Let us ponder that question…
August saw the publication of my third coloring book for adults, Fanciful Mandalas, Flowers And Patterns – A Stress Relief Coloring Book For Adults, available on Amazon. Fifty hand drawn illustrations fill this square colouring book, ready for colored pencils and pens.
I think this is my best coloring book by far. I had a blast drawing the mandalas in particular, which is a design element I had never worked with before. As I wrote on one of my Instagram posts showing a progress sketch “drawing mandalas is like having a kaleidoscope open in my head!” I enjoyed the orderly layout of each geometric symbol, getting a circle just so or a curve exactly right and then repeating it all around the mandala. As I mentioned, everything is hand drawn so there was no computer assistance on these designs. This means that each section is not 100% exactly the same all the way around the illustration but I think that gives the drawings an authentic and charming feel.
Fanciful Mandalas, Flowers And Patterns is one third mandalas, one third flowers and one third patterns. The floral pages range from jumbo blooms to mosaics and my favorite, twisting vines that look over themselves among a riot of leaves and petals. When it came to the patterns, well, some are truly repeat style patterns like diamonds, arrows and tiles. The rest of the “patterns” are a little more free style with hearts, four leaf clovers and a groovy peace sign drawing that feels very retro.
Since this is my third adult coloring style book and I have ideas for at least a half a dozen more rattling around in my head, I do believe I have discovered a new love. I do put an enormous amount of pressure on myself when creating the artwork for these books, trying to get each line just right, but it’s still quite enjoyable. I am already pretty bad about forgetting to eat breakfast or even lunch when working, but when I am creating new coloring pages, it’s even worse… I completely forget that I’m hungry.
These books take months to assemble. First I lay out the designs entirely in pencil and then go over the sketch using my trusty Sharpie Pen (fine) and have been known to rethink and rework an entire section while in the Sharpie phase. Essentially I am drawing each coloring book design twice. Then I scan them into the computer, clean them up as needed, then move on to the additional inside pages and then design the cover. Only when all of the files are ready can I upload them for publication.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s a true labor of love. I really enjoy creating a black and white illustration and then seeing one of the coloring hobby’s colorists apply their creative touch to the drawing by adding their colors, shadings and highlights. I can’t describe how cool it is to watch.
I hope you enjoy Fanciful Mandalas, Flowers And Patterns – A Stress Relief Coloring Book For Adults. If you are on Instagram and color one of my illustrations from the book, please post a photo of your masterpiece tagging @theartofvikki and use the hashtag #theartofvikki so I can see how you made my mandalas beautiful.
Zazzle has just announced the addition of the new metallic foil ink print process on greeting cards and it’s very exciting! Real foil printing opens the door to customers who crave real shine and bling now being able to purchase one of a kind custom and personalized cards printed with real “sleek foil”.
It’s not hard to understand why all my weekend plans were thrown out the window when Zazzle metallic foil was announced late on Friday. I was beyond thrilled to design these new greeting cards and shelved all other projects so I could dive right in. In my Artful Designs By Vikki shop, I started with the holidays. I created new high contrast black and white gray scale graphics to work with the design tool filters and technology. Christmas trees, Menorahs and snowflakes, oh my!
These new foil cards are too much fun. I ran the gambit from Hanukkah to Christmas, Holiday typography to Chrismukkah, and threw in a 50 And Fabulous card for good measure. One of my first designs was “Joy To The World” in silver foil on white with modern polka dots. I was feeling out the design process when I created this card. It’s on the large 5″ x 7″ horizontal size, includes a photo template so the customer can replace it with their own family portrait and two text templates inside; the greeting “Joy to the world The Lord has come!” and an optional signature line to imprint the family names. The outside is a jumbo silver JOY in a light grey shimmer circle surrounded by several more metallic circles in both the same light silver and the darker true silver foil. The bottom of the card has the line “TO THE WORLD” in a simple modern font. While it was actually the second personalized foil card that I made on the 29th, it shows as the last card in the batch. I made a last minute design change right before dinner Saturday night and re-made the card. You know how artists are!
I have so many projects on my list right now but I can’t stop designing these metallic greeting cards! It’s not work, it’s a joy. Every new card that I create inspires a new design just begging to come out. It’s like when I was a kid and was presented with a new box of crayons or a new watercolor box. Zazzle, my dear Zazzle, I may need you to send over someone to dust because I’m having too much fun with the new real foil custom greeting cards.
If these foil cards look half as nice in person as the site previews indicate, these are going to be a big hit. The new cards some in three sizes, folded: 5″ x 7″ [greeting card] 4.25″ x 5.5″ [note card] and 3.5″ x 5″ [mini]. There are two mettalic foil finishes, gold and silver, and the customer has the option to change a silver foil design to gold foil if they wish, and vice versa.
In addition, three paper types are offered in all sizes and the customer can choose their own paper:
Paper Type: Standard Matte
[17.5 pt thickness / 120 lb weight / 324 GSM]
Light white, uncoated matte finish with an eggshell texture
Paper Type: Premium Kraft
[18 pt thickness/ 125 lb weight / 338 GSM]
Kraft, smooth and refined vellum finish
Paper Type: Premium Grey
[16 pt thickness/ 130 lb weight / 352 GSM]
Neutral grey, smooth finish
I love how the silver foil looks on the Premium Kraft paper, and the gold on Premium Grey. The Kraft and Grey have a slightly higher price point but do look rich enough to deserve it. All these new metallic SLEEK FOIL cards are proudly made and printed in the USA, and in my case, proudly designed in the USA. If you find one of my holiday designs pleasing and choose it for your Christmas cards or Hanukkah greetings, I will be almost as happy as I was when I designed it.
I recently added Spoonflower to my roster of Print On Demand shops and I have been having quite a lot of fun playing with surface design and creating specialty fabrics. Spoonflower primarily sells one of a kind fabrics designed by independent artists but they also carry the same surface designs on wallpaper and wrapping paper, which is sure to make crafters happy.
While researching Spoonflower prior to opening my store, I stumbled on an Etsy forum discussion where people were assuring each other that they are not allowed to sell anything in their Etsy shops that were made using Spoonflower fabrics, because of artist’s copyrights. I almost wished I had an Etsy account just so I could jump in and explain that this is not true! I think these lovely Etsy folks were being super respectful of copyrights, which is a breath of fresh air compared to what most artists encounter these days. The fact is, if you purchase fabric from anywhere, including Spoonflower, you have every right to sew a bag or a dress or a scarf, and then sell it. You bought the material, the artist/designer was paid, go have fun with it. What you *cannot* do is steal the artist’s design and sell it on fabric or a pillow or a card, even if you printed or sewed it yourself. I really appreciate the Etsy people being so careful of fellow artists, but if anyone out there reads this and can get back to the Etsy sellers, please tell them I would be super happy if they purchased fabric from my Spoonflower shop, sewed a tote bag or doggie bed using said fabric and then sold the new creation in their Etsy store!
Spoonflower has weekly surface pattern design challenges that are super fun. I have entered a few and these contests have helped push me out of my comfort zone. Artists can get a bit too comfortable staying in a particular genre or medium, and while I am very happy when I find a rut that I like, it’s good to spread those wings and see what happens.
The one and only downfall I see about Spoonflower is that a designer must proof each design before it can be sold, and that costs money. Starving artist and all that. While I have a handful of designs proofed and available for purchase, I hope to add to the current selection in the very near future.
Coloring Books For Adults
While I was sketching out the rough outline for my first adult coloring book, The Classy Lady’s Coloring Book [pub. winter 2017] the idea for my second book popped into my head: Weddings! The whole time I was drawing illustrations for Classy Lady I was simultaneously thinking forward to bridal designs and themes. Thank goodness my brain can multi-task.
The wedding fashion part of the colouring book includes wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, fancy wedding shoes, a veil, a tiara [you know I love me a tiara] rings and wedding bouquets. Another selection of artwork is typography basked with classic wedding words in fanciful styles: Bride, Groom, Husband, Wife, Save The Date, Love, Mr. and Mrs. and the blessing Something Old Something New Something Borrowed Something Blue.
The remainder of the hand drawn illustrations run the gambit of wedding day. There’s a church steeple and a floral wedding arch, the ring bearer’s pillow and the flower girl’s petal basket. There are hearts, wedding bells, rice and bubbles and two wedding cakes. One of my favorite drawings is Just Married and it’s the back of an old fashioned car dragging a string of old fashioned cans with JUST MARRIED scrawled across the back window and LOVE for the license plate. It’s not a fancy bit of artwork but it’s so innocent and hopeful, just like a bride and groom on their wedding day.
A Unique Gift Idea For Brides And Bridesmaids
Wedding Fashion And Traditions: A Coloring Book For Adults is not only a perfect way to relax for brides who love to color, but it’s also a fun gift idea for brides and bridesmaids alike. Create “wedding survival” gift bags filled with aspirin, bottled water, snacks, a split of wine, colored pencils or markers and a copy of Wedding Fashion And Traditions with a handwritten message inside the cover for each bridesmaid. Hopeless romantics will enjoy this grownup coloring book too, because you don’t have to be planning a wedding to believe in love!
If you are hoping for an adult colouring book filled with realistic women and men modeling wedding clothing or gray scale images with the shading already done, this is not the book for you. My style is fanciful, whimsical and unique. I sketched each illustration on paper with pencil first, getting the design just right, then finished the final pieces by going over the lines using fine tip black Sharpie pens. I would die without my Sharpie pens! Each coloring page was then scanned and cleaned up in a graphics editor, but only a little. The lines are not perfect because this wedding coloring book is all hand drawn and totally original. I want that human touch to be included in each image that you colour. I hope you enjoy filling in these lines that I drew because I had a heck of a lot of fun creating them for you.
A Coloring Book For Adults
My adventure into self publishing a coloring book for adults is now a month old. I am as proud of The Classy Lady’s Coloring Book today as I was when I first conceived the notion in early January and completed the project in February, ready to publish.
This 72 page book, available on Amazon, is filled with 30 original illustrations in black and white for grownups to colour. Featuring pictures that celebrate fashion, food and fun, The Classy Lady’s Coloring Book is printed with one art piece per page which avoids a bleed through to another design on the back. Each piece can be coloured separately and then framed and hung as your own piece of personalized artwork.
Coloring for grownups is a growing trend that has been embraced as a great form of stress relief. When I first discussed my project with a dear friend of mine, she said she and her girls color all the time. She then began to explain the soothing effects of filling in shapes with colored pencils or fine tip markers and sounded almost apologetic about why she and her girls enjoyed it. I said “you don’t need to sell me on it. I’m an artist! I know exactly how calming it is to loose oneself in creating a piece of art.”
My first coloring book for grownups is themed around the good life and celebrates fashion with ball gowns, shoes, a fabulous boot, handbags and yes, a tiara. There are also images of fancy food such as sushi, petit fours and caviar and beverages like champagne, a margarita, a classic martini and wine. The illustrations are rounded out with make up items like lipstick, nail polish and make up brushes and jewelry items like a pearl necklace, bracelets and yes, a tiara. Everybody loves a sparkly tiara!
Adult colouring is a relaxing bit of art therapy
As I said in a discussion with a lovely lady about grownups who colour, why shouldn’t everyone have a chance to express themselves in some artistic form? The Classy Lady’s Coloring Book is my offering to those who color as a form of art therapy and a way to relax. I draw for those who cannot; now it is up to you to make that drawing beautiful.
So grab your pencils, your pens and your brightest markers and have at it. I would love to see how you personalize my images so post them to Instagram and be sure to tag @theartofvikki so I can see them!
So my donation to the Twitter Art Exhibit 2017 being held in Stratford upon Avon UK is safely in the hands of the exhibition curators! This is Cool Llama In Purples.
Measuring in at just a smidgen over 6 inches by 4 inches, this mixed media postcard sized art was created using colored pencils, ink and a tiny bit of acrylic paint on the red sunglasses. This whimsical llama art in purples, blue, yellows and greens was based on my original Cool Llama design created last year for a funny tee shirt competition held by Redbubble.com. Cool Llama can be viewed and purchased in my Redbubble shop.
This is my fifth year participating in the Twitter Art Exhibit. I thought it was my sixth donation because I was convinced I had participated in the 2011 exhibit held in Moss, Norway. I forgive myself for that since my first participation was actually in 2012 BUT I created that postcard in late 2011 so, I got mixed up on the years!
Founded by fellow artist David Sandum in 2010, the annual Twitter Art Exhibit raises funds for a different charity each year. The first show was held in the Moss Public Library in Norway and featured 260 artists from 24 countries to raise funds for new books for the children of Moss. The event has gone global, with art exhibitions from Miami, FL to Los Angeles, CA then back to Moss, Norway and then New York, NY in 2016. This years event in the United Kingdom has just closed it’s call to artists with over 1,600 artists participating from 65 countries! The charity this year is Molly Olly’s Wishes and the exhibition will run from April 1 to 19, 2017. Online sales will also be offered, so if Cool Lllama In Purples does not sell at the event, you may have a chance to purchase him even if you are no where near the UK.
Plans are already in the works for 2018 and the location will be announced on opening night. We already have a tease that it will not be held in Europe or America. Mystery! As an artist, I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to donate to the Twitter Art Exhibit every year and while I don’t travel much, my art goes around the world.
Does Amazon sell fakes? You bet they do. Amazon allows the sale of counterfeit goods via their “third party sellers” and now the company itself prints, sells and ships counterfeit tee shirts via their Merch By Amazon program. I know this because Amazon.com, Inc. is currently selling my original design on two shirts and they refuse to remove them. Part One – Deplorable Amazon Counterfeits 09-23-16
Amazon.com refuses, IN WRITING, to remove these shirts and will continue to use my designs without authorization or a licensing agreement. The last email I received from the Amazon copyright office regarding my “Deplorable Voter God Bless America” design was dated Mon, Nov 14, 2016 3:14 pm and read as follows:
Thank you for your message. As previously stated, these items will not be removed from the catalog based on the information you provided. Unless you have other, different grounds for requesting their removal, we would ask that you no longer submit notices for these items.
That’s right, the huge mega company Amazon just told the small business owner and independent artist to stop bothering them!
From September 17th when I sent the first DMCA take down notice until November 14th, I received several different and conflicting emails on the two shirts that are still up on Amazon. Two on 9/21 and 9/23 both read “Thank you for your message. The items you identified below share a simple phrase with the items you list. Short phrases are not covered by copyright, nor are ideas. As these items do not share artwork we do not believe there is a copyright claim here.” Well, that is correct, short phrases are not covered by copyright, that would be a TRADEMARK and I didn’t claim a trademark infringement. Duh. As to the lack of “artwork” I responded with a rather lengthy email 9/25, part of which read:
Since Amazon does receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, i.e. the shirt design reported is actually sold by Amazon.com via the Merch By Amazon program and Amazon is not simply a “service provider” in this instance, that is an additional factor in the loss of “Safe Harbor”.
In addition, the DMCA law does not allow for a service provider to act as an interpreter of copyright law or argue against a DMCA takedown notice. Nor does the law require the copyright holder to defend their copyright claim to the service provider with any additional information or the explanation of copyright laws. The copyright holder is required to file a written communication and notification of claimed infringement as outlined in § 512. Limitations on liability relating to material online, section (3) Elements of notification, and the service provider is to remove said infringement once notification is received.
However, on September 21st I received the one and only reply to all sixteen of my infringement notices from G– S— Copyright/Trademark Agent in which Mr. S— advised that “Short phrases are not covered by copyright, nor are ideas. As these items do not share artwork we do not believe there is a copyright claim here.” Mr. S— then directed me to copyright.gov’s circular 34 “Copyright Protection Not Available for Names, Titles, or Short Phrases” for additional information.
The copyright protections being claimed and the resulting infringements on Amazon.com have nothing to do with “short phrases or ideas” and while Mr. S— may not consider graphic design to be “artwork” and believes that only his definition of “artwork” receives protection under Title 17 Copyright Law, with all due respect, Mr. S— doesn’t work for the U.S. Copyright Office.
While the DMCA law does not require me to defend nor explain my claim of copyright infringement as initially communicated, I am happy to provide Amazon.com with the link to “Title 17 Copyright Law” http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html and will include the pertinent information directly in this email:
§ 101 . Definitions
Except as otherwise provided in this title, as used in this title, the following terms and their variant forms mean the following:
A “compilation” is a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term “compilation” includes collective works.
§ 102 . Subject matter of copyright: In general
(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
§ 103 . Subject matter of copyright: Compilations and derivative works
(a) The subject matter of copyright as specified by section 102 includes compilations and derivative works, but protection for a work employing preexisting material in which copyright subsists does not extend to any part of the work in which such material has been used unlawfully.
(b) The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material. The copyright in such work is independent of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material.
In the language of copyright law, graphic design is properly described as a “compilation work” Section 101 Definitions. My graphic design was formed by the collection and assembly of certain letters from particular and differing fonts [preexisting materials] that I selected, coordinated and arranged, including the particular size and exact spacing of said letters and fonts, into an original work of authorship. This original work of authorship receives copyright protection under Section 102 Subject matter of copyright: In general [Subsection (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;] and Section 103 Subject matter of copyright: Compilations and derivative works “The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work”. My original and unique selection, coordination and arrangement of the preexisting material including the specific size, spacing and layout of said preexisting materials is the material contributed by the author, myself, that created what becomes the original work.
The email I received in reply could make a person laugh and cry – Sun, Sep 25, 2016 4:41 pm “We respect the intellectual property rights of others. We require that sellers on our site do the same. If you think that an item on our site infringes your intellectual property rights, please submit a complaint using our online form.” So on the 27th of September I replied:
The law requires that I provide written communication of the copyright infringement, which I did via email on September 17, 2016, and is located at the bottom of this message. The law does not require that I use Amazon’s online complaint form.
Now, every time I sent a failure to comply notice on these shirts, I included a CC: to Jeff Bezos, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, the FBI Intellectual Property Theft email, and the contact for the Merch By Amazon sellers program. This time, while the copyright office of Amazon ignored me, the Merch By Amazon office sent a reply: Tue, Sep 27, 2016 8:55 am “We have noticed you contacted us several times regarding to infringement reports. Protecting intellectual property rights is important to us and we are here to assist you prior to your inquires. In order to continue process and forward your report promptly, please kindly send us emails with text only. It seems your request contains HTLM and it sometimes slows down our process. We appreciate your corporations and understanding in this matter. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us! Best regards, K— Merch by Amazon Support”
My email contains HTML? It’s slowing down the process? You’re kidding me. Are you noticing the pattern? Deny, ignore, deflect, obstruct and obfuscate. That is Amazon.com, Inc.’s pattern for dealing with intellectual property theft BY THEIR OWN COMPANY. I sent several more emails before the November 14th response that basically told me to shut up. I never did respond again. I cannot take the chance that Amazon would block my email or something as I need to be able to report future thefts of my artwork and designs that continue to populate their site both by third party sellers and by the Merch By Amazon program. In their subtle way, Amazon.com has bullied me into halting further action regarding the two shirts still being sold on the Amazon site.
The good news is that out of the sixteen shirts I originally reported on September 17, 2016, two were removed in mid-September and the remaining twelve were confirmed as gone from the site as of November 14th. Having said that, the Amazon Merchandise program recently implemented a new standard whereby if a shirt design uploaded by a MBA seller does not sell within 60 days, it is removed from the site. So the twelve that were confirmed as no longer live on Amazon 11/14/16 most probably were dropped due to no sales. That means the two that remain HAVE sold, so there is the proof that the Merch By Amazon seller who stole my design and Amazon.com, who is physically manufacturing i.e. printing the shirts, are directly profiting from the use of my graphic design WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. I have the evidence, the screen shots and all the emails.
One day Amazon will rue the day they decided to be judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the illegal use of the copyrights of others; they will RUE the day!
On the night of September 12th, while my dinner was in the oven, I created two original designs for tee shirts that were inspired by Hillary Clinton’s “Basket Of Deplorables” remarks. Counterfeiters quickly stole them and began selling them via the Merch By Amazon program, where t-shirts are printed by and sold by Amazon.com. Amazon refuses to comply with my repeated DMCA notices; they must be making a fortune off of my designs and want the cash to continue to flow.
Hillary made her comment on Friday, I did a text only design on Saturday to sell in my Zazzle shop in blue font PROUD DEPLORABLE TRUMP SUPPORTER HAND ME MY BASKET and then Sunday was the 15th anniversary of 9/11. I typically spend that day watching the History Channel and remembering. Now it was Monday evening and I had forgotten to do something for my Redbubble store. With my hamburger drying out in the oven, I created two graphic designs using text only, which is rare for me. The first was DEPLORABLE AMERICAN and the second was DEPLORABLE VOTER GOD BLESS AMERICA, both in plain white for dark tees. At this point I had turned off the oven and my dinner was not only well done but also growing cold as I carefully tried out different fonts, spacing and layout to turn plain words into visually interesting designs. I cleaned up the edges of each letter, set the background to transparent and got them uploaded to Redbubble on shirts only. I was hungry so I slathered the cold, dry burger with extra ketchup and vowed to do the sticker and mug variations in the morning.
The two original shirts were picking up sales all day and I was very pleased. I got the new designs up in my Redbubble shop and called it a night. Wednesday morning showed me a massive amount of sales for the original shirts were rolling in. I spent the day creating new versions for my Zazzle store. I like to keep my designs exclusive to just one site so if I want to sell it in another shop I will change it up some. I used a faux gold background and masking techniques to create a faux metallic DEPLORABLE AMERICAN design for Zazzle. Since Zazzle’s platform allows for customer personalization, I added text to the men’s version so it read DEPLORABLE AMERICAN PATRIOT and on the ladies shirt, DEPLORABLE AMERICAN MOM. Then I used the same masking over faux silver for a fresh take on DEPLORABLE VOTER GOD BLESS AMERICA only this time I only used DEPLORABLE VOTER with God Bless America added as a text template so customers can change it if they wish. Finally I did a faux gold and silver version of TRUMP AND THE DEPLORABLES THE IRREDEEMABLE WORLD TOUR 2016 exclusively for my Zazzle store.
Friday, September 16th the shirt sales had slowed down a bit. I checked the Redbubble marketplace to see where I was ranking and was horrified to find three separate rip-offs of my DEPLORABLE VOTER GOD BLESS AMERICA design posted by other Bubblers. It was blatant copyright theft of my design image with identical fonts, spacing and layout. I filed DMCA notices for all three shirts with Redbubble’s copyright office and the shirts were immediately removed from the site. It was my first time dealing with the copyright folks at Redbubble and I cannot sing their praises enough. Since then I have found and reported eight infringements in the Redbubble marketplace and the RB team has promptly taken care of the matter.
But the shirt sales were still slowing. Now it could have been that the Basket of Deplorables frenzy was over in less than a week or perhaps it was simply market saturation. The second would make sense since when I first posted my designs on Monday the 12th there were only 20 or 40 designs coming up when I searched RB for “deplorable” and by Saturday morning it was 400 or 500 results. Then a horrifying thought came to me… AMAZON! If you are a regular visitor to my blog and website you know I have been fighting fake products and design theft on Amazon.com for the past year. It’s a struggle. But surely the Chinese counterfeiters hadn’t had the chance to scrape the web for Deplorable designs yet, had they?
So there I was on Saturday afternoon, with a pit in my stomach, searching Amazon.com for DEPLORABLE and scrolling through page after page of tee shirts. There were 131 pages and I got through 81 before stopping for dinner. I found five separate listings with my original DEPLORABLE AMERICAN design and eleven for the original DEPLORABLE VOTER GOD BLESS AMERICA design. My shirts list for $25.84 on Redbubble while some of the fakes on Amazon.com were listed at $11.99! No wonder my sales trickled to a halt if folks can get a counterfeit version on Amazon for 46% less. I took screen shots, copied ASIN numbers and page links and filed sixteen individual DMCA take down requests via email to Amazon’s copyright office and shut down the computer for the night.
Sunday morning my inbox showed two, just two, automated “we received your email we will be in touch” replies from Amazon. I was pretty angry about the multiple thefts of my designs but it was the weekend so I figured I would give them until Monday. So I checked the final pages 82 through now 136 then started work on the last of my Deplorable designs, this time in the form of a “family crest” because when ideas come into my head, the best thing to do is just let them run free.
A side note: It was around Sunday that I ventured over to the Merch By Amazon forum to read and get a feel for the atmosphere. A fellow designer has been very happy with his success since receiving an invitation to Merch By Amazon. When he again gleefully shared the number of shirts he sells daily at MBA while I was quietly lamenting the sudden slowdown of my successful Deplorable designs and how much money I was losing, I began to ponder submitting my information to Amazon to request an invitation to sell there. I know! But a girl’s gotta eat and you know what they say about keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Having an account at Merch By Amazon would be pretty close! No, I don’t really consider Amazon to be my enemy – I still shop there sometimes – but they sure are a tough opponent when it comes to copyright infringements on their site. Okay, why did I just tell you about this Merch pondering? Because one can learn a lot by reading and the information I picked up from Sunday onward about MBA proved extremely helpful regarding the sixteen infringements I reported.
Now it’s Monday morning September 19th, exactly one week since the original DEPLORABLE AMERICAN and DEPLORABLE VOTER GOD BLESS AMERICA designs were available on Redbubble. The shirt sales of both have slowed to barely a crawl. Amazon still hasn’t replied to the sixteen infringement reports but I’m fair, even when angry, so I give them the first day back in the office to sort things out. I worked on other things and read a little more over at the Merch By Amazon forum. I’m drinking it all in, weighing my options.
Tuesday morning arrives bright and early yet still nothing from Amazon’s copyright office. Like I said, they are a tough adversary but rarely do they full out ignore my notices like this. I send a Failure To Comply notice for each infringement, adding some rather strong CC’s. My anger made me add a little extra note in each email: “Exactly what do you do with the listing fees and percentage of sales fees you collect from third party sellers prior to items being removed for copyright infringement?” See, at this point I’m still working on the believe that these shirts are being sold by third party sellers, although the seller/brand names were particularly kooky and I’ve seen some off the wall Amazon seller names.
Wednesday morning – two auto-reply “thanks for emailing us” replies from Amazon, nothing else. What the heck? Why would they be ignoring me like this? It’s certainly not good for them. Complying with a DMCA notice is not a suggestion, it’s the law. Unless… Oh. My. God. I start Googling furiously.
Ubuntu Made is part of the non-profit Ubuntu Life which began as a friendship between Zane Wilemon and Jeremiah Kuria, a Kenyan minister in a small town on the outskirts of Nairobi by the name of Maai Mahiu. That friendship blossomed into a venture that included a cafe, a farm with organic produce, clinics, a special needs school and a sustainable accessories line. The accessories line, hand crafted by members of the Maasai tribe, resulted in collaborations with brands such as Whole Foods, American Eagle and now Zazzle, and is now on track to turn Ubuntu into a full-fledged lifestyle brand. With the Zazzle partnership, the Maasai are creating items that will be turned into high end personalized gifts and keepsakes.
This summer, they’re re-launching themselves in a new light. Undergoing a rebranding process: the non-profit which was once called CTC International is now Ubuntu Life, and the accessories line, Ubuntu Made. Their wares includes bags, clutches, iPhone covers, bandanas, bangles, and keychains. Plus, wine bottle carriers (which cheekily read, “Save the Wino”) and mug holders are sold at 450 Whole Foods stores in the country. Silicon Valley-based Zazzle, a marketplace for handmade items, partnered with the African non-profit to introduce their new line of iPhone covers, bags, and keychains. Ubuntu provides the locally-sourced leather; Zazzle can customize it with images and text, etched directly onto the leather. – Forbes.com article
When Zazzle first announced it’s new Zazzle Heart 2.0 “The Adventure Collection” I was immediately inspired by the story behind the new products and wanted to make something special for this unique line. I thought of “Cat Jobs” which was my postcard donation to the Twitter Art Exhibit in February. That postcard art sent to New York City was my first tribal style cat and I had always planned on someday creating more tribal style animals because the #twitterartexhibit donation had turned out so well. I had the feeling that the laser-etching process being used in The Adventure Collection would work beautifully with the tattoo art style, so I eventually sat down and did another sleeping cat. I was right. The brand new version of my tribal cat drawing looks so cool on the Ubuntu Made products!