“Women Who Draw” Directory Showcases Diversity in Women Illustrators
Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 19, 2017
An online directory of women illustrators is attracting a lot attention, and redressing a wrong. At first glance, “Women Who Draw” simply features work by women artists. But look a little closer: through dynamic filters, visitors to the site can cross-select women illustrators by ethnicity, sexual orientation, location (every continent is represented), and faith. Registered illustrators can select as many categories as they choose, and identifiers appear underneath the thumbnails of each artist. The result is a website which celebrates diversity in all its complexity.
According to its About page, the website was founded to increase the visibility of women illustrators, particularly members of under-represented groups, such as LGTBQ and women of color. In fact, the indentifying categories do not include “white” and “straight” as selection choices, in part to encourage visitors to seek out illustrators in less visible categories. (Although the website permits users to select from a global list of locations, the ethnicities are for the most part limited to categories common to the United States.) While the site calls itself “Women Who Draw,” trans and gender-nonconforming illustrators are welcome, and the liberal use of an asterisk appearing after the words “women” and “female” reinforces the site’s inclusiveness on gender identity.
As revealed in interviews in Slate, BBC, and Huffington Post (among others), Women Who Draw was founded by Julia Rothman and Wendy McNaughton. In an interview in Vogue Magazine, Rothman related that the impetus for the site came from the realization that her favorite “prominent” magazine carried almost no illustration work by women illustrators. In an interview on the SVA blog Features (Rothman teaches at SVA), the founders elaborated:
“We noticed that a prominent U.S. magazine only hired four female illustrators out of the 55 illustrated covers they commissioned in 2015. So we created the directory to provide an easy way to find talented professional female* illustrators and promote the work of women, women of color, LBTQ+ women and other minority groups of women illustrators. This way there would be no way any publication could ever say they’d hire more artists in these groups ‘if only they could find them.’”
The website has been wildly popular; there have been very few accusations of sexism or playing gender identity politics. In fact, within the first 24 hours since it was launched, the site crashed from the overwhelming interest — over 1,200 illustrators submitted applications to be listed. To meet the demand, the site has posted a “Support” page. Donations help defray the cost of reviewing and posting applications. To join the website, illustrators must submit an illustration of a woman and provide a link to their professional website – social media sites and shopping sites such as Etsy do not qualify.
The website also builds community through public collaborations. Illustrators are invited to post work created around a common theme, and post it to social media with the tag #WWDTogether. A curated selection appears on the Women Who Draw website.
Below: The #WWDTogether Twitter feed displays the current topic.
Compare and Contrast: Artists’ Rights and the Two Princes
Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 18, 2016
Sarah Howes knows a thing or two about artists’ rights. As the Director of Legal Affairs at The Copyright Alliance, and a newly minted intellectual property lawyer (who studied under none other than Tad Crawford), she’s been advocating for artists for a while now. So when the musician Prince passed away a couple of months ago, Sarah was inspired to pay homage to him and his support of other artists – and to compare him to his opposite, appropriation artist Richard Prince (RP).
It’s an indication of how controversial Richard Prince’s career has been that he’s been covered so often in the Guild news blog. The first time was when the Guild signed on to an amicus brief in support of the photographer Cariou, whose photographs RP nabbed and plastered with crude drawings. Other articles covered the controversy raised by his “New Portraits” Instagram series – printouts of Instagram posts RP tacked a bit of text onto and sold for tens of thousands. As Howes writes in her article, “his entire career hinges on him redefining ‘the concepts of authorship [and] ownership.’ Which he is of course neither: the author nor the owner of much of his work.”
The contrast to Prince the musician couldn’t be more striking. Howe points out that Prince the musician produced hundreds of works, playing up to 27 instruments on one track alone. It’s hard to find that level of skill, let alone discipline, in the work of Richard Prince: “All we really know of him are his infamous face masks and collaging, which tell us little about his actual skill level.” As Howe describes it, while a few of his creations could be deemed art, in that some expression can be found in overpainting and collage, much of his work shows minimal manipulation of others’ work: “After all, to RP finding the artwork is basically the entire creative process, equating it to ‘sort of like beachcombing.’”
Howe also relates the myriad other ways Prince the musician gave back: by supporting Minneapolis’ creative community, promoting female musicians, and crediting his success to the legacy of previous generations of recording artists. Perhaps Prince’s most important contribution to artists was the example of his fight to own, and protect, his own copyrights. As Howe concludes, “We can only hope there will be more Princes in future generations, not just a bunch of RP appropriators not worthy for the throne.”
Read Sarah Howes’ full article, “Prince Fought for Artists, Richard Prince Steals from Them,” on Medium.
Below: Sarah Howes’ photo of a streetside memorial to Prince in Minneapolis. © Sarah Howes, used with permission.
Marking World Design Day, April 27
Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 30, 2016
World Design Day is on April 27, and ico-D, the International Council of Design, is marking the occasion by celebrating how design has improved everyday life in local communities through their Design in Action! campaign:
“One of the great things about design is that it can make such a big impact on everyday life. From the bike paths that make zipping around the city safer and faster, to the telephone that connects you to your friends and families, to the way-finding that helps you not get lost and the high-tech gear that helps you do the sports you like, good Design, meaningful Design, is constantly in Action!—helping, directing, improving, creating. We want to see Design in Action! where you are—in your region, and in your life.”
The organization has invited designers worldwide to share their examples of great design via Instagram and on ico-D's Facebook page, using the hashtags #WDD2016 and #Designinaction and tagging @theicod. All design disciplines are invited to participate, so the projects that are being shared can include wayfaring signage, bicycle paths, public spaces – anything which impacts the local community for the greater good. The Guild is participating via our brand-new Instagram account, and would love to have our community join us. Please share the design that brings you joy and ease, or addresses real problems in your community. Be sure to use #WDD2016 and #Designinaction and tag @theicod, and tag us too: @graphic_artists_guild.
Examples of Design in Action in New York City: the High Line park, which converted unused elevated rail into a much-needed public park, and interactive subway signage, which reports on track conditions, provides information for wheelchair accessibility, and permits visitors to map their routes, among other features.
The WDD2016 visuals were designed by the multi- talented Russian poster designer Peter Bankov. www.bankovposters.com
NYPL Adds Public Domain Images to Digital Collections for Reuse by Artists
Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 02, 2016
The New York Public Library (NYPL) has added over 674,000 public domain images to their on online database of digital collections. The public domain database includes prints, photographs, maps, video, and manuscripts, which can be downloaded in high resolution. The NYPL statements on the collection indicate that the materials are out-of-copyright, and the public is invited to “go forth and reuse!”. However, a closer look at the NYPL selection process indicates that some images may not be public domain, or may have additional rights assigned, and artists are cautioned to proceed carefully before using the images.
The collection was developed with the NYPL Labs, an interdisciplinary team within the library with the mission of positioning the Library’s collections for the digital age. The NYPL Digital Collections overall provide a great resource of research, educational, and reference material for designers and illustrators. Visitors to the Collections can search by keyword, scroll through recently uploaded items, or browse collections such as Fashion, Nature, For Designers, or Book Arts and Illustrations. For illustrators needing reference material for historic projects, for example, illustrations of 1930s era farm life, the search features and collections can be a tremendous aid. To select for public domain images within a collection, the user checks the “Show Only Public Domain” filter selection. This filters for only images the NYPL believes are out-of-copyright.
Above: When in a collection, be sure to select for only public domain images to view images the NYPL has flagged as available for reuse.
While the newly added materials are described as “public domain” (items for which the coyright has expired or doesn't exist), the Library doesn’t commit to that legal designation. The Library legal team utilizes services such as reverse image searches and the Catalog of Copyright Entries to research the copyright status of items before release. However, because of changes in US copyright law, and the lack of provenance on many images (in particular photos), the NYPL demurs to definitively state the items are public domain. Instead, their blog post on the public domain additions clarifies that the legal team was unable to find copyrights to the items, and states that the Library is unable “to guarantee that we have not made a mistake in either the facts or the law.” The rights statement on the public domain images reads “We believe that this item has no known US copyright restrictions.” The statement also warns that the items may be additionally restricted: “The item may be subject to rights of privacy, rights of publicity and other restrictions.”
In celebration of the release, the Library is inviting the public to apply for a “Remix Residency.” The NYPL Labs is accepting proposals to reuse and remix from the collection to create “transformative, interesting, beautiful new uses of our digital collections.” As examples of such uses, they’ve provided links to sample NYPL public domain remixes, such as “Navigating the Green Book,” an exploration of travel guides that showed restaurants, hotels, and other establishments open to African Americans during the age of segregation. NYPL Labs is accepting proposals through the end of February. Recipients of the residency will receive a $2,000 stipend, consultation with the Lab’s staff and curators, and workspace in the NYPL research rooms.
Designer Jonathan Barnbrook Releases David Bowie “Blackstar” Graphics for Noncommercial Use
Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 29, 2016
In remembrance of David Bowie, designer Jonathan Barnbrook has released the graphics used on Bowie’s last album, Blackstar, for non-commercial use. Barnbrook announced the release via Twitter, and on Bowie’s Facebook page. The Facebook post describes the release as a tribute to Bowie: “Barnbrook loved working with David Bowie, he was simply one of the most inspirational, kind people we have met. So in the spirit of openness and in remembrance of David we are releasing the artwork elements of his last album ★ (Blackstar) to download here free under a Creative Commons NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.”
The post encourages fans to use the artwork for t-shirts, tattoos, and other artwork, but cautions that the license prohibits the use of the elements in anything that will be sold.
Barnbrook is an award-winning designer and typographer based in London. His studio has designed books, corporate identities, CDs, websites, and motion graphics, and distributes original typefaces through VirusFonts. Barnbrook worked closely with Bowie on a number of projects, including the design of packaging and collateral for the albums Heathen, The Next Day, Nothing has Changed, and Blackstar. In an interview with Dezeen magazine, Barnbrook acknowledged that the Blackstar album design marked Bowie’s mortality: “The Blackstar symbol [★], rather than writing ‘Blackstar’, has as a sort of finality, a darkness, a simplicity, which is a representation of the music.”
Below: Some of the graphics available for download. © Jonathan Barnbrook
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