I’m taking some time out from art (and BBQs) to remember my Uncle Frank, not the easiest task since he died in 1944, several years before my mother was born. He was the youngest boy in a family of 6 children, and his family called him “Noonie” for reasons no one has ever explained to me. My grandmother is the baby of the family, and she recalls with some amusement how in her freshman year of high school, ALL the girls wanted to be friends with her in hopes of getting noticed by her handsome brother the senior.
Like all the other boys in town, Noonie joined up after Pearl Harbor. He was a Seamam 1st Class in the Coast Guard, and his ship, The USS Leopold, had exactly two trips. He was one of 171 lost at sea when their ship was taken out by a torpedo by a German U-boat just south of Iceland on March 9, 1944. The ship itself sank on March 10th.
I’ve personally been on Twitter since February 2007. And not long thereafter, I saw the business implications for Twitter and started an official Twitter account for EBSQ as well in April of the same year. We didn’t use it terribly much at first, mostly just for sharing important site updates. But as Twitter became more and more mainstream, we’ve been using it to have conversations with customers in general. We also use it as a tech support tool. Some of these customers were following us when we first conversed. Some were not. And this hasn’t been a problem…until now.
We’ve updated the Notices section of Settings to better reflect how folks are using Twitter regarding replies. Based on usage patterns and feedback, we’ve learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow—it’s a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today’s update removes this undesirable and confusing option.
What this means in practical terms:
If you’re trying to get our attention with a question or problem and we’re not yet following you, we’ll still be able to find it (eventually) using search tools, but our response time will be seriously lagging.
If we try to reply to your questions, comments, problems, etc, and you’re not following us, you’ll have no way of knowing unless this policy changes RFN.
This impacts every single business who uses Twitter for some aspect of customer service. It hurts artists who are using Twitter to bring new fans to their work. This change is detrimental to how people meet and interact with each other on a very basic level.
If you agree that this change is “undesirable” please let us know via comment to this post. We’ll make sure The Powers That Be hear you.
We’ve been spending a lot more time than usual on Twitter the past few weeks and we’ve seen a lot of people tweeting about holding sales events, making sales, and even excitement about receiving new commissions. So we’ve been wondering: How are you doing? Are you hanging in there? What (if anything) have you changed to keep your art business afloat in this economy? Care to share your personal survival story?
Hey EBSQ, we’re turning to you to create an ongoing masterlist of EBSQ Art Bloggers which is published here as part of our blog.
Want to participate? Leave your name, your blog url, and your rss feed address (if applicable) in the comments of this post. Once we verify your EBSQ membership and the links provided, we’ll get you added to a special new tab on this blog.
This post will be accepting new comments (and your official blog info) for the next 90 days.
Today I was having a conversation with artist Cynthia Fedor (@cynthiaisgr8) and writer Lon S Cohen (@obilon) on Twitter about how artists can balance a 9-to-5 career with their creative needs. You needn’t have a second job to feel unbalanced. Juggling your family and social obligations, as well as the very real work behind marketing and selling your own art, often leaves precious little time for actual creation.
We came up with a few basics I think you’ll find helpful for any artistic pursuit:
Make art a priority. Make a daily (or weekly) date with your art. Physically write it down on your actual calendar (or iCal of Google Calendar) and treat it just like you would a dentist’s appointment, i.e. Don’t. Skip. It.
Make creation a routine you can’t live without. Keeping on a dental theme, make creating art as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. Even if it’s only 1 hour a day in the mornings before the kids wake up. Those hours add up!
Find a way to transition from task-oriented to creativity mode to make the most of your allotted time. For me, it’s putting on Sigur Ros, music that cues my brain that it’s time to create. Writer Lon Cohen likes to walk to help his brain switch gears between creativity and other obligations. Your mental cue to create might be different, but whatever you choose, routines and artistic preparation rituals can make all the difference.
Allow yourself to create without excuses…or guilt. (This is one I have to remind myself of regularly.) When you’re busy with everything else, it’s easy to let your art fall by the wayside. It’s also easy to put off your art because you have other obligations weighing upon you and art feels too much like a guilty pleasure. You’re an artist not because it’s the most lucrative career choice in this economy. You’re likely an artist because it’s part of your DNA. Let that inner artist out, guilt-free. You’ll thank yourself.
What are we missing? We’d love to hear your strategies for finding balance between the obligations in your life and your art in the comments.
As an admitted geek, I admire the basic concepts behind Polyvore.com, as stated on their “About” page:
Polyvore is a free, easy-to-use web-based application for mixing and matching images from anywhere on the web. It is also a vibrant community of creative and stylish people.
Polyvore lets you create sets composed of individual images using an easy to use, drag and drop editor. After you have created a set, you can publish and share it with your friends and the Polyvore community.
But my admiration ends where the copyright issues begin.
Polyvore: ingenius or infringement?
It was brought to my attention by long-time EBSQer Aja that Polyvore was allowing its members to steal and essentially “mutlilate” images from a number of sites without permission via its proprietary “clipping” tool. Apparently this was a huge issue with Etsy last year, and it’s become so again. They’ve also been stealing images from Flickr, and we’re not talking about Creative Commons images but ones that are explicitly marked all rights reserved. A quick search revealed they were doing the same with images from EBSQart, RedBubble, Imagekind, CafePress, DeviantArt, and individual artist’s blogs and personal websites. We’re certain there are other art and photography sources we’ve missed. Sometimes the images were used with some nod of attribution. We found many cases where they were not. Also, we discovered that in many cases, the artists’ watermarks, which are generally used to keep others from reusing their work sans permission or proper attribution, were removed using Polyvore’s in-house editing tools.
According to Polyvore’s Terms of Service:
You shall be solely responsible for your own User Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them. In connection with User Submissions, you affirm, represent, and/or warrant that you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to use and authorize Polyvore to use all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to any and all User Submissions to enable inclusion and use of the User Submissions in the manner contemplated by the Website and these Terms of Service.
In connection with User Submissions, you further agree that you will not:
submit material that is copyrighted, protected by trade secret or otherwise subject to third party proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights, unless you are the owner of such rights or have permission from their rightful owner to post the material and to grant Polyvore all of the license rights granted herein; (ii) publish falsehoods or misrepresentations that could damage Polyvore or any third party;
When we contacted Polyvore about all of the images derived from the EBSQart website and asked them to remove all source images, derivative images, and block our domain from being “clipped” again, they apologized and said they took care of it. A later search of their site revealed that while the source images were gone, the derivative items remained fully intact on their site without any attribution to the original artists or works of art until another complaint was filed. We hope this is the end of the issue as far as the EBSQ website is concerned, but I have my doubts if their ongoing battle with Etsy is indicative of how they do business.
While, according to Polyvore-founder Pasha Sadri, Polyvore is not a sales venue, he also admitted that they do make money when someone clicks through to an affiliated merchant like The Gap and makes a purchase (see the conversation in context at Flickr) There is also some talk of them enabling you to print out your spanking “new” derviative artwork in the future. So yes, they are potentially profitting from your stolen artwork.
What can you do if your work has been used at Polyvore without your consent?
Make sure you document every single Polyvore “set” that used your image(s) including screenshots and urls for each infraction
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your complaint. Ask them to remove your source images, ALL derivative works created from your originals, and ask them to block your domain from being snipped again if the work was stolen from your personal domain or blog. You can also submit your complaint via their online copyright infraction form.
Follow up to make sure your work has actually been removed. Don’t just take their word for it!
So, what’s your take on this issue? Is Polyvore simply an interesting space that lets you mashup other people’s images to create something new and fun to share with your friends? Or is the site blatantly encouraging copyright infringement and ignoring artists’ rights?
There’s no question 2008 has been a tough year for so many EBSQer’s. Many of us (myself included!) are overdue for a creative jump start. What gets those synapses firing and itching to make something new?
Looking forward to 2009, we’d love to know what (or whom) inspires you to keep creating art.
Back in July, my editorial dealt with what then looked like general tough times, rather than the serious economic crisis that now faces us. It’s three months later and I know so many of you (and us as well, to be quite honest) are struggling to make ends meet. And in times like these, it’s hard to stay true to being an artist, particularly when it feels like you’re putting more into it than you’re getting back. Since the proposed bailout legislation failed to pass in Congress earlier today, my original post seemed particularly apt and worth dusting off. July’s editorial offered the following coping strategies:
Work smaller. This may be a no-brainer. But if you haven’t tried it yet, it’s worth doing. Smaller art often takes less time to create. Less materials go into it, generally. Smaller art is cheaper to ship. And you might be able to offer this work at a much lower price point. ATC’s (Artist Trading Cards) and OSWOA’s (original small works of art, a 4 x 6 format) are quite popular with both artists and buyers right now. This could be a great way for a new collector to jump in and get an original from you now, which could lead to a larger purchase in the future.
Offer reproductions. Even if you don’t have the leisure time to crank out new work the way you used to, you can still make a fair living selling quality reproductions of your work. Imagekind does fantastic museum-quality prints at reasonable prices. You can order your own to resell at your leisure or have customers order directly through their website. It’s a great way to keep your work out there in circulation, and again, a print purchase now could lead to the purchase of an original at a later date.
Make your art into something useful. Along the lines of making reproductions available, why not also make your work available as a t-shirt via Spreadshirt? Or as a mug through sites like cafe press and zazzle? And again, this is a way to keep your previous work earning you some extra income even if you’re not able to create new work right now.
Try a less expensive media Now, we’re not talking about downgrading to canvas board and student-grade paint. But if you work in metal, perhaps you might want to try a less-expensive alloy and use it in a creative way so it doesn’t feel like a compromise. Or maybe move to a series of drawings on gessoed paper instead of your large oils on gallery-wrapped canvas. Or take up photography. Try working with found/recycled materials. Anything to keep you creating.
But we know our ideas are surely the tip of the iceburg. Are you creating differently because of the current economic situation? What are your coping methods for staying solvent AND staying an artist? I look forward to continuing this much-needed conversation via comments for this post.
Those of you who know me know that I’m not just an artist; I’m also a huge tech geek. And so it’s with great interest (and concern) that I’ve been watching the most recent internet kerfuffle at the convergence of my two areas of interest. You may not be aware of the latest viral video that is the darling of the same tech community it parodies, “Look, It’s Another Bubble” by The Richter Scales. At the heart of this controversy is a photographer, Lane Hartwell, who found out that yet another one of her photographs was used without her permission in this beloved video. Like many of you might have been in her place, she was pissed that her copyrighted work was used both without permission or attribution.
Yes, it was a good video. I personally passed it around to a lot of like-minded friends before this whole thing blew up. And I can understand that people who enjoyed this video are mad at the photographer for not just giving her blessing after the fact and spoiling everyone’s fun. But now this woman is being called, among other things, “a whiny bitch” for protecting her copyright and being a spoil sport, and some claim she’s impeding on The Richter Scales rights to use the piece in question because the end result is a parody. People have made fun of the quality of her work, and the quality of her character, saying she’s money grubbing and wants a piece of the viral pie, or is taking advantage of all of the publicity she’s receiving for having this video taken down all over the net while she works things out with the other party. It’s personally disheartening to see an artist villified by a community of which I am normally proud to be a part.
So let me put this to you: if this was your photograph being used in this video, how would you react? Would you be thrilled to have your work (sans attribution) appear in a video gone viral? Or would you, like Lane, be pissed that your rights were being infringed upon and try to do something about it? Was the usage of Lane’s photograph fair use, much as parts and pieces are used in a collage, for example?
This was originally posted in the EBSQ Glass Forum (now viewable by the public!) by resident glass artist Dawn Thompson and I felt it was extremely appropos for Labour Day. If you’d like to weigh in on this conversation you can post a comment here or respond to Dawn directly in the EBSQ Glass Forum.
It’s tough out there folks! What strategies are you employing to compete?
The glass business is certainly not unique in being hard hit by China, but it has definitely been particularly hard hit, along with other labor intensive fine craft. The stained glass lamp business in the US is virtually non-existent, with the exception of repairs. In the span of 5 years, nearly every lamp maker in this country has been put out of business. Cheap Home Depot lighting has taken a product that was once considered to be truly a luxury item and reduced it to trinket trash. Of course the product itself is not trash. It takes hours of painstaking skilled labor and is intrinsically beautiful. But perception is everything. Where once, the customer was willing to pay for that beauty, now they perceive it to be “cheap stuff” and can’t understand why a lamp made by an aritsan, taking many hours and hundreds of dollars in materials, should cost any more than the one at Wal-Mart.
Panels are suffering the same plight. As are garden items, chimes, fused vessels, jewelry…..the list goes on. When I first saw Dianne’s garden stakes and Andrea’s wind chimes on eBay, I had never seen anything like them. And they were fetching good prices for their work. But in the last several years, I’ve seen similar, albeit inferior, products in the aisles at Hobby Lobby. It is a known fact that the Chinese manufacturers’ marketing teams scour the internet to see what labor intensive craft is popular and fetching good prices. Then they copy it and sell it to US marketers for pennies. Their turnaround time is staggering to me. How quickly we have to adapt!
The smaller items suffer less, as time and materials make them more affordable to the consumer, and thankfully, some consumers are still willing to spend on artisan made craft.
Add to that the massive influx of “hobbyist” competition in online sales; those who truly don’t care if they make a profit, or are even paid at all for their work, but are simply subsidizing their hobby material expenses, and the full time artisan is in a real bind.
Are we being phased out? Is there a place for us any more?
I believe there can be, but it calls for hard work and hard choices.
One choice is commission work. I don’t know of any artist that would rather realize someone else’s vision rather than do whatever moves them, but for me, it is a necessity. To get good consistent commissions, you have to develop a whole different set of skills. Patience. Making the client feel special and involved. Educating the consumer. Easy for some, tough for others.
Another tough choice; maximizing the efficiency of your operation. “Elite” materials v. affordable materials. Home studio v. outside studio. Difficult and unique products v. fast, easy and saleable products. More expensive marketing v. legwork and simply “getting your stuff out there”. This requires experimentation and is in constant flux.
Above all, I’ve found that I have to be adaptable. The moment you’ve come up with a fast, inexpensive and unique item, someone will copy it and offer it for less. You have to constantly be changing and stretching.
What are your thoughts? How are you adapting? What are your strategies to compete?
A long time ago, in an internet far far away, EBSQ used to be a 100% open community. Anyone could post on our forums. And often did. Much bitterness ensued. And we built a wall around our city to keep our residents feeling safe.
Six years have passed since our forums went, for the most part, private. We’ve weathered a lot of ups and downs. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to keep a community healthy since then. Our community is harmonious, no question. Folks are generally happy, and quite comfortable. Real friendships have grown out of conversations started on our forums. But I also fear that walls are keeping as much out as they’re keeping in, and we’re becoming stagnant. I’ve been slowly trying to nudge folks toward opening a window or two in our wall, and letting a little fresh air in. One existing section that I’d love to see go public is our media-specific forum. I think EBSQ as a community could really benefit if the wider artistic community had reading / posting access. I have to say, I have been surprised at the resistence I’ve been getting.
Open Community vs Walled Gardens
Now, there have been some good arguments for why members don’t want to open this subdivision of our online neighbourhood to the general public. One artist is learning a new technique in her media and has a lot of questions. She’s concerned that she’ll appear unprofessional to people who might have otherwise bought her work. Others feel this section should remain strickly a perk for paid membership and that folks have to pay to play. Some folks just want the privacy to say whatever without having to worry about whether the section is public or not. One artist came right out and said she doesn’t like change. Period.
Here’s my problem with the above arguments. I think our forums would become even more valuable if this small but important section was open to the public. It would allow us to tap into a pool of knowledge we don’t currently possess while also letting our members add their collective wisdom to the general search engines for anyone to find. Regarding the previously mentioned artst who is learning a new skill–wouldn’t it be great if she actually had the courage to ask her questions publicly and someone who might not have been familiar with out community otherwise stumbled upon her questions and was able to give an answer that wasn’t available within our existing community? Or what about the non-member that was thinking about learning scratchboard art and found that we have in our community what I consider to be an expert in the field? Why can’t artists just talk shop?
Now, we’re not talking about throwing our doors wide open. We’re simply talking about metaphorically cracking a window and letting in some fresh air. As it is, I feel our lack of diversity, our lack of openess is killing our community. Slowly perhaps, but killing us all the same.
And so we put it to you, who ARE our community. How do YOU feel about this issue? If you’re a paid member of our site, we strongly encourage you to come vote on the poll we created to debate this issue internally. And if you’re a registered user, but not a paid member of EBSQ, or even just an artist who’s been considering EBSQ membership, we’d love to hear from you as well via the comments section of this post. Do we keep the walls up? Or may we crack a window?