Munchable Mythos Kickstarter has LAUNCHED!

Artist Struggles, Convention Selling

I am back, and back with a vengeance.  I wanted to create these charms alongside the originals, but now here they stand, proud and on their own!  Check them out here!

I’m so happy with these designs, and while it took a lot of work to get to designs I’m happy with, we’re finally there.  They’re fat, cute, and full of food, and I can’t wait to see where this project goes from here!!

I’ve gotten so much love and support after the first Kickstarter, and that’s already started translating here.  It’s great to see how much everyone cares about these designs, and I’m beyond moved to have this kind of support.

IT’S GOING TO BE A CRAZY 30 DAYS!!

And just like that, it’s gone.

Artist Struggles, Uncategorized

I’m not sure where to start with this, but here goes, as best I can.

Pokemon has pushed me to the point where I had to shut down the Kickstarter. They served a notice of copyright infringement, and despite arguing for fair use of my work as a parody, they continued to refute me and finally said that if I didn’t comply with their demands, a DMCA would follow, along with whatever means necessary to protect the brand.  I can’t afford that fight, and I know that they can. Fun fact, they sent a DMCA anyways, even when I complied, so they’re definitely all about that integrity. 

Maybe my understanding of fair use was fundamentally flawed here; according to them, it was, according to others, it wasn’t. I’m still firm on my stance of the work as parody, and fair use.  Regardless, the Kickstarter is down, their IP is safe from my villainous clutches, and over 60 people backing over $1600 have now been told they don’t get their charms.

I was told in the various emails that using copyrighted work is done solely to get attention, or to avoid the work required to create something new. This was something I couldn’t let go.

That is not why I made these charms, and to make that accusation is grossly unfair and misunderstands both fan art and my own artistic integrity entirely. I’ve made several amounts of original art, and to claim laziness is to ignore any kind of accurate characterization of the person being attacked.  Fan art is not and will never be lazy; it requires the same amount of artistic skill to create a work of fan art as it does original art, and since Pokemon is eager to take fan art of their IP and represent it royalty free/without any rights to the artist, it’s clear that they understand the merit.

To claim attention is to ignore anything I’ve said about who I am as a person; I’ve been playing these games since they first game out, as a child, and continue to do so today.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours of my life invested in this franchise, and more than that, I’ve spent that time loving it as fervently as any zealous fan has loved a video game.  I’ve never attempted to take attention from Pokemon, and instead attempted to celebrate that love with other like-minded individuals.  I’m no kind of competitor; to think that this comparably tiny Kickstarter infringed on any kind of Pokemon market is ridiculous, and disproportionate.

I have given Pokemon so much of who I am, and my creation of these charms or any fan art I have made has only gone to serve as a tribute to that love. But it’s a one-sided love, as is the case with so many conglomerate video game companies. In their rabid pursuit to defend their brand, they’ve done the opposite; they’ve damaged the love of a person who loved it most, and I’m having a hard time reconciling this treatment with the fact that it’s Pokemon. They felt I violated their copyright, I felt I had done enough to not be in violation. Me conceding to their demands probably emphasizes that they were in the right, but I can say that it was done out of fear of further repercussions. Have a lawyer working for a billion dollar company tell you they’re coming after you, and not be afraid of that.

Have that lawyer be rude and dismissive, and contradictory, and you end up feeling even more hostile.  This lawyer was the one making the assertion that my work is in the same category as that lazy, attention seeking work, a personal attack if I’ve ever seen one.  They also used cases as evidence of my work not being fair use, and when I examined those cases and spoke against them, quickly said that my use of those cases wasn’t representative of the entire case.  So why are you using them as if they are representative in the first place?  Also, when I directed you to Pokemon’s legal page, you called it “legal advice” that you can’t speak to, then had the audacity to tell me you weren’t trying to be intentionally confusing; you just can’t answer any questions about what is safe to do, only tell me that some stuff is wrong, and to know that stuff I should get a lawyer. Telling me that if I’m not “satisfied” with their answers is also ridiculously condescending; take those quotation marks out and act like a professional, please.  Spelling my name right would be cool too. Pokemon hired you for professionalism, and it reflects poorly on both you and them.

I need a little time to work through this emotionally and mentally. Having over a month worth of work being shut down in a minute in addition to being called a lazy attention whore is not something I’m capable of bouncing back from immediately.

But don’t get me wrong; this has done nothing but flame the fire, and I have plans for a new Kickstarter, with blackjack, and hookers. And no IP material from anyone who could come after me; it’ll be 100% original, based on mythical creatures that are very much public domain.

Thanks to everyone who backed it and supported me throughout the process. You guys are really amazing, and have been there throughout the start of the Kickstarter through to this nightmare mess. I’m glad it’s over, honestly, and I’m ready to move past it.

 

Art Support: How Do You Get It?

Artist Struggles, Uncategorized

With potential cuts to the arts at the forefront of artistic concerns today, artists are freaked.  Rightly so; art education and support have always struggled to receive any degree of equality with STEM counterparts, whether it’s through education or through career opportunities.

I have a bachelor’s degree in English, and I’m pursuing one in Game Design right now.  It’s safe to say that, with all the art present on this site, I’m pretty passionate about the field.  I’ve taken to different routes to support myself with my art, and while I’m not there yet, the concern of being able to support yourself while working as an artist is a big one, especially in the current climate.

So, let’s brainstorm!  We’ll start by distinguishing the two types of support I’m talking about here: emotional and financial.  As an artist, you really need both, and they can both be hard to get.

Emotional Support

Emotional support here is finding a place in the art community where you feel like people believe in you, your art, and art as a whole.  It’s hard to find in some places, but it’s out there, and you can get it.  This is not an exhaustive list; this is just what works best for me.

  1. Find a social media platform you like.  There’s no point in using ones you don’t care about; the time sink is wasteful, and the climate might not be for you.  I personally don’t care for Reddit or Tumblr, but I love Instagram and YouTube.  It varies depending on the person, so find one you like first and foremost.
  2. When you’ve found that platform, post often!  People will need to get to know you, so you’ve got to share your work.  Whether it’s WIPs, or finished pieces, or even pictures of what you’re drawing, try sharing as often as you can.  Once a day is a great rule of thumb for something like Instagram.
  3. Support others!  You can want support, but if you’re not following other artists, or chatting with them, or letting them know what you think of their piece, it won’t help.  Joining a community means being a part of a community, so take this opportunity to make some friends and join in the chat.
  4. Be kind, but honest.  If you see a piece of art that you think might need a little work anatomically, you can let the artist know, but be kind about it.  Criticism should be constructive.  How would you react to what you’re saying to them?  Is it helpful?  Does it give them something they can learn from?
  5. Share art with friends and family.  Post it on your Facebook, or your blog.  Send pictures and ask what they think.  It means a lot to have the support of someone who loves you and cares about you, and sometimes all you have to do is share the picture!

Financial Support

Financial support is where you earn money from your artistic pursuits and creations, and it is the golden goose.  It’s hard to get, hard to maintain, and terrifying to rely on until you’re fully established.  But, there are ways to make it happen.

  1. Get an Etsy.  Start selling some of your work online.  Make sure you’re pricing it fairly and marketing it well (two topics I won’t cover here, because they’re very depthful).  Etsy is a great platform with a solid search engine, so it’ll get seen as long as you’re using it right.
  2. Try art fairs.  Be wary of farmer’s markets or craft fairs, because they might not always be very lucrative, but you can check into art shows or art specific fairs to see other artists and sell your work locally!
  3. Conventions!  I’ve done one as an artist and I’m hooked.  It was damn near profitable, which is insane for an initial con, and I know I can do better at bigger cons with more prep.  Make sure it’s within your budget, but if you’ve got the right variety of merch, you can make good money at a con.
  4. Patreon.  I’m new to this one, but you can see my initial set up here.  It’s a nice way for followers to support you monthly or per project, and you give them perks in return.  It’s been very successful for some, but it does take time to gain a following.
  5. Look for gigs.  I’ve used Craigslist in the past, and I’ve gotten some good temporary art jobs there, designing game art or creating short illustrations.  This probably isn’t the best way for a long term job, but it’s good for some quick interim projects that pay and give you experience.

Keep in mind, I’m still working on developing my own support system, both financially and emotionally.  It takes a looooong time.  It’s worth it, though, especially when you realize that if you’ve got the emotional support, you’re prepped mentally to do the hard work to get the financial support.

Leave a comment if you have other ideas, or have had experiences to add to this list!

The First Con: How Wizard World Portland Stacked Up

Convention Selling

I have attended many a con as a little dweebette, prepped with cosplay finery and dollars to shred on prints that couldn’t fit on my walls.  I have become addicted to the frenzied madness, despite the cost, the stress, and the crowds.  What started with Sakuracon in 2008 has blossomed into PAX Prime, Anime Expo, and Emerald City Comic Con.

And Wizard World.  Oh, Wizard World.  You’re not going to like this.

Wizard World Portland 2017 was the best way to start as a seller, I thought, because:

  • It’s close by.  It’s about a 3 hour drive from Portland to Seattle, where I’m at.
  • It seemed cheap.  Emphasis on the seemed.  The actual breakdown was not what I initially expected, because we lost time.
  • It was first come, first serve.  I didn’t have to get past a jury with no con experience under my belt.
  • It was short.  With only one full day (Saturday), it seemed like an easy, low stress entrance into the seller side of things.

I’m not going to go into every detail of the overall trip, and I’m going to focus on how Wizard World staff could’ve done things better.  That being said, they done fucked up.

Things were confusing initially because Friday was a short day, with an all day set up period and an expo start time of 5 PM.  People would be there from 5 to 10 PM Friday, 10 AM to 10 PM Saturday (a change that had happened a couple of weeks prior to the show), and 10 AM to 4 PM Sunday.  This seemed strange; I’m used to shows being all day Friday, and expo halls closing around 6 or 7 on Saturdays.

The reasoning behind this madness became clear when we got there, and saw that the entire con was in one hall.  One reasonably sized hall housed the artist alley, the exhibitors, a beer garden, three stages, and all of the autograph areas.  It was unorganized and manic, and it only got worse when we saw that the map that guests had was from last year.  Strike 1, indeed.

Our sales were alright on Friday, and we did even better Saturday (no surprise there).  Attendnace seemed to hit a high 6,000 count.  Things were never packed, and there weren’t really lines or clusters to speak of anywhere in the hall.  We were chit chatting with our booth mates around 8 PM Saturday when the intercom came on overhead, and announced that we were closing early.  No explanation, no justification; just that everything was closing two hours early.  I lost a sale immediately, as the family left and didn’t come back because they heard the rules change.  Which really made me happy, as you can imagine.  Strike 2.

Strike 3 came in the form of the morning meeting on Sunday.  Artists and exhibitors gathered to talk about the con with the Wizard World staff, and luckily, my booth neighbor recorded the meeting.  It’s since been taken down, but a few key bits:

  1. They changed the close time because of a miscommunication.
  2. They changed the close time because traffic was slow.
  3. They changed the close time to experiment and try new things.
  4. Their guests are a big draw.
  5. They’re under new management.
  6. The wrong map was printed because Tucker screwed up.

So basically, they changed the close time for reasons.  Three different ones that don’t all work, frankly.  You can’t have us pay for certain hours and then take them away without discussing any of this with the people who paid to be there. 

We were told from other artists that tickets had been printed with three different close times (I’m assuming that’s also Tucker’s fault, because Tucker’s an asshole), and that artists had been contacted by fans because they were on the map but weren’t actually there.  An outdated map will do that, definitely.

We were also told that the end of the costume contest at 7:30 PM on Saturday led to the announcer saying the event was done.  So people left.  People left because they were told to leave, despite everything staying open for another 2 and a half hours.

And, icing on the cake, we were also informed that Dark Horse had refused to come this year and that WWE guests were not happy with how they were treating.  I can’t verify a lot of this because I can’t find confirmations online, but it looked like a few guests left early Sunday for whatever reason.

Ultimately, we made money (not quite a profit) and made a lot of great new friends.  It was a fun experience as a new con, and as a first time seller.  But I won’t go back.  I lost almost 3 hours of selling time that I’d paid for, and after shopping around, this con is ridiculously expensive for less time than other cons (like Rose City).

I’m not happy with how Wizard World treated this event, and I don’t want to sell at one of their events again.  Please don’t come to Seattle; we have great cons here that are really well organized and nicely programmed, and I’d rather throw my money at them.