In the next year I plan to be traveling extensively – some of my paintings are large and need a home. I’ve set prices around 1/3 of my normal gallery rates, and they’ll be in storage for the time being…
For sizes, look in my gallery.
I just got my first “Cease and Desist” order, in an email claiming to be from a lawyer defending the rights of Angry Birds.
It happened just after I sent the following sketch to some painting companies in Dafen China, in a project aiming to explore whether fine art can be outsourced. Obviously, somebody turned me in. And yet, if you’ve paid attention to the international fine art market for the past several years, especially the Asian fine art market and major trade shows, it seems a painting is hardly complete without a Doraemon, Hello Kitty, or some other international famous pop icon/cartoon figure – this includes the angry birds characters, which I’ve seen a handful of times in fine art paintings, being sold by galleries representing artists from Asian countries. I have to wonder, does everyone get the cease and desist order, or just me? I remember in my first art class in high school, the teacher was very careful and scrupulous about teaching us copyright laws.
And it’s only recently that I’ve begun incorporating pop culture icons – because it seems to be the “thing to do” if you want your art to sell.
I imagine if I sell the painting, it would be infringement – is it also even if I never plan to sell the painting? If I do it as “art for art’s sake”?
Anyway, these are definitely interesting questions for fine artists and fine art galleries.
Here’s the letter:
To whom it may concern
It has been brought to our attention that your business has been marketing, selling or otherwise making available products or services that may infringe Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyrights and trademarks in the software game “Angry Birds” and related merchandise.
We have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. We assure that the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that we are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Location of potential infringement:
The game Angry Birds is developed and published by a Finnish company Rovio Entertainment Ltd. All intellectual property rights to Angry Birds are owned by Rovio Entertainment Ltd, including but not limited to copyright to the game characters and internationally registered trademarks. Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyright to the Angry Birds game characters and international trademark registrations of the word “ANGRY BIRDS” and international trademark registration of the graphical representation of the game characters provides Rovio Entertainment Ltd with certain proprietary rights. This includes the right to restrict the use of copyrighted works and/or trademarks, or a confusingly similar works or trademarks, in association with confusingly similar products or services.
Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s trademark registrations include, but are not limited to registration of graphical representation of game character by European Union Community Trademark (no: 009205221) and international trademark registration in several jurisdictions (no: 1052865) including United States (WO 1052865) and China (WO 1052865).
Your use of Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyright and/or registered trademarks is likely to confuse consumers and/or lessen the distinctiveness of Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s brand. Your continued use of Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyrights and/or registered trademarks will cause significant and irreparable damage to Rovio Entertainment Ltd
Rovio Entertainment Ltd demands that you immediately:
1. cease and desist any further use of images, emblems, logos or similar items infringing Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s copyrights in association with the manufacture, marketing, sale, distribution, or identification of your products or services; and
2. cease and desist any further use of Rovio Entertainment Ltd’s trademarks in association with the manufacture, marketing, sale, distribution, or identification of your products or services.
This is written without any prejudice. Rovio Entertainment Ltd reserves the right to claim damages as well as any other remedy under applicable copyright and trademark legislation, but we hope this issue may be resolved without any further legal actions
Should you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact us at email@example.com.
Respectfully on behalf of Rovio Entertainment Ltd,
What do you think? Obviously, they have the legal right to protect their image. On the other hand, angry birds has become such a ubiquitous element of contemporary international culture that fine art that wants to be true to life can hardly avoid incorporating it into the work. The point of the above painting was to bring the issue to a meta-level, by equating angry birds with religious icons following the “pied piper” of Steve Jobs, deified as Krishna, while also being explicit about the commercial aspect of both religio-cultic-corporations as well as fine art. Is art ever above the law?
Here are a few pics from Geisai #3 in Taipei – my theme was “irreligious iconography” so I did some simple pop-culture icons and celebrities using antique religious icon frames from Cuzco, Peru. My paintings were very popular – everybody turned the corner, smiled or laughed, then grabbed their friends to come take a look.
Geisai #3 is coming to Taipei this weekend and the booth list is out! I’m in booth C005. I’m scrambling to finish some things up this week. A few weeks ago my girlfriend told me a funny joke about “Leonardo Pikachu” (guess DiCaprio sounds about as silly as Pikachu in Chinese) so I started with that and devised a 3 portrait series including “Sailor Gaga” and “Astrobama Boy”. They are cute, fun and silly. To complement them and use up some of the ornate wooden frames I picked up in Peru this summer, I’m making some simple cartoon-paintings of famous characters. I’m mimicking the Cuzco colonial religious iconographic style with the gold halos. Not particularly clever or brilliant, but they should be eye-catching and shiny and least. Come check them out!
By the way, if you are looking for the Geisai #3 Exhibitor’s Booth List, here it is:
Lately I’ve been playing with icons and famous cartoons for an upcoming show. I usually do my own thing, but have noticed that “Fine Art” in Asia is usually a combination of traditional/ancient art skills with modern pop culture. Paintings of Hello Kitty, KFC, Doraemon, Astro Boy etc. are huge sellers (tens of thousands of dollars for a little hello kitty painting.) Recently I’ve seen Angry Birds and other iPhone apps making an appearance in fine art. Technically all this stuff is copyrighted; so it should be illegal. If I want to use them in a graphic design and sell them on TShirts via CafePress – I can’t. So why can I sell trademarked images on paintings for big money to private collectors? No idea!
However, since it seems to be “the thing to do” I’m doing a big series. It’s much faster, simpler than the oil paintings I usually work on. It’s not particularly creative. But I’ll be giving the art world what the art world likes, and we’ll see if that pans out for me. 🙂
I’m supposed to be working on my novel for NanoWriMo, but I got distracted today. Suddenly I’m concerned about Geisei, which is coming up soon in December and I really want to WOW people. So I came up with a new painting idea. Here is the very rough mockup. It’s complicated, but rather than do it all in detailed oils, I’m going to try making an elaborate pencil sketch and only doing very light colors with chinese water color paints – this should make things
much faster and it will probably look awesome.
It’s way too busy, I know, but it’ll mostly be like a line sketch. I’ll get rid of that “buy it now” too… although I like the facebook and twitter buttons because the painting -besides being a tribute to Steve Jobs, is also about social media, herd mentality, leaders and followers, etc.
I’m also going to start focusing on making design versions of my ideas, to get them out in more formats… so here are closeups of my garuda and ganesh hybrids, I’ll make them into Tshirts soon!
As a visual artist, I’m always trying to find creative new ways to display my work and get exposure. Recently when searching for “creative and awesome business card designs” I stumbled across the pop-out, stand-up 3D folding business card of Egil Paulsen. These things are so simple, so beautiful, so stunning, that Paulsen’s painting – due not only to the painting itself but also because of the amazing business card idea – has been featured on hundreds of websites. Pretty f-ing awesome. I wanted to make some too so I contacted Paulsen and found out that he’s preparing to offer the service to other artists – keep an eye out for it, there’s an easel art card facebook group to join.
Since I’m living in Taiwan, I also contacted some local paper printers to find out about die-cast business card pricing. I even found someone to make easel art cards.
However – I can’t replicate Paulsen’s success with a duplicate, so I’m working on something much more ambitious, which will be a “3D Gallery” of 10 of my paintings in miniture, as pop-up silhouettes. I’ll probably be using very bold colors, as part of rebranding my image from just painter to also graphic designer. Here’s a sample of what they will look like:
When they’re finished, my business cards will have turned into art-collectible in themselves, that are fun to play with and easy to put on display!
The Morale of this Story: If you’re already an established artist with galleries selling for you, you don’t need kickass business cards. But if you aren’t – having an amazing, creative business card itself is a quick way to gain international exposure.
I’ll be posting some more stuff soon on creative art promotion ideas, so stay tuned. If you’re looking for business card design, die cast printing, pop up or easel art cards, or if you’re just trying to think up a brilliantly creative way to market your art, send me an email! (Living in Taiwan I can get a great deal on printing!)
If you want your own easel business cards, you can order them here: http://easelbusinesscards.com/
Geisai Taipei is one of the big chances for independent artists and crafters to get noticed by the Asian art market, including galleries, curators, organizations, magazines and other organizations. One the one hand, with hundreds of artists competing for a handful of recognition awards, the chances of self-representing artists getting “discovered” and represented are slim to none – but on the other hand, that tiny chance of getting your art in front of industry leaders is enough, for most of us, to dish out the US$ 234 for a little booth (W 180X D 180X H 240cm) at this one day art fair event.
Plus, the growing popularity of Geisai and the large community of Taipei art connoisseurs means that, if well-utilized, Geisei can be a great opportunity to grow your fan base and increase your exposure – and maybe even to connect with some interested buyers.
Although I joined Geisei 2 last year, I didn’t know what I was getting into and presented very, very poorly. With just one little booth, I figured I better cram in as many paintings as possible, stacking them up on top of each other, and stuffing each little corner with personal oddities, fliers, news-scraps… I even had an electronic talking fish and a wooden Buddha statue to try and give my booth some style and color. BAD IDEA. You don’t want to present your art like 2nd hand knock-offs at a flea market. You want to project your paintings’ value with simple and clean presentation. Think like a gallery: white walls, lots of space, crisply printed title tags, high quality printed materials (i.e. business cards). If there’s room, perhaps a catalogue of works/price list.
This question is much more tricky. With hundreds of competitors, you need a selection of paintings that brands you as an artist, stands out for it’s unique style, technique and theme. You want pieces that complement each other with similar colors. But you also want fucking good paintings – absolutely finished, pristine and polished: this means the edges have been painted or framed, the canvas has been glossed, it looks perfect. At the same time, you want something edgy/striking enough to make people gasp in awe-stricken stupor (ok, maybe not if you’re a landscape artist – but you should still shoot for it). Paint something that grips viewers and makes them sigh in wonder at the captivating beauty – or repugnant horror or scandalous humor – something that they will immediately go find their friends and drag them to visit your booth.
Well I’m still struggling with that question. On the one hand I have some of my standard, unusual, Magritte-esque surrealist portraits of beautiful girls; a few of them are pretty good. Portraits or people paintings have won in the past. I also have some stronger pieces; my orange juice Buddha or my new sexy Sponge-Bob adultery painting, which is SURE to make a stir. But I also came back to Peru with some awesome wooden ornamental frames, to do a series of pop-art/religious icon paintings, which could be pretty awesome. I may need to get 2 booths this year.
Finished this is less than a week for Taiwan’s Centennial International Painting competition. Luckily they extended the deadline and I was able to shoot off the entry today before packing (for an extended holiday in the states). Originally this painting had Jesus holding the Taiwan baby, being growled at by the local gods (whose turf Jesus – the white colonizing masculine authority – had breached). It works pretty well this way too.
In October they’ll pick a winner (grand prize is $1000usd or an ipad!)
This is kind of a boring painting for me – what do you think?