Sunday, January 26, 2020

Look Back for inspiration -- Martin Lewis impact on Edward Hopper, plus two contemporary artists

Influencers pre-date Instagram.

When you look to artists whose work inspires you -- look further. Who were they looking at? How were they influenced by mentors or artists in their circle?

A December 20, 2019 post by blog "Messy Nessy Chic" unravels the complicated connection between the icon Edward Hopper and artist Martin Lewis. Hopper is quoted as saying "After I took up my etching, my painting seemed to crystallise...."

Take a look at the etchings of Martin Lewis, who was a friend, colleague and teacher of Hopper, and discover work that inspired an icon...

Images below of Lewis's work are from this Messy Nessy Chic post:

The color piece below by Lewis, titled "Yumoto-Hakone" is from the 11.8.18. post on "The Old Print Shop" blog

More on Martin Lewis here:

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

The rest of this post first appeared in Dec 2019:

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.
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:

In this You Tube Video.... artist and instructor Bobby Chiu looks back on the most important things he learned in the last 10 years. Here are highlights: 1) Dream big, long term goals; 2) Be consistent; 3) Look to serve; 4) Continuous learning

Friday, January 24, 2020

podcast interview with Humanoids sr editor Fabrice Sapolsky

Did you know graphic novel publisher Humanoids has an open submissions policy??? 

Learn about this and more great tips in this outstanding interview with Humanoids senior editor Fabrice Sapolsky. 

Great work by podcast host  Russell Nohelty  -- killing it with amazing content on The Complete Creative.

Link for the podcast:

Monday, January 20, 2020

No holiday from art theft... singer unrepentant in theft of online art image and unauthorized commercial use.

Art theft never takes a holiday. This exchange is a perfect example of why we need the CASE Act....

illustration below is "Brotherhood" by Jonas J√∂dicke

This image was stolen by a singer  to use on his merchandise. Link below for article by Nadja Sayej posted Jan 18, 2020 on details the story.

From the artist:  " I first learned of Aaron’s use of my artwork from a follower on Twitter. They reached out via direct message telling me about Aaron’s tweet in which he had posted my artwork to promote his new merchandise shop. He did not mention me as the original artist and had not asked for permission in beforehand. That’s why I called him out in a tweet, in a polite way, to inform him that I was not alright with him using my art in that way.".. 

here is what the thief said: "you should've taken it as a compliment dick a fan of MINE sent this to me. oh here they go again, the answer is No this image has been made public and im using it to promote my clothing line (gave website for his merch) guess I'll see you in small claims court."

Read the entire story here:

More posts on the blog about online art theft

and the upcoming CASE Act.

Google Doodle for MLK holiday; Wash Post article on their illustrators

It's always encouraging when media and social media companies highlight the artists whose work brings eyes and attention to their pages.

Link below for the 1.20.2020 Google Doodle for MLK day above features interview with the doodle's artist, Dr. Fahamu Pecou

Previous blog post on the artists behind the Google Doodles:

The Washington Post featured several artists of popular illustrations used in their publication in this article.

Illustration of  MLK by Adriana Bellet, from a photograph by Charles Kelly.

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 5.17.21)

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

These infographics provide the basics on AB 5...

Here is where I will post the most recent articles and links I find regarding AB 5:

UPDATE 5.17.21
Op-Ed on AB 5 from The Daily Breeze

Excerpt: "(In) 2018, the California Trucking Association filed suit to stop AB 5’s application to the state’s truck drivers....

....In 2020, a superior court judge issued a preliminary injunction stopping the state from enforcing the law against truck drivers. But the 9th Circuit court’s three-judge panel, on a 2-1 vote, ruled that the state law doesn’t violate federal law. Now the trucking association is appealing the decision in a matter that could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

AB 5 tried to force companies to hire contractors as permanent employees, but it instead destroyed job opportunities. The law affected hundreds of thousands of California workers in many professions (musicians, writers, freelance photographers, sign-language interpreters, etc.).

The Legislature ameliorated some of these problems by exempting more than 100 industries from AB 5’s nefarious provisions. Voters in November overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, which provided a carve-out for drivers at companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash.

After that, most observers figured that AB 5 was largely a dead letter, but the latest ruling (shows that the law continues to cause untold harm. It’s long past time for its repeal.

UPDATE 9.16.20:
AB 5 Fix (New Exceptions added to the law)
Excerpt from article:
'105 Exemptions for CA AB5 indie contractor law! This update via legal service I use, Counsel for Creators. Excerpt: "AB 2257 recast the statutory scheme and added over fifty more exemptions from the ABC Test into the California Labor Code. In addition, the new statute authorizes a district attorney to prosecute an action for injunctive relief.
Last year’s AB 5 had created 57 statutory exemptions from the “ABC Test.” The new referral agency code section as added by AB 2257 includes all workers, but excludes specified ones. In AB 5, this referral agency section listed only certain types of workers who were exempt under this particular exemption. Now, AB 2257 includes all of those workers, except it does not list house cleaning, and then the bill added 5 new types of workers.
Overall, this year’s AB 2257 added 53 new exemptions, for a total of 109 exemptions from the Dynamex decision and its ABC Test. The following are the statutory exemptions contained in AB 2257, set forth in the order in which they appear in the relevant sections of the Labor Code (along with a notation for those that were previously listed in last year’s AB 5): (see list in the article)

UPDATE 4.21.20
AB5 puts pressure on theatre groups
LA Times article by Makeda Easter

UPDATE 3.28.20
COVID-19 adds new complications to AB 5.
LA Times article by Johana Bhuiyan

UPDATE 3.7.20
San Diego article about cash-strapped schools likely to let go of part time teachers due to AB 5 requirements, since schools can't afford to pay full time for these positions
Voice of San Diego. Article by Will Huntsbury. 3.6.2020

UPDATE 3.2.20
Graphic Artists Guild Facebook post had link to t his Jan 2020 summary on their website:

UPDATE 2.29.20
LA Times article "Capitol to weigh dozens of AB5 bills," by John Myers. February 29, 2020.

UPDATE 2.18.20
LA Times article "The AB 5 Backlash..." by Makeda Easter

UPDATE 2.16.20
LA Times article "New state law is changing how businesses treat workers" by Margot Roosevelt.

Nor cal article about AB5 impact on health-related services like sign-language interpreters.

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.

Text of blog post from 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: