Meet our Alumni: Chris Sutherns, Sales Executive at Tate Images

Posted on: July 15, 2019 by

Chris Sutherns, Sales Executive at Tate Images participated in our Diploma in Intellectual Property and Collections. Read about his background working with the V&A, British Museum and Tate as well as how the IAL course helped open doors for his career. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your career and background?

Chris Sutherns, Sales Executive at Tate Images

I’m a licensing and intellectual property executive and practicing photographer with over 10 years of experience across the heritage, academic and commercial sectors. After graduating from the University of Brighton with a degree in Editorial Photography I worked as a freelance photographer for a number of years alongside a number of more prosaic jobs before moving into museums. I worked at the V&A and then the British Museum for several years prior to joining Tate Images in 2014. My current role combines a practice-led approach to content creation with legal best-practice advice for management, use and reach of cultural content in order to increase the public’s access to the Tate collection whilst balancing the generation of vital revenue. I also represent picture libraries within the cultural heritage sector as a member of the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies’ Rights Group.

What aspects of studying with the Institute of Art & Law did you enjoy most?

The Diploma in Intellectual Property & Collections is a particularly intensive course that covers a huge amount of sector tailored information within just a few days. I found it invaluable to expand my knowledge of IP in areas that were both familiar and new to me whilst also encouraging discussion across a number of issues. I particularly enjoyed the written assignment, after overcoming the daunting and unfamiliar prospect of writing an essay for the first time in many years, this allowed me to place the areas addressed in context and really delve into the vast amount of interpretation, opinion and varying cases available on the subjects to inform my position.

How has the IAL course enhanced your career?

Undertaking the course has helped open a number of opportunities for me in the development of my career and professional reputation. In the three years since I have written blog posts on copyright exceptions for UAL, written tailored copyright case studies to be used in training courses at other museums and taken part in strategic legal workshops at industry events. I also joined Tate’s legal team for a short secondment period last year and was invited to join the BAPLA Rights Group. On a day to day basis the course has given me a firm foundation in which to evolve and expand my role within Tate Images. In addition to the increased knowledge I have been able to apply to my own responsibilities and those of the rest of the Images team, I am now able to provide reliable, informed and practical IP advice to my clients, other departments across the company and also colleagues from other institutions.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying with the IAL?

I would very much recommend taking the diploma to anyone across the heritage sector that works with content as it has proved to be a great benefit to me and the company as a whole. To those taking the course, I have found that in relation to IP expertise, in general, it really is a case of the more you put in the more you will get out. There really is a vast amount of information and opinion available in an area that is in many cases designed to be vague and open to interpretation, therefore absorbing as much of this as possible whilst always relating and comparing back to the detail in the legislature is hugely beneficial to my expertise and confidence in such a niche specialism.

The Diploma in Intellectual Property and Collections is running in Sydney, Australia 17 – 19 July. It will run again in London in June 2020.