. If he signed over all copyright, you can do whatever the heck you want with that monkey. But if he only gave you permission to use it in a limited capacity, then you can only use it in a limited capacity. Okay? That's what a trademark is. Patent, I don't know so much about because I'm not an inventor. But what it is, is it's the rights to an invention. So I have like a little safety pin. Like that used to be a patent, long, long time ago, and the patent ran out. There are patents on drugs. So there are patents on other scientific things. So a chemical mixture of something like a pharmaceutical drug. You can get a patent on that, right? And we all know that. The umbrella used to have a patent. The toilet roll holder used to have a patent. Like a lot of the gizmos and gadgets in our lives used to be patents, but they only last for so long. They expire. So that's why some things are now, just ubiquitous objects, like umbrellas, right? But there are patents on things like any gizmo, any TV, or electronic device, or even a mechanical device. Patents are what you're talking about. And don't feel bad if you don't know what any of this was, and if you forget as soon as you finish this course, because I've met business people who work in corporations, people who should know these things, that really use these three words interchangeably, and it just kills me. They'll talk about patenting a logo, and I just want to die. It's like, you cannot patent a logo. Or that they have a gizmo and it's been copy written. And it's like (screams) That's not what this is. But as you can see, it's not that hard. There's really just three categories. They're universal. They supply us in different countries all around the world, and they basically just get filed for your own jurisdiction. I would like to say one quick thing about filing. You don't have to file for copyright or trademark. I think that's where people get hung up. They're afraid that if they don't get some official government body sort of sealing something, that they don't own it. And that's not true. Both copyright and trademark are default. What do I mean by that? When you draw a picture it is yours. If someone else copies it later on, and you can prove that you drew it first, you do have rights. You wouldn't of ever had to register it with any kind of office, or the US copyright. You don't have to do that. Trademark is the same thing. We've all seen logos that say TM in the upper right hand corner, or lower right hand corner, right? Here's the logo, and then it says TM. You don't have to buy that. You don't have to register for that. It is a declaration. It's just telling people in the world, this is my trademark. So you design a logo, you can just slap that little TM on there with reckless abandon because you are claiming it. But you better have done your homework and know that you're not copying that logo from someone else, 'cause then you are in big trouble. But that's how you do it. You're just basically telling the world this is a trademark. If you've ever seen the little circle R, that is a registered trademark. The circle R, you do have to apply for. So that means you've actually, and I am not gonna explain how to do that, but you can do that, and you get an actual recognized registered trademark, which just gives you a new level of protection, but you don't have to go that far. You can just do a little TM, and just announce to the world, this is my trademark. So I ended on some specificity. I don't know if I should finish on some big thoughts, but, yes? Yeah, I do have a couple questions for you. Cool. To round it out. First of all, what is your next big idea, or maybe ideas that you've got in the hopper? I'm gonna do a chocolate shake place called Bananas. No, I'm just kidding. (laughing) That was a winner. No, but seriously, I want to do a lot more visual art, a lot more public art. And for me, before, my goal was to get big shot famous artist to come in and do these really monumental works. But now, I'm really seeing community benefits more, and I've been working really hard on trying to get neighborhood and community public art projects that are more meaningful, that are more about what happens than what is kind of left behind in the end. So we've been working really hard on that back home. And sort of, it sounds like you evolving the idea Yeah. Through the different rooms, if you will. Yes, that's correct. Basically, based on need. I kept coming in and pitching the idea of these international artist coming in, because I've seen that in Chicago, and I've seen it in Philly, and I've seen it in Denver. And I love those beautiful murals. I loved being in the presence of them. And I really wanna bring that to my own city, but I had to listen to feedback. People would say, well, we need to give our own artist opportunities. We wanna hear the voices of our own people. We are experiencing all kinds of social strife here in our city that we don't think necessarily outsiders will understand. And we don't wanna live with the art that is made by else. And those kinds of things. And I didn't agree with that. I was like, no, you don't understand. This guy from Scotland, this guy from Buenos Aires is really good. And now, I'm learning that the more I listen, the more that is what our city craves, and what it needs right now. And so I want to get involved in doing like more social justice type work, and just enabling that with the talents that our team has, versus prescribing what we think the right kind of art is for anyone's community, so. I love that you touch on that concept of listening. Yeah, it's hard. (laughing) It's hard when you have an idea. It's really hard when you have an idea in your mind, and you're so excited to explain it to the world, and so excited to just convey how great it is in your head. You have to be careful not to have this hero mentality that you have some kind of right answer that other people don't. Don't ever put yourself in that situation, because we all have good ideas. So, being a listener is huge. And that continue to iterate. So final words of wisdom for everybody out there? Yeah. Final words of wisdom, you should already know this by now because I've tried to repeat the ones that I thought were really important. Be authentic. Be yourself. Be confident. Be fearless. Be resilient. Aim high. And don't be afraid to just keep trying over, and over, and over again, 'cause you are going to fail, and that's totally fine. It's totally good. Fantastic. Yeah. And a final question, where can people follow you? Make sure that they're seeing your next big ideas are, and all of that. I'm on Twitter as StacyWNg. But I don't use Twitter a lot. So it may be BlackCatMKE, which is the black cat project, which you heard a lot about today. I would love for you to follow that. I do have a website. So I have a pretty unusual hyphenated name. So if you Google me, you can find my Behance page, or you can find my website. The company is called Wallpapered City, 'cause it's a euphemism for covering the city with color and art. So, yeah, I hope you find me.

Ideas are the natural realm of creative people, but sometimes the toughest part is selling a new concept to the world at large. How do you convince potential supporters to get behind your idea? Learn to recognizing the importance of community and audience–Your idea has an audience, it has potential. In Selling Your Creative Ideas, with Stacey Williams-Ng, you’ll learn to find and connect to the right audience that can help make your dream project a reality, and get paid for it.

In this class you’ll learn.

  • Networking Strategies
  • Matching your Ideas to the Right People
  • Researching Potential Supporters
  • Going from Idea to Project to Profit
  • How to Define Success

Stacey Williams-Ng, the mastermind behind Black Cat Alley, an outdoor art gallery, will take you through the entire process of getting paid to create your art project.

In Selling Your Creative Ideas, Stacey will help all creatives get organized, and package their ideas to make them appealing to potential supporters. 



  • I really liked Stacey's way of speaking, her voice and energy! Thank you and congratulations making your projects real and good luck with your future ones!