And the winners are …

Where Is Anton.

Our latest creative contest #WhereIsAnton together with LEGO Ideas ended last weekend.  It was a real success with hundreds of photos tagged on Instagram. Since then, we’ve been browsing through all the awesome entries on Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Flickr and even 500px and LEGO’s own gallery to find the winners of this challenge.

Sleepless nights, painstakingly looking for chromatic aberrations, sensor dust, creative compositions and cheer creative fun kept your jury awake. A shortlist of nominations in different categories lead the jury to an almost all night hangout session to come up with the final nominations, some special category nominations with an extra honorary price and the ultimate three winners of the LEGO Idea House sets we are giving away. But first we want to thank ALL of you, for taking part in this fun creative context and we will for sure do it again.

Without further ado, time to get to the nominations … Continue reading “And the winners are …”

Your Anton

The Anton Saga

We are having a little Anton craziness here on the blog. As you know we are giving away three (yes, three) LEGO Old Fishing Store boxes as part of our creative contest (cc).
And all of you can participate in this fun photo challenge.
You can make your own Anton.
You can pick up Anton in the LEGO store. This set is so awesome and packed with toy photographers little objects you will reuse time after time, that ending up with an extra set through this contest is worth it.
Or, you can get a real Anton from us. Continue reading “Your Anton”

Watermarks

People are often surprised that I don’t watermark my photos. I fully understand the reasons most people have for watermarking, but I have a hard time believing any photograph looks better with a watermark. I have seen so many bad watermarks in my time that I’ve been conditioned to wince whenever I notice a watermark on a photo. They draw my eye away from the content of the photograph, especially when the photographer has decided to get a bit creative with their typography.

Continue reading “Watermarks”

Fair Play – Part III

At the risk of beating a dead horse  I want to revisit the issue of fair play and Lego System A/S that we talked about last week.  Me2 and I don’t always see eye to eye and his habit of adding the TM symbol to his words has always seemed pretentious to me, but after last week I think he is on the right track (he just promised me he will elaborate on his Why™ in another post here pretty soon).

Our original post was re-posted to Reddit and the reaction was alarming in its passivity. It seems that most fans in the Lego universe are more than happy to let Lego roll right over them without even a whimper as they believe it would only impact those who would want to sell their work. The over riding sentiment expressed in the comments was that Lego was well within their legal rights and that we, their customers, fans and LEGO artists need to watch our step.

Seriously? What has this world come too when we think corporations have the right to tell us how to create, show and ultimately sell our own creations? What would Andy Warhol have said if the Campbell’s Soup company had sent him a cease and desist order when he first exhibited his now iconic soup cans? I am pretty sure he would have laughed and kept printing his silk screens. So why are we taking this sitting down?

If the Andy Warhol example is too esoteric for you how about this one which hits a little closer to home: Peter Reid. If you are not familiar with Peter Reid he created the fabulous book LEGO Space published by No Starch Press. Oh and he is also the guy who designed Lego Ideas #6135: Exo Suit. You may have heard of it? You probably own one since Lego has been selling it for a few months now. I want to respectfully point out to Lego System A/S that you can’t have it both ways.

Recently a related issue was brought to my attention regarding a popular company (Ikea) and it’s enthusiastic fans (IkeaHackers). Last summer Ikea tried to shut down the popular web site that is dedicated to finding new and more interesting ways to use Ikea furniture. There was a public outcry and Ikea backed down. I guess it doesn’t pay to piss off your devoted core.

Do you really think that if Lego System A/S got nasty and removed ALL photos with Lego imagery off RedBubble and related sites (yes, including Flickr since the basis of the IP infringement claim starts at publishing and Flickr has been making noises about monetizing fan art uploaded onto their website) that the outcry wouldn’t be as outraged as the Ikea controversy? I am pretty sure it would be more financially damaging in terms of bad publicity and a pissed off fan base than any revenue lost due to these “illicit” products.  No one likes a $14.6 billion dollar bully.

Personally I think we are all well within our rights to photograph our toys and sell the images as a unique piece of art to enjoy in your home (we are not talking about licensing stock photography here to be used in a commercial campaign as that is a completely different topic, and we fully recognize that). I am pretty sure most of these artists photos would not be confused with Lego’s own marketing campaigns or franchise business and the financial damage (if any) the company might be incurring is well lets be real…it’s minimal and far less than the community gives back exponentially. If Lego doesn’t like us creating art with their shiny plastic bricks and having us share this with the world, than they should speak out now with a clarified Far Play notice rather than these random take down notices.

This whole fair play discussion is not about the ultimate sale of a piece of art (that is just the financial recognition that someone liked what you did), but about the fact we should own the unrestricted rights to do with our art what we want (as long as it does not violate any other laws like discriminating or racial ones), which is to share, publicize and ultimately gain some financial recognition from it if we choose to do so.

I for one will continue to promote my work with the ultimate end game of monetizing it. While I am not interested in selling through RedBubble, I applaud those who do. If I ever get a “cease and desist” order, personally I am going to laugh all the way to the fireplace where I will promptly burn it.

So I say to Big INC™, I am not afraid of you and I am tired of being bullied by you!

~ xxsjc

Should we let this topic die a slow death or keep talking about it?

Who knew?
Who knew?

CC: Creative Class

I appreciate yesterdays post by Me2 . It was a thoughtful response to the article about artist Christopher Boffoli and his legal actions against Pinterest.

This is a complicated issue that has many sides and Me2 has addressed just a few of them. Sure we need to think out side the box to make sure that artists are credited fairly for their artistic creation be it a photograph, a movie or a song as it is passed around the internet. But lets call all of this what it really is…content. We are all content creators. With every Instagram post, pin to Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter update…rest assured , we are creating content that Big Inc. is packaging and selling right back to us.

Me2 says we should all get on board and share freely with an updated distribution model, just like the music and movie industry has done. That may be well and true, but the last I saw, this issue is still up for debate, especially in the music industry. Most middle level and beginning musicians still have not cracked the money question.

Prime example of this is the band Pomplamoose who’s lead singer, Jack Conte, wrote an article detailing the band’s touring costs that was picked up by Tech Crunch.  The gist of the article was about how   a modestly successful mid level band can’t make money when they tour and that they have to think out side the box to make ends meet. The article was roundly criticized on many fronts and I think the heart of what Jack had to say was overlooked in this firestorm. The concept of a “creative class”; that group of artists that does whatever it takes to keep the lights on by creating content to distribute via the internet to their fans. This creative class may not lead the glamorous life of JayZ and Beyonce, but it can be a rewarding one.

I think it is in the best interest of the Big Inc.’s  of the world to support these content creators (je: us) by creating new ways to address copyright concerns. How tough can it be to educate their users about the correct way to Pin, Post, Tumble etc so that artists can benefit from their work being shared.

If we want the internets to remain a lively place to interact and share unique and original content, lets do more to protect the content creators…us.

~ xxsjc

Do you think of yourself as a member of the “creative class”?

Do you care that Big Inc makes money off of your creative endeavors? 

CC: Censorship and Copyright

Copyright and Censorship

There are a few things that can get you in trouble these days.

The excessive use of naked boobs and the elaborated use of corporate owned brand items which are considered part of our day to day lives, like Stormtroopers, Armani suits and LEGO bricks.

Those of you that have traveled along with me the last few years will know that I care a lot about these CC (censorship and copyright) topics and will not step away from a healthy battle with big Inc. on this and  jump the barricades of protests.

It has been a topic that I silently protest by tagging most of my working titles with a simple to show a silent inobedience with some of the principles of big Inc. while recognizing that almost everything in our world is trademarked, protected and copyrighted by the same big Inc. we all work for in one way or the other.

So, when Shelly posted the battle of Christoffer in Seattle of the “small” artist against big Inc. Pinterest I could only support the idea, yet I was baffled at the same time.

We should be happy our work is being shared, it is all about the true CC, the Creative Commons, even if Pinterest is making money of it.

It is about other people liking our work, sharing it, printing it, using it as their desktop image and being our biggest promoters, ambassadors, LEGO junkies and lovers alike, spreading the word.

But it fails.

We seem to be caught up in the classic battle of big Inc. ourselves trying to protect an age old copyright idea that is out dated and not working. We seem to be battling for the pennies while the true holy grail is ahead of us.

When Google and Siri can answer all my questions, why can a smart engineer in Silicon Valley not come up with a universal creative commons widget that shows the real artist who shot the picture and make that the universal standard on the web regardless where my picture is shown.

The algorithm shouldn’t be that difficult as big Inc. already uses it to traces their own copyrighted material and our jpeg contain a lot of exif data already.

I love my pictures to be shown everywhere, and a simple loop back to me as the original artist would solve a lot of these discussions as the intrinsic “likes” of our images being shared would be a correct value of its popularity and influence (and we we can then even talk dollars later) and would get rid of that ugly watermark on our pictures at the same time.

Just like the film and music industry (and their artists) had to rediscover their distribution model in the last few years (just think about itunes, you tube, spotify, netflix, or google for that matter, … ) and rethink the classical questions of copyright protection, so should we also see what the new digital era and easy availability of professional grade glass and cameras and usage of images means to our industry, and our artistic rights.

Images will be shared, images will be copied, and people will forget to credit. We can fight it with big ugly logos and ugly copyrights, or sent invoices to the big Inc. who used our image and take them to court.

Or we could start thinking out of the box and spread the love of our photos with a creative commons and see what the future can do for us.

I am a big believer of embracing the CC model and see what the future can do for us.

What about you ?

Any valley developer out there that is willing to change the world and make this universal CC widget ?

Are you already sharing your work with a CC license and make it work for you ?

Me2

 

The featured picture was shot on IG in 2012 as a silent protest for IG blocking boobs shots while they were recognized as truly artistic value and actually just showed the work of Daniel Josefsohn.