Thursday, March 25, 2010

Episode 58---Intellectual Conventions and Chandra Free!

In this week's episode, Patrick, Socar, and Jeremy are joined by the talented Chandra Free ( aka. Spookychan), illustrator of "The God Machine".
Together they discuss their dream projects, a bit about conventions, and other stuff.... 

Make sure to subscribe to the Ninja Mountain Podcast on iTunes or we will be forced to ask Jeremy to attempt to pronounce your name during a future broadcast.... I heard him mispronounce "Smith" once. The boy's got talent...

To learn more about Spookychan's most excellent artistic offerings, head on over to her studio website.
Head on over to the Visual Artist Podcast Network to learn more about other great illustration programs!

Some conventions to check out!

A bunch of FRIENDS having a great time at Dragon Con....You could be too!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Episode 57--It's a Family Affair!

This week, Socar and Jeremy are sitting down with 3D modeler, actor, and evil doppleganger--Joshua McHugh. 
It's a family affair this week folks--though we at the Mountain doubt it--those two boys get along too well...

We talk about the pursuit of goals and the need for herculean effort and constant self-education. 
Other topics include 3D modeling and "catch 22" situations.
This week presents an uplifting tale with uplifting music and general "upliftment" ( I swear it's a word---check wikipedia)...

If you don't subscribe on iTunes we'll be sending another of Jeremy's clones to your home and you will be absorbed by the mother brain.

Also don't Forget to check out The Visual Artist Podcast Network to find other excellent shows produced with the working artist in mind!

Below are links to some of the items mentioned in this week's show!

Some of Josh's 3D modeling in action can be found in the following videos:

Useful links to 3D modeling packages and resource sites:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ninja Mountain episode 56 - An Englishman in the dark

This week sees Andy Hepworth (Scottish by birth, English parents, living in Scotland), Jon Hodgson (Scottish grandparents, English by birth, living in Scotland) and Ralph Horsley (Born in Scotland, living in England) confusing the Dickens out of our colonial cousins with their Britisher ways.

Put the kettle on, toast your bread on both sides, butter a pikelet, and sit back and enjoy a nice china cup of Ninja Mountain fresh from the pot*.

It would be truly a fool's errand to try to offer a summation of what this episode is about, so just have a listen.  We talk about all kinds of things.

*No pot was used in the creation of this show.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Ninja Mountain episode 55 - Epic Self-Loathing

More questions from listeners will hit you where you're most vulnerable - your cold and atrophied heart! Also, learn what the Ninjas think about things like certain comic book artists, Shutter Island, and getting hit in the balls. Join us as Patrick, Socar, Drew and Jeremy pump up the art-volume to 11 million!!

Subscribe on iTunes for free or prepare to feel the pangs of self-hatred.

Show Notes:
Rob Liefeld

Nick Simmons

Let us not forget that we promised some answers to Steve Argyle's most excellent follow-up questions from the wonderful Linda Kattwinkel of Owen, Wickersham & Erickson ( ).
Linda is the author of the copyright law column, "Legalities"!

Here is the Q&A follow-up between Steve Argyle and Linda Kattwinkel.

"Fan art." Paid, or for fun: Infringement in both cases, right? As the work may be original, but the characters portrayed are copyrighted.

Fan art is technically infringement. But so long as the work is not being exploited commercially (e.g., the fans are not selling t-shirts), most copyright owners take the wise course of allowing it. Remember, it is always the copyright owner’s prerogative to grant permission to others to copy the work, on the copyright owner’s terms. Fan art can be allowed with the copyright owner’s explicit or implicit blessing.

...But is there a line of fair-use somewhere in there? Most of us started out by submitting portfolios jammed full of craptastic Wolverine vs. Darth Vader drawings. And sites like Deviantart are 95% fan-art.

Private portfolio pieces, in order to show prospective clients that you have the skill to illustrate famous characters, is probably fair use, IF you are clear about it, and especially if you are showing a prospective client renderings of its own characters. Where you could get into trouble is making such portfolio pieces public (e.g., on your website), especially if in context it looks like you actually did them as actual paid work for the owners of those characters (that would be misrepresentation and unfair competition).

I imagine pros should just plain steer clear. I know I've turned down plenty of private commissions because the request was for copyrighted characters. Is there ever a non-satirical scenario where it's ok?

If someone wants to commission you to create work based on copyrighted characters, I agree, it is wise to turn down the job. In that scenario, you are earning money for creating the copy, which puts you squarely in the infringement camp (along with your client). The only way to safely accept such a commission is to have a written contract in which the client warrants that it has permission to do this, and agrees to indemnify you against any infringement claims. Even then, you should make sure the client has the means to pay for defending you in a lawsuit if it happens, otherwise the indemnification may not help you.**

**You are right, the only exception is “fair use,” which generally requires your work to be a critique, comment or parody of the copyrighted character. Non-satirical copies won’t qualify.

(I've actually tried to purchase licensing for creating artwork based on some of the big franchises. Even the ones I work for just sort of shrugged.)

And a contracts question:

Publishers all have "boiler-plate" contracts, and some of them can get downright draconian. Most artists are simply super-excited to be working, and barely read the contract, let alone understand that in some cases, they themselves are no longer allowed to use or display the work in any context.

Is there a "boiler-plate" contract outline that artists can purchase, perhaps from your firm, Linda, which an artist can use for various scenarios?

There are some good resources for form contracts for illustrators to use in various scenarios. The GAG Handbook has several:; and Allworth Press has many books full of sample contracts: These are good starting places, but I strongly recommend that you have an attorney review your proposed form before you start using it. There are always individual circumstances to consider, and they might be ill-served by the form.

Lastly, I've had a number of this ghastly beast: "Surprise! We rewrote your contract!" Now, I realize that in many contracts, there is written provision for modification after signing, but what is the scope of what can be changed? I've had contracts rewritten to remove my rights to display the work and sell prints. I've had contracts that were rewritten from temporary license, to work-for-hire. I know that at least some of this isn't legal, but I'll be buggered if I know which parts, and what my rights are in this sort of situation.

As a matter of contract law, once you have made an agreement, the only way to change it is by the mutual agreement of both parties. One side to an existing contract cannot just unilaterally change the terms. In order to change it, under contract law you essentially have to make a new agreement, which requires that each party provides “consideration” for the new terms. Consideration is something of value that each party gives the other in order to make the agreement legally enforceable. Generally, when you enter into the original contract, the consideration from your client is money, and the consideration from you is your illustration services and license for the client to use the art. Later, if the client wants to eliminate your rights to display the work and sell prints, giving up those rights would be a form of new consideration they are getting from you. What form of new consideration are you getting in return from them? If the answer is nothing, there is no enforceable change to the contract terms. If you are presented with such after-the-fact changes, you can just say no.

One caveat: if your client presents you with new terms that would apply only to future work you would do for them (rather than for work you have already created per your original contract), that may legally be considered an offer for a new contract, which you can either accept or reject. Their bargaining power comes in if they can say you won’t get any more future work unless you agree to the new terms. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common tactic.

I've got more, but I'll stop now. Thanks so much for your time!