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Happy World Communication Design Day, and Happy Birthday Icograda!

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 28, 2014

Break out the cake. April 27 marked both World Communication Design Day, and Icograda’s 51st birthday. The organization marked the anniversary by soliciting graphics on “What a Designer Does,” and posting them on the event’s Facebook page. The submissions – from around the globe – speak to designers’ ability to create, connect, problem solve, amuse, and envision. For long-time members, perhaps the most moving submission was by former president Robert L. Peters. He incorporated text on a black-and-white photo of Guy Schockaert, the visionary former president and long-time supporter of Icograda who passed away last year. The French text translates to “Competition stimulates, cooperation reinforces, and solidarity unites” – a fitting tribute to the organization’s goals.

Copyright Forums and Roundtables

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 24, 2014

US Department of Commerce logoThe Copyright Alliance notified us that the Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF), a working group within the U.S. Department of Commerce, has scheduled a number of roundtables on copyright issues. In following up on their Green Paper on copyright issues in the digital economy, the IPTF is soliciting input from artists and creators on their concerns.

On May 8, the IPTF is holding a second public meeting in Berkely, California, on online piracy. This meeting will specifically solicit feedback on problems creators face in handling online piracy as a result of the lack of standardization in the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) takedown process. The IPTF will be publicizing the agenda and webcast information for the meeting in early May.

Roundtables on a variety of copyright issues, including remixes, statutory damages, and first sale doctrine have been scheduled:
May 21: Vanderbilt University Law School, Nashville, TN
June 25: Harvard University Law School, Cambridge, MA
July 29: Los Angeles, CA (location to be determined)
July 30: Bancroft Hotel, Berkeley, CA

More information on the roundtables is available on the Department of Commerce's website. Interested participants can register online for in-person or webcast attendance.

Will the Real Superheroes Please Stand Up: Fanboys and Sexual Harassment

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 21, 2014

ComicsAlliance logoComicsAlliance senior editor Andy Khouri was horrified at the extent of the vitriol directed at his colleague and ComicsAlliance contributor, Janelle Asselin. His article, “Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment,” is directed at both trolls who indulge in anonymous threats of sexual violence against the women with whom they disagree, and the majority of male fans who would never contemplate engaging in such behaviour.

Asselin’s recent ordeal began when she strongly criticized the cover art of DC Comics’ Teen Titans. Among issues with perspective and composite, Asselin pointed out that the gravity-defying enormity of Wonder Girl’s breasts was both a physical impossibility and highly inappropriate on a 16-year-old character. This resulted in a backlash of criticism directed at Asselin that escalated to cracks over her credentials and legitimacy as a comic art critic which seemed to be fueled by her gender, and not her well-documented experience within the industry. The furor escalated to the point that Asselin began receiving virulent threats on an online survey she was running on sexual harassment in the comic book industry. As reported by Khouri, one male respondent wrote: “Women in comics are the deviation, the invading body, the cancer. We are the cure, the norm, the natural order… In the end all you are is a pathetic little girl trying to effect change and failing to make a dent.”

Khouri was also inspired to write his article after hearing a panel discussion on sexual harassment in comics fandom while at Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon. The women presenting at the panel – Asselin, along with ComicsAlliance Editor-in-Chief Laura Hudson and contributor Rachel Edidin – made the point that the sexual harassment was not their problem to solve, but that of men.

Khouri takes the point to heart when he writes:

“Sexual harassment isn’t an occupational hazard. It’s not a glitch in the complex matrix of modern life. It’s not something that just ‘happens.’ It’s something men do. It’s a choice men make. It’s a problem men enable. It’s sometimes a crime men commit. And it is not in the power nor the responsibility of women to wage war on this crime.”
“It’s on us.”

He concludes by pointing out that harassment, and enabling harassment by remaining silent when it occurs, is antithetical to the standards of decency and fairness promoted by superhero comics. Khouri challenges men to check trolling and harassment. In other words, Khouri is inviting fans to emulate the true superheroes.

 

Brought to our attention by @colleendoran.

Skip the Rage: Jessica Hische on Dealing with Ripoffs

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 17, 2014

Jessica Hische logoLettering and illustration rockstar Jessica Hische is also the author of warm, witty treatises on working and thriving as a creator. Her most recent article deals with the thorny issue of ripoffs. A designer wrote about discovering imitators – some working for large campaigns for major companies – and asked Hische “…how you personally deal. Frankly, I'm flattered and simultaneously depressed at any given moment and try not to think about it.”

Hische’s counsel is her typical blend of humor and practical advice. In describing the typical sequence of outraged reaction followed by regret and a more formal communication with the infringer, she recommends skipping the rage. She also distinguishes between an individual who is copying an artists’ style versus a designer or agency actually reusing work without permission. In the former case, Hische points out that the imitator may be inexperienced, and she advises educating them about the inadvisability of copying someone else’s style.

In the case of a work being outright infringed, Hische recommends sending a stern letter to the artist or agency that produced the infringing work. However, she cautions that taking on a large company can be expensive and time consuming, citing Modern Dog’s recent successful case against Target, Disney and Jaya Apparel Group. She sums up by stating that her best advice is to register the copyright on your creations: “While you of course ‘own the copyright’ to the images you create unless you're transferring them to the client in a contract, it’s difficult to pursue copyright infringement cases without having filed for copyright of the images officially.”

Note: While original images are automatically copyrighted to their creators, registering the copyrights confers a extra degree of legal clout: it creates a public record of authorship, it’s required before an infringer can be taken to court, and it enables the creator to sue for damages and be awarded legal fees. For more information on copyrights, visit our article in our Resources page.

The issue of fan-copying is a topic Hische addressed in a much earlier article, “Inspiration vs. Imitation.” The article was directed towards aspiring artists  and fans who openly plagiarized Hiche’s work. In this article she makes a clear distinction between copying as a learning tool, versus passing off work which closely replicates another’s as original work. She advises new artists on how to move past simply imitating their role models: draw from many inspirations rather than a chosen few; dig into historical references; train your eye to spot differences and originality; and be aware that passing derivative work as original will  ruin your reputation amongst your peers and potential employers.

Stickman’s Tips to Displaying at a Convention

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 11, 2014

© Mark Monlux StickmanIn 2011, Seattle member Mark Monlux published “Stickman’s Advice to Having a Table at a Comic Book Convention.”  The primer’s advice is borne of Monlux’s many years of experience as an illustrator, cartoonist, convention attendee. The strip  covers the process of renting a table, from the initial reservation through handling booth visitors. He offers commonsensical advice, such as bring lots of business cards, prepare your pitch, and bring water (useful after exercising that well-prepared pitch).  Other advice is less obvious, such as how to scan the crowd and the advisability of having of a mobile phone credit card processor. 

The strip was drawn during the 2011 24 Hour Comic Challenge sponsored by CLAW, the Cartoonists League of Absurd Washingtonians. During the event, artists were challenged to write, sketch, and ink 24 pages in twenty-four hours. In a previous year, Monlux had struggled to finish the assignment using his finished, more labor intensive style of cartooning. For the 2011, he decided to do an instructional strip – creating the strip ate up the first seven hours of the challenge. So Monlux repurposed his long-running comic strip character Stickman for a much faster illustration style. With the trade show and comic/illustration convention season heating up, the strip functions as a charming and succinct visual checklist for anyone planning on renting a table.

Artwork © Mark Monlux. Used with permission of the artist.

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