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The Sketchbook Project: A Mobile Library Like No Other

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 08, 2015

The Sketchbook Project logoWell into its world tour, The Sketchbook Project takes the concept of a mobile library into territory dear to the hearts of artists, illustrators, diarists, and obsessive doodlers. Their Mobile Library is housed in a vehicle that strongly resembles a foodtruck, but contains a selection of books submitted by artists around the world. Visitors can thumb through a collection curated from the Project’s Brooklyn library of 34,000 sketchbooks, contributed from creators in over 135 countries. Currently, the Mobile Library is in the middle of its world tour, traveling the west coast before heading up to Canada.

The Sketchbook Project’s home base is the Brooklyn Art Library, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. The Library is a simple storefront lined with shelves upon shelves of sketchbooks, barcoded and searchable by details such as location of origin, media, and topic. Locals can acquire library cards and check out two sketchbooks at a time, or read at the library’s long tables. In addition to the Mobile Truck and Brooklyn Art Library, the Project has a Digital Library, where web users can browse view over 17,000 online sketchbooks.

The Sketchbook Project was founded by new SCAD graduates Shane Zucker and Steven Peterman in Atlanta, GA in 2006, and moved to Brooklyn in 2009. It was conceived as a way of combining hand-made traditions with new Web-based technologies. Illustrators wanting to participate in the Project can apply to submit sketchbooks through March 31st, 2016. The Project also organizes periodic collaborative challenges, such as their current Print Exchange. Participants create and submit 11 5x7 prints on the theme, “Greetings From A Distant Land” and receive back 10 prints, swapped by Project staff from other submissions.

The Sketchbook Project Mobile Library from Art House Co-op on Vimeo.

Taylor Swift Advocates for Musicians, but not Photographers

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 29, 2015

Note: After this articles was published, Swift revised her concert contract, following the recommendations of photographers. 


Creators were galvanized when Taylor Swift issued her open letter protesting Apple’s decision to not pay musicians, producers, and writers during the 3-month free trial of the new Apple Music streaming service. Her letter read like a manifesto: “These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up… Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing.” Apple paid attention and immediately reversed their decision, and Swift was widely lauded by creators – except photographers.

Within a day of Swift’s open letter, UK photographer Jason Sheldon published an open response to Swift, stating that as admirable as her stance was, it was somewhat marred by the contracts her management company requires concert photographers to adhere to. That contract includes a rights grab; the management company, Firefly Entertainment, has the right to a worldwide, perpetual license to use (and to authorize others to use) any of the photos in any media for publicity and promotion. Sheldon concluded, “With all due respect to you, too, Taylor, you can do the right thing and change your photo policy. Photographers don’t ask for your music for free. Please don’t ask us to provide you with your marketing material for free.”

Firefly shot back at Sheldon, stating that he had misrepresented the terms of the contract. (The entire contract can be read from Sheldon’s original post.)  However, in a subsequent article on PetaPixel, photographer Joel Goodman pointed out that the contract Firefly is currently handing photographers is significantly worse. The terms Sheldon objected to – limiting photographers to a one-time use within a specific publication, and granting Firefly and Taylor Swift Productions the rights grab – are still present. But the current contract includes a clause permitting “authorized agents” of Firefly and Swift the right to “confiscate and/or destroy” the photographer’s equipment, should the photographer “fail to fully comply” with the terms of the contract. Or, as PetaPixel succinctly puts it, “Break Our Rules, and We Can Break Your Gear.”

While a protest against Swift’s inconsistency in sticking up for the rights of all artists hasn’t materialized, at least one publication has taken note. PetalPixel reported that The Irish Times, the second most widely read newspaper in Ireland, decided not to include any concert photography in their coverage of Swift’s sold-out gigs in Dublin. The Times wrote that they took issue with Swift’s photo authorization contract: “The photographs may be used on a one-time only basis and by signing her contract we grant Swift perpetual, worldwide right to use the published photographs in any way she sees fit.”

Below: An excerpt from Swift’s contract, highlighted by photographer Joel Goodman.

Joel Goodman contract excerpt

The Cost of Logo Design: Advice from a Graphic Designer

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 17, 2015

Brooklyn-based graphic designer Roberto Blake has done us all a favor. In his video, “How Much Does a Logo Design Cost,” he educates non-designers on what to expect when soliciting a bid on a logo design. Business owners hoping to get a flat price quote will be disappointed; from the outset Blake makes it clear that the cost varies greatly depending on a number of factors: the kind of logo, complexity, color variations, alternate designs, etc. Instead, Blake prepares the non-designer to have a clear discussion with the logo designer, advising against engaging in bargaining for the lowest fee possible and encouraging the client to engage in a transparent discussion of budget and needs.

In outlining the design process, from research through execution of the design, through production of final press- and web-ready files, Blake makes clear the effort and time the logo designer expends. He also cautions the viewer that the copyrights to the logo do not transfer to the client until the rights have been negotiated and paid for. He concludes his video with a discussion of a flat-fee versus hourly rate fee basis, and payment schedules.

While Blake intended the video to be a teaching tool for clients, it’s also a wonderful resource for new designers inexperienced in negotiating with clients on logo design projects. Experienced designers will find the video helpful as well. It’s the perfect link to email anyone who asks, “Why do you charge so much for just a logo?”

Blake’s YouTube channel features a number of videos on design and photography best practices and techniques.

 

Guild Member Joseph Caserto Responds to Pratt Crowdsourcing Contest

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 11, 2015

Joseph CasertoProud Pratt Institute alum Joseph Caserto was shocked to learn that his alma mater issued a call for students to participate in a crowd-sourced mascot design contest. As a long-time Guild member and working professional, Caserto was well versed in the deleterious impact of crowdsourcing on the design and illustration professions. He reached out to Guild advocacy liaison, Lisa Shaftel, who provided him with sample letters protesting crowd sourcing. Caserto constructed his own response and sent it to Pratt with a firm but respectful letter expressing his disappointment with the institution:

“It is imperative for you to understand that by asking designers to work for free, you are exploiting them. This is at best a poor lesson for Pratt to be teaching students, and at worst contributing to a practice that is damagof

ing to the industry that these young professionals are entering, and in which they are expected to compete.”

Rather than resorting to crowdsourcing, Caserto recommended that Pratt solicit work via a program similar to Design Corps, a project led by the late Charles Goslin when Caserto studied at Pratt. Through Design Corps, select students are invited to work on a client project under the mentorship of a professor, in exchange for course credit and an agreed-upon stipend. Caserto shared his concerns in an article on his blog, “Pratt Sets a Terrible Example by Crowdwourcing a Logo.”

Helen Matusow-Ayres, Pratt’s Vice President for Student Affairs, responded to Caserto with a polite explanation that the mascot design is part of a larger identity project being handled by a professional design firm headed by a Pratt alumnus. She explained that crowdsourcing the project was an attempt to “engage the Pratt community.” While Caserto appreciated the courtesy of the response, he didn’t buy their justification: “…the Institute is sending a powerful, dangerous message to students that it is an acceptable business practice, and to professionals that our alma mater condones one of the biggest challenges to our livelihoods.”

Caserto’s orignal letter and Pratt’s response can be read on Caserto’s blog.

Photo by Glenn Glasser.

Happy 225, US Copyright Law!

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 02, 2015

The first US federal copyright law was enacted 225 years ago, and the Copyright Office and Copyright Alliance marked the anniversary. The law was signed by George Washington on May 31, 1790, and established the basic principals of copyright law. The Office sent out an email relating the history of the law, noting that it was called “An Act for the encouragement of learning” and protected maps, charts, and books to encourage exploration of the North American continent:

“The first federal copyright law established the principle that authors should have rights to control the use of their works, such as how they are printed, reprinted, published, and sold. It recognized that authors should have meaningful remedies to encourage others to respect these rights and to provide appropriate compensation when those rights are infringed. And it recognized the central role a registration system plays in documenting a public record of creativity, ownership, term, and other legal facts.”

The Copyright Alliance celebrated the anniversary by creating “Copyright is a Conversation,” an online publication that explores the impact of copyright in the key areas of art, expression, creativity, technology, commerce, and identity. Pages for each area include a list of relevant articles and embedded videos. For example, the “Copyright is a Conversation about Art” page includes links to articles such as Blake Morgan’s “Art and Music are Professions Worth Fighting For” and David Newhoff‘s “Copyright Critics Don’t Quite Get Artists,” as well as a touching video by multimedia artist Cat Kaverly discussing her creative response to her fight with cancer.


Copyright Alliance Copyright is a Conversation artwork

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