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International Women’s Day Yields Treasure Troves of Work by Women

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 13, 2017

Perhaps because of the increased coverage of women’s issues (and the political movements spearheaded by women), International Women’s Day was marked by a number of blogs and websites with comprehensive reviews of work by women  visual artists: designers, illustrators, cartoonists, and others. Three in particular stood out: the UK media platform It’s Nice That, the publication Creative Review (also out of the UK), and the Cartoonist Alliance.

It’s Nice That introduced their offering with a splash. An exuberant illustration by artist Kate Prior (upraised fists hoisting an IWD banner) festoons the top of the page. The illustration celebrates the act of protest, and references the suffragette movement. Below, It’s Nice That showcases 18 articles they solicited from women contributors: illustrators, photographers, designers, and artists. There is even an article on Deep Throat Choir, a group of 35 all-female singers that transforms the work of well-known artists such as Bjork into multi-layered, intricate interpretations. The collection of articles doesn’t shy away from controversial topics. For example, in response to the fetishization of her compatriots, Brazilian photographer June Canedo asserts, “Women of colour need to be the ones photographing other women of colour.” In another article, Muslim American artist Amna Asghar asks “What if Warhol were Pakastani?,” exploring her own identity through a series of montages of popular culture images and brightly painted panels.

Rather than soliciting articles specifically for IWD 2017, Creative Review chose to curate a collection of articles that have appeared in the publication throughout the years. Dedicated readers will recognize some past gems, such as  “Women + Laughing + Alone + With Salad,” a delicious take-down of cheesy microstock photography from 2011. The curated articles cover a range of topics, from typography (sexist emoji), to fashion (older women appearing in fashion ads) to workplace and leadership (retaining working mothers in the creative industries).  Creative Review has also curated a selection of Works, projects submitted to the publication for review. One favorite is Woman Interrupted, an app created by Brazilian firm BETC, which monitors the user’s conversation and calculates how often the she is interrupted by a man’s voice.

The Cartoonist Alliance article was originally published in 2015 and promoted for IWD2018. “What’s The Best Comic About Women By Women?” is less comprehensive than the previous posts, and covers only seven women graphic novelists selected by CA staff as their favorites. Having said that, the collection is interesting and somewhat surprising. While Marjane Sartrapi’s Persepolis has a well-deserved place on the list, Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi was unexpected. The article makes a good case for the addition though: “Sailor Moon was the game changer, the comic that effectively launched the magical girl genre. Sailor Moon isn’t just the reason why I’m here; it’s the reason why you’re here.” The only quibble with CA’s article is that it predates Errin Ferris’ tour-de-force, My Favorite Thing is Monsters (an aching story beautifully illustrated in ball-point-pen) wasn’t included.

But there’s always next year. We’ll be stalking these three websites to see what they conjure up for IWD 2018.

International Woman's Day screenshots

New Copyright Office Website: Responsive in More Ways than One

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 06, 2017

On March 1st, the Copyright Office launched its new website – a huge improvement over the previous iteration.  Visitors to the site are clearly directed to Office activities and resources, and a long overdue overhaul of the website’s navigation has almost eliminated the need for the “back” button. More importantly, the website is now responsive, permitting users on mobile devices to easily move about and use the website.

The site now prominently features portals to the three major activities of the Office: copyright registration, recording of documents pertaining to a copyright (including copyright transfers), and records research and certification. Underneath those are links to resources (such as copyright records search, DMCA agent registery, and schedule of fees) and education (such as the Fair Use Index, FAQs, and the history of copyright), and Quick Links to U. S. Copyright Law and news articles. Copyright professionals and advocates will be gratified to find links to recent Policy issues and open Notices of Inquiry, as well as links to recent Rulemakings.

The website launch was soon followed by the publication of the Copyright Office’s blog, “Copyright: Creativity at Work.” A recent article described the work done to redesign the website, stating that user surveys and questions received by the Public Information Office guided the IT team in redesigning the site. The blog promises ongoing articles on Office doings, policy, and outside perspectives.

Copyright Office website

Logobook: Inspiration in Black and White

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 28, 2017

A new compendium of logos has been published online: Logobook. The site features a directory of logos categorized by type: letters and numbers, animals, shapes, objects, business, nature, and heraldy, shields, and flags. In a field of robust logo resources, what makes Logobook stand out is its simplicity. Each logo is presented only in solid black and white, permitting viewers to focus on the design and to easily compare logos.

In an article on Creative Review, the directory’s editor Seymour Auf Der Bauer stated that the site’s goal is to create a resources for logo designers by showcasing collections of logos from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, scanning and photographing from out-of-print sources when necessary. The site’s creators sought logos that, at the time of their execution, either broke new ground or started trends.

Logos have also been contributed by contemporary designers, although submissions have since been suspended due to a large backlog. The site’s goal is to eventually become a thriving community, with designers contributing work to a growing database of original designs. Svizra, the international collective of Swiss brand designers that created and curates the website, has set a lofty goal for Logobook: “Our ambition is to improve global design standards in logo and identity design, and encourage businesses and designers to create original logo designs.

Below: Logobook’s elegantly simple interface facilitates logo searches.

Logobook screenshot

Copyrightlaws.com Sheds Light on Moral Rights in the United States

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 16, 2017

Copyrightlaws.com logoIn light of the Copyright Office’s Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on Moral Rights, Copyrightlaws.com has done us all a favor in posting their article, “Moral Rights in US Copyright Law.” The NOI is revisiting creators’ rights, which, in the United States, are little understood. In this context, “moral rights” has little to do with religion, but refers to non-economic rights that are personal to an author. The Copyrightlaws.com article provides an easy-to-understand explanation and background information on the topic.

The article describes moral rights as those that protect the reputation of the author (not the owner) of a copyrighted work. As set out in the Berne convention, those rights include the right of paternity (the right of the author to put their name on a work, or to remain anonymous – generally when the author has economic rights in the work) and the right of integrity (the right of the author to object to any changes to their work that may damage his or her reputation).  

When the United States joined the Berne Convention, it interpreted moral rights more narrowly and concluded that between federal and state laws, moral rights are explicitly protected in the US. Additionally, the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990 amended US Copyright Law to conferr additional rights (the right of attribution and the right of integrity) to the authors of certain visual works. However, those works can only exist as single copies or in limited editions of 200 or less.

The Copyright Office’s NOI asks for comments on concerns raised “with the patchwork of protection” provided by federal and state law. The questions in the NOI are extensive, and cover everything from the effectiveness of VARA, whether copyright law provisions on content management information are sufficient, and how stronger moral rights provisions could affect First Amendment rights, to how technology could address the problems authors face in protecting their rights of attribution and integrity. Comments to the Copyright Office are due March 30th.

Copyrightlaws.com publishes articles and resources on US and Canadian copyright law, and conducts etutorials on intellectual property rights. It was founded by IP attorney Lesley Ellen Harris, who has written several books on Canadian copyright law and digital property. Harris also frequently blogs on current copyright concerns.

Elevating “Real” News Through Web Typography

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 06, 2017

Zeldman's web typography style guide screenshotDuring the Poynter Digital Design Challenge, five designers addressed the leading challenge facing news organizations and their consumers: the prevalence and seeming authority of fake news. Each design brought a unique perspective and solution, from a reader-controlled interface, to an app with customizable news and ad streams, to integrated video and virtual reality experiences. Jeffrey Zeldman, however, went after what he described as low-hanging fruit: the website typography.

In his article on TrackChanges, “Authoritative, Readable, Branded: Report from the Poynter Design Challenge, Part 2,” Zeldman advocates for a “clean, uncluttered, authoritative branded page” driven by typography. He points out that any news publication, no matter how cash-strapped, can invest in better typography. To that end, Zeldman has posted a sample reader layout and style guide.

The Challenge brought together Mike Swarz (Upstatement), Lucia Locava (Locava Design Inc.), Jared Cocken (STYLISH.co), Kat Downs Mulder (The Washington Post), and Jeffrey Zeldman (A List Apart) last October to discuss the issues with online news media during a two-day conference at Columbia. The designers reconvened in January for part two of the Challenge, at which they presented their proposals. In intervening months, the role played by fake news in influencing voters had become a hot topic. It’s a problem Zeldman thinks can in part be addressed through clean, authoritative, branded design: “Authoritative because this isn’t fake news. Branded because the source matters.”

You can read Zeldman’s article on TrackChanges, as well as an earlier article summarizing his co-presenters’ work. The entire Poynter Design Challenge discussions from October and January can be viewed online on fora.tv.

Right: Zeldman's Style Guide from the Poynter Digital Design Challenge, based on a Typecast template from John Martins.

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