Tea & Automatons

Diana Vick's corner of the interweb

Give us some credit!

These days, the internet has made it far too easy to find fantastic works of art and repost them anywhere with hardly a thought.  In the past I would occasionally trawl Cafepress or Zazzle for people selling famous fantasy artists’ work, like Boris or Olivia and report them.  It was unconscionable to me that people thought they could profit off of someone else’s creativity.

I do see a lot of people reposting work that is not theirs.  While I completely understand the desire to show your FB friends these wonderful little gems, please realize that …  you are still stealing. You may not be trying to earn money off of the art and your motives may be completely innocent, but oft times people assume you are posting art that you created.  FB does ask you if you have the right to post it, so you are at the very least perpetrating a lie when you post a picture that isn’t yours.

I’ve often seen a  piece of steampunk art posted in a group somewhere and thought, “Nice.  I wonder who did that?” but the person who was so impressed with the piece that they felt the need to post it didn’t bother to see who did it.   Seriously?

As an artist, I realize that by putting something on the internet, I run the risk of having it copied.  I know it’s nearly unavoidable.  So, how about you do me a favor?  IF you feel the overwhelming compulsion to repost my work somewhere, you give me credit?  Tag it with my name.  Maybe put a link to my website or the site you got it from.  If you like the work enough to copy it, take the time to credit it at the very least.  We really do appreciate that you like it and promote it, just give us some credit?

Photographic Evidence Sought

Me at Norwescon 1986

Since the early 1980’s, I’ve been attending science fiction/fantasy conventions.  I began doing some costuming and really enjoyed it.  I didn’t own a camera, so I almost never got shots of my outfits.  Once in a while a friend would take a picture and give me a copy, but for the most part those images are lost in time.  This is not to say there were no pictures taken of me.  Many people would take my picture, but back in those dark days, there was very little chance I would ever get to see them.  As time went on, I would be a bit more diligent and try to get contact info, but it was still film and there was processing and a lot more hassle and expense.

Eventually we had the internet.  After a convention, I might do a few searches to see if people had put up their pictures and maybe, just maybe, there might be an image of me or my friends  that I would get to see.  It was very tedious.  I’d usually have to wade through a million pics of them having breakfast with friends and other things that were of no interest to me.  I really only wanted to see the costume shots.  Few people did any sorting and filing in the beginning.   A few places began to do galleries of costume pics from their convention, which was great.  They usually only focused on the masquerade entrants, but it was a start.

Once digital pictures were more prevalent, the photos online really took off.  No scanning required!  There were so many photo album sites that it was a hassle to search for them and then go through them.  When I first found Flickr.com, I was ecstatic.  A searchable online group of galleries!  Huzzah!  It was truly useful.  You could set up your own galleries and share your photos.  You could also set up groups and invite others to add theirs to the group pool.  I made a group called “Science fiction/fantasy convention costumes” to try and encourage participation.  I was thrilled when one person did actually go and scan in some old masquerade photos from the 80’s.  That was exactly the sort of thing I had dreamt of seeing.

I handed out cards to photographers suggesting they add their photos to the group so others could find their pictures too.  Unfortunately, most of the hard core photographers already had their own sites and didn’t want to take the time to put them up elsewhere.   I can understand that, but I still encouraged them to at least put a link to their sites in the appropriate group.  A lot of the younger folks did join in the fun and we had quite a boom.

Now the trouble is that convention groups like Dragoncon have way too many pictures for anyone to sort through.  In fact, you cannot look at the beginning of the group for long because Flickr limits how many pages you can search back through.

Me at Chicon 1983

Tagging photos with the type of costume or name of the character would help this immensely, but most people can’t be bothered to take the time to put more than the name of the convention on theirs.  In some cases the sheer amount of work it would require is daunting.  Even worse are the people who tag an entire group of photos with multiple tags, so the word “zombie” will bring up every photo they took in the batch that contains the zombie pic.  Frankly this practice is less than useless.  Sometimes, the photographer allows others to tag his work, but not always.  Recently, Flickr added the “add a person” function which allows you to tag the person if they are one of your contacts.  It’s great but only if you already know them and have them in your contacts.

I just tried to wade through photos from Emerald City Comic Con, but I found it has become a herculean chore.  Due to the ease of digital photography almost no one even bothers to edit out bad photos, leading to a sea of similar images.  Or they just add every photo; A hundred pics from the same panel of James Marsters speaking.   I know that my picture was taken many times, but the only one I saw was my husband’s.

So, we’ve gone from one lone photo we might really want to see being hidden in someone’s photo album in their basement to it being like a proverbial needle in a haystack.  I am not sure which is worse.  Famine or feast.

I make this plea to you dear reader, if you have some photos from days gone by of science fiction/fantasy convention costumes, consider scanning them and adding them to my Flickr.com group. I am sure someone would truly love to see them.  And if you are one of the many happy Flickr users already, please consider tagging your photos thoroughly and correctly so that the person who so nicely posed for you, might someday get to enjoy them.

My table at Emerald City Comic Con

So, for the last few days I was running a table at Emerald City Comic Con.  I was selling my original art, the merchandise I have featuring my art and doing the occasional sketch.   Not being the typical superhero artist, I never know quite how my art is going to be received, but this is my third year and I feel like I am finding some of my fan base at ECCC.  I do anthropomorphics, or animals with human characteristics, in fanciful costumes.   It’s not to everyone’s taste and that’s fine, but I do get quite a few people who are very enthusiastic.   I had a head cold, so I felt under the weather but pretty much had to soldier on.

Friday was a bit slow, and I really wasn’t feeling very well, so it was even slower.  It’s the first time they had Friday hours and the room was open from 2:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M.  I didn’t dress up, and really didn’t feel that it was very useful.  I was hoping that things would pick up.

By Saturday, I was feeling better, so I dressed up to feel more in the spirit of things.  Unfortunately, right off the bat a complete jerk came to my table and began to inform me exactly how he felt about the genre I work in.  He grabbed a comic book off my rack, turned it towards me and said “How ugly is that!?”  His tone was jovial as if I would share in his glee of tearing down my own genre.   The book he picked up had someone else’s art on the cover, but his message was clear.  I nearly leapt across the table to throttle him.  Luckily my husband calmly took him aside and suggested that everyone in the entire room had their own particular tastes and he should perhaps be a bit more tolerant, the very topic of a recent blog of mine.  Glass houses!  You all live in the same neighborhood.  He left soon after, but I was now quite perturbed, but also feeling a bit gun shy.  Maybe I should just pack up and go.  If pimply faced, pencil necked geeks like him feel that they can just attack my work, maybe I didn’t want to wait around for more abuse.  However, in for a penny, in for a pound; I had paid for the space and I was there for the long haul.

Things picked up, and I had lots of friendly, encouraging folks come by and admire my art.  Even some people, who admitted they didn’t necessarily like the subject matter, told me that I had talent.  It was quite heartening.

A few hours later, the jerk came back, acting nice and asking to speak to my husband.  He asked if he could video “this” for his podcast, waving his hands at my display rack.  I was livid.  I told him no, and that  if he didn’t leave immediately I would call security.  Did he really think I would let him have fuel for his moronic tirade on his podcast no less?  The nerve!    I’m sure he will go ahead and make his infantile rant no matter what I do, but I was certainly not going to help him.  I went for a walk to cool off.  I told the incident to several friends and they were all stunned that someone would be so insensitive there in the midst of a comic book convention.  Talk about a glass house.

Me with some friends at the table

I was determined to put on a smile and cope.  My postcards, magnets and mousepads were selling.  I did a sketch for a girl of a pirate mouse that came out quite well.

An African man came to the table and looked through my work.  In a very thick accent he told me it was very beautiful.  Then he asked “why animals?”  Good question.  I showed him some of my game card work and said that it wasn’t because I couldn’t draw humans.  I just enjoy drawing the anthros more.  A dancing gypsy bear, a pirate fox captain are more whimsical, more fun for me.  I have always been a Disney fan and Robin Hood is one of my favorite movies.  I love The Rescue Rangers and Tailspin.  Pepe le Pew is one of my favorite characters.  To this day, I will watch almost any animated movie that comes out.  I didn’t go into all that for him, but simply said I find it more fun.  He smiled broadly and said “Keep young.”  I nodded happily.  Indeed.  I guess that is the crux of it.  Colorful, whimsical animals help me stay in that youthful mindset.

The rest of the weekend was good.  Sales weren’t as good as I would have liked, but they were decent.  The amount of folks that came by and enjoyed the work was so encouraging.  Working from home and doing things online can be deceptive and anonymous.  One can feel overlooked.  It’s really nice to get personal responses.

I tried to figure out if I had a specific demographic this year, but it was really not specific.  Whole families would come up and debate which postcards they should buy.  Men, women, young and old all seemed to be equally appreciative.   Last year I was pleased to discover how many young girls delighted in my work.    I never really saw my work through their eyes before.  My favorite customer this year had to be the child of some friends.  I came back from a break and he was clutching my Cleopatra postcard.  He had been too shy to talk to me earlier.  I knelt down and we chatted about the pictures.  He said he liked my Queen of Hearts and I asked if his mom had read him Alice in Wonderland. Yep.  But, he confided in me that Dad didn’t really like Alice.  We agreed that she was pretty neat.

One of the things that makes me really happy about living in this century, is the technology.  I used to do production work on comic books and it was tedious.  Also, you had to make a minimum order, store it and ship it yourself.  Such a hassle!  These days print-on-demand services are a godsend.  I can make postcards, stickers, mousepads and it’s so easy.  I have even realized a dream of mine and made a little book of my art.  It’s 40 full color pages and I can order just a few copies at a time.  Also, the print quality is fantastic.  Being the typical starving artist, I was strapped for cash before the convention, so I could only afford to order one copy to use as a sample.  I told my friends who said they wanted one that they could go to the site directly. On Sunday, a nice gentleman came up and spent time looking through everything, then said he’d like a copy of the book.  I explained things and said that I’d be happy to sell him the display copy if he didn’t mind.  He agreed and asked me to sign it.  It really made my whole weekend.  I sold my book!  I know if I had had more copies I might have sold more, but just the fact someone wanted it made me feel successful.

To add to my successful feeling, I have some of my designs coming out as rubber stamps on Wednesday from Queen Kat Designs!

I want to thank everyone who came by the table and showed me some love.  Self doubt and fear are always in the back of an artist’s mind, but nothing dispels them better than getting to see someone’s eyes light up when they look at your work.

About The Author

Diana Vick

I am an illustrator, writer, costumer and steampunk enthusiast.
I have done illustration for comic books, animation and collectible card games such as Magic the Gathering and Legend of the Five Rings. Currently, I do art for my own line of cards and gifts in my Zazzle shop.