Monday 13 April 2009

Art Monday: search, download, comment

One of the things about blogging that appeals to me is seeing a bit about the people who come across my art. Widgets can help a lot with the ever-welcome lurkers and shed some light on their shadowy existence. Everyone uses them, so I think the Big Brother aspect of them is largely mitigated by their egalitarian use.

The concept of everyone watching everyone else and the failure of privacy as a right is excellently explored in David Brin's Earth and in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. In Earth, there is still tension; in The Diamond Age, new social mores modeled on Victorians and Confucianism make spying uncouth.

Anyway, I'm not opening this up to reveal ISP's or anything. But as an artist, the subject of who is downloading my stuff is fascinating and a bit daunting at the same time.

If you don't expose artwork to viewers, you languish in obscurity. No security is great enough to stop someone from ripping you off though. I've heard a number of stories about how people have been caught doing just that.

Today, I would like to look and speculate.

-Someone who works at an ad company in Belgium looked at a few pages of my blog, searched for the word "coelacanth" and finally downloaded my Darwin Day liveblog result.

-The most popular download in the last little while is my poster for The Centre for Inquiry-sponsored PZ Myers lecture last Hallowe'en. And surprising to me, is half again as many people downloaded my scribbly rough sketch! What for?

-The second-most popular download is a photo of an albino squirrel in Trinity-Bellwoods park I snapped here in Toronto. Albino squirrel populations exist in a bunch of places, and I suppose the sight of one is rare enough people go online scrambling for photos of the skittish mammals. Perhaps I should apologize for my photography.

-To the person in Sweden who searched for "fossil encrinurus photo" and downloaded my pencil drawing - I make no guarantees about scientific accuracy. Although I aim for a high degree of accuracy to reach out to my core scientifically-literate audience, sometimes I just like how the pencil pattern looks.

-For the Arizona resident searching under "flying trilobite hoax", I'm kind of glad you didn't find one. I don't paint inaccurately-winged flying trilobites on pieces of shale for the same reason people make crop circles or launch flares. In other words, it is not to test people's gullibility. That's why they are usually labeled "Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil". I paint flying trilobites largely for the same reason people paint dragons or faeries. It's fun and interesting, and hopefully sparks the imagination. (Hmm, is there a children's book of flying trilobites hiding inside me somewhere?) Can you imagine if I did try to perpetuate a hoax about finding a genuine flying trilobite fossil? How many people would read their morning papers or bloggy news-source and be shocked? Richard Fortey, Marek Eby, and Sam Gon III?

My stuff is under a Creative Commons Licence, specifically one that means you may share, email and download my art, you simply need to a)always cite it as mine with a link to me, b)not alter it in any way, and c) not make any $$$ from it. That last part's my job. So by all means, share and enjoy my artwork.

And don't be afraid to send an email or make a comment! Feedback for a blogging artist is all that and a bag of chips.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery
### Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ###


Christopher Zenga said...

Hey G-Mel,

So I guess this comment is more for your readership than you, We have had many a long conversation about this topic, more frequently in the last 9 months ever since I decide to take my artwork online (I promise you this will not be one big self promoting monologue) 9 months ago I was in a position where I wanted to do more with my artwork, I had a cornucopia of ideas that I was slowly developing and I decided that I had to be more proactive. My goals were simple,

1) Take an idea and attempt to Get noticed for my artwork outside my circle of friends and the community in witch I had illustrated murals for. Appeal to the macabre community and offer them a unique take take on Zombies.

2) market the idea as prints, apparel and stuffed dolls. Try to developed a fan base, and use the notoriety as the catalyst to expose the public to a larger portfolio.

3) slowly introduce all the ideas that have been, until now, locked away in my mind, to the public and try my best to entertain.

4) Create a Children's project with my Wife Michele

5) make a living while doing what I love, see, simple!

Here was my roadblock, in order to achieve any of these goals I to face a realization that I need to put all my art, all my ideas, out in the world for everyone to see. I can't protect my illustrations in my portfolio any longer. the idea, "There is no way people can love it if you don't show it, and you can't hide it because your to afraid that someone will steal it!"

I realized that I am more afraid of wasting an opportunity to share my art with the world than I was of being plagiarized. And that realization is what motivated me to move ahead, give it my all and hold nothing back.

Almost a year later, I know I have made the right decision. In that time frame I have developed quite a nice fan base, not on my own of course, I have had a lot of doors opened for me and unwavering support from Zombos' Closet of Horrors, the Vault of Horror and The Flying Trilobite. I have opened an online gallery that has had quite a bit of activity, I have met some wonderful new friends and have had the chance to really open my blog up to a larger, macabre community.

I currently use all the Stats Counter gadgets and I can see all the activity on my blog. I see who looked at what and who downloaded what but it is no longer a worry, it's inspiring. People want to see what I'm up to and that is a huge motivator. And by now if someone wants to steal an image I am confidant that it wont be to long until I know about it. all my fears are gone, and as someone very wise said, "I've taken my first step into a larger world"

Later days,

Glendon Mellow said...

Hey Chris! I absolutely agree the rewards of posting original art outweigh the risks. At least in my 2 years of bloggy experience, they do.

I am still working on the lever to use my art to conquer all the theme parks in the world. But it will happen.

Larry said...

Hey, Glendon, I love your artwork! I'll lift a few images and present them to my blog readers, with full attribution, of course. I like images of trilobites and wish I had an aquarium full of them, with crinoids as landscaping...

Glendon Mellow said...

Cool praise Larry! Thanks!

But what's your blog? You don't have an i.d. enabled. I'd love to check it out.

Glendon Mellow said...

Oh great, I found it.

Thanks for the compliments, Larry!

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Posts over 14 days old have their comments held in moderation - I've been getting an unusual amount of spam for a guy who paints trilobites. I'll release it lickety-split though.

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