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Communication Design

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.

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.

Name that Typeface from 1932: Advanced Font Search

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 07, 2014

Designing a poster for a production of “Ragtime” and want to achieve typographic authenticity? Visit the Advanced Search feature on Fonts in Use. The search parameter will permit you to search for fonts by publish date, or covering dates before or after a particular year. Additional search fields will let you select by foundry, designer or agency, published format (including tablet/iPad), location, etc. The results are displayed in thumbnails with the typefaces used listed underneath. Clicking onto the font name will take you to a page listing the designer and foundry, with links to their websites, and a list of related faces.

The samples displayed are pulled from examples submitted to contributors to Fonts in Use, and are limited to that database. Searching by multiple fields can yield little to no results. However, Fonts in Use is soliciting contributions to their collection. To do so, you must create an account. Once that’s done, you can upload samples from your computer, or add images directly from the Web or Flckr. Submissions are reviewed by staff, who can also identify the submitted fonts. (Custom lettering is not accepted.)

While the material on the site is published under the doctrine of fair use, the website encourages contributors to include the source, designer, and photographer, if possible. The site also asks that they be notified if any work is identified as infringing on copyright. A full description of how to contribute to the collection is included in their FAQs page. Fonts in Use is a public archive of typography founded by Sam Berlow, Stephen Coles, and Nick Sherman. It exists independently of any type foundry or corporation. In addition to the collection, the site includes a blog with articles written by contributors such as Roger Black and Indra Kupferschmid.

Name It and Claim It: New Top Level Domains Released by ICANN

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 02, 2014

ICANN logoAs reported by Petapixel in February, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has released a new batch of top level domains. The new domains include .photography, .gallery, and .graphics, permitting creatives to end their URL with something more memorable than the ubiquitous .com (or much less sexy .net). As Petapixel points out, many of the new domains are geared to photography; the list includes .equipment, .camera, and .lighting.

Unfortunately .illustration has not been released, but .consulting, .marketing, .picture, .solutions, and .vision are available. (For those having a run of bad client relations, .gripe is also available.) The full list of top level domains is posted on the ICANN website.

Getty Image Embed: A Murky Future

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 11, 2014

Stock image giant Getty Images announced this month that the company was making 35 million images free for non-commercial use via their image embed technology. The selected images are indentified on the stock site with a “</>” icon. Clicking on the symbol yields a snippet of code which can be copied into the source code of a website or blog, causing the unwatermarked image to appear on the  page. As reported in the British Journal of Photography, Craig Peters, senior vice president of business development, content and marketing at Getty, states that the step was taken in recognition of the widespread infringement of their licensed images: “What we’re finding is that the vast majority of infringement in this space happens with self-publishers who typically don’t know anything about copyright and licensing, and simply don’t have any budget to support their content needs.”

The embedded images include Getty’s logo, the photographer’s credit, and social media sharing links which appear underneath the image area. The image links back to the image page on Getty’s site, with information on licensing a higher resolution copy of the image. The technology used to embed the image, deploying iframes, prevents users from changing the image size, and also restricts the images from being fully responsive. (When image embed was first announced, users realized they could in fact crop out the credit line and Getty logo, but Getty quickly altered the code to prevent this.) According to Peters, by making a large library of images available for legal sharing, Getty hopes to benefit their “content creators.”

However, looking at Getty’s terms of use raises questions about Getty’s plans to monetize the image embed player. As Pat David reported in PetaPixel, the embed player iframe element will permit Getty to load any content into the user’s webpage. Although Getty claims to not have any plans in the works to monetize the embed feature, their terms of use reserve that right: “Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.” Joshua Benton on the Nieman Journalism Lab speculates that Getty could gather data from the embedded images to target ads to specific websites.

Additionally, Getty contributors – photographers and illustrators who participate on the site – do not have the option to opt out of the image embed program. (Getty is withholding their premium Reportage and Contour from the program.) Wired speculates that with careful planning, the embed program could yield better compensation to Getty’s photographers or illustrators – or could fail miserably. Either way, it’s easy to envision that one repercussion of the program will be the continued devaluation of visual works as “content” which should be free.

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