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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stolen sketches on a wall in China

Earlier in the year, through an amazing sequence of events, Francis from Singapore discovered one of his sketches was used on a wall in a Singaporean restaurant in Shanghai. Within minutes of his posting this on facebook, the adjacent food sketch was recognized as mine. What a great example of the power of social media…and proof that I have a distinct style - hey?

Thanks to local lawyer friend of Alvin (Hong Kong USKer,)  we were able to get photos of the full wall. The original photo Francis had was only one part of the wall.

The rest of the wall featured sketches by Don Low and Paul Wang. And right in the middle a huge sketch of a row of shophouses… one of mine! Incredibly the designer had included a note at the bottom "Designed by". Wow! what cheek!

Do I need to explain that there was no approval or payment to use these works in this way?
Now, there is isn't much respect for copyright in China, but it turned out that this was done by a Singapore Design Firm. I don't want to go on about how shocking and outrageous this stealing of our work is - but instead I want to share a few more pro-active thoughts.

What did we do?
We emailed the guy asking for either payment or for the works to be removed. No surprise, which of the options was chosen…  yes, the images were removed.

Here are photos of the stock images that were used in replacement. Trying to fight for payment or compensation is something some people might feel inclined to do, but sadly I think in many cases it is a waste of time.

The designer claimed he had no idea who was the owner of the work but my shophouse sketch clearly had my blog listed and it is very easy to contact me.

How many of our images are being used without our permission and knowledge?
It is hard to say! Perhaps there are  many of my images that have been lifted from my sites. In the last month there have been a number of other instances of my friends' work being claimed by other people as their own, being used on websites and even being put onto cards and sold on etsy.

The big surprise?

The fact my low res Flickr version was high enough resolution to reproduce my sketch on a wall - and look good! I have my Flickr set to 'disable download' and maximum image size 1024. Obviously this size is not safe. Wow! that has really surprised me.

I have been using watermarks for the last year or so. I don't believe in locating the watermark in a way that destroys the viewers enjoyment of the work so I locate mine on the edges of the image.  Regardless of where it is located, watermarks can be easily photoshopped out, so I know that if someone really wants to use my work, they will find a way. Therefore, my reason to watermark is not to stop people stealing my images, but as an identifier. If someone finds my image and wants to see more of my work (or commission a sketch or two!),  the watermark's role is to point them to this site!

Image Size?
Well, I thought 1024 was a safe size but obviously it is not. It also seems that in this case, the work was taken from flickr. A pixel width 640 is a standard size, it is the width of my blog and it is now the size that I use to post my work to FB and here on the blog. It is a little small if someone whats to look at the work carefully…. have any of you noticed the size difference?They look the same on the blog page, but if you click on the 1200 version you can see a larger version in the lightbox mode.

Here are the two sizes.... and here is the version on Flickr.

My plan is to post only 640 size images of square/landscape single page images and 1200 for the long spreads (which equals 600 for the single page)
In regard to Flickr, I could choose to only upload 640 size images but I use it as a off site backup and therefore upload high resolution versions that I can only access. I have disabled downloading by others and the 1020 is the smallest size that is available (see above). Therefore if I want to continue using Flickr as an archive, I don't really have an option to stop this happening again... unless I upload two versions, one private use only of high resolution, and one publicly viewed low resolution version.

Sharing ups and downs
Basically if you share your work online there is nothing much you can do to totally remove any chance of it being stolen or copied.

The upside of sharing generously, is that people know our work and it is instantly my case, even when it is not teacups! That is quite powerful - we have a network of spotters around the globe. It is possible that social media could be used to protest against organisations that stole artwork. It is not something that I would promote, but having 100s or 1000s of emails flood an organisation would be a way for them to get the message. Whether or not they would actually pay the artist for use of the work is another matter entirely! Hopefully, as in this case, the designer would not do this again.

The Bottom Line
There is so much to gain by sharing my work online - I don't want to lose that. Sharing and sharing generously is the very core of what I do, but at the same time, I don't want to make it too easy for people to steal my work! Striking the balance is the challenge, and whatever I do, I want my sharing to continue in a way that it brings joy to my readers … and to me too!

Anyway - I am very interested in people's thoughts and similar experiences.

You might want to check out this very comprehensive post on the subject by Katherine Tyrrell.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More socialising....

Two quick sketches from dinner last night. More visitors in town- lovely to catch up with old friends and make new ones. A quick sketch of an empty Bourke street while it rained and then at the end of an amazing meal at Phamish Vietnamese Cafe. I did think about trying to include the rain in my sketch, but ran out of time to do so...  and my main focus was the contrast in scale of the buildings. No one walked down the street while I was sketching it - perhaps the torrential rain might have been a factor!

Very quick… the plates kept moving and the food disappearing! Eating always takes priority over sketching!

3 Day Travel Sketching Workshop in Launceston, October 2015 -  more details here
2 day Sketching Architecture Workshop in Sydney, 23-24 April - more details here

Subscribe to my mailing list for my monthly newsletters 
and news of my next SketchingNow online course coming in a few months time!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sharing a few 'just for me' pages

I have been having a few sketching outings lately, but I am still sketching daily stuff as well. So here are a few 'just for me' pages.

Pages with super quick sketches and  experiments,  text pages with decorating sketches,  and pages that are just recording random trivia with scribbling notes or object sketches. These are not designed pages, they are put together during the day with total freedom and no expectations!

3 Day Travel Sketching Workshop in Launceston, October 2015 -  more details here
2 day Sketching Architecture Workshop in Sydney, 23-24 April - more details here

Subscribe to my mailing list for my monthly newsletters 
and news of my next SketchingNow online course coming in a few months time!

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Draw Daddy's cake!"

I know that I have a reputation for eating a lot of cake… but it is really scones that are my big weakness. I find cake too sweet and a few mouthfuls is all that I need. But I will admit that I LOVE sketching cake.

Today was my brother's birthday and his three year old daughter was very excited about helping mummy make a cake. It was nice that I was able to go over for afternoon tea and wasn't surprised that Auntie Liz was requested (by the wee girl) to sketch 'Daddy's cake that Sarah made'. I had to be quick!

Watercolour pencils were just so perfect for this situation -  a little girl looking over my shoulder while I quickly drew the whole in colour. I added the ink lines (with my Hero M86) and a few paint splashes later (when it was safe).

3 Day Travel Sketching Workshop in Launceston, October 2015 -  more details here
2 day Sketching Architecture Workshop in Sydney, 23-24 April - more details here

Subscribe to my mailing list for my monthly newsletters 
and news of my next SketchingNow online course coming in a few months time!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sketching at home and around town

March, which is supposed to be my 'break month', is turning out to be very busy. But it is a nice busy-ness. I have lots of outing scheduled - catching up with visiting and local art friends, who in many ways are work colleagues. When we get together it is not just social, we often talk about art concepts and projects and work related challenges. I know that my 'work' looks very much like 'play' at times but I rarely have a switch off time in my 6 day week. (Sunday is my day of rest and workshop - a complete recharge of the full me!)

Getting out and about more lately, rather than being chained to my computer at home has been a lot of fun but after the buzz of a few sketching days out in the past week, I am feeling very restless in the evening if I hadn't sketched that day. Working at home has its advantages but I do miss being out and about on a daily basis.

On Thursday evening I did a couple 'object sketches' to record a few things of trivial significance during the week (including a plastic bucket with a pair of rubber gloves!) which was fun, but I wasn't satisfied. So sitting in my thinking and writing chair, I sketched the view. Ah! that hit the spot! I am really enjoying sketching complex scenes at the moment.

This is done with a new mixed warm grey DeAtramentis ink in my Green Sailor pen with a 55 degree Fude nib. I have been using a hero 578 (very similar nib) with Super5 Frankfurt but the pen is really to heavy for my hand at the moment…so I replaced the Black in my sailor with a similar colour and this will work better - much better for me.

And yesterday I had another outing… starting with lunch with Jane Blundell. While waiting for her, I managed to sneak in a quick coffee at Workshop Espresso and a quick sketch of the view. It is a hole-in-the-wall cafe with only a few seats so I was sharing the front table with a nice guy who I included in my sketch.

After lunch (which I didn't sketch!) we went to the Tea Parlour in QVB for a cuppa before a scheduled meeting time of 4pm - I had organised a little 'adhoc' Urban Sketchers get together as Paul Wang is still in town. I realised that I had left my paint tin at home but did have my extra palette (a pocket palette)  and always know that Jane will have a colour that I need - in this case it was quin gold that I desperately needed! But not having my normal paint tin was very disorientating.

A small group assembled at Town Hall, we started our sketches and after only a few minutes it started pouring. This is as far as I got…

We moved back to QVB and to the pen shop on the top level - believe it or not, I have never been in this shop before! Jane and I had been talking about fountain pens at lunch and this visit was the result of our discussion. A lot of people have the Namiki Falcon pen with a flex nib - it seems to be the 'best' option on the market. I was testing Jane's and we were discussing whether I should bother getting one... I have been considering it. Jane confirmed my half formed thoughts, that although it would be nice to have a pen that changes thickness with pressure, the Fude bent nib of my Green Sailor pen (or the Hero pen) IS working very well for me. The variation with this type of pen is greater than a flex nib and I AM more interested in having the option of really thick lines for blocking in colour. The Falcon is more for people who want some variation in their lines. Of course any of my readers opinion on this matter will b much appreciated... I am just stating my personal opinion at the moment and I really don't claim to be a fountain pen expert!

Jane mentioned a fancy Sailor nib in the Pen Shop that she thought I would like… so I was curious. Fancy was an understatement!

Here are photos of the two Sailor 'king of pens' that I was playing with yesterday in the QVB pen shop. The over the counter prices we were told include the fancy pen body as well (expensive Australian prices from a fancy pen shop on the top floor of a fancy shopping 'arcade'). Things are very expensive in Australia generally!

I wish I had taken more photos… but didn't want to push the friendship too much! But I am very happy with the photos I managed to take with my beloved Sony Rx100 Mk3. These were just casual 'snaps' of the pen while we were talking  - no more iphone photos for me!

Pen 1 - quoted as $1500 AUD. It was a broad very variable nib.
Pen 2 - quoted as $3600 AUD. It was extra broad and had an exquisite pen body -- I think it is the King Eagle - double broad nib....but please let me know if you have more details about exactly what the nib is.

I just can't imagine who would pay that amount for a pen... but Pen 2 was truly incredible to make marks with! It was three gold nibs joined together, handcrafted only 15 are made a year. It made the most incredible line. Extremely broad to ultra fine with amazing flow and so easy to get this variation. The gold sailor fude nib was nice too - can't remember the price if that. But sticking with my $20 green plastic bodied sailor for the time being.

After our little play time in the pen shop we headed to a nice Thai grocer/ cafe - Boon Cafe - a great suggestion of Paul's. Don't you love it when the visitors have the best suggestions!?! Hmm, to be honest I don 't really know Sydney that well! A few quick sketches of our late afternoon tea….

…and then a half heartened attempt at sketching the view from my seat. As my notes say, some days I just am not up to putting a lot of effort into my sketching, but it is such a part of me now, that even when I am tired I still produce - it just happens.

I didn't attempt sketching my yummy Pad Thai too!

And here is a group photo of the small gang that joined a very relaxed USK meeting.
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