Wednesday, May 25, 2016

CNBC press on image theft; Articles on ePacket shipping issues

Issues that impact indie artists are getting national Press coverage. Two major topics:

1) theft of images for commercial use by others
2) shipping policy loopholes that small businesses can't compete with..


Enough with the art theft already. It's beyond egregious .... how can the titans like Amazon manipulate all sorts of algorithms to their advantage, but can't protect the RIGHTS of indie artists who supply the goods Amazon and others profit from!!!.

Source: (top); Zazzle
Pillow from Artform Patterns. Top is Amazon knock-off. Bottom is original on Zazzle.

May 2016 article by Art Levy, CNBC Senior Tech Reporter


"....With all that technology, shouldn't Amazon have an effective way of authenticating sellers, recognizing bots and fake IP addresses and blocking banned images, even if ultimately the fraudsters make up a tiny percentage of merchants?
"If they're giving me such a runaround and not wanting to take down stuff, I'd think on the flip side there would be just as much oversight and rigor for someone to become a seller," said Nidhi Chanani, owner of Everyday Love Art in San Francisco.
Chanani said she recently removed all of her illustrations from Zazzle, because the exact same mugs, pillows and phone cases were too frequently finding their way to Amazon. She's now focused on building an audience for her own website....."

Link for article:

2) -- ePacket shipping issues

9/12/14 article by Jeff Guo in The Washington Post on USPS wrinkle that makes shipping from China to US so much cheaper than shipping from US to China...

".... a couple years ago, people stopped buying McGrath’s toys. He discovered that Chinese merchants were selling the same boats shipped directly from China for a total price of around $18, including postage. He couldn’t compete. Just the mailing cost would put him way past that price.
Though McGrath didn’t realize it at first, he was running into a quirk in an international treaty that makes it possible for an individual to send a pound of stuff from Hong Kong to D.C. for less than it would cost to send the same package from, say, Seattle.....
.....Forums on eBay are filled with angry notes about ePacket. “I must say that it is simply an economic disaster for US Sellers,” one person wrote. “One product that we sell for 2.00 with 2.50 shipping a chinese company is selling for .99 with free shipping,” another complained. The person added, “Too much work no money here anymore. Let the Chinese have it.”
The benefit of ePacket, though, is that it allows USPS to charge extra for services that are fairly easy to provide thanks to existing infrastructure. The inspector general’s report says that the Postal Service could have lost another $1 million or so in 2012 had Chinese shippers opted for regular mail instead of ePacket.
All of this is little comfort to McGrath, who chafes at the thought of the Postal Service helping Chinese merchants poach his customers. “All of us sellers are selling a lot of Chinese goods in America but at least we’re creating jobs, making money, and adding to the economy,” he said. “But when people buy direct from China that’s adding nothing to the American economy.”...."

2016 info on ePacket here:

excerpt from this article by Tony Lam (I have added BOLD to "sellers" to clarify. US sellers are not getting a reciprocal deal). 

ePacket Service is a trilateral agreement between US Postal Service, eBay China and Hong Kong Post office to offer China and Hong Kong eBay sellers a fast but low cost shipping option. This service offers local pick-up service, label printing, online tracking and pre-customs declaration for a 7 to 10-day guaranteed delivery period at a 30 to 50% discounted price compared with many equivalent.
Using this service, China sellers can now ship small packages weighing up to 2 KG with co-branded shipping labels marked with China/HK post and USPS. Upon arrival in United States, these packages received USPS First Class Mail service with delivery confirmation service. To let you have a clear picture of this special post office shipping rates, I searched for a long time and finally find the latest price information in a Hong Kong Post Office Webpage. To view the English version, you can open the webpage with Google Chrome and translate it to English. Below is the comparison of ePacket rate with domestic post office shipping rates.
- See more at:

ePacket shipping rate chart from Tony Lam article...

Artist advice from Lin-Manuel Miranda

This inspiring interview clip posted by Time magazine shares Miranda's advice. His thoughts here don't just apply to young people... it's great advice for indie artists.

Here's the take-away I got from this  --- Pursue what you are passionate about. You will find your contribution. Careers are just one way to leave a legacy. Volunteers... innovators... mentors... trailblazers.. these are the people who are remembered by the community of others. Sometimes it's a community of just one or two.. sometimes entire industries. In either case.. the result is others who are forever grateful for the person who found the time to act from their heart....

Advice for Surviving Your 20s From Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda

you can read more about the story behind the video in this link to Time magazine...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Advice from Eric Goldberg.. and sketching inspiration from SciShow: Great Minds

In this clip from a recent appearance at the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International ... Master animator Eric Goldberg shares some advice for young animators. He begins by saying it's not about sound bites.... and goes on to describe the importance of things like observation... and the willingness to do the impossible when others are telling  you not to...

Learning about history and famous people is an excellent way to practice sketching memorable characters.....

Animation has often played a role in making learning more engaging... and it works for older audiences as well as school kids.

The internet is home to vibrant new educational films.... "SciShow" is one channel that popped up on my radar.
This You Tube channel launched in 2011 and and now has over 3 million subscribers.

In less than 10 minutes.. the witty writing and crisp visual style turns a talking head mini-lecture into an illuminating presentation in their series: Great Minds.

Puppets... graphics... vintage photos ... seem simple... but watch how effectively they are used to impart a lot of complicated science....
You can also learn more about the show .. and how they do what they do.. via their Patreon page:

Simple is hard..... see if these videos inspire you to try your hand at observing closely... and trying to share in engaging sketches or storyboards some interesting facts about inspiring people...

Check out some of  these SciShow Great Minds videos...


Marie Curie

Mary Anning

 Alan Turing

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Film posters from collection of Mike Kaplan acquired by LACMA

Recent news of an important collection of film posters acquired by LACMA..

Here's the story from the collector himself.. Mike Kaplan...
I’ve long been dedicated to vintage movie posters being recognized as a genuine art form and not just a sidebar of popular culture. The foundation of my collection is based on exceptional design,
whether the best image for a film was created in America or abroad, whether the film is a classic or unknown. Over the past 35 years, I often realized that the choices made were to one day have them eventually acknowledged as the art they are by a major museum, which would expose them to a wide audience and validate my passion.
That dream has now been realized with the acquisition by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, one of the world’s great museums, of 880 posters from the collection. The catalyst for this unprecedented
acquisition was Ralph DeLuca, who initiated and is co-chair of LACMA’s Graphic Design Initiative. Ralph has become a prominent art dealer but I’m convinced his first love is the movie poster and his belief in their
artistic and cultural importance made this significant development happen.
The announcement was confirmed by LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg director Michael Govan at LACMA’s annual Collectors Committee gala, where 12 unique examples of movie poster art were displayed to an overwhelming response in a presentation by Prints and Drawings Curator Britt Salveson. Though I had lived with many of these 12 pieces for years, I was truly in awe seeing them together and arranged with such care and attention.
Previous exhibits from the collection have been held at a variety of venues, from Lincoln Center to the TCM Classic Film Festval, from Jacob’s Pillow to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The first of an intended series of books, GOTTA DANCE: The Art of the Dance Movie Poster, was published in 2014.
Below is the announcement of the acquisition by LACMA and visuals of the installation:

Here is link for the LACMA press release...

More coverage of the collection and acquisition...
article on Kaplan and book of dance posters from his collection...

For many years... attending paper collectibles shows in the LA area... I also enjoyed collecting film posters. They are an art form.... time capsule.. and a reminder of just how much story can be conveyed in the right image/design.

These two poster images below not part of this acquisition..  just an aside...
One of my all-time favorite film posters is the release poster for the 1979 film "The Black Stallion"...
Also have always adored this concept art by Bob Peak for the same film...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

imitation is fraud, not flattery...

A frequent topic among established artists exhibiting at conventions is the casual attitude some students and young artists have about copying the work of others.

What is the real value of art?? (graphic below from The ABC's of art by M.C. Gillis)

Art does not exist in a vacuum. We all create from what we have learned from and been inspired by. But this copied-art problem goes beyond guiding light of inspiration into the shadows of imitation.. duplication... theft.. and fraud.

There have been instances where young artists have gone even beyond the grey area of fan art and sold prints where they have just traced over published work of licensed characters to create "their" art.

Sometimes copied-art is just ignorance.... and an education opportunity. Sometimes it's just arrogance... because no one stops them.

Education is the key. The more the community of artists and fans understand together what's at stake with artists rights.. the stronger the protections for intellectual property.

Enforcing the rules isn't just about cease and desist orders from copyright holders .... or exhibitor guidelines from convention organizers.

The buck really stops with the financial impact. On all of us. Cheap, easy art -- erodes.

How to fight this??? Make the art fan culture smarter, and more compassionate, about artist rights. (graphic below from

More on copyright .. along with case studies of unauthorized use of images posted online.. on this frequently updated post here on the blog:

The up and coming artists are the future of the community ... both the fans they bring in and the social and commercial contracts they are building with their audience.

Think about what happens if the next waves of artists are used to imitating instead of creating... and the next wave of art customers continue to purchase and support imitated art.

Art has value because is a unique expression of an artist's vision. It's that spark of vision that connects us to art that we love.

If all we come to value about art is how cheaply we can get it and how easily we can imitate it -- then we will put real artist out of business. We can't afford to let that happen.

Few artists can make their living entirely from their art. There's nothing wrong with that. So called "day jobs" pay the bills.. and contribute to their community. But what sustains artists is their art. For these small business artists --- the ones who are exhibiting at conventions and selling their art online -- imitation of their art isn't flattery... it's a little death of the soul.

Nikki Cohen of Mayfaire Moon custom corsets and costumes 

beautifully expresses the pain and struggle of artists when they are imitated in this post "How to Anger an Artist in 5 Seconds"
from her Patreon page....

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Liana Hee art book -- pre-order thru July 8 on her Etsy store

Lovely, talented, extraordinary Liana Hee is a painter, designer, dancer and photographer
Liana is a frequent highlight here on the blog. She will debut her long-awaited art book "Mini Mermies" in July at Comic Con 2016.

Liana's pictured below at her table at CTNX..
(she's holding plush art Martin "Marty" Mouse ... created by other artist pals of the blog Steph Laberis and Sarah Hunt  )

Liana's been the showcased artist at Disneyland's Wonderland Gallery. A designer on the Nickelodeon animation studios show "Shimmer and Shine," she also illustrated the Little Golden Book "Backyard Ballet" based on the series characters...

Liana also shines in her personal work... often featuring dancers or mermaids. Photo below is her art print "Pearly Peridot" from her Etsy shop:

Don't miss out on Liana's "Mini Mermies" book! The print run is limited and her fan base continues to grow...
Place a pre-order now on her Etsy store.. and you'll get this hardcover book with 132 pages...

Inside the book there's over 100 paintings and works in progress....

PLUS .. . pre-orders include this exclusive print (pictured below)!!

Pre-orders accepted via her Etsy page --- now through July 8th.

Each pre-order also includes a chance at a Liana Hee original painting.

Details on her Esty page. Here's the link.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Animators profiled.. ones to watch, and on their journeys

Up and coming animators are making their efforts count .. and making names for themselves and their art... across many media platforms.

Fun to see these spotlights intersect this week...

On a gallery of "10 animators to watch in 2016"
This article by Variety staff combines character sketches (both drawn and written) for:
Frank Abney; Adrian Molina; Alyce Tzue; Carl Faruolo; Fletcher Moules; Ian Jones-Quartey; Kevin Parry; Makoto Shinkai; Nina Gantz; Seth Boyden

One artist from this gallery... Alyce Tzue ....!3/alyce-tzue-animated-film-combines-all-the-arts/

... was also recently interviewed on the podcast "The Animated Journey"

This podcast by Angela Entzminger features interviews with animation professionals. These lively conversations cover important topics for students and fans .. touching on the animator's background.. early inspirations... career entry and progression ... as well as tips from the trenches. I especially appreciate how often these interviews explore animation (or any career) as part of a life journey, but not the only path.

And a bonus bit of good news.... This 5.2.16 LA Times article about Once Upon a Time --  an indie bookstore success story

Quotes from the story...

(store owner Maureen) Palacios said her store provides important moments that connect children with their favorite authors. She had her own such moment in eighth grade, when Ray Bradbury visited her school."I think that's important to get kids to remember and to have a memorable experience," Palacios said, "because it happened to me.".....
Once Upon a Time still has its place in the community, Palacios said. It employs high school students, gives them their first jobs. Famous authors leave their autographs in the storage room.

The experience, according to Palacios, is personalized and personal.
"We like to find the right book for you at the right time," she said — and it's a big part of what sets Once Upon a Time apart from the Amazons of the world.
"Amazon is a data collector. They don't care about a story. I sell stories. I sell dreams. They sell data," Palacios said. "I have the better lot in life."