Content May Be King, But Design is Dominating Queen!

So, recently, the entire Gawker network got re-designed. It went from a news-style site to… well… something else.

The general consensus? IT SUCKS. Horribly.

The Story.

Here’s what happened: Originally, the Gawker network had a very simple style. You went there, they normally had a nice large image to illustrate the story, a little blurb, and then you could read more. The design was not perfect by any means. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to search for something in that “TIPS” bar! But, other than that, there really wasn’t anything bad about it at all.

For the redesign, they made it a complete mess. It now looks like something you would view on a tablet computer instead of a desktop, but the general complaint I’ve heard from tablet owners is, surprise surprise, it SUCKS on tablets!

So when they were essentially called out for having a website that was now hard to navigate, was awkward to use, and not entirely pleasing on the eyes, they came up with excuses.

Whenever, I repeat, WHENEVER YOU HAVE TO DEFEND A DESIGN’S FUNCTIONALITY, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!

I’ve dealt with clients and people in the past where, yes, I had to defend something because they may not have agreed. That doesn’t mean I or most people were doing it wrong when we have to do the same with our clients. But if people have a hard time navigating a site, if the way content is present is bad, no one, I repeat, NO ONE will want to go to your site.

They say that “Content is King”. In the world of SEO and the internet in general, yes, Content is King. At the same time, Design is the Dominating Queen that keeps the King in line.

You could be freaking CNN, but if you made it nearly impossible to read anything no one will care! NO ONE!


Why Design Matters

Design keeps things in line and makes them easier to understand. It helps readers to enjoy the content and get informed without hurting their eyes or confusing them. There are a TON of articles out there on good web design, and whoever it was who either designed this site or whoever it was who AUTHORIZED the redesign must have never read them.

Good interactive design is all about interactivity and usability. If someone comes to your site and doesn’t know how to use it almost immediately, you’ve failed.

At the same time, defying standards and norms is what, in a way, great design is all about.

The Result?

In my humble opinion, Gawker is going to see the writing on the wall and get rid of this abomination.

Someone Stole My Work, and I am NOT Happy!

EDIT: Well, its down and I’m happy about that. I’ve decided

Back in 2007, I decided it would be cool to have a piece I had done earlier go out into the world and speak for people who were censored. The piece was called “Government Censorship: Protecting YOU From Reality”. It was an obvious parody of the Parental Advisory sticker, and at first I wasn’t happy with how it looked. It took a while for it to grow on me, and I decided to put it on my Zazzle account to try and sell a few posters, and an image of it was posted on my website.

After that, my image started to pop-up in a few places. I periodically would do searches and sometimes see it up. I would let the person using it know I was the person who originally posted it, and to please give me some attribution, and that was about it. Since it was going on so much, I decided to post it on my DeviantArt account and make it fairly clear what the rules on it were; you can use it as long as I got credit and you never, ever, tried to sell it.

You can see where I’m going with this.

So on December 2nd, I decided to just check how my stuff was doing on Zazzle. I did a search with the name of my image and noticed that my piece was showing up on something I didn’t create. Shocked, I checked it out and, lo and behold, someone else was selling it!

Here’s the image on my site:
The original image being used on Zazzle, complete with date of creation:
The piece uploaded on DeviantArt with the license:
And the offending person using my image on their products:

http://www.zazzle.com/sovereigns/government+censorship+protecting+you+from+reality+gifts
I was shocked and annoyed, and ready to just simply report them to Zazzle to let them know what’s going on. The person doing it is the problem.

The company is “Sovereign Citizens, LLC”, but treally its just some guy going by the name sovereigns on the site. The guy is fairly politically active, and if the term “Sovereign Citizen” is any indication, this is NOT the type of person I like using my image for their own ends, let alone making a profit off MY work! Check out THIS on their own Blogger page!

Not only that, but this person is a PRO-SELLER on Zazzle! A Pro-Seller on Zazzle is someone who has consistently made $100 or more a month using Zazzle over 3 months, and its likely, even VERY likely, that this guy is making some serious money using my work without permission.,

I contacted the person with a Cease and Desist letter the same day. No response. I posted about this on the Zazzle forums, and the main point I heard is that the person doing it claims on their site that they’re trying to use non-copyrighted pieces. Then today I found out that they stole someone else work!

A piece by NINE INCH NAILS!

The original wallpaper by Nine Inch Nails:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nineinchnails/3042172875/in/set-72157609404567115/

The ripoff by Sovereigns:
http://www.zazzle.com/censored_for_your_protection_poster-228627089888590143

This person doesn’t have any regard for my work or for anyone else who create art!

So, what can YOU do to help?

I’ve contacted Zazzle already and I’m doing what I can to handle it through them. Feel free to go through their products and post my original product link. Feel free to go to their Facebook page and tell them what you think PERSONALLY. Contact them on MySpace and tell them you’re mad about this!

Or e-mail them directly at this address: sovereigncitizens@gmail.com

Warning Signs for Young Illustrators and Designers In Want-Ads

So you’ve decided to go out and try to get some freelance work by checking out ads on Craigslist. Despite what some will say, it is a great source for potential clients, but there are, like always, problems.

There are red flags you should look out for whenever you’re checking out an ad, and other things you should check out for that a potential client may simply say. They indicate everything from not knowing what they’re doing, to not having any money, and in some cases even verbally and emotionally abusive.

1. I’m looking for an art college student or beginning artist.

Translation: I want someone who doesn’t really know what the hell they’re doing.

Why? The reasons tend to be either they don’t have a budget that’s appropriate for what they want to do, or they want to take advantage of someone who has talent but doesn’t know what they’re doing. Getting a college student means they can easily get someone who wants the job mostly for experience, exposure, or even Ramen Noodles. Getting an artist who’s just starting out means they can get someone cheap who doesn’t know what they’re work is worth.

2. I don’t have a lot of cash, but I’ve got connections!

Translation: I want it cheap, and my connections aren’t all that great.

When it comes to people who say they have “connections”, I’m skeptical. I’ve met people who have said everything from “I work for MTV” to “I’m big in the art world” to everything in-between. These people were all telling the truth, but connections aren’t always what they seem and tend to be a 50/50 thing. Sometimes they wind up being great. I know I had one client that wound up leading to a ton of work later down the line and he was a good friend. I’ve also had some that wound up being a dead-end, and that tends to be the case more than you want. So if someone has connections… just ask and try to find out more on your own.

3. This is ideal for an artist who wants to gain exposure!

Translation: We REALLY want it cheap, and we hope we’ll get lucky showing it off to people!

Seriously, that’s all it it. Unless it’s Rolling Stone magazine or someone huge, exposure doesn’t tend to mean much. Then again, you never know. I was contacted by Rolling Stone to use one of my photos, and while that didn’t lead to a ton of exposure, it did boost my self confidence and I started to do more and more photography. Exposure should only be considered IF you know it has a legitimate chance.

4.

50% OFF ALL PRINTS!!!! THIS WEEKEND ONLY!

So Zazzle is having another sale on posters, and that means that, for a limited time, ALL of my posters are only 50% OFF!!! Myself? I plan on ordering at least one for myself to go over my bed, namely this piece. At only $20, it’s a bargain, and 100% worth it. And, mind you, that’s for a 52″ LONG POSTER.

Want in on the deal?

Use Promotional Code: MEMORIALSALE

Why Is Samas Aran so Over-Sexualized?

Growing up, Samas Aran looked like this:


Which was really cool. For the longest time, almost even especially today, women in video games were either A) Helpless princesses who needed a man to save them, B) For decoration, or C) Not able to do anything cool other than to look really hot.

Samus was the exception to the rule. In the first Metroid game, you spent the entire time kicking butt and taking names in one of the largest, most complicated video games for its time. Learning that it was a woman named Samus under the armor the entire time made it even cooler, because… well, you kinda didn’t care. You cared more about the fact that the game was awesome, and that was secondary. Fast-forward to 1993 and Super Metroid, and the games are getting better, harder, and even more epic.

Over the years, she’s been the single GREATEST thing to happen to women in video games. She doesn’t have a deep voice, is incredibly strong minded and fiercely dominate and independent. She is, in a word…. cool.

Now lets come to today:


She isn’t delicate or hard on the eyes, but its getting annoying.

Look, I’m all for drawing hot women… but this is just… no. A glance at my art may tell differently, but the truth is, I’m actually not some sexist pig who think women are sex objects. Fuck no! In fact, I think women tend to be a lot smarter than men on a daily basis, and I’d rather talk to a woman who has a brain then a Pamela Anderson-esq woman.

What’s happened over the past 10 years is that we’ve seen Samus out of her armor more and more and I think it actually is hurting her. When she isn’t in her armor, she isn’t out kicking ass, destroying Metroids, and freeing planets. No, instead she’s basically looking hot. Well, except for Super Smash Bros… but you get the idea.

How One Douchebag Decided to Rip-Off Artists on eBay

This isn’t a black and white issue.

Let me state something now before I rip this guy apart: I’m all for selling something you own on eBay, artwork included. If you spent, say, $200 on a piece of art and decide to sell it because you don’t have anywhere to put it… well, its your property and you have all the right in the world to sell it unless you and the artist had another deal in place. If you have posters, magazines, etc… nothing and no one should stop you from doing what you want with it.

…well, to some degree.

Enter this man with a wife and a kid. He found a way to keep his family happy and not have to worry too much by making additional income selling stuff on eBay. He’s also taken the extra step of making a unique business where he doesn’t believe that fine art doesn’t belong in books, but on your wall. It really is an interesting idea and concept, and to a degree, to a fairly decent degree, I think he’s in the right.

That is, until you realize what he’s doing.

By simply buying books of art and “carefully” cutting out the pages, he’s started selling framed pieces of art for people to buy. So, let me make this clear: He’s destroying books in order to create framed prints of art by living artists.

Now, on an average selling page, he makes the claim that his $30 prints are cheaper than “buying the originals” that “cost hundreds and then pay hundreds to have them framed.” The main irony is that is really, really, REALLY unlikely in most cases.

The average hand-printed silk screened original poster on eBay goes for around, you guessed it, $20 – $30. Hand-done ORIGINALS.

So, how, exactly, is this a service to anyone? How is this even legal, you ask?

There are a few people doing this on eBay, and they are routinely found out by people on GigPosters.com for the jerks they are. Essentially, he’s destroying his own books that he owns and selling them online. It’s clearly labeled that it is ripped from a book, and not an original print. He’s not doing anything illegal… but it doesn’t mean hes not doing anything wrong.

On a moral level, this is disgusting and terrible, and is on a lot of the same line as simple art theft, plain and true.

It’s disturbing how he justifies this:

“I OFFER A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO OVER-PRICED S/N ORIGINALS, FRAMED TOO. SOME MAY FROWN ON THE IDEA AND THINK I’M RIPPING OFF THE ARTISTS. BUT MY BUYERS ARE SMART, IF THEY WANTED TO USE A CAR PAYMENT TO BUY A POSTER, THEY WOULD. INSTEAD THEY CAN USE A CAR PAYMENT TO BUY 10 OF MY FRAMED PIECES AND DECORATE THEIR WHOLE HOUSE OR APARTMENT.”

Awesome.

So I guess some people may say, “Well, they make so much off the art itself and the prints, what’s a few bucks here and there away from them?”

Trust me, this isn’t about the cash. Some people make a good living doing nothing but gig posters, but the vast majority of us don’t and do it either out of love of the music, the art, as a sort of hobby, or are just trying to get out feet wet. For me, its the love of the music, of creating a piece of art to help a band I enjoy get some promotion, of someone out there loving my art enough to want it on their wall, that drives me.

Do sleazeballs like these help? Not really. Yes, you may be getting a piece of art on your wall, but at what price? Couldn’t you have bought a print for the same price at a higher quality from the original artist?

SNOWMAGGEDON 2010!!!

I woke up around 7AM, and the room was still bright white.

Though the sun was barely peeking through the clouds, a soft glow filled my room, my heart, and my mind. Turning on the TV revealed a shocking picture; the snow wasn’t that bad, SEPTA was still running, and life still went on. The end wasn’t here… yet. The main caution from the stations was that, although things didn’t seem that bad at the moment, they were going to get worse, much much worse.

Around 7:30 I went out to start shoveling. Now, for some people, this is a pain and something they despise. For me, its a joy and a treat. The snow for the past few years has been light, fluffy, and easy to move. Even the 28 inches that fell this past weekend was nothing to me, almost the same as if it was 5 inches of heavy snow.

You can only imagine how frustrating it was to realize that the 8 inches that had fallen last night was now heavy snow with slush on the bottom. Each load felt like pushing around two feet of the white stuff, nearly 20 pounds per shovel lift! To make matters worse, the shovel itself was starting to fall apart and the day had barely begun. After about 10 minutes the short sidewalk and stairs to my house were done. The other two houses I had to do were still ahead.

It was around 11AM that I had stopped shoveling anything and everything I needed to do while the storm was in a brief lull. During this time, the snow had stopped and turn to sleet, promising to turn back to a heavy snowfall.

This is where my troubles began.

As the snow began to fall and the winds began picking up speed, a fear came across my eyes! The snow began to pile up quickly, growing as high as 1.5″ an hour! Howling winds at 35 mph threatened to destroy the overburdened branches in the area. Sitting in my house, the sound of large amounts of snow falling made me worry about where they were coming from and why. Report of roofs in the city collapsing under the immense girth of both this storm made me worry about my neighbors with flat roofs. Some trees fell to the forces.

As night falls, the sky is filled with an eerie orange glow. The howling winds are still going on, and cabin fever is coming over the entire Northeast. Power is out for over 50,000 PECO customers, and things aren’t going to end anytime soon.

Yet, on a plus side, they are calling for sun everyday through Monday. Hope is on the way.

Logo for the City of Philadelphia 2010: A Graphic Design Odysee

Philly Logo

What a long, strange trip its been!

OK, its not. Actually, it was a really short one, but incredibly fun! On New Years Eve, I found out Technically Philly was having a contest to see what design should be submitted the city to replace the much-despised current logo that was revealed last year. The deadline was 4:15pm the following Sunday. I had an idea in my head for a project concerning American Patriotism and decided to tweak it and use it for this instead.

After a lot of hours of work and tweaking, I finally got something I thought was perfect and sent it off!

Feel free to check out the logo here on DeviantArt!

Sadly, I lost, but to something really good. Congrats to Sara DeMarco on winning!

I still love my logo, and I wanted to make the most of it. So feel free to check out the full line of products on my shop on Zazzle.com.

The Creative Process: A Look At How an Average Day Goes

Today is what I would call an average day for me and a real look at how, exactly, the “creative process” works. Or, more accurately, how a day goes when I want to do something but can’t.

A day off. It’s rare, it seems, that a day comes along when I don’t have to go to work and, on top of that, don’t have to cram in all the stuff I normally try to cram in doesn’t need to be done. Today was that rare day where I could actually do what I wanted without my friends most likely wanting to hang out.

I woke up early, around 7AM, and watched cartoons for an hour before going down the stairs to my desk to draw. I watch Batman: The Animated Series and it put me into a decent mood. As I sat down at my desk, I reflected on the joy I had the night before cranking out a two-page spread for a comic book I had been dying to do for now years and the next two-page spread, this time a full-out splash page, to do.

The problem? Despite laying out the book already and being happy with the layouts, I was having second thoughts about the pacing of the book and what should go where.

What normally happens in these situations is that I get pissed off, say “fuck this!” and go away from the desk and do something else. This time I went back upstairs and watched more Batman. A lot. I spent a few hours pissed off, left the house for a bit to get some coffee, and came back and watched more TV. After nearly 8 hours of this, I finally felt confident and happy enough to get something done.

The result? I laid out the spread and didn’t do much in the end.