Tuesday, December 31, 2019

NY Times and LA Times cover California Freelancer law AB5 right before launch (Updated 1.3.20)

Also see January 2020 post that repeats info here and has updates:

Two articles today covering the infamous California Freelancer Law that launches Jan 1st.

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:

Monday, December 30, 2019

Syd Mead 1933-2019

Futurist Syd Mead passed away on Dec 30, 2019. His designs shaped the look for Blade Runner (among many other films). He lived to see many of his visual concepts cross over into reality. The new Tesla pick-up truck design was influenced by his work.

So many artists shared links and tributes to him.

Here are some sample images and the links:

Syd Mead in his studio 1986 (below)
photo by Baker/Winokur Public Relations

This link recaps his career and has video clips

The Hollywood Reporter


The Verge

Friday, December 27, 2019

California Freelancer law AB5 summary and support in 12.29.19 LA Times article

This California law that goes into effect Jan 1st will be making headlines.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, sponsor of California’s gig economy law. 
pic by K.C. Alfred, San Diego Union-Tribune

In this article published in 12.27.19 LA Times, journalist Michael Hiltzik reports that the law is getting a bad rap.

Quote below is his summary, that refutes previous reports that AB limits the number of contributions freelancers can make to publications etc.

"AB 5 was an outgrowth of the California Supreme Court’s so-called Dynamex decision of 2018, which tightened the rules for when a worker must be considered a company’s employee rather than an independent contractor. The law expanded the court ruling’s reach beyond wage rules to other state labor rules.
  • AB 5 does not limit freelance writers to 35 submissions per client per year.
  • AB 5 does not require that writers who publish more than 35 submissions be given full-time jobs by their publishers.
  • AB 5 does not prohibit bringing on freelancers as part-time employees and allowing them to continue making their own hours.
All those things may happen to freelance writers in California, but that’s the result of voluntary decisions by their publishers, quite possibly because they don’t want to pay the writers more by complying with minimum-wage laws and overtime rules."
Here's a link for the complete article:

Previous posts on the blog re: California AB 5


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Holiday Mental Health Survival Guide UPDATED -- TWO articles from NY Times, plus birds and squirrels forest video clip link

Indie Art life can add its own stress to drama of family gatherings for the holidays.

This article "Six Steps to Mentally Survive the Holidays" by Jessica Hoppe was in the 12.23.19 NY Times.

Illustration by Xia Gordon

"The so-called holiday blues do, in fact, exist, and according to a study by the American Psychological Association the most common symptoms are fatigue, stress, irritability, bloating and sadness."

Here are the highlights. Read the full article for more tips:

Rest your body and mind.

Make the most of your time at parties by setting expectations.

Set boundaries with friends and family.

Combat stress with awareness.

Re-evaluate your friendship with alcohol.

Ring in the New Year with Curiosity.


"8 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself in 2020" article by Tim Herrera
 illustration by Albert Tercero NY Times 12.24.19


Take more time for yourself

Take time to do nothing at all

Cultivate more casual, low-stakes friendships

Learn to enjoy things when they're good

Lean into your "guilty" pleasures

Learn to accept a compliment, even if it's from yourself

Embrace the unexpected joy of repeat experiences

Turn your regrets into self-improvement

Moving around and getting out and about can help...
"Why One Neruoscientist Started Blasting his Core" by James Hablin in "The Atlantic:

quote:  “These neural pathways might explain our intuitive sense for why there are many different strategies for coping with stress,” said Bruno. “I like the examples they give in the paper—that maybe this is why yoga and pilates are so successful. But there are lots of other things where people talk about mental imagery and all sorts of other ways that people deal with stress. I think having so many neural pathways having direct lines to the stress control system, that’s really interesting.”

And finally...

this You Tube clip is 1 hour of watching birds and squirrels enjoying a buffet of free nuts and fruit in the winter forest.
"The Traveling Bird Feeder -- relax with birds and squirrels" from You Tube channel Movie Squirrels.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Indie artist Mia Araujo looks back on 10 years of her career -- Update 12.24.19

How do you evaluate your art life progress?

Do you compare yourself to your peers? Or to the established artists you admire?

That strategy guarantees frustration. If you want to advance your own work, yes study other artists from the past and present and learn from them.

But never compare your work to others. You can only measure your own progress from one point. Where you started.

UPDATE 12.24.19
See other artists compare their current and past work in this post on My Modern Met:

Indie artist Mia Araujo has written an outstanding post on her Patreon page. She describes the impact of looking back.

Here's an example of Mia's recent work
Read her post. Learn how she overcame challenges in the past 10 years of her art career.

Day jobs are part of the journey. They are like sketchbooks -- a place to practice art life skills. If you want to build a client base, work with agents, galleries, film directors... you need people skills. You need to know how to provide customer service. How to  meet client expectations. How to resolve problems to satisfy customers. How to negotiate with bosses. Why not hone these skills as part of the job description for a role you're getting paid for?
Art life time becomes focused while you're juggling day jobs and/or family obligations. Use your art time well. Find that project you can build on with your artistic vision.

Mia found her project in her own unique take on "Alice in Wonderland"

Mia at a recent comic con exhibition hall space.
Read Mia's inspiring story in her Patreon post...
Here's an excerpt ...

"This was a decade full of failure for me, which was once my worst nightmare. In 2012, I was a terrified-of-the-world late bloomer of a girl, $20k in debt, with a stagnant gallery career. And I was deeply depressed due to this and family turmoil. It was the first time that my art had failed me emotionally and financially, and I had moved out for the first time. I didn’t know what to do.....
I tried making my gallery art work for another year, and tried looking for art-related jobs. Being a traditional artist whose art was not commercial, and whose skills were massively lacking for studio work, this search proved fruitless. In 2014, I swallowed my pride and took a minimum wage job to pay the bills, since it was the only job that would hire me. Making this choice and finding a therapist, helped take the financial pressure off my art so I could get out of my depressive rut. I started working on the seed of an idea that would soon become my Alice project."

Find more Mia Araujo art here:

Mia Araujo books on the SNB website:


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Freelancer law CA AB5 update

This article by Suhauna Hussain in the 12.18.19 Los Angeles Times covers a lawsuit by freelance journalists. The headline was "Freelance journalists file suit, calling AB5 unconstitutional"

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez speaks at a July rally in Sacramento after her measure to limit when companies can label workers as independent contractors was approved by a Senate committee.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
Quote: "Freelance writers and photographers are not the only critics of the law....Gig-economy companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash launched a campaign against the legislation, arguing that treating workers as employees would hobble them in California, one of their biggest U.S. markets, and set a precedent for other states to enact similar legislation. The companies have said they will spend tens of millions of dollars on a ballot measure opposing the law if they are not able to carve out alternative rules for drivers."
As discussed previously here on the blog, laws are debated, written and passed, often with good intentions that fall short.

The next step comes when laws are lived in real-life. Real life is where the intention of the law gets clarified through cases brought to court.

See this Oct 2019 post for more info:

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Signed copies of "Paper Son" -- Disney legend Tyrus Wong's immigrant story as a children's book (updated 12.12.19)

Now at Stuart Ng Books. Signed by illustrator Chris Sasaki. In store and online:
Immigrant narratives are a proud part of American history. Children's books are great gifts for any age range. The beautiful art lets us revisit classic stories and share timely ones.

Here's my summary of this book...

This tender children’s book personalizes the immigrant experience for multiple generations of readers. In this case, the immigrant is a young boy who will become Disney legend Tyrus Wong. In just a few pages of text, Wong’s harrowing boyhood journey is powerfully conveyed. Illustrations by Chris Sasaki evoke traditional Japanese watercolors, the character design of M. Sasek, and the muted palette of colored vintage photographs.

Tyrus Wong had to assume a different identity to arrive in America, adding another layer of suspense to his story. Once safely reunited with his Father, he was given yet another new identity – an Americanized name. All children can identify with the pang of feeling like they don’t fit in. Wong’s story introduces cultural context to this lesson in empathy.

What would sustain him through all this early sacrifice? The American Dream instilled in him by his father – that in this new place they could paint new lives on fresh paper. This wasn’t just a metaphor: Wong’s father recognized his son’s artistic talent and borrowed money to send him to the prestigious Otis art school.

Wong’s talent is portrayed in Chris Sasaki’s illustrations. As a janitor, when he used water and a mop to paint ephemeral images on the school floors he cleaned. Then at a desk in an early job as an in-betweener at Disney studios. 

Wong’s breakthrough moment comes with the news that Disney is making a film of Bambi. In the book’s text and illustrations we discover how Wong realized his soft watercolors were uniquely suited this project. His art conveyed not the detailed leaves and trees of the forest landscapes, but used his spare style to imbue feelings to the almost magical setting for the story. Feelings inspired by Wong’s own roots in faraway China, the absence of his own mother, and his skills learned in Western art schools.

The story doesn’t stop with Bambi. Eventually, the film became a classic and Wong was later acclaimed for his vital role in the film’s look and success. However, at the time, his contribution at Disney was barely recognized. He was fired after the employee strike, even though he didn’t participate. Leaving Disney only inspired Wong to push his talent. He explored many mediums. He was always looking up. This is beautifully expressed in the end of this book. In his golden years, Wong enjoyed flying large colorful kites he made himself and decorated with his paintings. Grounded, but using his art to fly thanks to powerful talent and dreams.

UPDATE 12.12.19
How does Stuart get these signed copies??? Get this story and more when you sign up for Stuart's weekly email newsletter https://stuartngbooks.com/join-our-mailing-list.html

Terence and I went to Disney Animation Monday to provide book sales for illustrator Chris Sasaki's presentation spotlighting the inspiring picture book Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist.

The book is inspiring on multiple levels, telling the immigrant story of artist Tyrus Wong, and beautifully written and illustrated by another generation of Asian American creators. Chris's illustrations are just stunning. Tyrus Wong's daughter Kim told us how, as soon as they saw Chris's portfolio, they knew he was the one to illustrate the book.

At the end of his book signing at Disney, Chris was kind enough to autograph some copies for us. So get one while they last!

Here's a photo from the signing. Kim (daughter of Tyrus Wong) is signing a personal copy for Stuart. He usually misses out on getting his own signed copies at these events, so I was glad to see this happened.

For another timely title, I also highly recommend this current release from artist Elise Gravel. Not at SNB as it's a general release in-print title, but why not buy a copy from your local indie bookstore.. or maybe gift a copy to a local school or library:

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Baby Yoda artist is Christian Alzmann (updated 8.1.21)

Christian Alzmann! 

That's the name of the artist behind this image. Art is the work of creative people. It's not anonymous. It's culture changing.

Empires (no pun intended) are built -- and fortunes are made -- thanks to talented people who visualize writers words. Let's get them more credit and compensation.

This photo from Lightbox Expo post on Facebook...
"Ever wonder who created the beloved Baby Yoda? It was senior concept designer, Christian Alzmann!
Christian has worked on numerous film projects including A.I., Men in Black 2, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones, War of the Worlds, the fourth installment of Indiana Jones, Star Trek 2, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Catch him next year at #LBX2020"

The website link for him above is older -- but it can be really interesting to look back at earlier work by any artist and see their journey. The best artists are always learning and evolving. Check out the bio page on his site and read how he traces his love of creating back to kindergarten :


Update 8.1.21
interview w/ Alzmann

photo of Christian Alzmann by Dan Winters from Dot Magazine link above.

And in 2020... the wonderful story of "Baby Yoda Fights Fires" began with a gift of a Baby Yoda and a note from a young boy. 

First photo shows the Baby Yoda brand new and sent along with supplies...
Here's the note attached to the toy...
Many photos followed as Baby Yoda visited the fire fighters on the front lines..

In the year since, Baby Yoda has been decked out with swag from many fire fighting companies. You can follow the story on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/babyyodafightsfires


original post resumes here...

It's time for artists to get more credit for their contribution to pop culture phenomenons.

Blockbuster films are an alchemy of many elements. Most get credit, but it takes time. Stan Lee wasn't a household name as a comic writer -- films put him there. Films can help elevate awareness for concept artists -- the folks behind the world building and character design that spark fandoms.

and inspire so much ancillary art...

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Licensing your art -- tips from artist Cathy Zhang, Easy Sunday Club

Check out this terrific You Tube clip with tips from the trenches on licensing your art.

Artist Cathy Zhang 
was featured in my blog post on Patchwork Art Show  Santa Ana Dec 2019.

It's double the fun to discover a new artist .. then quickly learn that she is protecting her IP and teaching other artists to do the same.

You too can generate a passive income stream from work you've already done. Help your artWORK work for you. 

Have your own licensing agreement ready to go. Of course companies will have an agreement to present to you, but having your own means you get a chance to familiarize yourself with putting the contract together and protecting the rights that matter most to you.

Add a clause to any license agreement that if your artwork is posted your name and website address must be included. Your name. Your brand. Your IP. It's worth protecting and promoting. If the company doesn't want to agree to this, negotiate for more compensation. That may get them to comply. If they share your art on their website, you want the credit and link to drive business to your brand that they licensed. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Patchwork Art Show -- Santa Ana 12.19. Tell your story. Build your fan base.

Thanksgiving holiday weekend is also Black Friday - Cyber Monday shopping season, and Small Business Saturday. A great time to remember to shop local and shop indie. I got to do both at this outdoor art market.

 It was perfect weather for an outdoor event -- overcast with a hint of fall in the air from recent rains, but no wind, rain or too much sun. Easy to walk around and see all the sights.. plus enjoy the food trucks!

I was joined on this adventure by my photographer friend Sarah.
We had hardly arrived when the sealife art at this booth caught my eye.


The art was available as prints with individual animals... or as baby blankets. The sea life is a counting blanket with numbers.
The animal one is an alphabet blanket with letters.
I wanted both!!
She also had greeting cards. My favorite way to collect and share art these days.

And check out her beautiful business cards! Any one of these would be a keeper for sure.
I had a nice chat with the artist. It's always fun to find someone new at a show... and watch them grow in the coming years. 

Check out the terrific "About the Artist" page on their website. 

If you are an established artist, wondering if you should have gone after that business degree instead... or if you are an aspiring artist, wondering if you should put down your art tools and pick up a briefcase... read the story of artist Cathy Zhang.

She closes with this quote:
"Thank you for welcoming my work into your home and I hope they bring joy to you and your loved ones. More importantly, if you are currently feeling the itch for something “better” out there, I hope you find the courage and inspiration to take baby steps toward finding the thing that brings you joy. It takes a long time, but don't give up."

Always tell your story on your website.

If you want to inspire others with your work, yes your art should do the talking, but don't neglect your personal story as a way to connect with followers. If you want to make a living as an artist, you need to build a fan base. You need financial support from them. Not just "likes" and "shares." You have to share what makes you a unique artistic vision people want to invest in. People don't invest in  anonymous pretty pictures they can look at for free. I'm not saying everyone has to be making cuddly animal art suitable for all ages... but I am suggesting that your honest self is your greatest selling point. You will find your niche that way. Not by imitating others, but by having the courage to share your own truth.

Here are some of the cards I bought from her ...

Contact info on the back of each card!! Very important for branding. Help your art help fans find you.

I enjoyed many new-to-me finds at this Patchwork show...

One of my favorite finds is re-purposed items. This artist takes old yardsticks and makes them into handy and whimsical home decor items.
"R" Rules

This booth was her first time as a vendor. I loved her enthusiasm. She was super at engaging attendees. Her people skills.. and her clever products... help make her booth memorable. Sharing your art story. Making a personal connection with people who are interested in your art. These skills are a vital part of building a customer base. 

Her signs encourage attendees to interact with the boxes. Having an "experience" at your booth is appealing in this Instagram age.. and almost a necessity at bigger conventions where there is so much competition for attendee time (and sales).

Having that first booth is a big leap of faith and act of courage. It's also ageless.
You can start your art life at any point. Don't let age.. or youth.. inhibit you.

Stitchin Belle
This young vendor had a table of needle art items she'd made herself. She's holding one of her favorites in this photo. It's never to early to learn entrepreneurship. Talking with the public. Handling sales transitions. Learning how to present yourself and your products.
I love bats... and picked up this one she had displayed on her xmas tree.
She also had business cards and stickers... and grit and game!

 I was happy to see several booths with letterpress cards.
This booth had a particularly inviting set up that made it easy to browse.
The spinner rack was a great addition. A fixture like that can be especially helpful when you have a rush of customers, as people can browse even if access to the booth is temporarily blocked.

Yosh Creative

I enjoyed browsing her selection of beautiful, well-branded cards...
This art fair was brimming with beautiful handmade items like pottery, plush toys, accessories and attire.
I loved the beachy vibe of the resin art items at this booth.
Mermaid Moxie
Check out the dish artist Jamie is holding.
Click on photo below to enlarge and see the multi-level images of sea life depicted. Yes you could put one on the counter and have it hold coins or rings.. but why not buy a selection of them and make your own beachy tableau on the wall.

The Patchwork Santa Ana show covers about 3 blocks. Lots to discover in a picturesque setting. 
 This booth was another marvel of re-purposed vintage treasures..
Eyes Like Wilma

Each card is handmade from vintage papers.
The envelope is pre-stamped with vintage stamps with a total postage amount required to mail the card. So. Cool!!!

Our visit to this outdoor market always starts with treats at the food trucks on site.. and ends with a walk to this market a few blocks away.
Several small restaurants inside. Lots of seating. Nice restrooms. I was crushed that my previous favorite stand there -- Torch S'mores -- was no more.
This time, I ended the day with cookies from this stall.
They warm them in the oven for you before they serve them. Yumm!

An outdoor art fair is a terrific way to meet local artists -- shop small and indie -- and get away from your own desk for the day.

Here are links to previous Patchwork Show posts on the blog: