Names of real institutions + shops ok for student portfolio pieces?
February 22, 2017 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Could I use the names of real institutions (i.e local museums and libraries) and local shops in a student illustration project I'm designing for my class?

I want to assign my undergraduate students hypothetical jobs where the students create art for specific places as if they were actual clients, ie. if they choose The Franklin Institute, they illustrate brochures and maps for the museum. If they choose a local taco shop, they illustrate menus, bathroom signs, ads, and murals for it.

The only way I could see this being dicey re: trademarks would be if they post the work on their portfolios or social media in such a way as it looks like the real institution or brand actually hired them to do this work.

They would not use any of the logos from the real places.

I could get around this by making each location very general, like "you get The Science Exploratorium Museum or the Frankly Institute" and then they can use the actual place + a few other museums as inspiration. I'd like them to use real locations as research and inspiration for their pieces.

Thanks, guys!
posted by Geameade to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Using actual logos/names is (or was) pretty standard practice in art and design education.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:37 AM on February 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

They would not use any of the logos from the real places.

I would even say that it would be good for them to use the real logos. Having some constraints based on an existing brand (logo, corporate colors, etc) would be part the illo job in the real world. Changing a logo, or even creating a fictional new company/orgainzation, to suit your illustrations is an easy (and unrealistic) way out.

The Franklin Institute shows appropriate logo options for its materials. Most large organizations or corporations have comprehensive design or brand guideline documents, though they're not always available online. Example: The British Museum design guidelines
posted by Kabanos at 9:04 AM on February 22, 2017

Speaking for libraries everywhere, I think this sounds lovely and I bet libraries would both like to see what your students came up with and/or being okay with giving some "This is the sort of problem we need to solve" UX feedback that might be useful.
posted by jessamyn at 9:33 AM on February 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I majored in advertising in a well-respected program, and we almost exclusively based our projects on actual products/organizations and used their branding in our projects. I did a layout for a magazine article on Bee Movie, did media planning for Monster Energy, pitched an ad campaign for FOX Sports, etc. All of this stuff was completely acceptable material for our portfolios.

You will get much better results that way because the students will get to have the experience of producing work for an actual organisation with existing branding and - more importantly - they won't have to make up an entire organization in addition to doing the illustrations. That seems like a lot of extra work that has nothing to do with the subject of the class.

If these projects would ordinarily involve the organizations' logos, I would also say you should absolutely use them - unless part of this assignment is meant to be specifically a rebranding of the organization, which it doesn't sound like it is. That's how things work in practice, and working within the constraints of using the actual logos and branding (coordinating color, typography, etc) is important for this type of design.

You won't run into legal trouble over this, it's totally standard.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:41 AM on February 22, 2017

Thanks so much for your feedback, guys! Here are some photos of my sleeping dog as a thank you.
posted by Geameade at 1:38 PM on February 22, 2017 [10 favorites]

Oh, I also wanted to add: WHO'S GOOD? WHO'S GOOD ?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:44 PM on February 22, 2017 [6 favorites]

This is the 100% correct way to thank AskMe answerers.
posted by radicalawyer at 3:11 PM on February 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

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