Monday, September 29, 2008

This is the "arty" part...

Well now, if those weren't a few days full of excitement and... excitement. I find it difficult to write when there's nothing worth writing about. That's kind of the sad thing about being on a business trip; come the weekend, the business shuts down. I wandered the streets aimlessly looking for purpose until three o'clock in the morning. (Kidding, mom. Just kidding.)

There was a lot of excitement on Saturday, however. I just didn't get home until late, so I decided to sleep instead of blog. At any rate, Brian and I needed to take a field trip down to the art store, he to pick up some portfolio refills, me to pick up some turpentine, so that's what we did. When that was all wrapped up and taken care of, we headed out in search of a Duane Reade. I figured since it was a drugstore akin to Longs, they might do cash back for transactions, since there aren't any Wells Fargo locations or ATMs any more east than West Virginia. I felt a need to have some cash in my pocket and didn't necessarily feel like paying a surcharge to get some. I found what I was looking for, however they didn't do cash back and I just had to bite the bullet and pay a whopping ninety-nine cents to get some cash. Honestly, I'm normally not that much of a penny pincher, I just thought I was going to get charged something outrageous, which would have been a downer for the rest of the trip. But I digress; when all of that was done with we sought out some food and ducked into a place aptly titled "All About Food". No joke.

All About Food didn't really live up to their name, but it's near NYU, so I'm sure that pulls quite the crowd; when it isn't a rainy Saturday afternoon. They had a neat little salad bar type thing and pizza. That's about it. I heard tell of pasta being somewhere in the establishment, but I didn't see any. Brian and I ordered ourselves a slice of white pizza (this stuff is good and I'm going have to start making it when I get back) and sat down to figure out the events for the rest of the evening. I called my buddy Rusty while Brian frantically sent text messages to his cousin Megan. You see, it was Megan's birthday the following day and she was going to be celebrating it at a beer garden in Astoria Heights; the were celebrating Oktoberfest. A bit premature, probably, but it's what we were going to be doing. Rusty said he'd be there and planned on bringing what merryment and cohorts as he could muster. And, let me tell you, that amounts to quite a bit.

So, Brian and I kind of settle back into our seats happy with our progress. It's been a good day (aside from getting turned around on the subway once) when Brian looked to his left and almost fell out of his chair. He sends me a text message asking if the man sitting by himself in the corner is Brad Holland and almost splits a seam trying to contain his laughter. I get said text message and look over, not wanting to believe my eyes, but hoping it is Mr. Holland. Oh, it was. For those who aren't in the know, the man is one of the people on the top of the game that have been throned there for a long time. The year I was born Brad had won something like four medals in the illustration annual that year. And he was very well established by that point. He's been around forever, has been ripped off by more than anyone in contemporary illustration, and needs to reinvent himself every few years and guess what, still comes out on top. We were floored. What else could we do, but go talk to him?

For the next half an hour aside from drinking stories and inviting us out to his favorite bar for a drink before we leave town, he fills us in on what's going on with the orphan act. A quick summary of the act would be:

"OpenCongress Summary:
This bill would limit the amount of damages a copyright holder could collect from an infringer of an orphan work if the infringer performed a diligent search for the copyright holder before using their work. The goal of the legislation is to free up for reuse copyrighted works whose holders cannot be found. It would also set up a process for the Copyright Office to certify commercially-produced visual registries to help people locate the holder of a copyright and prevent the orphaning of works in the future."

And more information can be found here .

To cut to the quick, the Graphic Artist's Guild is trying to push this thing through congress and the senate and apparently they're backed by google. Which, is really scary, since google is a multi-billion dollar a year corporation. But who else would benefit from a relaxation of copyright laws but a company that offers any image on the internet? Hmmm... Oh, apparently it gets better. If you wanted to protect yourself from the evils of this act, you'll have to register your images. Which, of course, incurs a fee. A fee for digitization. A fee for file maintainance. A fee for anything else they're willing to charge you, I'm sure. But what other choice would we, as image makers, have? Register or get shut down. All of a sudden I feel like a mutant... and Brad Holland is my Charles Xavier! But you definitely couldn't sue anyone for infringing on your rights, becaues how could you prove the searcher wasn't "diligent" in their search? Oh...

So, on one hand I'm excited to run into one of the top players in my game in the midst of a city with six million people. But on the other hand, I'm sad, because he spent the last few months not working as an illustrator to fight this bill. A bill that the interested parties are trying to hotline and sneak through both the senate and congress. A bill that would make my visit here in New York pretty much for naught. The estimation for compliance to this bill would cost the individual as much as one million dollars, and depending on how many images one owns for registration could take as many as two hundred and thirty-eight years to properly catalog everything. I'm here to tell you, I have neither of those available to me.

BUT! We said our farewells to Brad and headed back to Harlem to our little home away from home. Actually we parted ways for the afternoon and I ended up walking around Columbia University for a bit before heading home. That night we got up, hopped a bus into Queens, and found ourselves sitting at a table at Oktoberfest. Rusty, true to his word as always, brought his lady friend with him. Also one of my new favorite people, David and his lady friend were in attendance. We got to talkin' when Megan and her crew showed up and we celebrated everything from New York, to Megan, to scary business ventures. I must honestly say I had a great time. And fries. The best gorram fries I've ever had in my life. I had a bunch of them. I hear tell that there's fried chees with ham that I may have to go back to try. I mean, why not! Brian and I stumbled in the door early early Sunday morning and, like I said, decided to sleep (after watching an episode of Firefly) instead of blogging.

Sunday held no such excitement for me, so I didn't feel the need to write about it. I mean really, who'd want to read about me sleeping all day and reading? 'Cause that's all I really did. And today wasn't much better. I called around trying to get information for portfolio drop offs with minimal success. Most of the answers I did get were for Wednesday drop offs, so I don't know what I'll occupy myself with tomorrow. Mayhap I'll wile away the day in a bookshop looking up new contacts. All I know is there's life drawing at the Society of Illustrators at 6:30 and I plan on being in attendance.

Uhm. That's it.

I'm King Cheez-It, and I'm here to fix your internet!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 2: Seeing what isn't there

Brian and I got a bit of a late start on the day, but we did swing by the post office to talk to some lovely ladies through a glass partition and pick up some much needed postage. Then it was a hop onto the A-train, where we promptly got lost in a system of underground tubes, tunnels, and passageways. We managed to emerge into the daylight at Barclay and Church and didn't see something amazing; the World Trade Center. It didn't feel right, being in a city famous for buildings so tall they block out the sky and stumbling across an immense open space where light floods down from above. I mean, I can't fathom the impact it had on people who saw the building every day and now don't see it (I can hardly stand the loss when a house gets torn down in my neighborhood) not to mention the great loss of life. I just can't wrap my mind around it other than to point out the void. It didn't feel right. We ducked into a little pizza shop to grab a bite to eat (we were feeling a bit peckish, you see) and sat staring out at ground zero. Honestly it was almost too much for me.

Speaking of pizza, I tried white pizza. A customer at Pizza My Heart was telling me about it not too long ago and well, since I found it I figured I'd might as well try it. I guess it's mostly an east coast thing, but it was good.

"Most commonly, especially on the east coast of the United States, the toppings consist only of mozzerella and ricotta cheese drizzled with olive oil and spices like fresh basil and garlic."

From there we wandered down along the Hudson River into Battery Park City, where we sat and drew the Statue of Liberty from a great distance. From there we skipped (ok, not literally) into the National Museum of the American Indian and were struck by the solitary beauty of their dresses and masks. We took plenty of pictures and then ventured back into the city. We walked up Broadway for quite a while, and when we had our fill with the walking we hopped onto the subway again. And got turned around again. When we emerged triumphant for the second time in a day, we picked up some more groceries (healthy stuff, Stephany, I promise) and then came back to the apartment inspired, and ready to get to work.

Thought for the day: what's the proper etiquette for photographing sleeping people on a crowded subway train?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hot town, summer in the city.

Well, here I am. Sitting in an apartment in New York City. Southwest Harlem, to be exact - in case anyone was curious. My buddy Brian and I are here to make a serious go of illustration. Well, that's not entirely accurate. We're here to try to meet with people in the field; and from that I think the end result in mind is to start getting freelance work. If this were the golden age, this would kind of be the christening - to be a New York illustrator. But, alas, this isn't the golden age, which at the moment I'm actually kind of happy for - I like living in Oakland. Digital technology has definitely revolutionized the way we're allowed to work. Take Greg Newbold for instance. Fantastic illustrator who lives out in Utah. That would have been immensely difficult to do even fifty years ago. Coming to New York was just what you did if you wanted to be successful at it. So like I said, here I am.

According to google maps I am 2905 miles from home, so in a sense this will serve as a sort of journal of traveling illustrators. We've definitely traveled, and I'm sure we're bound to get into a fair amount of trouble (Sorry Stephany, sorry Andra) so I'll keep you posted. Currently my companion and I are battening down the hatches and getting ready to hit the street running with our wares. It feels like there's still so much to do, a lot of fine-tuning and preening, but I'm ready. The next 20 days or so are going to be intense and full of emotion and I'll be sure to write as much of it down as I can stand.