Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ghost of Basquiat

Chaos/Control, magnet from Everyday Beauty

Last month, amidst everything else that was going on, I received an email from both Cafe Press, which hosts my online gift shop, Everyday Beauty, and the attorneys for the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The attorneys had sent a letter to Cafe Press telling them that I had violated copyright by reproducing Basquiat's work on magnets.

Seriously? Seriously.

After I explained to Cafe Press that the original image, Chaos/Control, was wholly mine and that it was merely inspired by Basquiat, they reinstated the merchandise with this image (like the magnet).

The next day, I received the email from the attorneys who demanded and threatened. To them I sent back a simple and respectful email stating my position and that was that. No apology from them for the misunderstanding or follow up, so I imagine the situation is resolved.

Besides my artwork looking nothing like Basquiat's work (which you'd think they'd know) and my public statement in my blog and gallery that this Original Finger Painting was inspired by the late artist (I had just finished watching a good film about him), it's funny to think that I'd be accused of stealing another artist's ideas.

Personally, this is the biggest insult, but I understand that the attorneys have no idea who I am and that copyright infringement and plagiarism is rampant these days (especially since the widespread use of the Internet) so why not me, right?

I value originality. I tell my friends that I'm a walking afterschool special because those values they sought to instill in kids I accepted hook, line, and sinker! Be an individual (and nonconformist). Be original and creative. Be honest and trustworthy. Have integrity. Stand up for your friends. Your real friends will stand by you. People working together can accomplish great things.

Come to think of it, either I'm an afterschool special or I'm a member of Starfleet.

Regardless, I do value originality. I also value giving credit where credit is due. This is why if you read the descriptions of my work, you'll learn where I got the inspiration for a certain palette, who my art heroes are, whose philosophy I've been studying.

It's all in the open and, unlike others whom I've found copying my work, I don't pretend that I came up with these ideas on my own. The execution is mine and original, but I humbly and respectfully acknowledge my foundation.

There is always a place for inspiring others and being inspired, sharing and exchanging ideas. While we're here we can all learn from each other.

And a "thank you" would be nice.

R.I.P. Basquiat!
Invite Beauty,


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The last Butterfly Effect print is sold!

The Butterfly Effect, limited edition print, SOLD OUT

I'm slowly coming back into the fray, carving time amongst the many projects I have going on right now!

Recently, the last print of the highly limited edition of The Butterfly Effect sold out. You can still see the image of the Original Finger Painting in my gallery. A bonus to selling this piece is getting to donate a portion of the sale to Balance4Kids, a wonderful organization dedicated to helping children and young adults with disabilities.

I've donated my work to them in the past, and this was the first online-based donation through eBay's Giving Works and MissionFish. You'll find in my shop that I have other Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible cards that donate through this program--just look for the ribbon symbol next to the listing titles.

Considering everything I'm doing these days, it was nice having the donation taken care of automatically. Good deeds and fine art--a heady combination!


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

East is East and West is West

Left: Yeti, oil on canvas, 16" x 20" NFS
Right: Sasquatch, oil on canvas, 16" x 20" NFS

Please click on the pics to see larger images and read their read the descriptions in my gallery.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A hole in the landscape

Seattle skyline, photo by Leonard Chan

My good friend, Brian Carr, is moving to Seattle.

He's been planning to do so for some time, and now it's finally happening.

This isn't unexpected, but it hurts all the same, and I feel like I'm back in elementary school or high school, where you and your best friend were about to be separated--off to different schools, or maybe moving somewhere far apart from each other.

I hadn't expected to feel this pain. I'm an adult, I know people move and I know how to keep in touch with my friends. The Internet's made this all the more convenient, and I've even re-established friendships with people with whom I had lost contact many years ago.

Yet, this is different. It isn't college, when I expected people to scatter like freed doves at the Olympics. This is now, and it just plain hurts.

I walk around town and there's a hole in the landscape. Where he lived is no longer a comforting landmark, a familiar place--it's an absence of presence.

We supported each other's growth as artists. We were there to encourage each other when the going got tough. If I had a show, I knew he'd be there, and I was there for him.

Some of this doesn't change, no matter the distance.

Still, the distance is there. No more walking to the breakfast joint we frequented on the weekend. No more dragging me on roller coasters or into the arcade, too (which I ended up enjoying).

Brian's the kind of friend whom you can call up at any hour and he'll come and help you, especially when your other friends have abandoned you. It's a rare quality, I've found, in a world obsessed with its own busy-ness.

In the end, of course we're still friends and we'll continue to be in contact. But it's not the same as having a friend by your side, is it? And that's the biggest point: that things aren't the same. Everything changes, and change hurts even when it's good. Kids grow up. Friends move. People marry.

The last few weeks have been tough for me. I haven't posted a blog and I haven't painted as I've helped Brian move and hung out with him during his last days in Santa Cruz. To be creative, I go into the part of me that feels deeply, but that part is broken right now and it hurts to explore it.

I'll be back. Until then, I ask for your indulgence.