Apr 30, 2009
Free Speech Mark.
When I first started blogging back in 2005 I had no idea what I'd really do with it? For the most part it seems like a natural online opportunity to exercise your "First Amendment" rights. Everyone has an opinion and blogging gave everyone an easy way to share that opinion with others.
And that is exactly what I use my blog for. I share my artwork, experiences (Both good and bad), fun and informative information, commentary and rants. Even though a blog can be very cathartic in a way, it can still serve a practical purpose for others to glean from and that is what I enjoy the most.
I don't often get into politics, frankly speaking I'm annoyed by almost every politician regardless of what side of the political fence they come from. One of my favorite sayings regarding politics is this:
Poly: Many Ticks: Blood Suckers
A friend of mine here in Portland Oregon has both a local talk radio show and a national talk radio show. His name is Lars Larson and he asked me to create some graphics to promote Free Speech and help get the word out regarding the new efforts on The Fairness Doctrine to restrict Free Speech on talk radio.
Topical Badge Graphics.
When I was given the saying "Don't Touch My Dial" I couldn't help but remember the funny scene from the movie Rush Hour where Lee (Jackie Chan) changes Carters (Chris Tucker) radio. OK, back to the regularly scheduled blog post.
I think Free Speech is arguably the most important aspect of freedom we have in this country and I've never understood how something like The Fairness Doctrine can even co-exist with it?
I don't want some Mulla like "Localism Council" telling me what I can and cannot listen to on the radio or worse, telling me I need to let someone else post on my blog so as to be more balanced. Maybe some like that approach to life, but I don't so I was happy to help with the graphics.
One of several promotional banner ads I created.
I created a media kit for the "Don't Touch My Dial" campaign to help them get the word out. (Not responsible for their web site design however)
Free Speech T-Shirts.
Free Speech Products-O-Plenty!
- View Mens T-Shirt (White)
- View Mens T-Shirt (Black)
- View Womens T-Shirt
- Coffee Mug
What ever your political views be it Repugnican or Democrap I think we can all agree that Free Speech is worth protecting. But I'm sure you'll exercise yours in my comments if you disagree. ;-P
Thumbnails from my project folder.
I thumbnail sketch ideas with what ever I have when I get inspired, hence red pens, pencils, vellum, and regular paper.
PS: Since I'm posting on the topic of "Free Speech" I thought it would be appropriate to share with you one of my favorite podcasts called "Future Quake." (Yeah I know their site is ugly but the content is excellent) Recently they interviewed Judge Andrew P. Napolitano and the information was nothing short of incredible. Listen to the interview here.
Apr 27, 2009
My Original Artwork.
They say things come in threes and that has proven true regarding recent copyright infringement regarding my artwork. Anyone who reads my blog is aware that my hawk mascot art was ripped off and sold online.
When ever I post about things like this on my blog it gets shared with other designer. Designers by nature are visual thinkers for the most part and we remember what we've seen. One person who read my blog sent me an email which has revealed another infringement using my hawk art. (If you are counting that is infringement number two)
But this new matter is far too complicated for me to handle via my own infringement letter and I have turned it over to my copyright attorney to consult on and I'll follow his lead.
Well on Saturday I was made aware of another infringement regarding my bat art. (See they come in threes)
IMVU.com virtual rip.
I was able to follow DMCA protocol and send the infringing web site my infringement letter and they have pulled down the art that one of their users were selling.
It's bad enough people rip my art in the real world, but now they are ripping it and selling it to virtual clients too? (Anyone who is familiar with IMVU.com please feel free to comment)
My infringement letter post shows how to write to a web site or individual that has infringed upon your copyrighted work online. And below is the type of standard issue reply you'll get back once a site like IMVU.com has acted upon it. It's cold, calculated and as you can see allows them to hide behind the DMCA.
Modus Operandi Response From Infringers
In compliance with the IMVU policy relating to claims of copyright or trademark infringement, which is meant to adopt and implement the procedures specified under the DMCA and US copyright law, IMVU has taken the following actions regarding your complaint:
1) The offending items have been placed on DMCA hold and we have disabled access to or removed them from the IMVU catalog.
2) Notified the person who created and/or posted the offending items.
For more information on IMVU’s DMCA/Trademark policies, or for instructions on reporting future violations, please visit our DMCA page.
Terms of Service.
Please note that this is our ordinary response upon receipt of a formal DMCA takedown notice, in compliance with the DMCA and our policy. We express no view with regard to the merits of your claim(s) of infringement or with regard to any other matters you may have communicated to us. We reserve all rights and defenses.
fax: (650) 618-2561
All the above transpired over a two day period. I discovered the infringement Saturday. Sent off a my infringement letter the same day. And on Monday I got the response shown above and the matter was resolved.
Now this doesn't always happen this smoothly. And if a copyright infringer insists on being a weasel you might need to get a lawyer involved. But most reasonable people will admit the transgression and align with DMCA protocol.
View Copyright Infringement Letter.
Apr 25, 2009
"Pimping Lincoln" Because it's fun.
The past few days have been way too serious on my blog. So tonight I decided to do something just for fun.
Tonight I was reading online and an image of Abraham Lincoln showed up on one of the web pages I visited. I looked at this historical image and a few thoughts streamed across my conscience.
"I wonder what he was thinking about when this was taken?"
"Dude had big ears."
"I wonder if he had a good sense of humor?"
And then in a moment of "Creative Curiosity" I thought.
"I wonder what my face would look like on his body?"
It's at moments like these I allow my "Late Night Logic" to kick in and act on spontaneous creative ideas that pop into my head. So I decided to act upon the common vernacular "Photoshopping" a picture of my face onto one of our nations most beloved fore fathers.
Pimping Honest Abe.
Doing this brought back a memory I hadn't thought of in over 22 years. At my very first job out of art school I worked at a small hole in the wall screen print shop. (This was all pre-computer old school graphic design with Amberlith and T-squares.) At that time I had photocopied the same picture of lincoln and put sunglasses on him and a tropical patterned shirt.
I thought the pop art was cool looking and showed it to Sandy the secretary and all she had to say was.
"That is disrespectful and not funny at all."
You didn't want to argue with Sandy, she was never wrong.
When I started there several employees told me not to look at her thumb. I asked why and one person said.
"She only has a nub and you don't want her catching you starring at it, she'll freak."
Well, I forgot all about this and one day she walked into my office and handed me a work file. As I reached out to grab it I spotted her nub and just kind of froze starring at it not moving. I was hypnotized by her nub. After a few awkward seconds she tossed it on my desk and left the room and now 22+ years later a nub and a dislike for "Pimping Lincoln" is all I remember of Sandy.
The whole time I worked there I had my pimped Lincoln hanging on my wall in just the right spot so as Sandy could see it from her desk. LOL
For Your "Photoshopping" Pleasure.
So now it's your turn. Use the image above and take a few minutes "Pimping Lincoln."
When you're done with it just email me the image and I'll post it below in this same thread.
Send your pimped Lincoln to:
Pimped Lincoln Gallery
Designer: Justen Hong - First Half Asian Lincoln.
Designer: Eric Holsomback
Designer: Andreas Aronsson
Designer: David Holm - Mr. Clean
Designer: Robert Miller - Cruising
Designer: Mike Hosier
Designer: Brandon Dawley
Designer: Mary Gibson
Designer: Scott Fulk
Designer: Mark Vogler
Designer: Alin Ivana - Romanian Lincoln
Designer: Jay Montgomery
Designer: Stephen Way - Lincoln Pimped
Designer: Lance Ford
Designer: Jason Oliver
Designer: Chris Rooney - Abe "Rock Your Cabin" Lincoln
Designer: Carson Brown
Designer: Eloy Lbarra
Designer: Clay Billman
Designer: Jared Fitch - Obramaham Lincoln
Designer: Duane Cardwell
Designer: Stephen Hilbelink
Designer: H. Iñaki Basagoiti - Barcelona
PS: If you ever meet me in person ask me to tell you the story about my friend mowing the lawn in her bare feet. It's pretty funny but this post had enough rabbit trails so I didn't want to add another one. ;-)
Apr 24, 2009
Design Weasels Beware!
Over the years I've had my artwork stolen via the internet more than a few times. I'll admit it gets old and when I now see an email show up in my inbox and the subject line read "Is this your artwork?" I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach because I know it'll waste hours of my time having to deal with it.
Because this has happened to me a lot (16 times so far in 2009 alone) I've educated myself in regards to the copyright laws as they pertain to my profession as an Illustrative Designer. Specifically the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
I'm no legal eagle by any means but I've had to hire a copyright lawyer to fight a few violations that exceeded my own ability to manage and resolve myself and through these circumstances I've been able to learn how best to handle these online infractions in accordance to the DMCA.
Who Owns Copyright?
In general the creator of the artwork by default owns the copyright for the art regardless if it has been officially filed with the government or not. That said having it filed gives you a better foundation for litigation pursuits of course. But realistically it's not practical for a digital illustrator to officially copyright each and every piece of art they create.
You can gang up 4-6 images on one 8.5x11 sheet and get them all copyrighted officially for around $50. So I've tried to cherry pick the artwork I think is most vulnerable to infringement and once ever quarter send off a sheet to get them protected. So a budget of $200 can go a long way to protect yourself annually.
Responding to Copyright Violation
So what do you do when your art has been stolen and someone is using it online without your permission? Well below is a link that will show you a pre-formatted letter you can customize and send to the web site or person responsible for providing the access to your infringed artwork.
Most web sites have accepted this DMCA protocol requiring six points of information to be provided by the infringed party to the web site containing the alleged copyright infringement. And most web sites will allow you to email it to their legal contact but some require you to physically mail it as well which ironically contradicts the DMCA which says a digital signature is as good as a physical one, but I digress.
You'll notice the six points in my example but I also add a seventh point as well. Most reasonable people will immediately remove the art but very few if any will provide the information I request in point number seven. But that doesn't stop me from requesting it, I should know that information so I can follow up on being fairly compensated for my arts usage but unfortunately most sites will just honor the six points and ignore the seventh and hide behind the DMCA which allows them to. Hence why I refer to them as weasels.
View Copyright Infringement Letter.
I hope this information helps you as you strive to share your work online without fear of infringing weasels taking advantage of your hard work.
Apr 23, 2009
ShutterStock.com used by "Design Weasels."
Like 99% of all the rip-offs of my art I was informed of this violation via email from the agency who originally hired me to create the art for them in the first place. They spotted my artwork being sold on ShutterStock.com.
Having my artwork ripped off is nothing new to me. Unethical corporate weasels can be effectively dealt with via legal measures to hold them accountable. It's a pain to deal with but as you can read in the linked post can be successfully handled.
What upsets me the most is so-called fellow designers or in this case a "Design Weasel" by the screen name of "Milann" who took my hawk mascot art and repurposed it under the guise that it's their own creation and uploaded it to his/her ShutterStock.com account so they could sell it to other designers who purchase pre-fab art on the cheap.
My original "Black Hawk" artwork.
The one aspect about being an Illustrative Designer I love is the creative process. Actually working through the development of ideas, refining my art and seeing it come to life and enjoying how others respond to it. That in and of itself makes all the effort to create the artwork worth it for me. The fact I get paid to do it is awesome.
Not only are these design weasels causing me problems but they are missing out on the best part of being a creative, and that is to create. They will never know the true passion and joy found in the midst of a creative process if they just rip-off the end result from other creatives. It's kind of sad really and just flat out wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to begin?
Animated comparison. Direct lift of my artwork.
Perhaps the design weasel in question will read this post? With that in mind let me talk directly to designer "Milann" who ripped me off.
I suggest you take serious inventory about your own career path. You've been caught, your identity might remain nebulous, but you still know how much of a design weasel you've been in doing this.
You can choose to keep acting like a design weasel, ripping other peoples artwork off and refusing to be an actual creative, or you can realize you've mad poor choices and turn over a new design leaf and start over. Challenge yourself, make a commitment to design excellence and begin to grow your own skills and talent so that you can truly be a successful creative and stop being part of the problem. It's your choice.
Corporations Hide Behind DMCA
Since Clinton passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) back in 1998 online businesses have been hiding behind it when copyright violations are discovered on their own sites. In a nut shell a company can post anything they want and get away with it as long as it takes before someone notices, once they are notified of the copyright infringement all they have to do is remove it. No compensation is given, no royalties paid, no usage fees given. The artist basically gets screwed and the company hides behind the DMCA to justify all of it.
You can read about it for yourself via this DMCA PDF.
Weasel designers and weasel corporations are usually found nested together in their weasel dens of design iniquity.
Hopefully sites like ShutterStock.com will exterminate the design weasels and do a better job of vetting their content. I realize full-blame should rest solely on the shoulders of the individuals who choose to steal the art to begin with and use stock sites to distribute it.
Personally I wish Google would buy a company like Tineye.com and really make this type of searching more viable for artists to monitor who is using their work without permission. Then stock companies could plugin to this service and make it part of their upload protocol and help prevent design weasels from flourishing online.
Follow Up - Phase 1
I know some will disagree with me but I feel when a company like ShutterStock.com hides behind the DMCA like weasel corporate suits it doesn't help anyone. And I'm sorry but I find this statement they provided a little bit self-serving:
"Shutterstock's Privacy Statement constrains me from providing the information you request regarding the alleged infringer."
So let it be known that anyone can use a service like ShutterStock.com to distribute stolen art and they'll cover your back from any legal repercussion via their own self-defined privacy statement if you happen to get caught. Seems like a conflict of interest to me?
I'll give them this though, they have pulled the artwork down and closed the account for the user "Milann." Good, that is an appropriate response. But to say that "Milann" is an "Alleged Infringer" is just corporate weasel talk. Seriously, is there any doubt that this clown stole my art? I'm not alleging anything, I'm stating fact. But I digress.
Follow Up - Phase 2
OK, all is resolved now. All I need to say is Twitter rules!
Apr 15, 2009
Cookie Jar Illustration. (Click image to view larger)
If you've taken a look at your favorite magazine of late I bet you'll notice it's substantially thinner than in previous issues. Ad revenue is down, it's a reflection of the economic problems our nation is facing at the moment.
That said magazines still need illustration thankfully and "Oil and Gas Investor" magazine hired me to illustrate for an article dealing with some of the same ethical problems that caused the financial mess were in now.
You know, greedy corporate weasels stealing money. The context of this illustration was in regards to investing, specifically in oil futures. Most of these crimes are white collar and it happens on paper. So I decided to play off the old "hand in the cookie jar" metaphor.
I don't do a whole lot of editorial illustration these days but I still think they're fun to work on.
Apr 4, 2009
New MUFON logo design.
Every since I was a little kid I've been fascinated by mysterious things. I remember watching "In Search Of" hosted by Leonard Nymoy and "The Night Stalker" a precursor and inspiration for Chris Carters "X Files" and the newest paranormal offering I like to TiVo is one called "Fringe."
I think most people will appreciate the design in this post regardless of the context. And some won't be able to separate the two and will just file it away under "N" for nutter. That said I think every client I work with deserves good design no matter if I fully buy into what service or product they are offering.
Horizontal logo formats.
Personally I've never seen a UFO, but a close friend of our family growing up had an experience with one that I can only describe as strange. She had sent my mom a letter when I was ten years old and my mom read me part of the letter that described the encounter.
A glowing object followed our friend and her daughter one night while driving in their car for about 45 minutes. It hovered off to the right of them all the way to their farm in North Dakota. They ran into their kitchen and the object described by them as a "glowing ball" floated above their barn than streaked off after a few minutes of watching it.
I have to admit I use to just smirk at this kind of stuff. But over the years I've read books by military pilots from WWII describing "Foo Fighters", airline pilots describing encounters with UFO's, police officers and air traffic control people in and around O'Hare airport in Chicago just a few years ago describing what took place there makes it pretty clear that something is happening. The phenomenon is real and one could argue mainstream now.
Old MUFON logo.
MUFON is an organization that has chapters nationally and they investigate hundreds of sightings every year to keep track of the phenomenon and to respond to it with a practical scientific mind set.
I decided to subscribe to their newsletter this year and when the first issue showed up I spotted a UBO, "Unidentified Branding Object" more commonly referred to as an ugly logo. So I reported my sighting to their head office and approached them about re-designing their identity. They agreed.
Over all I wanted the new identity to be clean, elegant and sophisticated. A large majority of the public already thinks this subject is a joke so I didn't want the mark to facilitate that in any way. MUFON takes what they do seriously and they deserve a mark that carries that across visually as well.
Design Area 51
Like any non-profit the implementation of this new design will only be as effective as the organization carries it out. At this point it still hasn't hit their web site yet and due to the recent economic situation our country finds itself in they are a bit nervous about a wholesale change with other components in their identity.
Rumors has it that this design was taken to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and secured within hanger "18" until an official disclosure date can be determined.
My Design Rationale
This mark plays of the publics perception of UFO’s in general and metaphorically conveys an eye, since this is the foundational point of contact for all UFO phenomenon.
This mark also serves as the letter "O" in your horizontal format.
This mark can also be used as a bug to end an article, or on screen for video productions. (Think TV network on-screen water marks)
It’s clean, classic and timeless.
MUFON is progressive, adaptive to new technology and scientific methods in it’s efforts to investigate and document the UFO phenomenon.
Because of this I didn’t want to use an existing typeface, so I custom designed the logo type from scratch. They are unique to MUFON.
The letter forms reflect a high-tech and precise easy to read clarity.
Blue isn't just the color of the sky, the canvas on which the UFO phenomenon appears, but it is also a color commonly associated to the sciences as well. It is also the worlds most popular color for obvious reasons and that seemed appropriate since this phenomenon is not isolated to any one country.
UFO + Design = Fun!