Free Ai Weiwei

- - Art

by Jonathan Blaustein

Photograph by Hugo Tillman

America loves a good bad guy. We’re never really at our best until our backs are against the wall. Just look at Rocky Balboa. He was fat, tired and lazy until Clubber Lang came along. Or was it Ivan Drago? Regardless, Manifest Destiny aside, we see ourselves as a nation of good-guy gunslingers, out to make the world safe for democracy.

So what are we to do now? Osama Bin Laden, our Number one foil, is dead. Execution style, no less. We’ve just begun the second decade of the 21st Century, and we’re lacking a proper Bond villain to whip us into fighting shape. Don’t worry, I’ve got an idea. Aside from consuming, what’s more American than Freedom? Nothing, right? From Patrick Henry on down, we’ve always been willing to scrap over our freedom to drink, smoke, and say whatever the hell we damn well please. Honestly, I’m writing this article for an audience who sometimes treats the comment section like an after hours speakeasy on the Jersey Shore. Freedom of speech is something we can all believe in, and unfortunately we probably take it for granted.

Enter Ai Weiwei. He’s the most famous Contemporary Chinese artist in the world. (Which probably makes him slightly less famous than whatever teenaged bimbos are pimping on MTV at the moment.) Anyway, for those of you who haven’t yet heard of Ai Weiwei, he’s a multi-media artist and architect, and the son of one of China’s most prominent poets. His work drips with rebellion and epitomizes the freedom of expression at all costs. He once made a photo series in which he’s photographed giving the middle finger to the White House, the Eiffel Tower, and the Imperial Palace in Beijing. He also champions the rights of the less fortunate China, having undertaken significant risk to investigate the death of so many rural schoolchildren in the aftermath of the Sichan Earthquake of 2008. He just showed 100 million hand painted ceramic sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern in London, and of course recently unveiled a set of sculptures near the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Oh, yeah. And he was also kidnapped by the Chinese government last month. I’d say disappeared, but it was reported last week that his wife was able to visit him and confirm he’s not dead yet. Ai Weiwei was taken off a plane by government agents in April, his studio was destroyed, and he was locked away indefinitely for the vague, trumped up charge of “economic crimes.”

Which brings us back to my nomination for America’s new Enemy Number 1: The cadre of ruthless assholes who runs the Chinese Communist Party. (There’s a bit or Orwellian double-speak for you. Calling the worlds largest sovereign wealth fund Communist.) Really, I know this will sound naivé and simplistic. Barack Obama has no leverage with these guys right now, you’ll say. They own our debt, so they can do as they please. Even Google backed down from a fight, so they must be some pretty bad dudes. I’ll stipulate that. They might even hack my email after we publish this article.

But hear me out. Ai Weiwei was locked away not because he was horribly critical of the CCP. He wasn’t, really. I mean, who can get angry with someone who honors dead schoolchildren? He also helped design the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympics, so they couldn’t have hated him that much. Ai Weiwei wasn’t a threat because of the content of his art, it was because of his process. He spoke his mind, made what he wanted to, built an audience on his blog and Twitter. Sound familiar? Basically, he acted like a digitally literate, free human being in the 21st Century. Just like us. How many of you make the pictures you want to make, say the words you want to say, write the comments you want to write?

Ever since I first saw Zhang Yimou’s “Hero” seven years ago, I knew this day was coming. (Yes, he’s the same guy who choreographed the 2008 Olympics opening ceremonies that gave so many people the heebie-geebies.) I’d say spoiler alert, but the film was made in 2002, so you had your chance. Jet Li, the film’s lead, spends the entire movie trying to track down and assassinate the Chinese Emperor, back in the day. At the end, just as he’s about to do the deed, the Emperor talks him out of it, convincing Jet Li to instead give up his own life in service of the Empire. Our land. Kneel before Zod. It’s the Anti-Hollywood ending, and given Yimou’s favored-son-status with the government, I read the writing on the wall. The individual will always take a back seat to the Empire, the authority figure.

That’s why Ai Weiwei got locked up. He was the living embodiment of the power of ideas: ideas that are particularly dangerous to the Powers That Be right now, what with the Arab Spring and all. These are the same CCP leaders that own our debt, and just flew some Steath Fighter jets over Bob Gates’ head. So let’s have no more illusions that we’ll all just get along, or that they’ll allow us to corrupt their system with our dysfunctional democracy. Not. Going. To. Happen.

So Free Ai Weiwei. Tell your friends. Tell your kids. Speak your mind a little louder in your new photo project. And maybe next time you’re in the local Walmart, you’ll consider buying some cheap crap from the Phillipines, or Bangladesh. Or better yet, maybe you’ll spend the extra $3 to get something made in the USA. We still make tractors, right?

What To Do When Your Image Is Stolen Online

- - copyright

Having your images stolen online is not an “if,” but a “when” will it happen type of situation that you should be prepared to take action on. If you plan to run a photography business then you should plan to hire a lawyer now and again. If you cannot hire one then you should marry one, trade photos with one or be best friends with one.

I get a weekly email from photographers who have their images stolen and used on a site that appears to generate revenue. Several months ago I ran into this primer called Photography, Copyright, and the Law written by Carolyn E. Wright the and published on Ken Kaminesky’s blog (Read the entire post here). This excerpt from the post answers the question of what to do when you are infringed upon:

Q: What happens when a copyrighted photo is used without permission?

You have several options when you find that your photo has been infringed.

Option #1 – Do Nothing

You always have the option of doing nothing. If the infringer is in a foreign country where infringements are rampant and difficult to enforce or is a small website with little traffic, you may decide that it’s not worth your time and effort to fight the infringement.

Option # 2 – Request a Photo Credit

…if the website would provide a marketing outlet for you, you may only want the infringer to give you proper credit. If so, write the infringer a letter officially giving her the right to use the image. Be sure to designate the parameters of that use, such as who, what, why, when and where – see my blog entry here for more information. Include the condition that the infringer post a photo credit with a copyright notice on or adjacent to the use. You may also require the infringer to add a link to your website. You may get subsequent work from the infringer or others.

Option #3 – Prepare a DMCA Take-Down Notice

Purusant to the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) enacted in 1998, the Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) that hosts a website is not liable for transmitting information that infringes a copyright only if the ISP removes the infringing materials from a user’s website after receiving proper notice of the violation. The notice must: be in writing, be signed by the copyright owner or the owner’s agent, identify the copyrighted work claimed to be infringed (or list of infringements from the same site) and identify the material that is infringing the work. Additionally, the notice must include the complaining party’s contact information, a statement that the complaint is made in “good faith,” and a statement, under penalty of perjury, that the information contained in the notification is accurate and that the complainer has the right to proceed (because he is the copyright owner or agent). Check my article at here to learn more about how to prepare a DMCA take-down notice. Even if you don’t reside in the U.S., you may use this great tool to stop an infringer whose ISP is in the U.S. from using your work.

Option #4 – Prepare a Cease and Desist/Demand Letter Yourself

When you don’t want to alienate the infringer (the infringer is a potential client and/or appears to be an innocent infringer), you may want to contact the infringer to explain that the use is not authorized and either request payment of an appropriate license fee, a photo credit with a link to your website (as discussed above), or that the infringer cease use of the image. It’s best to do this in writing – a letter by surface mail seems to have more clout than email correspondence.

Photographers sometimes send an infringer an invoice for three times their normal license fee in an attempt to resolve the infringement issue. While the 3x fee may be an industry standard and some courts have used it, is not a legal right given by any court of law or statute. Instead, U.S. law states that you are entitled to actual or statutory damages for infringement as provided by 17 U.S.C. Chapter 5, specifically section 504. The damages that you can receive from infringement – especially if you timely register your photographs – sometimes can amount to a lot more than three times your normal license fee. So you may want to think 2x before you send the 3x letter.

There are some risks in sending the letter yourself. First, the infringer may attempt to preempt an infringement lawsuit and file a request for declaratory judgment that the use is authorized. This may involve you in a legal action for which you may need legal counsel in a jurisdiction (court location) where you don’t want to litigate. Second, your demand for payment may be admissible against you if an infringement case is filed. If you demand too little, then it may limit your ultimate recovery. To avoid this possibility, include in your demand letter that “these discussions and offer to settle are an attempt to compromise this dispute.”

Option #5 – Hire a Lawyer to Send a Demand Letter

When an attorney gets involved, the matter is escalated and tensions rise. While the infringer may be more defensive, the weight of your demand letter is dramatically increased if it comes from an attorney and the infringer generally takes the matter more seriously. Some attorneys charge a flat fee to send a letter; others may charge a “contingency fee” which is based on the percentage of recovery. Or the fee may be a combination of both.

Option #6 – File a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Your most aggressive option is to pursue your legal remedies by filing suit. Unless you created the work outside of the United States and in a country that is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, you must register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, hopefully before but at least after the infringement. (If you created the photo in a country that is a signatory to the Berne Convention, you do not have to register in the U.S. to protect your copyright or to file an infringement lawsuit in the U.S. However, if you do, then you may be entitled to statutory damages and attorneys’ fees, as noted here.) If your photo was not timely registered for this infringement, you may want to register the photo for future possible infringements, as well, to be eligible for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per willful infringing use for each photograph. See 17 USC Section 504(b) and (c). Legal fees and costs also may be recovered from the infringer. See 17 USC Section 505.

In most jurisdictions you need to have received your registration certificate to file a complaint. Unless you have a breach of contract or some other state claim, you must file your infringement claim in a federal district court. To file suit, it is best to hire an attorney to help you because the legal procedures are complicated. Note that you have three years from the date of infringement to sue for copyright infringement.

When a photo is not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to the infringement (or within three months of the first publication of the photo), a copyright owner may recover only “actual damages” for the infringement (pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 504 (b)), instead of statutory damages. Courts usually calculate actual damages based on your normal license fees and/or industry standard licensing fees. One source for standard license fees is a software program called Fotoquote. You also may recover the profits the infringer made from the infringement if they aren’t too speculative.

Additional Claims
While many photographers place “watermarks” including their name and/or their copyright notice on their images or in the metadata of the file to prevent someone from infringing them, it’s fairly easy to crop or clone over the mark, or to remove metadata. Fortunately, the DMCA section of the Copyright Act provides a remedy in addition to the infringement claim when the infringer removes your CMI to hide the infringement.

Additionally, when you can prove that the infringement was done willfully, then you are entitled to enhanced statutory damages. “Willfulness” means that the infringer either had actual knowledge that it was infringing the owner’s copyrights or acted in reckless disregard of those rights. Evidence that the infringed works bore prominent copyright notices supports a finding of willfulness.

Hey, Anyone Could Have Shot That

- - Blog News

keep in mind that the skills needed to generate a successful ad image are only 10% photographic. The rest? Client interaction, on-set conduct, conference call etiquette, budget finagling, crew management, general problem solving, the care and feeding of buzzwords and jargon — and knowing when to go with the flow versus when to make suggestions that might nudge the project out of the everyday and towards something more transcendent …

via planet shapton.

Ina Saltz Interview

by Heidi Volpe

Ina Saltz is Design Director and grand ambassador in the NYC design community.

Tell me about your Body Type books, a tattoo entitled “happy” was the start, what about that tattoo drew your attention?

Somehow I never really noticed tattoos except in the way that everyone does. But when I saw this one, I stopped in my tracks. I immediately recognized the typeface as lowercase Helvetica; it was very large (120 point) and tightly kerned, and it was unadorned by any other image; it was stark and graphic.

How did things develop from there?

I decided to write an article for STEP Inside Design, for my regular column, called STEP Out, about typographic tattoos. I went to my first tattoo convention; that was an eye opener. And as is often the case when you are attuned to something, I started seeing typographic tattoos everywhere; it was as if I had developed a kind of x-ray vision! Once the article was published, I noticed that no one had ever done a book on typographic tattoos, so I kept shooting images and interviewing people with typographic tattoos, and a kind of “portrait” began to emerge of that group; they were generally highly educated (all with college degrees or in the process of getting one) or with advanced degrees, culturally sophisticated, and highly motivated to convey a very specific message with text (as opposed to an image, which is more open to interpretation). “Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh” became a cult hit, which led to “Body Type 2: More Typographic Tattoos.” Now I have become known as the first to identify, document and research this phenomenon. I call these “intellectual” or “highbrow” tattoos.

What sort of parameters did you give yourself in order for a type tattoo to be accepted into your book?

At first I was excited to see every typographic tattoo that I encountered. As I saw more, I became more discriminating. The two overriding factors have become the quality of the typography, and the power of the story behind the tattoo. Sometimes because the story is so important, I have compromised my typographic standards a bit, and, conversely, sometimes the tattoo is so striking in and of itself that it is worthy of inclusion on its own merit.

Did you have to reject any of the submissions? If I had a type tattoo how would I submit to you?

Oh yes, I have declined to include many images, especially when I am doing a final edit of the images for the book. I would say that 60% of the images and interviews I collected for “Body Type 2″ did not make the final cut. If you wished to submit your tattoo to me, simply send an email with a jpeg and a brief description of the story behind the tattoo. I always respond to everyone who contacts me.I am well under way with some pretty amazing images for a third volume of “Body Type.” Just last week I shot someone with a passage from Homer’s “Odessey” on his shoulder blade.

How much of the book did you photograph?

I photographed about eighty percent of the images. I prefer to shoot everyone myself but it is not always possible; a number of the images are from international or otherwise too distant sources. If I cannot shoot it, I try to give guidelines about crop, backgrounds, focus, etc. so the style is as consistent as possible with my photographs.

I was at the Ink Slingers ball in here in LA photographing the crowd with John Huet for a magazine. It was really interesting to ask what people did for a living and how if at all they concealed their markings. A lot of white collar workers are secretly tattooed. Do you think it’s becoming more accepted in the work place?

While it is definitely becoming more accepted, some industries are more accepting than others. If you are a creative, you almost MUST be tattooed to be taken seriously! The stigma persists in the more conservative professions. But, because people can choose where to be tattooed, it is possible, when in professional attire, to keep one’s tattoo to oneself. In my books I have documented tattooed doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc.

What was the most peculiar tattoo you’ve seen?

There are so many (and the word “peculiar” is so, well, peculiar, that I cannot really answer this question). I have seen just about every amazing thing and every body part tattooed, even eyelids. As I mentioned before, however, I am only interested in the intellectual end of the tattoo spectrum.

Do you have a favorite type face for a tattoo?

No, because the type style should dovetail and enhance the message of the text, so for each tattoo, the typeface which would best suit it would be different. Also certain typefaces do not work well for tattoos, particularly if they have fine details or serifs which can deteriorate over time. In a recent review of my book in the New York Times Book Review, written by Steven Heller, he wondered why there were no Bodoni tattoos in my book. Bodoni’s thins do not wear well. Also, condensed typefaces are not well suited for tattoos, especially if the letterforms are small; the counter spaces tend to fill in over time as the edges of the tattoo “bleed.”

If you could choose let’s say one principal from your current book Typography Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Working with Type, what would it be?

“Everything Exists in Relation to Everything Else.”

Would you say the same principles apply for print design as for multi media tablets? If they don’t, what do we need to concern ourselves with for the future of type?

This is a very complicated issue; legibility is paramount, of course. But there is motion and interaction to be considered, and the fact that a device is light emitting rather than reflective (like the surface of a printed piece) means that spacing should be a bit more open to counteract the glow. Letterforms need to be a bit sturdier, and the default type size (and the x-height) should be a bit larger. There are other considerations as well, such as contrast between type and background, etc.

Through the years you have been a multi dimensional professional. art director, typographer and educator. What drove you to be so diverse?

I am curious about many things and I love working with people. The world is a big and fascinating place and I am always looking for new ways to explore it. As a magazine Design Director, it is a great perk to learn new things as I read the stories which will be in each issue; it is being paid to learn from the editors around you (I love smart editors!). Typography is my great passion, so I have been involved with making it, using it, writing about it, and hanging out with fellow type geeks as a board member of the Type Directors Club. For six years I had a great writing gig with STEP Inside Design; my editor, Emily Potts, gave me the widest possible mandate to write about things that you would not expect to read about in a design magazine, but which were related to design. Until STEP folded in 2009, I wrote almost fifty articles on topics as diverse as designing your own death (eco-burials, customized headstones, etc); the fetishization of sneakers, bizarre museums (The Museum of Dirt, The Museum of Lawn Mowers), the design of replacement orthopedic joints and prostheses, the Aesthetics of “Cute” design, recyclable and redeployable architecture, and, of course, typographic tattoos.

Congratulations on your current position as the Art Dept Chair at the City College of New York. Was that always on your radar as a professional?

I have been teaching since my graduation from Cooper Union; for over twenty years I taught in the evenings, when I worked full time as an art director. When I was in junior high school I actually belonged to a school club called “Future Teachers of America!” I still have the little navy and gold patch with an Alladdin’s lamp embroidered on it. Both in High School and at Cooper Union, I was very lucky to have teachers who inspired and challenged me; I have always been grateful, and now I am giving back. Teaching is truly the noblest profession; you have so much power to change someone’s life forever. I am still in touch with my teachers; recently I visited with my painting teacher, Will Barnet, at his Grammercy Park studio; he is one hundred years old and still painting! Amazingly, he loved my books on typographic tattoos. And he was very happy to hear that I have taken up painting again.

Being Chair of the Art Department at City College is a huge responsibility. It is an enormous department with twenty five full time faculty and staff and almost seventy adjuncts. We offer about 180 courses per semester; the department includes Art History and Art Education. We have three Masters degrees (soon to be four with the addition of a masters in digital media launching in Fall 2012).

What do you love about that job? and what is the most challenging?

I enjoy seeing how the college works from a larger vantage point. And I am more empowered to help students as Chair. However, as with any large entity, I am called upon to mediate disputes and resolve problems, as well as to be an effective advocate for the department. It is especially challenging in these economically tough times. But we have an amazing and talented group of students, and City College has a great history. We are also the first or second most diverse college in the country, with students from 135 countries, speaking 80 languages.

That position I would imagine is all consuming. Are you still doing magazine design work?

I try to keep my hand in with magazine design. Last year I worked on a redesign of a bridal magazine with my good friend and sometime collaborator, Donald Partyka. We also collaborated on a prototype for the launch of a wonky policy magazine for the Americas Society called “Americas Quarterly,” which Donald now art directs.

How do you find the time? Have you had to turn down any work? ( did you want to talk about the first time you backed away from a project? and how they hired an army to do what you would have done?)

I work all the time! Seriously, I believe that you do not know your limitations until you exceed them, and that most people could do more than they are doing. Life can be short, so I want to get in as much as I can; there are still so many things I want to do (like learning to play the piano!). But there are only so many hours in a day. Recently I did have to make a difficult decision. I was under contract to write a huge reference book on typography, a kind of ultimate, all encompassing work, 400 pages, 800 images, an enormous undertaking under the best of circumstances. I organized and framed out the essential content and was deep into writing and research on this book when I became Chair of the Art Department. After a few months I realized that there was no way I could complete the book and fulfill my enormous responsibilities as Chair at the same time. It was a very painful point for me, actually the very first time in my life that I could not follow through on a major commitment; I just had no choice but to stop work on the book. My editor hired five additional authors to finish it, so I will be one of six authors credited when”Typography Referenced” is published later this year.

What do you think it is the key for success in this current market for any art director or designer?

Being versed in a variety of media is critical; many top positions now require the supervision of an entire brand across all media. iPad app design, familiarity with user interfaces, motion graphics; all these are growth areas. Be an excellent writer and communicator. Network, network, network. And don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

How much emphasis you you have on multi media in your course offerings?

We offer a full range of multimedia; we are offering our first course in iPad app design this Fall. We teach game design, animation, 3D, all the good stuff!

You are scheduled to speak at the New York Public Library on May 31 about “Body Type.” How often do you lecture? and how varied are the topics?

Well, just to give you an idea, a few days before my lecture on Body Type, on May 27th I am a general session speaker at the UCDA (University and College Designers Association) Design Education Summit; my talk is titled “Can great designers also be great teachers?” And I regularly speak to editors and publishers about magazine related topics at various publishing conferences; my presentations range from “Designing Covers That Sell” to “Effective Pacing and Flow for Magazines.”

What are your favorite resources for new type that is being created?

There are so many excellent typefaces being created now by wonderful young designers that I could not begin to enumerate them all. But I must say that I have a very special place in my heart for Jonathan Hoefler, who is extremely knowledgeable in all things typographic and who has designed astounding, eminently useful and historically respectful typefaces. He is young enough that he yet may give us much more beautifully crafted type in the years to come.

Sobering Truths About Making A Career Out Of Photography

- - Business

This post that I found via Steve Coleman on Facebook lays out the cold hard facts of starting a wedding or portrait photography business in 2011. You can certainly apply most of it to commercial and editorial photography as well. Photographer Laurence Kim takes his MBA and 20 years of business experience to explain how the photography business compares to other career options.

First, the options you may or may not have for building enough wealth to live the American Dream (live a middle class or better lifestyle, send your kids to college and retire at a reasonable age).

1. The Investor – Use money to make money.

2. The Professional – Advanced degrees command high fees.

3. The Corporate Employee – Climb the corporate ladder.

4. The Public Employee – Job security and a retirement.

Finally the photographer.

Zero barriers to entry – A camera and a cheap website then you’re off.

Zero leverage/scalability – Your are trading your time for money. Stock used to provide leverage but that’s dead.

Zero equity-building- What’s Joe Smith Photography worth when you decided to retire. Zero.

Zero benefits – Buy your own health insurance and match your own 401k.

Laurence’s conclusion: “I actually can’t think of a worse business than photography.” And the bottom line: “from a wealth-creation standpoint, photography is a lousy career.” Yikes!

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, I’m different, I’m going to become the next Dan Winters. Sober up for a second and read his post (here). The key here is not just making a living at photography, but a career: enjoy life, raise kids, retire and die happy.

I rarely give in to the devil on my shoulder and write about failure, but I’m feeling the negative energy people are sending me and this post was too honest to pass up. Everyone needs a kick in the pants once in awhile.

Thirteen Things I Learned On My Last Panel

One of the great things about being on panels with art buyers and other creatives is the interesting things you learn from them. On this last panel for APA LA called “Why We Hire You” I kept some notes to share what I found out. I was on the panel with Jigisha Bouverat the Director of Art Production at TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, Los Angeles and Mike Kohlbecker the Associate Creative Director/Art Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Los Angeles. Jigisha has been with the agency for 22 years and manages a team of Art Producers. Mike has worked on some major campaigns.

Here are the things that I thought were worth noting:

1. Before the event Jigisha told me they have been shooting a ton of campaigns in 2011. More this year than in the last year combined.

2. Jigisha loves the blog Feature Shoot and reads it regularly.

3. Several photographers asked the flash vs. html question for websites. Mike said I don’t care. Jigisha said I have no idea what you’re talking about.

4. Mike said he reads most of his email on his android phone and likes it when there’s a mobile version of a site to look at.

5. Mike said on the campaigns he works on, the photographers being considered all are qualified to shoot it, so it comes down to personality as the deciding factor.

6. Jigisha gave an emphatic yes when asked if she likes looking at personal work and said many times the personal work is what they hang on to from marketing material.

7. When asked where she finds new talent Jigisha she’s had good luck with portfolio reviews at the photography schools in LA.

8. Mike and Jigisha agreed that editorial is still a place where they find photographers who are established but haven’t shot advertising before.

9. Mike said he will describe the type of photography he wants for a concept or show moodboards and then Jigisha said she could name 10 photographers off the top of her head that fit any style he could come up with (i was tempted but didn’t test this).

10. Jigisha and her art producers keep internal google docs where they have photographers categorized. She saves links to things she likes to these documents.

11. the advice for the creative call from both of them was:
i. Don’t be the first to speak, gather clues about where this is going from the AD (e.g. it’s going to be bright and happy or it’s going to be dark and moody). If they’ve had other calls before yours you will hear clues on where things are headed.
ii. it’s all about your enthusiasm for the shoot.
iii. it’s easy to tell when you’re faking this.
iv. Mike admitted that sometimes the project has changed and he’s lost his enthusiasm so it’s good if you are enthusiastic about it.
v. Did I mention enthusiasm?

12. When asked if there was anything that happened on a shoot that made them not want to work with a photographer again Jigisha said there was a shoot where the photographer was bad mouthing the Art Director but didn’t know his radio was on. Mike acknowledged he could be a pain in the ass on shoots asking for more coverage of things on the fly.

13. Questions about the triple bid, budgets, pricing and negotiation had Jigisha explaining the Art Producers job is to make sure they get a fair market price for their clients.

Thanks to Andrea Stern for the great questions. Here’s a take of the event from the audience.

Photo Editors Workshop

- - Blog News

I get asked quite a bit about studying to become a photo editor or landing a job in the photo department at a magazine and this workshop seems like a good step in the right direction:

Kalish 3.0 is designed to address new opportunities in visual storytelling. For over 20 years we’ve been training editors, producers, photojournalists, professors and students in visual editing.

UK Interns Who Are Not Being Trained Can Collect Payment

- - Working

This decision over in the UK where an unpaid intern collected back payment because she was working instead of being trained should serve as a wakeup call for those who use interns for free labor.

“This judgment says that if someone is taken on as intern, and is doing a proper job rather than just being trained, then they will be regarded as a worker for the purposes of the national minimum wage.”

“And even if that is an oral agreement, as it was in Keri’s case, the evidence was sufficient enough for her to be judged as a worker,” says Mincoff. In other words, even if there is an agreement to volunteer for free, if an intern is doing real work, they still have to be paid.

Read the story here.

Social Media Marketing Talk – Denver

- - Events

I’m giving my talk on social media marketing for photographers in Denver on Tuesday. Here’s the ASMP Colorado page with info and the facebook page. If you read the blog and your going to the event come say hi. I’ve found these events are a good opportunity to shake hands with some of my readers.

Date: Tuesday May 24, 2011
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Social Hour at 6:00 PM)

Denver Pro Photo
235 S. Cherokee Street
Denver, CO 80223

John Korpics Interview

by Heidi Volpe

FORT_20101101_C1_487267_C1_39bbc71632133c14e2f73e1dcd0a2d309b4b4cd4John Korpics, Creative Director of Fortune Magazine is a Renaissance Man. For any designer, photographer, illustrator, typographer or editor working with John should be part of the 100 Things To Do before you Die list. You need to work with him at least one in your life and here’s why:

Heidi: On your personal website you claim to be an arbiter of style at a very young age. Who picked out the tie, you or your Mom?

John: I choose all my ties, most of which are leftover freebies I got when I worked at Esquire. My mom picked the silk shirt I’m wearing in my middle school picture.

Are you wearing a tie to work today?

Indeed I am. I wear a suit and tie 3 or 4 times a week even though I don’t really have to. I could wear jeans and golf shirts every day if I wanted, but I have a theory that good things happen to those who dress well. Walk into a restaurant in a suit and ask to use the restroom. Most of the time they will say sure. Do the same thing in cargo shorts, sneakers and a bandana, and they will tell you the restrooms are for customers only. Believe it or not, this applies to life in general, not just bathrooms. Plus, I’m going to the ICP Infinity awards tonight, so I’m dressed up.

What prompted you to write the blog, My Effing Commute?

I love to write, especially about myself. I spend two hours a day on the train, so I decided to write about all the crazy, annoying, depressing, funny things you see when you spend 2 hours a day commuting. I’ve also gotten really good at taking pictures of people with my iPhone without them knowing about it, although I have accidentally left the flash on once or twice, which kind of gives me away.

I see you have an image gallery and know you have some images with Getty. Do you have aspirations of switching careers or are you doing this so you can increase your skills as an Art Director on set?

I’m not good enough or committed enough to try and make a living at it, but I like it enough to constantly try and get better at it and learn from it. By going through all the different aspects of photography: buying lenses and bodies, shooting different subjects in different situations, interacting with people, getting model releases, lighting, editing, retouching, posting images online and getting feedback, selling images as stock, creating personal books, and more, I understand a lot of what a photographer goes through to make a picture, and ultimately it makes me a better creative director because I can assign smarter, edit smarter, and direct smarter. I think if I could get a picture printed in National Geographic one day before I die, it will have all been worth it.

Why do you upload your images to Flickr? is that more of an idea cloud for you?

I load a lot of things onto Flickr, including personal photos and magazine pages. It’s a great place to gather groups of things that happen to be visual and share them. It also helps me to see my pictures in a context and organize them as stories or collections of ideas. I love the analytics aspect of it too. I can see which images resonate with viewers and which images don’t. It teaches me how to think about my images socially, and how to promote myself through them. There’s an image on my Flickr site of my daughter jumping on a trampoline. After I posted it to a group about teenagers in Converse sneakers, it got over 1000 views in a week, which was pretty remarkable for my site. I’ve given images to hospitals, non profit organizations, the Highline, the Empire State building, all because they found them through tagging and group posting. I also used to post images to Facebook for fun. Now, whenever I have new images to put up, I put them on Flickr, and then post links to my Flickr site on facebook, which gives all my pictures more exposure. I’m really just learning how to use it all, and the images are a way for me to experiment.

downloadI like your burning Xmas tree, is that indeed a family tradition once you moved out of the city?

It will be from now on! I’ve had the idea for that picture for a few years, but we didn’t have the beautiful snow covered yard and bright sunny day until this year. When I took the picture, I was so worried about the dogs getting hurt, or the fire getting out of control, that I shot the whole thing with the auto focus off and it was all soft. I had to get my friend Don Penny to sharpen them up for me. I make a lot of mistakes like that, and I learn as I go. I once shot a weekend of beach pictures with flawless blue skies and when I opened them in Lightroom I had about 1000 images that all had dirt and hair on the lens. I spent 3 days retouching them. Now I carry a cloth with me all the time and wipe as I go…

During the 1950s by Art Director and illustrator Leo Lionni illustrated some fantastic covers. (Granted they were more poster like and lacked cover lines) In your cover portfolio do you anticipate any genre/look potentially being developed?

Not really. Covers are so much about sales and branding that it’s very hard, at least for me, to develop a style that’s consistent from title to title. I will say that a lot of what Im able to do on covers, and with magazine design, is more a reflection of my personality, rather than any talent or skill I might posses. Whether I can sell my ideas internally to the people around me is a big part of what gets printed. Magazines are collaborative worlds and you need to have people skills in order to get your best work published. The work people see is better if you are equal parts designer and salesman.

Photography and design are very similar this way. When I look at pictures, I always see them as a reflection of the personality of the photographer. If it wasn’t Jim Marshall holding the camera, Johnny Cash wouldn’t be flipping him off. He’d just be looking at him wondering who the fuck this photographer was on stage. That picture doesn’t exist unless, on some level, Jim Marshall isn’t Jim Marshall, the kind of guy you just wanted flip off once in a while. If you’re shy, reserved, loud, confident, insecure, insightful, sloppy, kind, mean, shallow, subversive, detail oriented, funny, serious, whatever. Your pictures and you design reflect that. I struggle sometimes to shoot people, to get them to be the picture I want them to be. I’m getting better at it, but it takes a lot of energy. When I don’t have the energy to make people pictures, I shoot bugs.


Fortune is an 80 yr old title, how are you moving it forward but still respecting it’s legacy?

Most importantly, you have to realize that you can’t compete with the legacy, you just need to learn from it, and embrace it when it makes sense. I ran into this at Esquire also. I’m not going to do better covers than George Lois or Walter Allner or Leo Lionni. I have those covers framed and hanging on my wall in my office. They are works of art. My covers are mostly about selling on a newsstand, and I’m happy if you keep them on your coffee table for a few weeks before you toss them.

I think about the legacy when it comes to the magazine’s visual elements. Fortune has a rich history of information graphics, CEO portraits, industrial photography, photojournalism, things like that. I look for any excuse to get these kinds of images in, because I think they help brand us as a place for excellence, and they connect us with our past while still feeling modern. I like to celebrate business as much as to show the reality of it. I love using people like Ben Baker, Greg Miller and Gregg Segal because their portraits do just that, they celebrate the individual, elevate them to almost heroic proportions. Sometimes, I need that. I love using industrial photographers like Floto & Warner and Spencer Lowell, because their work finds beauty and magnificence in industry and manufacturing. I also love getting great reportage photographers like Ben Lowy into the magazine, because as much as business can be inspirational, we all know it can be downright despicable too, and photographers like Ben help keep us grounded in reality. The one thing we still struggle with is how to be funny. Fortune was never really a funny magazine, and my readers don’t expect sarcasm or humor, so when Phil Toledano shoots a story on investing using a guy in a bear costume wandering around an office hitting on secretaries, as funny as I think it is, the readers tend to not get it. In cases like that, I tend to say screw the reader. I like bear costumes.

Business isn’t a one dimensional world. It is good and bad and impressive and ridiculous and obscene and amazing (and occasionally funny), all in one day, and my goal is to show that complex personality in each issue, all through the lens of the artists we use, and through the veneer of a design layer that fits the brand and makes sense to the reader.


Why did you choose those particular display faces for the book?

Typography is always a work in progress for me. My approach is to start with a core set of Fonts that fit my perception of the brand, and then build on them. I think we are up to 7 core fonts now. When we started, I used 3, Solano, Geogrotesque and Brunel. Each one has a job to do. Solano, is a narrow, very rigid sans serif that helps us to look serious and also fits well into tight spaces. Geo is really a utility font that we use for captions and details, and Brunel is the peacock serif of the group, that we strut out when we want to be a little flashy. Brunel was actually developed by Robert Priest with Christian Schwartz at Portfolio. It’s an amazing font and you can tell that a lot of time and love when into making it, so when Portfolio shut down I just figured I’d grab it. Seemed like a shame to let it go to waste. I’ve never been that picky about who used the fonts before me or making them exclusive to my brand. I don’t think a font in and of itself can define your brand. Its how you use typography along with all the other elements that defines you.

How long did your re-design take? and what was your mission statement to the staff?

It took about a year, mostly because we did a lot of editorial research and testing with focus groups before we rolled anything out. If a redesign was simply a new coat of paint, it would take about two or three months, but when we remade Fortune, we spent a lot of time rethinking the editorial product as well as the look.

Aside having Cyrus Highsmith draw your logo what did you have custom made?

I had the section headers drawn by Tal Lemming. Beyond that, everything is off the rack.

You’ve said that once you come in to direct a magazine you first watch and then make changes you feel appropriate. What were those changes at Fortune?

It takes a while to learn the DNA of a magazine, and it doesn’t make sense to me to make sweeping changes until you get to that point. I always come in humble, willing to admit that of everyone on staff, I know the least about how the place works. I can make some cosmetic changes quickly, but mostly I watch and I learn, and over time I look for ways to improve it while still hanging on to what works.

I also spend a lot of time in the beginning going to focus groups and understanding the readership. I imagine a typical reader, and I make a lot decisions based on what I think that reader will want or what they will tolerate. Everything from type size, where the credits run, page organization, photo and illustration use, headline and subhead treatments. It all begins with who I think my reader is, and then I work in the visual elements that I think fit.

At Instyle you mentioned you were an information architecture: what is your main task at Fortune?

InStyle is a magazine that people browse. Nobody sits and “reads” InStyle, so I designed it as a browsing experience. All the type was in small chunks, no type ran from one column to the next, it all fit into clearly defined shapes. There really weren’t any “columns” of words. Just lots and lots of color and shapes and pictures and fun. Each page was its own story and was instantly “inhalable” as we like to say here at Time Inc. I imagined the reader as kind of a Doris Day movie character, because there was never any bad news in InStyle. It was always about who looked good wearing what, who was happy in their relationship, whose hair worked and how they got it, how you could make your body type work. It’s all very positive and life affirming, and a little escapist, but in a good way, like Disney World is escapist, so I just imagined a magazine made for a world that always had a happy ending. A world where nobody was ever fat and everyone’s hair looked AMAZING!!! People smiled a lot, type was bright and colorful, crisp serifs, lots of exclamation points and asterisks, lots of energy. I like immersing myself in a world that has a defined identity, no matter how real or imagined. Usually the fantasy worlds are more fun to design than the real ones.

Fortune is the complete opposite. Our words are our strength. People get Fortune specifically because they want a longer, more reported and more insightful take on the information. So my goal is to invite the reader in, and then keep them in by making the reading experince enjoyable and unobtrusive. It’s a magazine where design really needs to live below the surface. If Fortune was known first and foremost for its design, I’d think there was something wrong.

You’ve worked many places in your career, what has changed the most dramatically for you since you started working and been the most challenging?

When I started college in 1981, there was no such thing as a personal computer. No email, no internet. When I started in magazines in 1986, I was specing type, cutting repro, waxing it onto boards, shooting photostats, all very analog. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge has always been staying on top of the technological changes. I’ve gone from pasting layouts to boards, to learning Quark, to learning Indesign, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator, to now learning how to create content for tablets, websites and social media. Technology never sleeps, and sometimes I feel like I don’t either…

What do you think the future of print magazines looks like?

I think print will be archival. You’ll buy something printed when you have a sense of wanting permanence. Magazines like National Geographic, and Architectural Digest will always exist in print because they are timeless and collectable. They aren’t doing stories that get old in a month or two. They are creating a permanent record of something and they represent a level of excellence that seems appropriate to print. Magazines like Vogue and W will also always exist in print, because they are so visual and luxurious that you wont be able to replicate it on a tablet. Whenever the Prince marries his Princess, you’ll want it in print. Whenever Liz Taylor dies, or a shuttle explodes or a president is assassinated or a terrorist attack brings down the towers, you’ll want a printed record of that moment in time. Magazines that start creating issues that are themed or seem collectable will resonate with readers. The Body Issue, The Photo Issue, The Oscars, The Baseball Issue. All of that kind of stuff will continue to exist in print. Everything else will go to digital. I already don’t read my magazine in print. I read it on the iPad because its easier and I like the experience.

When you hire a designer what are 3 key things you want to see in their work?

Originality, craftsmanship, and intelligence

I see you post about the magazine and your work on Facebook. How has Facebook allowed you be a better art director and interact with your staff?

I created an internal private facebook group for our creative staff to post and share ideas. We post links, stories, artists, fonts, other magazines work. Anything that’s interesting. Nothing gets kept out and everyone is encouraged to post. Cuts way back on the group emailing, and we have a nice record of everything we’ve posted so we can go back and reference it.

For your digital editions, did you hire a new team or did that task fall on your current art department?

We handle it all internally, with some freelancers here and there. Basically, if you design a story, you design it for Print, iPad, Galaxy and Playbook (the Blackberry tablet). We’ve tried very hard to keep the formats simple enough that we get it all done in about 3-4 days after we close the print magazine. That said, it’s an enormous amount of additional work, but until the digital content starts generating revenue, I don’t think we’ll have the luxury of adding staff.

How often do you use your ipad?

Not very often, but that’s mostly because I carry a laptop, an iPhone and a blackberry with me everywhere I go. When I do use it, it’s for two things. Looking at Fortune magazine and playing angry birds.