Saturday, January 11, 2020

Free Shipping is a Myth! It costs indie artists and fans.

There has never been free shipping. Quality, reliable shipping has costs, but the value is priceless.

So why do so many people feel entitled to "FREE SHIPPING" -- and what is that myth really costing?Would taking USPS private bring costs down? Would the public be better served? This video from the Postal Workers Union highlights some of the unique benefits of our USPS.

Amazon has done a brilliant job of cultivating generations of online shoppers to expect "free shipping." This has deceived customers. The costs of "free" are either absorbed by the company, or factored into the price. 

Quality shipping and handling is more than the quote to move the package via USPS, UPS or Fed Ex. There are shipping supplies required... paid for by the sender. As well as time and often expertise required to pack items to assure safe delivery. Small business can't afford items to be damaged and returned in the mail. Especially one-of-a-kind items. Massive returns work ok for huge companies selling goods that are easy to remake, replace or restock. They can ship things in cheap envelopes and containers. Indie artists put time and money into their shipping and handling to prevent damages.  Most pack items themselves. They can't "cost cut" in this area. 

If you enjoy finding usual items to purchase from indie artists and content creators, then help raise awareness about the realities of shipping and handling. 

1) shipping is expensive. It's a painful reality for sellers and customers. Don't hate on indie vendors for quoting realistic shipping prices. Imagine if you had to travel to another location, pay a convention attendee fee to access an artist's table, to get the same item? Online shopping has given us greater access to indie artists. The shipping fees to buy directly from them are a bargain compared to the pre-internet days.

2) We are lucky in the US to have reliable shipping with tracking and insurance. That peace of mind comes at a price.  Plus we have options: USPS; Fed Ex; UPS. The employees of the shipping companies often perform above and beyond --- and shipping fees help pay their salaries. If we want quality, reliable shipping why do we fee entitled to get something so valuable to us for free? Graphic below from Pew Research Center. USPS ranks #1 with public opinion of federal agencies.

3) USPS is a vital government service. Keep up with the news about future plans for USPS, not just price hikes. There is a push to privatize USPS. This crucial service knits the nation together, making timely deliveries to urban areas of course, but also rural outposts that would be cut off without the public mail option. 

I'll be using this "Free Shipping is a Myth" post to update with articles highlighting the privatization fight.

January 11, 2020 article by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times "Don't mess up the mail"

 "Establishing “post offices and post roads” is one of the powers of Congress explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, right up there with the power to tax and borrow, declare war, coin money, establish federal courts and issue patents and copyrights. That hasn’t kept Congress from doing its best to hamstring the Postal Service. The USPS consistently operates in the red, but as I’ve reported before, the major drag on its earnings is a 2006 congressional mandate that the service prepay over the following 10 years all its future expected retiree healthcare benefits....Delivering packages is also more expensive than delivering letters. Parcels require additional heavier trucks, more personnel and more fuel. And although the USPS is collecting more in revenue from packages than it used to, that still is not fully compensating for the falloff in letter revenue....The Postal Service, despite the decline in letter volume, still knits the country together. The dimmest of dim bulbs in Congress recognize that in their heart of hearts. That’s why they so seldom show the gumption to shut rural post offices down.If there’s a government service that should absolutely not be “run like a business,” it’s delivering the mail. Treating universal mail service as something that must compete profitably with commercial carriers or die is a dumb and anti-democratic idea, and conservatives should just drop it.

Dec 27, 2019 article by Nicole Goodkind in Fortune "USPS Could Privitize as Early as Next Year"

Quote: "A study by the Institute for Policy Studies found that 70 million more (rural) Americans would have to pay hefty surcharges for deliveries without the USPS.
The impact could also raise prices of the goods being shipped.
“Businesses, from the online retail shops to manufacturers shipping parts to customers in need, could face sharply higher shipping costs, leading to higher prices for their customers or lower profits for their businesses,” the Institute for Policy Studies report found. “Small businesses would be hit especially hard, since they don’t have the clout to negotiate the same level of shipping discounts as big corporations.”

April 2019 by Andrea Germanos, Common

"U.S. Postal Service workers will hold a day of action Monday to reject a Trump White House proposal to privatize the service.
"Our message to the public is quite simple. 'The United States Postal Service—Keep it. It's yours!'" said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), in a statement. "Don't sell this national treasure to private interests that will charge more for less service."
The workers' message, which they plan on delivering outside over 100 locations across the nation, is actually twofold. In addition to rejecting privatization—as well as a "franchising the mailbox" proposal floated by a White House task force, they want to dispel the myth that the USPS is funded through tax dollars. It's a timely message given that Monday is Tax Day. "

Friday, January 10, 2020

A messy studio can help you as an artist -- tips from Austin Kleon book

An artist friend shared this link for April 2019 article on book "Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad" by Austin Kleon:

So many great quotes here:
"Creativity is about connections, and connections are not made by siloing everything off into its own space. New ideas are formed by interesting juxtapositions, and interesting juxtapositions happen when things are out of place.
You may think that if your studio is tidy, it will free you up to be more efficient, and therefore, you will produce more. Maybe that will help you in the execution stage of your work if you’re, say, a printmaker pulling prints, but it won’t help you come up with an interesting design for the next print. It’s always a mistake to equate productivity and creativity. They are not the same. In fact, they’re frequently at odds with each other: You’re often most creative when you’re the least productive.
The best studio tidying is a kind of exploring. I rediscover things as I work my way through the clutter. The reason I tidy is not really to clean, but to come into contact with something I’ve forgotten which I can now use.
This is a slow, dreamy, ruminative form of tidying. When I come across a long-lost book, for example, I flip to random pages and see if they have anything to tell me. Sometimes scraps of paper fall out of the book like a secret message from the universe.
I often stop tidying because I get swept up in reading. This is the exact opposite of what Marie Kondo prescribes. When going through your books, she says, “Make sure you don’t start reading it. Reading clouds your judgment.” Heaven forbid!"
Infographic below image from Keep Going book by Austin Kleon, Workman Press

Monday, January 6, 2020

Topics of interest -- Why companies fight to keep IP; Float theme of Hope; Real Life adventures of Louisa May Alcott; How to dominate on Amazon

Continuing this series on topics of interest for indie art life. 
Previous post here:

Here are 4 topics that recently arrived on my radar ...
 Do you know the Copyright protection connection between Congressman Sonny Bono and creative works by Disney and MLK???

1) LA Times 1.4.20
"How corporations keep classic works for their own profits" by Michael Hiltzik

This article appeared in print with the headline "A long wait for artistic works' liberation."

Why do companies fight to keep IP??
Big companies hang on to copyright because IP has value! Why is copyright protection only respected when backed by Disney level enforcement, and not by fans who love the artists they follow???

 This article argues for allowing greater access sooner to protected works because quote: "Copyrights prevent consumers or creators from accessing, building on, or even repurposing artistic works without the permission of the copyright holders or the payment of a fee that can be steep. That’s arguably an obstacle to cultural development, and raises the question of why the heirs should exercise so much power and collect such payouts so many decades after the creators are gone." 

My feeling is when so much profit, commerce, even corporate empires are built on IP that started with artists, why shouldn't the artist and their heirs benefit. Many artists can create because they have family or some other support network. Too often valuable creative rights get signed away. The few times creators are able to retain them, long-term copyright protections could support philanthropy as well as the creator's family. 

 The 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, extended protection for another 20 years beyond the previous rule. This law was championed by songwriter Sonny Bono, who knew the value of IP and the lasting impact on those rights. Yes, Sonny and Cher were more than a one-hit wonder, but Bono knew the right song can generate millions for the creators and wanted to protect creative rights for all artists. More on the history and impact of the Extension Act here:

2) LA Times 1.1.20
"Rose Parade 2020: Sikhs roll out a float to sew seeds of hope, generosity and harmony" by Erin B. Logan
The theme of the 2020 Rose Parade was Hope. Coverage of this float covers that theme and more.
Sikh American Float Foundation Jan 2020 
pic by Jason Armond Los Angeles Times

Excerpt: "Local Sikhs see the parade as an educational opportunity. Having a float that showcases diversity and works with non-Sikhs, like Lhotka, is key to spreading a message of kindness and compassion, Singh said.
“At the end of the day, we all believe in freedom, equality, compassion and service,” she said. “Those are the things necessary to blur the lines of division and bring us together.”
“We represent not just the Sikh community but every minority who contributes to the great nation and deserves to be respected and celebrated,” she added."

3) LA Times 12.31.19
"Little Women is great, but where is the Louisa May Alcott biopic?" by Mary Macnamara
AP File photo
Fun facts about Little Women author. 
Excerpt: ..... “I run,” Alcott says at one point. “That is an actual fact of my life.”
It is an actual fact of her life. Although there is no account of Alcott ever meeting Dickinson, who was a contemporary, Alcott was definitely the first notable American woman who was also a runner. And apparently, even when burdened by skirts, petticoats, hairpins and highly non-dynamic footwear, she was pretty fast.
Alcott also was an outspoken feminist, an abolitionist turned civil rights activist, a vegetarian, a teetotaler and an ardent supporter of Amelia Bloomer’s work to create nonrestrictive female fashion (the Bloomer suit was the closest thing those poor women had to leggings), as was her mother, Abigail. Her father, Bronson, was a Transcendentalist educator and lecturer who could not make or hold onto money. Alcott worked to support her family most of her life, as a writer but also as a teacher, a seamstress, a governess, a companion and, during one particularly difficult time, a house servant.
In 1863, she briefly served as a nurse in a Union hospital, where she contracted typhoid. She almost died but still managed to produce “Hospital Sketches,” one of the first accounts of Civil War hospitals and an early model for experiential journalism."

4) My Wife Quit Her Job is a website and blog about finding success as an indie seller online.
More about the site and its authors here:

On 1.4.20, this post from the My Wife Quit Her Job blog was shared on a Facebook group I belong to that is dedicated to fighting art theft online.
"Why Chinese sellers are dominating on Amazon and how to beat them" by Steve Chou

This long blog post breaks down the many advantages Chinese sellers have on the platform, including the special ePacket shipping prices...
"The Chinese also get heavily discounted shipping.The only reason dropshipping from AliExpress works today is because shipping from China to the US is cheaper than shipping within the US thanks to a shipping method called ePacket. As a result, the Chinese have inherent cost advantages that US sellers don’t have.
The Chinese also have access to more resources. Every year, I run an ecommerce event called The Sellers Summit where I bring together sellers from all over the world to share ideas and strategies. But the problem is that I only hold it once per year.
Meanwhile, the Chinese have events and seminars every week. There are large ecommerce parks built exclusively for sellers that are backed by the government."
the post also gives infographics and ways to compete... such as this section here...

"....And this is important because you can not establish a strong brand on Amazon!
When people shop on Amazon, they think that Amazon is the brand owner and not you. As a result, if you are only selling your items on Amazon, you will forever be a victim to price wars and Chinese competition knocking off your products.

How Do You Establish A Brand?

Establishing your brand is a long term strategy which involves consistent communication with your customers. It’s a process by which you must bring visitors back to your website over and over again until your company is ingrained in their minds.
And this can not be done with Amazon.
Here are the primary ways I have increased mindshare for Bumblebee Linens over the years
Bottom line, establishing a recognizable brand involves repeated exposure to your company until you become a household name in your niche. And you can’t do this unless you own your own web property."
Want to read more Topics of interest??
Previous post here:

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Freelancer Law California AB5 in effect 1.1.20 -- recap and links (updated 1.15.20)

Watch for news stories and developments about this new law in California. 

UPDATE 1.3.20
This link goes to article with perspective on AB 5 from IP/Indie Art life law firm I use.

UPDATE 1.8.20
Uber tweaking App to push back against AB5

UPDATE 1.10.20
AB5 doesn't apply to truck drivers

AB5 -- federal judge rules freelance journalists and photographers are NOT exempt 

UPDATE 1.15.20
AB 5 Primer in Washington Post
"Can California rein in tech's gig platforms? A primer on the bold state law that will try" by Eli Rosenberg

This post appeared previously on the blog on 12.31.19.

Two articles from 12.31.19 covering the infamous California Freelancer Law that went into effect on 1.1.20.

NY Times  "California Wanted to Protect Uber Drivers. Now it May Hurt Freelancers." by Nellie Bowles and Noam Scheiber 12.31.19

"Vanessa McGrady, a writer in Los Angeles who runs a feminist clothing brand, planned to volunteer for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign next year. But then Ms. Warren endorsed A.B. 5. Now Ms. McGrady, who is anxious about how the law will affect her career, is conflicted.
“I feel so strongly that workers need protection,” Ms. McGrady said. “But this bill is killing cockroaches with a cannon.”....
Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, which advised lawmakers on A.B. 5, conceded that the law was somewhat ambiguous in this area and that the State Legislature should clarify issues like this in the coming years.
“There are going to be unintended consequences with a law like this,” he said. “We want to do everything we can to make sure we’re addressing the right problems and not having any adverse effects on workers.”

LA Times "Uber, Postmaster Sue Over Gig Worker Law" by Johana Bhuiyan and Suhauna Hussain

"The allegation of equal protection violation arises from the large number of occupations exempted from AB 5 under heavy lobbying. The “laundry list of exemptions,” is proof of its “irrationality,” argue the plaintiffs.

In fact, they note, the bulk of the statute’s language is devoted to enumerating the types of jobs it doesn’t apply to, a list that includes direct salespeople, travel agents, grant writers, construction truck drivers and commercial fisherman. “There is no rhyme or reason to these nonsensical exemptions, and some are so ill-defined or entirely undefined that it is impossible to discern what they include or exclude,” reads the complaint. If the connection between a statute’s means and its goals is insufficiently straightforward, it can be invalidated on the grounds that it lacks “rational basis.”

Previous posts about AB5 here on the blog:

Behind the Scenes at Stuart Ng Books -- 1.11.20

Start here to learn how to use this blog..... You are about to explore SNB adventures from my (Amy's) perspective ... Stuart's website links to this blog, but Stuart does NOT write these posts.

For the latest news on Stuart Ng Books, you can follow SNB on Facebook or Twitter. To receive Stuart's email newsletter (with lots of exclusive offers) use this link from the SNB website:
For info on ordering books, and a website chock full of our extensive inventory, start at the homepage for  SNB:

Welcome to the realm of Bride of Bookseller. The posts are all written by me. This blog exists to educate and entertain by sharing resources that can benefit artists.

It takes talent and commitment to thrive as an indie artist. But it also takes balance and fitness. No one talks to artists about this truth: You have to be well enough.. physically.. mentally..emotionally...financially... to get your work done. At the same time, so many artists struggle with chronic conditions that impact their productivity. No wonder artists are stressed. Many posts on the blog here offer possible solutions.... and celebrate the traits all the best artists share: (button below from Alaska Robotics
Scroll down this "Your Guide" post  and you'll discover background on the blog (SNB and BTS backstory)....
Then these categories of highlighted posts:










For the origin of the SNB logo, see this post:

Stuart Ng Books is very small business in Torrance, CA. Our niche is books on illustration, animation and comic art. Our wonderful, loyal patrons are artists, students and collectors in these fields.
We started in the genteel era of hands-on bookselling, before the internet. We were mentored by colleagues, some of whose stores folded under the pressures from Amazon. We weathered the transition to websites. Stuart worked hard to build a brand in this tough business environment.  Our bookstore started as a printed mail-order catalog. I say "our" bookstore because it was just the two of us for years. We had a book room in the house for inventory. The dining room table was the packing station for mail orders. I was the voice on the phone, processed orders, and schlepped boxes to the post office. But it's called Stuart Ng Books for a reason. Once the books started earning their way and moved into a store location, I was ready to segue into BTS (behind-the-scenes) mode.

Sales are still mostly mail order. Stuart ships books all over the world.  In addition to our website and Torrance store location, we sell books at conventions and the occasional special event expo or festival. Scroll down for links for convention appearances. Here are two examples of expos/festivals:

Stuart is a man on a mission. He is always on the job: in constant search for great books and artists. He is known for discovering treasures during his annual trip to France to attend the festival in Angouleme, Europe's largest comic art convention. He doesn't speak or read French; he selects his inventory strictly for the art. He's the visual one. I'm more verbal. I took some French lessons... so now I can try to talk with people there (and order more than a ham and cheese sandwich at the cafes).
When Stuart launched the business full-time in 1997, we had no idea we would become a world-wide resource for books in our field. When I married Stuart... a LONG time ago.. I had no idea I would also be marrying a small business (we didn't meet in business school.... but that's another story). Where we find ourselves now, all these years later, is a creative place that keeps us both engaged with artists. Stuart Ng Books has exhibited at San Diego Comic Con for over 20 years. In 2020, Stuart plans to open a retail location in Burbank. He's actively searching for a site now -- so if you have any suggestions, please contact him directly.
Our patrons seek out Stuart at conventions and online. They buy books from him because his "eye" and expertise are a bonus they value. Part of the fun of Stuart Ng Books is how we get to facilitate connections and inspiration. We get to see the artistic process in action. We steward the passing of cherished books from the reference libraries of artists who are masters in their field into the hands and creative spirit of a next generation. I try to remind us of all this on the days when our "What is the Matrix" question haunts us: Can a little book business survive in the internet age? Stay tuned ....
I started my blog in 2008 as a way to share topics I discussed with friends and patrons who visited us at conventions. I also use the blog to share trips to exhibits and shows we attend that artists might find inspiring.
See "FAQ," "Stewardship" and "Legacy Books" for posts about bringing YOU the benefits of a devoted rare bookseller in world where mom and pop bookstores are themselves becoming endangered!
HELLO WORLD -- 120 and counting
For a complete list of the 120 countries that have visited the blog, check out this Aug 11, 2011 post: "Hello World.." And one final stat -- as of Oct 2019, the blog has tallied nearly 500,000 all-time page views.


Effective January 2020

CASE ACT (Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act )
This is the Bill making its way to becoming a federal law.  (images below from the Graphic Artists Guild)

Several posts here on the blog explaining the CASE Act Bill, as well as links to other sources.


It was around July 2014 that I started posting frequently about Copyright Protection for images posted online. My artist friend Lili Chin of Doggie Drawings
had become a target for outrageous levels of art theft. This included an impostor in the UK who downloaded Lili's dog images, flipped them, painted them on canvases adding painted dog collars with actual rhinestones on them, then sold them at art fairs and even a gallery! The gal ended up on a British TV show bragging about her successful business. Lili's fans alerted her -- a great example of how an educated, loyal, invested fan base is the front line for fighting art theft. Even more vital: Lili registers her copyrights. It was a long, expensive, frustrating fight to watch my friend go through. The gallery was appalled at the impostor and kicked her out. The impostor went into hiding. It became a dead end for Lili (and the expensive UK lawyers she had to hire). Lili has won successful settlements since then, but is still fighting art theft. I see how exhausting it is. This waste of artist time and resources, not to mention livelihood, inspired my activism. So I started learning more and posting more. Since 2016, I've subscribed to an intellectual property legal service that allows me to schedule phone consultation appointments. It's an investment I make on behalf of the blog. I want to post info that's as accurate as possible given that many of these issues are fluid with new laws in the works. I use this source to fact check my own IP questions directly with an IP attorney. More on the service here:

My blog post links below share resources and case studies on unauthorized commercial use of artist-owned images for profit by others:
Also see blog post from June 11, 2016 with FREE infographics by Lili Chin on copyright 101
Lili's infographics are available as free downloads on  her link:

Lili Chin won a settlement against Kohls when the retail giant stole her artwork.

This Oct 2016 post has background info on this groundbreaking legal case in the fight against art theft:
Lili's suit settled for an undisclosed sum.

Important info on blog post  "Fan Art -- Playground or Minefield." Includes link to video clip of panel on IP. This post on the grey areas of Fan Art is also updated.

case studies and taking action

This "Combat Art Theft" post compiles case studies and how artists are fighting back. There is a dangerous culture of tolerated piracy when it comes to online art. This. Must. Stop. Links on this post explain the risks.. and offer solutions.

Loyal fans alerting artists are the front line of defense against art theft. Artists educating fans about creative rights helps curb counterfeiting... (chart below by Ginger Davis Allman -- more info in these links --

August 2019 posts with insights from industry pros about the damage done to artists at all levels when art is undervalued..

I will always advocate for using tutorials to monetize your online art. Educate followers so they can grow with you as supporters.
Art below by Catherine Scartaccini

Documenting your creative process engages followers. It's also a great way to make your artWORK work for you. You're going through the steps already. You're taking the time.. and spending your resources... to document them. They are perfect to make multi-purpose. Monetize them. Never undervalue your time, talent and effort. Art life requires art work that is compensated.

So many artists posts these valuable tutorials for free. Why not share a few, but then use these sorts of posts to move followers to platforms where they can find more by supporting your art life on Patreon or with Ko-fi.  
Art below by Hannah Stiles, Ainigmati Studios

The internet has been a game changer, but recently I've heard professional artists, executives, instructors and collectors concerned about the growing trend of mediocrity. The easy access to so many versions of familiar images and subject matter means that everyone's art starts to look the same. Imitation is the death of growth. Don't copy other artists work, tweak it a bit, and call it your own. That's fine for practice in your sketchbook, but it's no way to build a brand and audience of your own.
 If you want to reach the next level, get away from the screen. Go in person to look at original art. Attend events that lend themselves to sketching. Visit the zoo, aquarium, museums. Look back in books and at libraries to see what artists were doing generations ago. These are habits the exceptional artists share. Disney legend artist Andreas Deja is a prime example of this. His highly educational blog shares treasures from his personal collection of art by past artists who have inspired him.  My blog post on his wire sculptures shows his work, an artist that inspires him, and links to his blog:
Art history in all genres can expand your own visual vocabulary. Here are some posts that showcase art inspiration from icons of the past, or activities that inspire sketching... 

Icons to study...

activities to sketch and study anatomy

I also post links for resources regarding Art and Anxiety. This includes tips on how to communicate the value of your work!.

Link below is for Tumbler post by (gal artist .. just saying :)  C.Spike Trotman. The gem below is just one of the panels from the Tumbler post explaining steps to success for indie artist life ....
The link hasn't been active for awhile... but I'm leaving it here as a record and in case it revives somewhere else. Meanwhile, here's the link for the book form of this terrific comic about indie art survival:

More "art has value" on this post on how to turn a charity request into a paying job ...

Lots here on the blog for artist health -- physical, emotional, financial....
Graphic above by Patternson Clark...

"PSA on Killer Chairs" post on dangers of too much chair time for anyone with a desk job .. and tips to help fight the effects of damage to posture and hand and wrists

In 2015 I launched a series of posts to share stretches and restorative options for Artists and others whose work demands long hours of sitting. These simple exercises will help undo the strain on back, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. Posts feature stills and video with certified yoga instructor Simone, who gives helpful workshops at the SNB showroom for crew and colleagues. Simone's Facebook page also offers links to online tutorials she finds and recommends:
Always consult your own doctor before beginning any fitness routine.
Here are links for "Yoga for Artists" lessons on the blog:
Lesson #2 - Upper Body Stretches using Chair, Wall and Blocks

Indie artists struggle to either absorb shipping and handling costs or factor them into their prices. Customers have been indoctrinated into the myth of Free Shipping. What is that really costing all of us?


The Stuart Ng Books - Claire Wendling connection dates back to 2005. That year, Claire was the featured artist at the annual  Angouleme Festival of Bande Dessinee, the largest comics festival in Europe.
Prior to the 2005 festival, Stuart had discovered Wendling's work via her sketchbook of personal drawings "Desk" (first published in France; current edition published by Stuart Ng Books)....

....and her award-winning art for the Bande Dessinee (or BD) series "Les Lumieres des Amalou" (written by Christophe Gibelin).

Inspired to attend the 2005 festival for the chance to see a career retrospective of her work, and perhaps meet the artist, Stuart embarked on his first-ever trip to France. In fact, it was the first time he had ever traveled outside of the US. Stuart does not speak or read French. Fortunately for all of us, Claire and her charming husband and colleague Christian speak fluent  English.
Even from those first meetings in the city cafes, Claire and Stuart spoke a common language of appreciation: for Claire's unique skills; and for Stuart's ability to bring her visionary talent to an ever-expanding US and worldwide community of peers and fans.
In the years that followed, Stuart's annual trips to Angouleme for the festival also included a visit with Claire and Christian... bringing them news and appreciation from her US fans ... and always talk of a hopeful visit by them to the US.
In 2015, on the 10th anniversary of the Claire Wendling-Stuart Ng connection, Claire was able to accept two long-offered invitations that Stuart had conveyed to her from mutual friends. Claire appeared as a special guest at the  Big Wow comics convention in early April. She accepted an honorary doctorate and speaking engagements at the Academy of Art Universtiy in San Francisco in April and May. Photo below shows Claire and Stuart at Claire's table at Big Wow.
Here on the blog are a series of 6 posts with photos and behind the scenes highlights from this long-awaited return of Claire Wendling to her beloved California ... where she worked for Warner Bros Feature Animation in the 1990s.
Claire Wendling at Big Wow Convention (background post)
Claire Wendling -- Highlights from Big Wow and speaking engagement at Academy of Art University
"animal" art show at Gnomon School (Claire attended and met with several of the artists)
Paul Choy photos from Claire Wendling signing at SNB
Behind the Scenes at Wendling signing and CA visit
Claire Wendling sketching at Big Wow, link to video by John Fleskes

Wendling was a featured guest at the 2016 CTNX Animation Expo. Here's link for an interview with her on the CTN website:

3 posts on CTNX 2016 -- including this one w/info on Wendling book that debuted:

Wendling was a featured guest at the inaugural Lightbox Expo.
She also had a signing at the SNB store in Torrance.

September 2019 was the inagural Lightbox Expo at Pasadena Convention Center. 
Five posts here on the blog detailing this new convention and highlighting guests and exhibitors. 
Lightbox Expo also hosts the annual Concept Art Awards. I was very grateful and proud when this community of elite industry professionals recognized Stuart with an important honor.

Each year, Stuart recharges with travel to France to attend the largest Comics festival in Europe. It's held in the city of Angouleme, about 2 hours from Paris. During this trip, we get to reconnect with artist pals and colleagues.. and I often get to document my side trips to museums and other art reference adventures. While I used to attend annually, I have taken an indefinite sabbatical from intercontinental travel. You can find France related posts in the February posts of most years on the blog:

Yes, Stuart Ng Books exhibited at Comic Con 2018 and 2019. However, I did not attend these years so there are no posts here on the blog.

Views of the Exhibit Hall and around the convention... including links for the Blade Runner Experience interactive attraction.


Six posts .. highlighting SNB booth.. Indie Artist Exhibitors....Pavilions, Toys and the Price of Popularity.. link for podcast on Exhibitor Tips for Artists.... Revisit the show starting with  #1 of 6

Comic Con 2015 Seven Posts in all on topics from SNB Booth to Cosplay .. to Marty Mouse SDCC survival guide.. plus lots of links for commentary and photo albums. Start here for topic titles and links:

From the first CTN Animation Expo in 2009, Stuart Ng Books has been an annual exhibitor at this event. We missed out on 2019 because booths were sold out when Stuart went to sign up. Instead we enjoyed a more relaxed weekend just shopping and visiting with colleagues.

Posts on the November entries here on the blog over the years document this Expo's explosive growth. The 9 blog posts from 2011 show a range of activities and guests:

Artist tables moved into the large outdoor tent in 2016. 
An admission ticket to this large outdoor tent venue at the Expo is still a great way to meet many artists and buy directly from them. 

Blog posts document booths at WonderCon from its days in the Nor Cal San Francisco Bay Area through its transition to current location in So Cal at Anaheim Convention Center. 
In 2009 we almost didn't make it --

First blog posts of WonderCon at Anaheim are from 2014

Stuart rarely gets to exhibit at or attend this con, as it's on the same weekend at CNTX. However, many of our artist friends find exhibiting at DesignerCon is a good fit for them. I have posted on the blog about it on the times I've been able to attend. 
As an experiment, SNB was at both CTNX and DesignerCon in 2018 -- but we were stretched thin as you can see in this brief blog post
This 2014 DesignerCon post shows it at the Pasadena Convention Center

Stuart attends these cons, but I haven't been to them, so no posts here yet.

Exhibiting at conventions and long-time personal relationships with artists are just some of the ways Stuart is able to provide signed copies of books for his patrons. He is also called on by studios and art schools to provide book sales for guest artist lectures. Signed copies allow SNB to carry some in-print titles from major publishers. Indie bookstores can't compete with the massive price-cuts on current books offered as loss-leaders by online giants. They are selling books at a loss. They don't care about books. They want your consumer dollars for all sorts of other purchases and services. Stuart wants to offer in-print books as a convenience for his patrons. So he adds the priceless benefit of the book having been in the hands of the artist and/or author. This way Stuart can offer the book at a reasonable price that covers his inventory expenses etc and helps deter outsiders from buying signed books from him just to flip them for higher prices online. Most of the signed copies Stuart stocks sell out right away. This is because they are going right into the collections of fans who treasure them. Win-win.

Signings at a convention...

 Some studio arranged signings..

More on signed books here:


In 2015, I started listening to more podcasts. There are many great ones out there. If you "don't have time" for podcasts... or fitness... try planning a time to get up from your chair for a 10 or 15 min walk once a day, and listen to a podcast while you’re moving around. See if it becomes a happy habit with benefits! Some podcast segments are under 15 mins. Many are about an hour. Listening to a podcast adds a learning opportunity to many activities. Here's a post where I gathered a list of podcasts recommendations, including these 3 top picks.

Bancroft Bros Animation Podcast (SNB is a sponsor)
Here's a post on one of my favorite episodes of this podcast:

Hirschfeld Century Podcast

The Complete Creative
Originally known as "The Business of Art", this podcast was re-launched in Oct 2019 as The Complete Creative. It's an outstanding resource for all indie entrepreneurs. 

You can also find all the original "The Business of Art" podcast episodes here:
Hosted by artist Angela Entzminger. here's a link for her art website:

Convention Crossing
Launched in fall 2019, this podcast interviews artists for their tips on exhibiting at conventions. Hosted by Dee Chavez:

All-time favorite posts include these entries on film franchise Maleficent:

2019 -- preview posters with artists credited!!! (art below by Andy Fairhurst)

4 posts I wrote in June 2014 for first film "Maleficent" .. with 2 detailed posts on the QandA with director Robert Stromberg and Production Designer Dylan Cole that I attended at Gnomon school.

Here are links for the four June posts on Maleficent --
More Maleficent posts in Sept and Oct for the "Once Upon A Dream" book signing including this re-cap of the event

(LtoR, Dylan Cole, Robert Stromberg, Charles Solomon, Don Hahn at Center Stage Gallery for book signing co-hosted by Stuart Ng Books)

March 3, 2015 post on "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum.
Here's link to LA Times story about the exhibit...
The featured costume for this exhibit was the Maleficent gown from the christening scene.

FIDM exhibit 2016

MARTIN "MARTY" MOUSE tours the cons ... and the world!
Internet phenom Marty is the star from Martin "Marty" Mouse facebook page which has grown over the years into the Marty Mouse House by Photographer Sarah Hunt Her glorious photos of Marty have been featured on Buzzfeed, Cute Overload, etc and bring the charm and comic fun of wee ones to a world-wide audience of over 75,000 + fans. More on the Marty Mouse House world
I'm delighted to escort Marty (in squeeze Marty pillow form -- art designed by Steph Laberis  ) at conventions and on other adventures, documented here on the blog, with links to featured artists and other finds.
Here are the Marty posts
CTNX 2014

Plush art tour pals for 2016
Huggable Koi #10 in France

Plush Art Pals Tour WonderCon
How does art plush happen??? Check out this Kickstarter that surpassed its funding goals and launched its artist/creator to a whole new level  ... 

Your local art fair is a great place to find artists in your own neighborhood. Here in SoCal we have a number of these. I especially enjoy the Patchwork Art Fairs, organized by DearHandmade Life

May 2014 post, also frequently updated, reveals the "mystery artists" behind Google Doodles. This post also includes background info on some of my favorite Google Doodles over the years. March 2016 update has info on annual Google Doodle contest for students K-12th grade.


Image above by Manny Carrasco...
The tragic circumstances with Cecil the lion in 2015 provoked an outpouring of tribute art. I collected some images on this blog post.. as well as articles about conservation efforts.

YOUR SCIENCE LESSON.. (Aug 27, 2009) video clip from Musee Curie


(another fun SCIENCE LESSON post -- CHEMICAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION LIBRARY (in PA) and MUSEE CURIE (in Paris) post from Aug 21, 2009)
The Chemical Heritage Foundation Library is getting a new name in 2018. As of Feb 1st, it will be known as the Science History Institute.


If you want to visit the SNB showroom -- and your family or S.O. (significant other) wants something to do besides look at books -- here are some links to local attractions:

From SEPT POST 9/5/11: Two "Family Fun" posts about Wilson  Park. See pics of the ballparks, tree house, and more ... also a paved walking trail that's mostly shaded and about a mile long. Still there are lots of amenities.. and if you bring a bag of unsalted peanuts.. chances are you'll make friends with some squirrels!

The duck pond pictured above is closed now. It was fenced and drained back in 2015 due to the drought and general maintenance issues with this water feature. After long delays and increased costs detailed here...
It's been renovated as the "Splash Pad" -- an interactive water fountain, popular with kids on hot summer days.

Here's a link to Yelp reviews of the park.

There are activities for all ages in and around Torrance... so if you want to browse our showroom for awhile and your family doesn't... you can all come to Torrance and do different things! We are minutes away from shops and AMC movies at Del Amo Fashion Mall  A few miles north will get you to the South Coast Botanic Garden ..... and we're also close to the Lomita Train Museum

On Saturdays, Wilson Park is home to the Torrance Farmer's Market -- great produce and food booths. Wilson Park is also home to the Southern California Live Steamers Minature Railroad  Ride the trains at the Park every 3rd Saturday!

Even more culture just minutes from our showroom -- The International Printing Museum. This tiny gem hosts an annual printers fair ( -- as well as a Dickens festival (post nov 29, 2010 ) a Ben Franklin b'day celebration (post Jan 6, 2012, and a founding fathers independence day event in July. Check their website for calendar of upcoming presentations:


Why is Stuart Ng Books located in Torrance? One reasons is the proximity to HORSES!!

No, I don't have a horse -- but just a few miles from us is the rural enclave of  Palos Verdes (PV)  -- a thriving equestrian community -- with miles of trails -- lots of riding stables -- all located right on the coast with ideal weather. If you want to sketch horses and equestrian life in a mild, shaded climate there are a number of public parks in PV with rings that riders use to train their horses as well as the various public and private stables in the area. Here are links for two of the public parks:
Ernie Howlett Park (site for annual charity horse show)
Dapplegray Park, Rolling Hills Estates

Every September, a nationally ranked charity horse show, The Portuguese Bend National Horse Show, is held in PV.
The show has been held for almost 60 years by the non-profit PCCH (Peninsula Committee Children's Hospital), an organization that raises money for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. All proceeds from this charity horse show benefit Children’s Hospital LA. More on PCCH here:

With the launch of Lightbox Expo in 2019, my annual visit to this horse show is on hold, as Lightbox is the same "first weekend in September" date! Auuugh.

Five posts on 2015 horse show... including this one featuring background on artist Terryl Whitlatch (her book was highlighted in the horse show program)

This horse show is a family friendly event with TONS of amenities. -- and an outstanding sketching opportunity for artists. There is a large, shaded, grassy knoll where you can sit for hours and sketch. You can also get quite close to the horses and riders if you want. While many equestrian events in PV are FREE to attend, there is a nominal admission charge for the charity horse show on Sat  and Sun -- because all proceeds for this event are a fundraiser. Admission to the charity show is free on Fridays. The show runs fri - sun on the 1st weekend in Sept.
"HORSE SHOW 2011 - PREVIEWS AND PICS FROM PREVIOUS SHOWS" post from 9-6-11 has some of my favorite action shots of horses and gives you a flavor of this very special event.

For more info on the annual Portuguese Bend National Horse Show -- including date for this year's show and schedule of activities, check out this link to show webpage:

Popular post from 2016 featured contemporary equine artist Jo Taylor (pictured below in her studio)

One of the most popular posts on the blog concerns artist Norman Thelwell.

other Equine artists I've highlighted
George Ford Morris
CW Anderson
Post on Horse reference and scale models (including Breyer horses)


 and THE BLACK STALLION (Oct 2010)

2011 was the most active year on the blog. Here are links for some of the most frequently visited posts:

(includes posts on REGIS LOISEL

TERRYL WHITLATCH (This post updated 6/14; added you tube interview with her from Academy of Art University)


ANIMAL ANTICS.... SNB publication of Pres Romanillos sketchbook previewed here on the blog.

A set of three  "FAMILY FUN" POSTS ON ANNUAL MODEL TRAIN SHOW (oct 30th 2011)

ART OF ANIMALS (Aug 2010) exhibit at Forest Lawn in Glendale with links to more images from amazing artwork at this show!


Dream Con started as an annual Book Fair for and by the DreamWorks Animation artists. They get to showcase some of their personal projects -- self-published sketchbooks, photography, original art etc. It's held on the DreamWorks Animation campus and SNB was only outside vendor.
In 2019, the event was combined with the studios annual holiday market -- so the artist vendors expanded to include jewelry, home decor items, apparel and even holiday decorations.
We are lucky to be invited there every year, as they kindly consider Stuart's booth a "perk" they are providing their artists. Always a great day with fun folks at a beautiful setting. Here are links for the years I've been along to attend:




Want to sketch bones??? Check out these three posts on the LA County Museum of Natural History and the Sept 2011 opening of the new Dino Hall:  Link for LA County Museum of Natural History

SNB experiments (like our booth at a Twilight convention Oct 2010.  ); Scenes from our bookscouting trips (Aug 2009 is a good one ); Even a post on the time someone shipped us a book in a used pizza box (Aug 2008 post  . For posts written back when I was "the voice" on the phone at SNB and at the order desk full-time, search "Daily Brew" (2008 - 2010). All this and more lurks here on the blog for you to discover..

Some blog posts highlight the directions that SNB takes me (but not necessarily Stuart)... search the archive posts to find Hoops and Yoyo; Twilight;
Ready for a dance break? Enjoy this music video of band Ok Go w/ agility dogs!
Stuart was featured on an MSBNC show in 2010. The link hasn't been active for awhile, but I'm leaving it here just in case it resumes :
See AUGUST 2010 posts additional pics and info on SNB on MSNBC...

FYI notices: 1) Stuart's last name, "Ng", is pronounced like the suffix "ing" in "drawing" or "Wendling." 2) you can email comments or questions directly to me at seahorse310(at) Aloha and thanks for visiting.