Monday, December 22, 2008

Please donate to the Society of Illustrators Food Drive

The Society of Illustrators is sponsoring a food drive now through Jan. 16. Contributions will go to the Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry at St. Peter's Church on Lexington Avenue and East 54th St. St. Peter's is also a haven for the Momentum Project, which is dedicated to feeding disenfranchised city residents who are living with HIV/AIDS.

All donations should be:
•Unopened and in their original packaging
•Within the expiration date on the packaging

All donations can be dropped off at The Society of Illustrators 128 East 63rd St., between Lexington and Park avenues. Look for the red door.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Holidays

I've updated my homepage with a new seasonal image, I hope you like it. A few new images have also been sprinkled into the portfolio section. Take a look, if you feel so inclined.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Illustration Friday-Balloon

This is an illustration I did for ChannelPro Magazine a few months ago, it ran with a story on employee retention. The story focused on how to identify the employees worth holding on to and how to keep them. David Waugh, the art director on this job, had the idea of balloons representing employees floating away. When I finished up this job for him he commented, "This is exactly what I had envisioned". I guess great minds think alike.

Monday, September 8, 2008

So long, Astroland

Coney Island's Astroland Park closed for good yesterday. Below are a few photos from a trip there earlier this summer.

Scenes from the boardwalk at dusk.

Astroland, from the boardwalk to the subway station.

The Midway after the rain.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park will remain open next year.
Like the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel is owned by the City of New York.

The view from the Wonder Wheel, just as it started raining.

Nathan's now displays calories on it's menu. Most items had around 1,000.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer

This afternoon while returning home I ran into Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). He was standing on the corner of my block and had just finished filming an interview with Channel 4. Immediately after he took time to greet the crowd of about a dozen that had assembled to watch.

Just before he departed I had a chance to ask him about the pending Orphan Works Act before Congress. The senior senator from New York told me he was unfamiliar with the legislation. I told him Sens. Leahy and Hatch had introduced it, that it was about freeing up copyrights for public institutions to use. I also mentioned that the way the bill was worded it represented a threat to my livelihood as well as the many other artist working in Brooklyn and New York. He asked if I was against the bill. I said yes. He then began to tell me to contact his office, but then said, "I can remember that. Orphan Work. Leahy and Hatch. You're against it." He thn stepped into a black Town Car and was off.

I'll still going to follow up with his office. If you would like to tell Sen. Schumer or any of the other members of the Unite States Senate to oppose the Orphan Works Act click here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Visual Artists Go to Washington; Independent Record Labels Oppose Orphan Works Act

Last week over two dozen visual artists, representing illustrators, photographers, fine artists and the arts licensing trades went to Capital Hill to explain to legislators how the Orphan Works Act will harm creators and the hundreds of thousands of art-related small businesses that serve and are dependent on them. At the same time, independent music labels have joined the opposition to orphan works legislation as it currently exists.

The Illustrators’ Partnership has stressed that Orphan Works legislation should be limited to true orphaned work and not act as an unwarranted compulsory license imposed on commercial markets. IPA, the Advertising Photographers of America and the Artists Rights Society have joined to offer amendments to that effect.

Excerpted from the Washington Internet Daily/Monday June 09, 2008:

The visual-arts community hit the Hill last week to protest what it portrays as a hijacking of the orphan-works issue as it was presented in a 2005 Copyright Office report...

The Copyright Office ran a bait-and-switch from its 2005 notice of intent, which focused on facilitating libraries', museums' and other nonprofits' efforts to digitize collections to improve access to them, [Illustrators’ Partnership co-founder Brad] Holland said. Artists want the issue narrowed back to that focus, scrapping commercial use, he said...Copyright Office roundtables on orphan works never addressed alternates to registries, an "untested, untried, unaccountable market system" favoring Google, Getty, Corbis and other commercial aggregators, Holland said. [Cynthia] Turner [also of the Partnership] said artists would incur high costs registering works, and they hesitate to hand over high-res, commercial versions to Google or others.

In the same article, Washington Internet Daily also reports that the leading group of independent music labels has broken with the corporate music trade associations. The American Association of Independent Music has published a position paper opposing the current orphan works bills. The article quotes a music industry executive: "I can tell you that nobody in the music business" sought the bill.

... the executive said the bill is "de facto... establishing a new compulsory license" by putting unregistered artists at a legal disadvantage in court. The law can't explicitly require registration or it will violate the Berne Convention, TRIPS and other treaties the U.S. has signed, the executive said. Book publishers and music executives in the U.K. think the U.S. will be in trouble, the executive said, citing a recent visit: "I can tell you there are European commissioners that are looking at this right now."

-Excerpts from “Orphan-Works Bills Scorned by Visual Arts, Indie Labels” by Greg Piper, Washington Internet Daily June 09, 2008

Also see Visual artists and indie record labels voice concern over orphan works bills

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why the average Joe should care about the Orphan Works Act (Courtesy of IPA)

Should the general public care about the Orphan Works Act?

Yes, because the effects of this bill will expose any citizen's visual images to infringement, including infringement for commercial purposes or distasteful uses.

Most people don't understand current copyright law. But under current law, they don't have to - the law itself protects them from not understanding it. Anything you create is considered your private property.

But under this amendment, all citizens would be required to understand that they must now take active steps - not to actually protect their work (because registries won't protect it) – but merely to preserve their right to sue an infringer in federal court (in case they ever find out they've been infringed in the first place).

Otherwise, ignorance of copyright law will be be no excuse against an infringer who has done a "reasonably diligent search" for a photo he found on a blog, photo sharing site, Facebook page, or other source.

Proposal for Copyright Warning and Public Awareness Campaign

If this bill is passed, copyright will no longer be considered the exclusive right of the creator. Therefore, Congress should direct the Copyright Office to commence an awareness campaign to be conducted in all media, explaining to all copyright holders the new terms of copyright protection. Public warnings should state at least the following:

“Due to a change in US copyright law, citizens should now be aware that any creative expression they put into tangible form – from professional artwork to family photos - will be subject to infringement, including infringement for commercial uses, by anyone in the United States who is unable to locate them by what the infringer determines – and a court agrees - to be a reasonably diligent search.

“To preserve your right to sue infringers in federal court, you are advised to take active steps to assert authorship of every work you create.

“These steps will include inserting meta-data in each work, marking each work with a copyright symbol and contact information and registering each work in commercial databases where infringers can search for your work.

“Ignorance of copyright law will be be no excuse against an infringer who has done a “reasonably diligent search” according to guidelines established by Congress.”

This should be the minimum warning information and it should be issued to the public on an on-going basis to alert successive generations of the legal obligations they will have to observe as the price of creating art of any kind. We also ask Congress to direct the Copyright Office to establish and maintain local law clinics where creators and other citizens can seek clarification about their obligations under Orphan Works law.

Don't Let Congress Orphan Your Work

Tell Your Senators and Representatives to Oppose the Orphan Works Act

Illustration Friday-Baby

This is an illustration I did about a year ago for HR Magazine. It sort of ties in with this week's theme at Illustration Friday The image was one in a series that accompanied 3 articles on Employee Benefits. This one ran with a story on employee medical coverage and how it was becoming more difficult to find Obstetricians because fewer and fewer were being covered by insurance companies. Consequently, many just closed up shop.

Mari Adams was the art director on this project.

Below are some of the sketches.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

An Orphan Works Update From The Illustrator's Partnership

Backers of the House version of the Orphan Works bill are now asking artists and photographers to oppose the Senate bill unless it’s amended to contain at least the “minimum provisions” that appear in the House version.

Although they don’t say so, opposing the Senate bill in this manner is a vote FOR the House bill.

We’ve been asked to explain why:
The Senate bill is similar to the bill we opposed in 2006. The House bill (H.R. 5889) is the result of a year and a half of closed door negotiations between Congress and representatives and lobbyists for special interest groups. These groups have agreed to either endorse the House bill or remain neutral to insure its passage.

The House bill endorses the concept of coerced “voluntary” registration with commercial databases and seeks to make these databases infringer-friendly.

• It would require infringers to file a simple “notice of use” before they infringe.

• It calls for an archive of the notices to be maintained by the Copyright Office or an approved third party.

Why do backers of the House bill want these databases to be infringer-friendly?
Because to thrive, commercial databases (registries) will have to do a robust business in rights-clearing and orphan certification. That means encouraging infringers to infringe.

How will these registries work? No details have been given, but experience with image banks suggests the following:

For unregistered work: infringers will use the registries to identify pictures that aren’t registered. Infringers will probably pay the registry a search fee, then use or market the “orphans” like royalty-free art.

For registered work: the registries will act as a kind of stock house: Users will go to them for one-stop shopping to clear rights to your pictures. The registry will probably charge you a commission when they do.

In other words, urging Congress to pass the House bill makes very little sense to us unless your business or organization expects to become a commercial registry. We believe the only way to oppose these bills is to oppose them both.

If you agree, now’s the time to write Congress or write again.

Tell Your Senators and Representative to Oppose the Orphan Works Act

Don't Let Congress Orphan Your Work!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Use mass transit if you're heading to the World's Fair this summer

A new image is up on my homepage. It is partially inspired by my recently acquired subway map and the many trips to Flushing Meadows I've made on the 7 train.

Monday, May 19, 2008

World's Fair Subway Map

I found this treasure at Park Slope's Fifth Avenue Street Fair over the weekend. It is map of the New York City Subway system published in 1964. See it in all its glory here

While not as iconic as Massimo Vignelli's 1972 map (and 2008 reproduction), it still is pretty interesting to look at. If for no other reason than to see the changes to New York over the last 44 years.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Orphan Works Bill-Contact Your Elected Officials

The Illustrators Partnership has set up a CapWiz website to take action against the recently introduced Orphan Works Bill. The site has a handful of letters that can be edited and sent to your elected officials by email. You can also print them out and fax and/or mail them to your representatives.

This process will take you less than 5 minutes.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Please don't let your artist friends starve

Drastic changes to U.S. Copyright Law were introduced last week under the guise of freeing up orphan works. Orphan Works are images whose creators can not be found. The bill (HR-5889 and S-2913) would allow the use of copyrighted works provided they performed a diligent search for the creator. Supporters argue that at long last they'll be able to digitally restore their grandparents wedding photos or that the public library can display photos of town from 100 years ago without worrying about being sued by the copyright holder should they come forward.

What these supporters fail to realize is that many of these scenarios are protected under the "Fair Use" provisions of current copyright law. So to remedy a percieved problem they have proposed a law that would threaten the livelihood of every freelance artist working today.

Under the provisons of this bill creatives would have to register work with yet to be created private registries in order to prevent their work from becoming orphaned. Now while that doesn't sound terrible on the surface it is worth noting that photographers and illustrators produce a significantly greater amount of work than any writer or recording artist. The time alone required to register every drawing, sketch, painting and photograph would be prohibitive. Also, because these registries would be run by private companies, not the government, it is going to cost an artist money to register each image. Even if this fee is nominal, say in the range of $10, the cost of registering work could easily exceed $10,000 in one year. Furthermore, if there were multiple competing registries artist would be compelled to register their work with more than one, possibly all, of these companies. The cost of protecting the copyrights could easily exceed the annual income of many artists.

When introducing the Senate version of the bill, Sen. Leahy of Vermont claimed that this bill would not drastically alter current copyright law, that this would not be a rights giveaway. He claimed that only those performing a thorough search would be able to use Orphan Works. But what exactly constitutes a thorough search? Would a search of 2 or 3 registries be sufficient? An artist who registered their work with a competing registry would now have orphaned his work, despite his best efforts to follow the law and protect his work. How would the search work? Would it be a keyword search? Would it be similar to a Google Image Search? Anyone who has every used a search engine knows that overloading it with keyword makes it otherwise useless. And what would is to stop unscrupulous users of orphan works for diligently searching for the creators of works in places they know will lead them to dead ends? What would stop someone intent on stealing images from spamming or calling in the middle of the night to make sure calls to the artist went unanswered? In my experience, as an illustrator of little consequence, I have received many inquiries about creating work for free. If this bill were passed I would be forced not only to respond to each of these ridiculous requests, but keep track of them as well. Without clearly defining what a thorough search is artists everywhere will be at the mercy of publishers intent on exploiting work created by others.

Another feature of this bill that represents a radical departure from current copyright law is what happens when someone uses copyrighted material without permission. If this legislation passes those who illegally use a copyrighted work would have to pay the copyright holder only a reasonable license fee. Under the current law copyright infringers are responsible for not only paying a license fee, but are also liable for statutory damages and the copyright holders legal fees. Many artists are able to hire lawyers on contingency in copyright lawsuits because they will eventually be able to recover legal fees once the infringement is proven. This bill would render the fight for rights far more expensive than any potential award. Of course, this assumes that artists would devote the time and financial resources to fight for the rights of their work in a court of law. Most presumably, would not.

While the idea of freeing up work for use by public and educational institutions sounds noble, it is only a cover for allowing large corporations to profit from registries and steal copyrighted work with little consequence. The goals that supporters mention could easily be accomplished with legislation addressing and clarifying the Fair Use of provisions of the current law rather than crafting a law that represents radical departure from current copyright law.

If this bill becomes law, copyrights will be meaningless.

Now while this may not seem like a big deal to most people, copyrights are an essential part of any artists business. It is the copyright that prevents others from exploiting our work and profiting while we starve. If people are free to take the work of artists then in time there will be very few artists working in this country. Why would anyone be encouraged to draw, paint, sculpt, photograph or write if there were no chance to make a decent living with these incredibly rare skills?

In 2006 a similar measure was defeated. Let's hope history repeats itself. Please contact your elected officials in Washington and tell them to vote against this Orphan Works Act.

Far more information on this subject is available here and here.

(The image above is © John W. Tomac, 2008. All Rights Reserved. It is not an orphaned work of art.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Putting a smile on your customer's faces

Over the past few months I've had the opportunity to work with art director David Waugh on a pair of assignments for ChannelPro Magazine. ChannelPro is a trade publication for Information Technology professionals servicing small and mid size businesses. Coincidentally, some of my friends from my days at RIT are now IT professionals.

Information Technology can be a pretty dry subject. Working with Dave is great because he tends to favor getting away from the literal and pushing the conceptual side of art. The image above was created for a feature on custome service. The spread can be seen on page 16 of this online edition of the magazine.

Below is another ChannelPro assignment. This was for a story on how the devices that keep us connected often make it more difficult to get things done. The spread can be seen online, on page 14.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A shameless plug for a friend's business venture

This is a logo I created for my good friend Blaine Moore, who runs a blog called Run to Win, that covers the world of running and track and field in addition to offering advice to runners of all ability levels. For the past few months Blaine has been working on a more comprehensive marathon training guide which is now available at It is definitely worth a read if you are a runner preparing for your first marathon or looking to improve upon your previous best.

I know first hand that Blaine is quite knowledgeable on the subject he is writing about. We were teammates on the Rochester Institute of Technology's cross country and track teams. Shortly before graduating, Blaine started running marathons. Now his goal is to run one in every state in the union. To accomplish that goal, he's running at least two or three a year and has been for the past few years. In 2006, I joined him as he crossed New York off his list. It was my first marathon and his 9th. Needless to say he beat me that day by about three minutes. (His 2 hours and 51 minutes to my 2 hours and 54 minutes.)

Here we are around mile 8 of the New York City Marathon. Blaine is on the left, I'm waving at the camera.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seeing Spots

Over the past few months I've done some work for FOLIO, a trade magazine about magazine publishing. I've worked with, Art Director, Dan Trombetto, who is a very easy person to work with. All of the assignments have been spots for a recurring section at the front of the magazine called Login.

The most recently published was for an article on website architecture.

Originally Dan and his editors pitched a Rubik's cube image with different labels on the individual squares.

When it was decided that these might not reproduce well at a 5"x 5" size I suggested using a Soma cube in its place. Since it retained the puzzle solving concept, but also incorporated building something. Below are some initial sketches.

Below is another spot that ran with a story on publishers predicting trends for 2008. They wanted something that said fortune teller without looking "too tacky" I ended up producing this image based on a palm reading chart.

These sketches were rejected

This assignment was for social networking websites. The only requirements were show a crowd and computer. I created this.

And here are some of the rejects.

Fun facts about the George Washington Bridge

Most mornings I awake to Maurice DuBois and Kate Sullivan on the Channel 2 morning news. As they cut to commercial, viewers are treated to live shots of New York City's landmarks in the pre-dawn light. One that usually catches my eye is the George Washington Bridge, which inspired this image.

And now for the fun facts:

Spanning the Hudson River, The George Washington Bridge connects Fort Lee, N.J. and Washington Heights in Manhattan. It opened to traffic in October 1931. At the time it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The original design called for the towers to be encased in granite. However, the Great Depression put the brakes on those plans. In 1962 the lower deck was added at a cost far greater than the construction of the rest of the bridge.

On holiday the bridge is home to the world's largest free-flying American flag

Entering New Jersey is free, but if you want to leave be prepared to shell out $6. In March those departing the Garden State for the City of New York will be forced to shell out a few dollars more

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The back alleys of the Internet

The Record's travel editor, Jill Schensul, recieved an e-mail with the subject line "We'll pay you to travel anywhere". Rather than delete it like any other ordinary piece of spam, she decided to read it and attempt to get paid to travel anywhere. She didn't get paid, nor did she get to travel anywhere. However, she did end up receiving a lot more spam and recieved a few suspicious charges on her credit card. This story ran Dec. 23. Originally the story was supposed to run on the front page. It ended up getting kicked inside, but this illustration, originally slated to run with it, stayed out front as a giant, quarter page teaser to the text.
The end result isn't terrible, but yet nowhere near as cool as Linzie Hunter's series of spam subject line paintings.