Monday, July 29, 2019


Department of Commerce is seeking comments regarding IP Theft!!!

Notice; request for comments.
The Department of Commerce is seeking comments from intellectual property rights holders, online third-party marketplaces and other third-party intermediaries, and other private-sector stakeholders on the state of counterfeit and pirated goods trafficking through online third-party marketplaces and recommendations for curbing the trafficking in such counterfeit and pirated goods. All responses to this notice will be shared with interagency teams, and specifically the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for use in preparing a report for the President as directed by the April 3, 2019 Presidential Memorandum on “Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods” (Presidential Memorandum).
Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, July 29, 2019.

Here is the comment I sent via link above:

Thank you for asking for comments. Online art theft steals from independent artists and creators. We need stronger laws suitable for the internet age to protect these entrepreneurs from unauthorized commercial use by others of the art and images they post online.

Social media thrives on image sharing. Much of this is work of photographers and indie artists. Their artWORK deserves credit and compensation. So many third parties are making money off the hard work of original content creators.. who deserve more than “likes” and shares.

Thieves and pirates rip-off intellectual property from online images artists post. Counterfeit goods under cut the creators prices with cheap knock-offs. The pirates make use of consumer ignorance, bred from years of “point and click” shopping that rarely directed consumers back to the source for all the content they “like.”

Too many artists have seen their images stolen and reproduced on a range of products. The pirates hide from take down notices and appear again as a new company name selling the same stolen goods. These rounds of “whack a mole” are exhausting for the copyright holders. The only ones that profit are the middle men. Creators lose out on their livelihood. Consumers are stuck with shoddy goods that sully the creators valuable online reputation.

Please listen to the indie artists who are being crushed by internet art theft. They need strong laws with sharp teeth. Consumers need robust protection from online thieves and counterfeiters. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Infringement case study: When creating something new becomes a battle over what is familiar UPDATED 7.28.19


The most heartbreaking infringement cases are ones like this.

 An artist creates original work, then someone rips off their images with a derivative product, but because the subject matter can be argued as "generic," it can become an expensive process (in both time and money) to have their hard work protected.

 It shouldn't be this way, but too often, it is...

For a reminder on basic copyright law protections, here are these free downloadable info-graphics ( )
created by indie artist Lili Chin ( ) in collaboration with attorney Jonathan Tobin (

Artists and fans need to be educated and pro-active about protecting indie artist Intellectual Property (IP) rights.

Copyright law enforcement is struggling to keep up with the internet age. It's so easy to click and copy and share and manipulate images. The CASE Act has passed out of committee and is now moving ahead to full vote on Senate floor. If it passes all the final steps and becomes law, it will offer an arbitration process without having to go to federal court. Cases will be determined by a panel of three copyright-savvy judges, so hopefully decisions there will be codifying these gray areas instead of adding to the confusion.

More on the CASE Act in this post on the blog:

Meanwhile, today's infringement case study comes from a closed group I follow on social media. Special thanks to artist Cherie Balowski for giving me permission to feature her case here on my blog. You can see more of her art here

The case is on-going. These situations often take time and a lot of back and forth to resolve.
However, even though it's not over yet, it's worth featuring. Infringement happens in various forms far too frequently. Each case is an important learning opportunity.

IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION/DISCLAIMER FROM AW: (I am sharing Cherie's photo and comments here with her permission. I've deleted some text and will note where other parties may be identified, since I've only been in touch with Cherie).

In July 2019, Artist Cherie Balowski posted these images, along with these comments:

"Just wanted to get your opinions. This (online store name deleted) artist, (NAME DELETED) , is selling art that was taken from my all black silhouettes and THEY are saying THEY did not. What do you think? THEY AND THEIR lawyer didn't think they looked the same, node by node, whatever the heck that means. I am soooo sick of my art being stolen, all or part of it! On the first two photos, my art is on the right hand side.

Here, the person flipped my artwork, mine is on the right. THEY added the afro puffs to the body.

Here, THEY took my silhouette and made new puffs, added flowers.
This is my image, THEY just added big round afro puffs, changed the bows. It is just too much like my art, it is my art, THEY just altered it!! Grrrr…."

End of Cherie's comments and photos

Here was my comment to her post in the thread on the forum..

Your case is painful and challenging. So sorry this happened to you. You're not alone. However, cases like this are difficult to challenge, mostly due to cost and time taken up with arguing back and forth. The strike against cases like yours is the ability to argue from their side about "generic/public domain/fair use" areas of subject matter, which of course you have rendered in your own way and should be protected by copyright rules, but crosses into enough gray area that it gets complicated. Sometimes the take-away lesson is that creating images/products that are the most distinctive, individual, unique and able to protect provide the greatest return on your investment of talent, energy and time. (sample case photo below (did not win) from artist I know and love) I thought she had a strong case that Buzzfeed ripped off her unique designs. Especially since her work predated the Buzzfeed work. But the outcome is just one example how with "generic" subject matter (in this case mermaids) the case before a judge or arbitration (or the opinion of the company/ONLINE STORE team evaluating the take down notice etc) becomes more subjective, then harder, longer, and more expensive to pursue).


You cannot register a copyright on poses or subject matter. You cannot register copyright on a shirt (the generic, utilitarian garment) -- but you can register copyright for the pattern on the material the shirt is made from. Sometimes it's knowing what to protect and how that will keep the outcome of infringement cases more satisfactory.

How can indie artists fight back from infringement cases???

It can be exhausting. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles. Resources are limited when you're an indie creator, especially time and mental/emotional fatigue. Not to mention money. 

From an education/pro-active stand point, I feel it's always worth calling out infringement and derivative works. Stating your case puts your opinion out there for consumers (and online platforms) to see. As with the mermaid art case, final decisions aren't always the ones we hope for. But each case becomes precedent. These cases help codify subjective analysis of the conflicts and make the rules and standards clearer for everyone.

Chasing after copy-cats is not a great business plan.

What protects artists most is creating work that is unique, branded, registered and promoted. Know your story and share it on your website and in your social media posts. Online shopping disconnects buyers from the creators of the images they like. Your story can connect you with your followers and your interests can open new markets for your work. Know your business plan. Build  your audience and keep them involved in your progress. Incentivize on-line followers to move from just "liking" and "sharing" your work on social media to sponsoring you via Patreon, your own online store, or direct payments via PayPal or Ko-Fi. Offer special discounts to Patreon members who join reward tiers for a minimum period of time.  Engage your on-line audience with surveys. Use process posts as reward tiers. Seeing all the steps -- and skill -- that goes into your work educates them about the value you are producing in the final image. Share your creativity with them. Let them pledge to choose from a selection of subjects or colors or medium you're already on board to use for your next project.

Participation in your process rewards their investment in your work. Share your story. Learn about them. Grow your email list with a weekly or monthly newsletter. Be interactive. Encourage them to send you photos of how they are using the items they buy from you. Some plush toy makers have fans send in photos of the plush on road trips or adventures. Talk about Instagram ready promotion opportunities!!! A "collectors gallery" helps fans feel like part of your art community, and gives them ideas how to use your merchandise. 

Yes, this is all a lot of work, but the benefits are priceless. Your loyal, committed fan base will be making the choice to buy directly from you. They will be your front lines offense calling out the copycats.

Spend your most precious resources of time, talent and energy on your fan base. They are the support you need to succeed.

Previous blog posts on fighting Art Theft:

And this excellent copyright guidelines flow chart by artist -- and web and business consultant -- Ginger Davis Allman.

 Please consult her article (via this link) for more clarity on her chart:

Monday, July 22, 2019

Anatomy lessons for art-life -- Updated 7.24.19

Anatomy lessons for artists aren’t just about drawing. 

Mental, emotional and physical stress — including prolonged sitting— constricts the psoas muscle. Tightness in the psoas, a deep seated core muscle and the largest of the hip flexors, is often the root of chronic back, hip or even shoulder pain. 

This image #1 of 2 (from the Banda-Yoga Facebook page) illustrates how the psoas connects with the diaphragm, impacting breathing. 

Stand up. Stretch. Take deep breaths. Walk around.

More posts here on the blog about the importance of maintaining fitness for long art career.

also a multi-part series on "yoga for artists"
(always consult your own doctor before beginning any fitness routine)

Be proactive about your fitness now -- so you can be productive for a career.

Post from the Bandha Yoga Facebook page (7.22.19) explains the Psoas illustration:

The Diaphragm-Psoas Connection (1)
1. diaphragm 
2. diaphragm tendon 
3. aortic aperture
4. psoas arcade
5. vena caval aperture
6. esophageal aperture

The thoracic diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities. The contractile part of this muscle is located peripherally, inserting onto a central tendon (that is not connected to a bone). The origins of the muscle are divided into costal and lumbar portions. The “costal” portion originates from the inner surface of ribs seven through twelve. The “lumbar” portion has both medial (closer to the midline) and lateral (further from the midline) aspects. The medial aspects of the diaphragm arise from the front of the first three lumbar vertebrae (L1-L3). The lateral aspects arise from three tendinous arches. The first tendinous arch is associated with the abdominal aorta, and the second and third with the psoas major and quadratus lumborum muscles respectively.
Excerpt from: “Sankalpa, Visualization and Yoga: The Diaphragm-Psoas Connection”
Read more @

Image #2 of 2

Part 2 from Bandha Yoga Facebook page (7.24.19)
The Diaphragm-Psoas Connection (2)
1 - psoas major 
2 - psoas minor 
3 - iliacus
4 - iliopsoas (at tendon attachment to the lesser trochanter)

The psoas major muscle originates from the vertebral bodies of T12 and L1 through L4 (lateral surfaces and discs), with a deep layer originating from L1-L5 (costal processes). It combines with the iliacus muscle, which originates from the inside of the ilium (the iliac fossa) to form the iliopsoas muscle. The iliopsoas then runs over the brim of the pelvis to insert onto the lesser trochanter, a knob-like structure on the upper, inside of the femur (thigh bone). The iliopsoas crosses multiple joints and is thus considered a polyarticular muscle. When contracting on one side it can act to flex and externally rotate the femur and/or laterally flex the trunk (as in Trikonasana) or tilt one side of the pelvis forward. When the iliopsoas contracts on both sides it can flex both femurs and the trunk. Bilaterally contracting this muscle lifts the trunk from supine position (lying on the back).
Excerpt from: “Sankalpa, Visualization and Yoga: The Diaphragm-Psoas Connection”
Read more @

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday, last day, at SDCC Comic Con 2019 -- UPDATED 8.1.19 w list of Stuart's selected books now on SNB website and at store

UPDATE 8.1.19
Here is a complete list of the items Stuart selected from SDCC Comic Con 2019. Stock is limited on many of these items. Shop the website and store now.
To get this list as soon as its available, sign up for Stuart's mailing list:

Sketchbooks and Prints we brought back from San Diego Comic-Con 2019

UPDATE 7.25.19: Links for articles that appeared after Comic Con

Last day of this annual event means everyone is exhausted, but artists and exhibitors can't quit now. Find ways to reach your followers. Use all  your social media options. Incentivize them to visit you. Feature an item. Offer an exclusive. Have a "first five to visit" or "last 30 mins of show" special.

Here are a few examples of how indie artists are make the last day of Comic Con count.

Loter Inc (Booth 3913)
Posted a video clip tour on Saturday
and this Sunday photo update showing range of merch available at their booth.

Alina Chau (Artist Alley FF-15 )
Process posts educate followers about some of the WORK that goes into artwork.
Indie Artist Alina Chau  posted this process video clip.

also a flip-through of her prints
here's a photo of her at her panel

Boston Metaphysical Society/Madeleine Holly-Rosing
(Small Press L-03)
Madeleine posted a pic of her book in the esteemed comics industry trade publication "Previews"
Also this pic of her (far right) and panel creator Susan Lee (on Madeleine's right) from "Women on the Dark Side" Panel

Bill Robinson (Booth 4615)
Post photos of colleagues who stop by!
Indie Artist Bill Robinson with pic posted by Alyssa Lee on Friday
"Had to say hi to Bill! He’s made a couple awesome Scoops Ahoy pieces"

Benton Jew (Artist Alley DD-23)
Indie artist Benton Jew added this pic and post
"Bumped into my old ILM compadre, master model maker, fx supervisor and director, Bill George. Any vehicle in a Star Trek movie he’s probably had a hand in as well as many other classic sci-fi favorites!"
also link to this podcast interview
UPDATE -- I listened to the podcast this morning while doing a mandatory workout. Podcasts add an educational element to necessary exercise. In my case, it's due to a chronic medical condition. For artists, you have to be mindful of long hours of drawing (and sitting) taking a toll on your health. Be proactive now, so you can be productive for years!. The audio is a little rough for the first half. Guest Tim Burgard has to leave about half-way through the episode, so starting around the 40 min mark the rest of the episode is all Benton Jew. At the 56 min mark he starts addressing the need for up-and-coming artists to be "intellectually curious" about the art field they want to pursue. This means knowing the names and contributions of artists in that field. Studying older films. He drops some powerful truths about the need to be literate in film language if you hope to be speaking with directors and other top tier behind-the-lens talent. Listen to him on this episode. Study the films he references. They are essentials! 

Photos of visitors, podcast links, panel recaps help EDUCATE followers about your unique contributions. Attendees are bombarded with distractions at SDCC. They only have so much time to get around the show floor. Help them make the effort to find you. It will benefit you both.

And for Sunday at Comic Con -- 
some indie artist/content creator life motivation

For artist/exhibitiors .. via Apopo-HeroRats
(they are specially trained rats who clear land mines for rewards of banana bites)
I am honored to help sponsor hero rat Shuri via an annual "adoption"

This post from the Apopo Hero Rats FaceBook page
FUN FACT: over the first half of 2019, APOPO's teams in Cambodia have cleared 1,090,650 m2 (equal to around 153 soccer fields) - and found and destroyed 205 landmines and 109 other unexploded bombs!

Photo © Allan Staley Photography & Digital Content

These little heroes are a perfect metaphor for indie art life challenges..
Do you have life/career goals that seem as impossible as clearing Cambodia of land mines? How do you get it done? You strap on your harness little Hero Rat. You work with your support team. You find your inspiration. You do the tedious daily work that artWORK requires. The bananas of positive reinforcement don’t come from sitting out the search. 

For fans, family and friends of the artists...
The coffee stands inside the convention center tend to shut down about an hour before the show closes. If you see an artist pal who is feeling the strain of the day and loopy looking as this Blue-Footed Booby (pic by Pascal Conicella) -- be the hero they need. Step in with coffee, tea, water, a snack, a pep talk from a friend. You can be the source of a much needed lift..
I'm known for distributing these.

Please remember this quote...
It perfectly expresses the lift an exhibitor needs as this monster show winds down.
This quote is often used without credit. It's the work of Nanea Hoffman. She has a blog, Sweatpants and Coffee where you can read and enjoy more coffee wisdom. It's so much nicer to share images when you can link back to the creative source. 

If only social media was designed that way from the start. Up to fans and followers to make it happen now.