I try to avoid talking about politics here, but to me, this feels important.

You know those “damn emails” of Hillary’s that we were all saying were “no big deal?”

Maybe we should have looked at those a little closer…

You know those damn emails of Hillary's that we were all saying were no big deal? Maybe we should have looked at those a little closer...

Requests to Work for Free

This is something that happens far too often for creative professionals.

You get a message in your inbox from a big name, multi-million dollar company working on a high-profile job, and they would like you to work for them.
Only the budget is very small, so they won’t be able to pay you for it.

I get roughly one of these every week. I was fooled once. Then for a while I would reply with my working rates, “if you want x, pay me y”, and I’d get a sob story about how tight things are financially in these “hard times” and bla bla bla, or I’d never hear back from them at all. Lately, I haven’t even bothered to reply, I just mark it as spam and go on with my day.

Earlier today I came across this post by Juan Luis Garcia who had been offered to design the posters for Spike Lee’s version of the South Korean classic revenge movie, Old Boy. Not only did this company refuse to pay for the design work, they even threatened legal action against the artist who they refused to pay. There is no sense in me typing out a recap of the story, you should go read the original source instead.

This story really struck a nerve with me because it coincided with a rush of these crap offers in my own inbox, and I am tired of dealing with this bullshit from these shit bag companies.

So let me make a clear warning here and now: If you send me messages requesting that I work for free, you are consenting to having that message, complete will full personally-identifying information published for the world to see.

I’m also going to be getting in touch with several of my artist and designer friends, and see about working together on compiling a list of shit bag companies and agencies who abuse creative professionals.

What’s that? “It will be good exposure for me”? Well right now I would like to expose my middle finger in your general direction.

Occupy Toronto

I would like to begin by saying that for the most part, I try to steer clear of politics here. I recognize that I am not a political analyst or policy expert; I’m just a guy who sees the world through a particular lens and wants our planet to be a better place. For this post, I will try to avoid taking a firm stance on either side, and just report on my brief experience of Occupy Toronto from the perspective of an outside observer; an observer arriving with just bits and pieces of information.

It was early Monday afternoon, and I had just finished a meeting and location inspection for my next art exhibition. The venue I had been checking out just happened to be a 5-minute walk away from St. James park. I couldn’t be that close to the action and not go see it first hand.

I had read several online new articles and blog posts about the event, and I was still a little confused. There were questions raised over the point of Occupy Toronto. Politics in Canada aren’t as corrupt as the American system, and income equality isn’t as bad as it is down South. The general consensus on the blogosphere was that Occupy Toronto is primarily a display of solidarity for our friends at Occupy Wall Street in New York. This is the world’s way of telling the citizens of America “It’s ok, we got your back; we’re in this together”.

I don’t know Toronto’s South-East end very well, so I wasn’t absolutely sure what I was looking for, but the police and media presence made it easy to locate the park from the street I was walking down. Vans from each major news broadcasting network were sitting outside the park, and pairs of police officers were patrolling the parks perimeter. A few of the officers had an expression of boredom on their faces, but most were just having friendly conversations with each other.

I entered the park and was met with a sea of tents.
Continue reading Occupy Toronto

Lightning Talks at Site3

I just got back from a series of lightning talks hosted by Site3 CoLaboratory.

What is a lightning talk?

Think of it as a TED talk in fast-forward.

Toronto has a lot of very cool people doing a lot of very cool things. The problem is that most of these people don’t know each other; they don’t know about each other’s work. Wouldn’t it be great if all these interesting people got together one night, gave a 5 minute presentation introducing the work they are passionate about, then they all stuck around for an after party where they could all talk to each other, and actually share ideas and contact information? Well, that is exactly what a lightning talk is. Get cool people together, make them talk to each other.
Continue reading Lightning Talks at Site3

Good Ideas for Protecting Your Images

After my last entry, Bad Ideas for Protecting Your Images, you might be thinking that I am against the idea of artists protecting their work. Absolutely not. I am only against bad ideas that either won’t work, are likely cost far more than they are worth, or will irritate your audience and potentially drive potential collectors away. Most of the methods I criticized earlier have some sort of negative impact on the audience. They take away from a viewer’s ability to enjoy the work while giving them nothing extra in return. The image protection methods that I would encourage make life easier for viewers.

Best of all, my recommendations are fairly cheap, quick and practical.
Continue reading Good Ideas for Protecting Your Images

Toronto Outdoor Art Show is in Touch with Common Sense.

(This post is adapted from an entry I made on Tumblr, July 5th, 2010. The original post can be found here)

           It often seems like when it comes to issues of copyright, artists tend to live in fantasy land, where what they think ought to happen can magically influence what actually does happen.

           The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition has what I think is a very fair and sensible policy: no taking photos without the artist’s permission. It’s great, an artist should be able to choose whether the images owned by them can be reproduced or not.
           But these days, everyone has at least one camera on them, and artists only have two eyes. Some people and their cameras will inevitably get though. (I’ve certainly taken my share of secret photos and videos in galleries and museums.)
           One of the many messages to appear in my inbox during the stressful pre-show rush led me to realize, “ah! yes! I’m not the only one who thinks this way”

The “No Photography without permission” graphic to print out came with this message:

           “In reality being in a public space you cannot stop people from taking photos. This sign may help if you have concerns in this regard but it is not a guarantee by any standard.”

Thank you!

           It feels good to see a sudden outbreak of common sense coming from within the art world. Those moments are few and far between.