Category Archives: Help for Artists

Angry Birds Copyright Violation in Asian Fine Art Paintings?

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.


Anti Piracy Order from Rovio

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:!wp-prettyPhoto[g2470]/1/

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 protected].

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?


Easel art cards for artists: creative business card designs

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:

Geisai Taipei 3 Art Fair Registration Open! 12/4/2011

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.

Successful art fair presentation

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.

What art should I show?

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.

So what am I going to present?

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.

Should I enter art contests to promote my art? Art Takes London 2011

I was reminded (7 hours before the deadline) of the “Art Takes London” art competition. I’ve entered, and if you like my work I’d appreciate you taking a minute to Click Here and go vote for me.

If you’re thinking of entering an art contest to promote your own artwork, here’s some things you should know:

Should I enter an art contest to promote my paintings?

Here’s how art contests (or any contests that aren’t governmentally funded) work: they charge a submission fee, and then make enough money to give prizes, have celebration banquets, pay staff and STILL make a profit. For example, let’s say 1,000 artists signed up for the Art Takes London competition and each submitted $50 ($10 for 5 images). That’s a nice $50,000 for the organizers to use, pay the $10,000 prize, pay off expenses and still have extra. But as they grow, maybe they’ll be able to attract 10,000 artists and make $500,000. However the chances of winning the competition also get much slimmer!

So how do you know if you should enter?

There are basically three types of art contests you should enter to promote your work.

1. The 1st is a small or local art contest, where you’re already a pretty big fish and you have a chance to win.

2. The 2nd is a big competition with a lot of exposure (for the competition itself!) – so that even if you lose, the exposure you get from entering is worth the price of joining.

3. The 3rd is a contest that is voted by the public – IF you have a huge following you can mobilize to vote for you. You could even sweeten the deal by offering a contest FOR the contest (giving away a painting to one of the voters who voted for you).

Don’t be swayed by the DREAM of winning a huge prize, getting discovered and making it big off one contest. You need to put in your dues. Even if your art is amazing, where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished as an artist does matter. Don’t throw money into contests waiting to win one and “make it”. Choose your battles wisely. Enter the contests that have specific mediums or themes that your art is really perfect for.

Know of other good art contests coming up? Tell me about them! Like this article? Click here and go vote for me for the Art Takes London competition.