I remember laughing when my friend said that their house was looking a bit 'washed in with the tide', and that I wasn't to 'mind the mess'
Of course to me it looked fine and dandy, and like someone was living there.
I chuckled again the other day remembering the comment, as I know my website was looking a bit 'washed in with the tide' itself. A bit more Leonardo's workshop than Rietveld Schroder's 'Utrecht' house (see my MA Hons in Art History hasn't gone totally to waste), but I digress.
Anyway, the website is slowly coming together. I've added a page where you can see my recent paintings. The plan is to delve deeper into each piece and explain the inspiration behind them. In the meantime there's a link to my Etsy shop where i'm selling limited edition prints of my paintings, and also open editions of some other pieces.
The poor Etsy shop had lain practically empty until January 2018, but at last it's getting a little 'love and attention'. Glad to say I made my first sale on it last week...huzzah!
Here's the link, if you'd like to buy some contemporary art from me.
Well, the excitement on this tuesday #coosday is that...
..Wee Hamish has launched on the American portal of Amazon.com
Woooo...streamers falling and all that malarkey.
He's on a little t-shirt under my 'Cup O' Kindness' brand, and i'm adding more designs with him and the rest of my illustrative work presently.
Click the picture and a new window will take you there.
It's just from the Amazon.com site for the moment, but if you're not based in America then he's still available from all my usual shops here.
It's been a busy couple of weeks.
I've added a couple of new places where i'm stocking my art work - but don't fear, i'll not be spamming here there and everywhere in an effort to liberate you from your cash!
I'm aiming more for a 'how it's going' kind of thing.
The first place is Etsy.
I actually opened on Etsy a while back, but i'd only ever kept one badly taken photo of my Highland Cow..but now, well, i've given it a good spring clean and there's a whole herd awaiting you. Have a little peek in case the hairy beasties are feeling lonely.
The second is Amazon.com.
Now you might not have heard of Amazon.com, they are only a tiny little store, but i hear they may grow a little, given enough time and support.
I'll delve deeper into my experiences with both outlets as the weeks progress.
In the meantime, here's a link to each place -
The backstory -
You'll remember that I had a lot of trouble a while back with my art designs being unscrupulously ripped from my online stores and then being put up for sale on the Amazon marketplace by counterfeiters (mainly from China but there were other bad actors too).
Well, it's been over a year since i've seen any of my designs being sold this way, so a little knock on wood, and a little bit of praise where it's due to Amazon becoming more successful in squishing this type of behaviour.
It's the worst feeling, as an artist, when you see your hard work being stolen in this way. At the end of the day most of us use our art to pay the rent. I've heard from other artists who are now to scared to even show their work online in fear of it being stolen by these 'bots'.
I ran a series of blogs back in 2016 showing what was happening - not blaming it on the company themselves (well, how were they to know what was someone else's art) and the steps needed to ask Amazon to take down the designs. Sometimes this would be a laborious process, but as I always admitted, Amazon were pretty fast in taking them down, once notified.
So far so good, but why the question of deleting blog posts?
Well, Amazon have launched 'Merch By Amazon', and like other Print On Demand sites such as Zazzle and Cafepress, you can now upload your designs onto t-shirts to sell. The brand recognition of Amazon is huge, hence invaluable to designers, but you have to apply to join.
I've been invited to reapply and give more information on my background as a designer. Which means giving my website details, and thus obviously those blog posts in question will show up.
So, I asked myself, should I keep them up and thereby risk being turned down by the 'Merch By Amazon' folks, or delete them to help ensure a safe passage in.
It was tempting but as sometimes happens I took my advice from unexpected sources - Mr Data from Star Trek The Next Generation -
Mr Data - "And for a time, I was tempted.."
Captain Jean-Luc Picard - "How long a time?"
Mr Data - "0.68 seconds sir. For an android, that is nearly an eternity."
The blogs were written from the point of view of the artist, and in good faith, and ultimately I hope, helped others, and also, in turn, contributed to Amazon as a company coming down hard on issues of copyright..
I'll keep you up to date on how it goes, and hopefully, if and where on Amazon you can find my wee designs!
On A White Charger...
*Update - Part 2 of this odyssey "Apple Juiced!" can be found here.
I love my wee iPad Pro, but jeezo, things are turning into a bit of an odyssey in trying to get Apple to swap over my faulty charger cable for a new working one.
What is it with apple chargers - the one from my Macbook Pro blew up on me - yup, flame, flash, bang and smoulder, and now this one which is only a few months old, say 26 weeks, more or less, is doing that thing where it stops charging until you either pinch it or hold it up at a certain angle to the equator and spin round and howl at the moon.
So far today i've been accompanied on the adventure by 6 different people - 1 Argos helper, then 1 Argos online chat fella and 1 Argos online chat Manager, then 1 Apple support line guy, then 1 Apple virtual reality automated robot woman, who claimed to understand full sentences, and even though she had a Scottish accent herself, she simply couldn't understand my West Coast lilt. And finally 1 online Apple twitter helper who I think was in America, Outer Mongolia, or circling the earth on the good ship 'Granny Smith'.
Let me just say here and now that each of these 'live' people were fantastic, helpful and friendly, and it's not them that i'm frustrated with, rather that Apple's system itself seems to be overly complicated to get a replacement charger. Talking to 'Mrs Robot Woman', however, was like a cross between the Two Ronnies 'computer Dr' routine, and the Burnistoun 'lift' comedy sketch.
I encountered 'Mrs Robot Woman' when I tried to phone the Braehead Apple store directly thinking that maybe someone in my own time zone rather than Mrs Robot Woman's twilight zone might be able to help me better. But each time I got her, and each time when I tried to speak in the space where i had to leave my 'complete' sentences, she would cut me off. I knew then that one of us would 'lose the rag', so i decided to head back to twitter.
"But, Why not just go to the Apple shop?" I hear you cry'.
Well, the sad fact is that I was told by the telephone support that I could go to the apple store and "if they had time they might help me". Now I use my iPad Pro every day for business and being without it interrupts my workflow, therefore the word 'might' just does not cut it with me, especially when it would take the same amount of time for an Apple assistant to sell me a new charger as it would be to swap one over. The phrase "if they have time" also rankled me - especially since i've spent, and encouraged others to spend a fair few thousand pounds on Apple products over the past few years.
I've never once encountered an Apple assistant too busy to sell me something!
I should add here that Apple support did give me a couple of options -
1. They would take money from my bank account and mail a charger out to me, and put the money back in my account when they received (and presumably tested) the faulty charger. (3 to 5 days completion)
2. I could mail in the faulty charger, and then they would mail out a new charger. (3 to 5 days completion)
3. I could go to a service centre 'near me', by which they meant Stirling. Now i'm in Johnstone and a Stirling round trip would be a good few hours to complete and i'd probably spend as much on train fares as I would to buy a new charger.
4. They could fix me an appointment in the Braehead store for the 16th of November.
It's a charger..one simple little wire! I'm not asking for one to be constructed freshly by free-range artisans out of brambles and twigs in a tumbledown cottage in Glencoe! - just one off the shelf will do me!
Since the very beginning I emphasised that I was going to be in Braehead tomorrow anyway so could be in and out the shop in five minutes flat - just put one aside!
So the stage i'm at is thinking i'll go in and talk face to face tomorrow.
I worked in retail for years and appreciate good customer service when it happens.
When my Macbook Pro charger blew up, burnt the carpet and scared the cat, I walked into the Apple Glasgow store and within 5 minutes had a replacement charger in my hand - now that's the kind of service I want to see repeated, and exactly the goodwill that promotes customer loyalty to a brand..
However, that was about three years ago now and tomorrow i'll find out if standards have fallen or if i'll be pleasantly surprised.
Tune in next time and i'll give a fair appraisal of the in store treatment I receive.
The next part can be found here - "Apple Juiced!"
Amazon's Problem With Image Theft - From My Own Experience
Again, I need to stress that I am not putting the boot into Amazon. Every online marketplace has its problem with criminal counterfeiters.
Also, apart from a couple of notable and frustrating exceptions, Amazon has been quick to pull down my designs when notified that they are being sold illegally, and not by the various Print On Demand (POD's) that I work with.
What I have realised through having to have so many hundreds of products taken down (mainly pillows and t-shirts - the crooks favourite items), is that certain patterns emerge. If i'm noticing them, then surely Amazon can get their computer coders to add a little algorithm to the code to stop this at source, to recognise straight away when something is a little bit 'fishy'.
I mean, it's not 'Rocket Science' as Spaceman Jezza details below in this 'cut out and keep' artwork for Amazon coders. It's also handy for consumers too.
These are the certain clues that i have experienced in having hundreds of products removed from the Amazon marketplace.
It's not a one size fits all set of clues, but, it's what i've come across so far in my own case.
Again, it's intended to help Amazon, as maybe they just don't realise how frustrating and time consuming it is for artists to have to spend days and weeks trying to get their own artwork removed from image thieves operating on the Amazon marketplace.
For the moment Amazon are on the 'naughty step', but i'll detail in future blog posts a couple of simple things Amazon could do to help their brand.
On a related note 'Spaceman Jezza' now has his own t-shirt on Zazzle!
Below is info from Amazon's own online form, and email to me, detailing the information they will give to 'third party sellers' when you try to defend your copyright (click image to enlarge).
Now it might sound as if i'm being sensationalist about this, but it's known that most of the copyright infringements on Amazon are run by criminal gangs, rather than some fuzzy little grandma from her sewing room (see link below from the Interpol IP Conference).
Here's what actually happens -
1. I see my designs being sold illegally on the Amazon marketplace
2. I fill in an online form to let Amazon know that these are my designs and i request them to be taken down from the seller.
3. Amazon gives my email address to the 'third party seller'. (yup, these criminal gangs!)
Yes, I know it sounds crazy. But does Amazon give me the address etc of the criminal - hell no!
Love to know if anyone else has had experience of this - either contact me here, or leave a comment..
Here's a link to a speech by David M. Luna (Senior Director for National Security and Diplomacy Anti-Crime Programs, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs) at an Interpol IP Crime Conference in September which shows how seriously the police take these criminal gangs and terrorist organisations operating online, and how it damages not just artists, but the country's economy too. http://m.state.gov/md262085.htm
I've asked Amazon why they need to give this information. I'll pop up their response when, if, I get one.
The Amazon Image Thieves Take Down Process - An Unexpected Twist!
So here's the deal.
I sat on Sunday and filled in the Amazon Take down form to try and get them to shift their backsides and take down my 'T-rex' character that has been posted onto 92 (at the moment - the number seems to fluctuate!) t-shirts - you know the kind of thing - a few different colours, and in all sizes, from kids, to adults, men and women - i'm only surprised they haven't popped it on a t-shirt for dogs, cats, budgerigars, or spiders yet!
If you think thats quite a lot of notices, then trust me, it isn't - it is in fact only 1 of 3 pages worth I had to submit, and that's just for that 1 design!
I've already had to submit take down notices for a few other different designs, as already explained here.
So far, all i've had is an automated response for each one - fab way to fill up an inbox, but necessary.
The funny thing about this take down process for t-rex, is that the seller on the form shows up as Amazon.com (New) (see pic).
I sent an email to the copyright office at Amazon to ask if that meant Amazon themselves were selling my image themselves...now that would take the biscuit.
Obviously I still haven't heard back.
Maybe it's time to give Amazon's press office in the UK a message.
Thanks for coming on the journey with me so far folks!
Today's been fun!
I set up my greenscreen to have a little 'dance' about in front of it to line up shots etc for the new video.
It's a video detailing what happens when you find your artwork has been stolen by 'Image Thieves' and put up for sale on T-shirts, pillows etc on the Amazon Marketplace. Some of which has been on sale for over a year! There's so much information to get through, that it may need to be split into a couple of videos. Depends how fast I talk..and trust me, with my Scottish accent, you don't want me talking too fast!
Don't get me wrong, I don't think Amazon are the font of all evil. I just think they need a kick up the backside to do what's right by independent artists.
For a global multi-billion dollar company, they could surely have better procedures in place for taking down stolen artwork. They should also have coding that recognises images going up onto their marketplace, bouncing back ones that have already been taken down.
I really do think it's time for Amazon to talk to artists about its 'Image Problem'. Trust me, we do have a knack at coming up with creative problem solving solutions, and you'll find we are always willing to talk.
In my next blog post i'll go into detail about what I think Amazon could do.
I'm off tomorrow filming, so if I don't see you over the weekend, have a fantastic one!.
T-rex Is Back In The Amazon Image Thieves Clutches!
I promised him...I mean, I really did. I looked into those teeny weeny T-rex eyes, and promised him that I would get him back to full size, now that I thought we had rescued him.
No one had been prepared for what came next, the speed of those 'Image Thieves' tentacles shooting into the middle of the group...THWACKKK!...T-rex's pillow spun upwards into the air.
SCHWIFFTT! Another tentacle had curled itself around little T-rex's wrist!
SPLIIIFFTT! Another around the other wrist!
FLIPPHHTT! One more pulling at his vest!
It all happened so fast. Those 'Image Thieves' polluting the Amazon marketplace. They seemed to be pulling T-rex in all directions at once...
"Help!" he shouted as he was jiggled, and piggled, and stretched. The more he yowled, the more my heart broke!
"I'm going to bu-r-s-t!!" he yelped, and just at that moment, Poooommphh! - he exploded into lots and lots of even teenier T-rex's.
Tentacles writhed together forming a cage, and before I knew it they had gathered all the little T-rex's and slithered off into the undergrowth.
"Oh T-rex", I thought to myself, "I will find you again buddy. I will not rest!"
It's a sad fact that there are 'Image Thieves' operating in the Amazon Marketplace.
What is absolutely frustrating the amount of time spent however is the time taken to go through Amazon's process when the rights owner of the design (that's me folks) tries to get the product taken down.
Amazon asks that you send a different form in for each time the seller/criminal lists a product with the design on it.
Am I, as the creator of the artwork, getting a bean from this - not at all...Amazon is though! Amazon will still be getting their seller fee for any counterfeit product sold.
So, what stage am I at now - well this one particular seller had listed the image on 2 t-shirts. I sent in two forms to Amazon to get the products taken down. To which the seller responded by putting the image on 93 other t-shirts! Seriously, they cover 5 whole pages!
That means sending in 93 forms to Amazon to get them taken down.
I emailed Amazon's copyright email address, and have been getting back messages of complete and utter indifference.
It's almost as if they are intentionally making it hard for copyright owners to get their work taken down.
Anyway, it's getting late at night now. I hope you enjoy the illustration and little storyline so far.
Got a few ideas rolling around my head on how to kick things up a gear. Don't want all my video, documentary skills going to waste now, do we.
Sleep tight guys, and don't be letting the Amazon marketplace 'Image Thieves' be giving you bad dreams!
Whit's he up tae noo?
The blog posts of David Brodie, a Scottish artist based near Glasgow.