Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It is to laugh*

Before I insult you, let me explain:

On a couple of occasions, interested parties have asked me to remove posts from this blog.

Nothing gains from saying who or even why, except that it involves public image control.
(jaw clenches … )
Both cases regarded my use of this blog to promote my illustration. Neither post held my clients in anything but a positive light; I had no reason, for one; for two, even if I did, I may be stupid, but I'm not that stupid.

True, I didn't ask spoken permission to promote the work in my blog; but it wasn't necessary: Under terms of service spelled out in my business paperwork, I retain ownership of my work unless I say otherwise.

(It's a facet of freelance illustration that remains poorly understood: Clients pay for the services of my illustration, not the product itself. Typically, clients reserve first and one-time use of the art commissioned, and all other rights revert to the illustrator.

(It's further proof that few of my clients read the paperwork; otherwise they'd pay according to the terms I outline. Only one pays within the terms.)

(brow furrows … )

Permission wasn't even the issue in either case. Posting my work, and crediting and portraying the result in the best light, doesn't cross ethical or legal lines as far as I can tell.

So maybe I am that stupid.

I have complied in both cases, because I understand viscerally (the client is concerned, and I don't want to spoil our relationship) if not intellectually (I spoke cheerfully of my client and the work I got to do, and maybe a few more people got to see it.)

In one case, the party didn't want its public knowing that this was the sort of work it spent money on. Which makes no sense to me, since the finished art went out to a portion of that public.
(sweat beads on forehead … )
In the other, a caricature came into question. Again, a caricature that had been used in presentation among the subject's public. Approved by said subject. A classic big-head-little-body apolitical caricature, with complimentary facial features. A feel-good caricature, published in this blog about the size of your thumb.

But it existed outside of the subject's control, I guess.

I write this blog for four … no, five … reasons:

(1) To promote my work (shawn, DRAWN in its literal meaning, the stuff I've done). It's easier than rejiggering my website to accommodate new work. My website shows the breadth of my work in a timeless manner, so changing it out is not necessary. I post a link to each blog post on facebook, and visitors to my website can link to my blog;

(Much of my work appears anonymously, the implicit perception being that my clients make these wonderful widgets and draw these pictures to boot! I just like potential clients to know what I do, just as I like to know who created this illustration or that logo.)

(2) To establish an archive, however funky and frustrating, of a career's work that otherwise would lay unseen in a flat file;

(3) To comment (shawn, DRAWN in its figurative sense, drawn from life) about myself and my foibles and issues that affect me … open water swimming and the San Francisco Giants, ad nauseam;

(4) To practice writing, a craft I let atrophy over the years;

(5) To practice organization; I assign myself essays and illustrations, testing myself, setting tight deadlines, becoming my own worst client. Posting the blog helps me organize the rest of my week, giving new urgency to the other tasks, giving me new energy to attack them.

Despite modest triumph at the last four, I fail with the first because —
here's the insult —
almost no one reads my blog.

Don't misunderstand: I cherish you few who read, and I infer with confidence that you read regularly. But I remain absolutely gobsmacked you do, or that anyone does. It's really a journal in which I've interchanged privacy for selfishness: Though I don't expect anybody else to read, a part of me really does; otherwise, of course, I'd type into a Word®©™ document, for someone to find on my hard drive someday.

And I always like to share my illustrations. What's the word for that? Narcissism? No. Egotism? Maybe. But not quite.

But no one has contacted me to to say, "I saw the illustrations on your blog and I have some work for you." Or, "I saw your website … do you have more samples?" after which I'd recommend the blog, except they'd have to read an awful lot of words to get to the pictures.

You'd laugh at what small company you keep (maybe I should spin that into a thing of honor).
All of which is why requests to remove blog posts make me laugh. A wheezy, sardonic laugh.

As a babe in Technoland, I have come to realize some people and businesses spend significant time searching for themselves on the Internet, trolling the wide web for their image, there to polish or unsully or preserve.

They use the labels I have made, word tags like virtual breadcrumbs, referring wanderers to this and that post. Though I use labels, I didn't realize their effect until people responded. People have asked me about editorial cartoons I drew long ago, and one asked me to comment on commentary she had made. I met two people (one a former schoolmate whom I sorry to say I didn't know back then) who happened to attend their first Major League Baseball game on the same day, though different cities, as I did, which I wrote about.

(This will be a label-free post.)

Labels also attracted the complainants, each a third party, who asked the clients to ask me to remove the posts.
(breath rattles … )
To my shock, I found 63 hits on the post containing the caricature. It's impossible for me to tell whether those hits happened lately, or accumulated over time. That's a big number. When I wrote about the unexpected death of a popular and accomplished high school friend, his star shine attracted many, many readers, relatively speaking. So too when I wrote about my great uncles who served in World War II, many of whom survived the attack on Pearl Harbor; my extended family found my blog, and I rediscovered some of my extended family.

More people than usual, relatively speaking, read when I declare logos the best or worst. That's the de facto purpose of blogs, I suppose, to critique uniquely the world at large. When a large number of hits, relatively speaking, accumulated in a short time over a post I wrote about the worst business slogan I had ever read, I was expecting suits at my door, or some kind of cease-and-desist phone call because I had hurt the company's feelings.

Corporations are people too, you know.

(fists ball up … )

Usually, though, the number of regular readers could fit in my kitchen. Which is why I laugh: The presence or absence of this caricature does not affect the subject's stature or wealth, both considerable, one vibrating nanojot.

It would be easier to cover the caricature with your thumb as you read, but you won't be able to now. Of course, the complainant sent me a copy of the post in an email, so it still exists forevermore somewhere.

E-mail me if you want details.

One of my friends, one of those regular readers, is surely thinking at this precise moment, "Your correct response to this, Shawn, should have been, 'This is my work. I have spoken in glowing terms about working with you. Fuck off!'" He's right.

That's my policy now; this is my manifesto.

Should you want me to remove a post, I'll refer you to this post. Maybe I'll talk a bit more about how, though I disparage my own fumbling attempts at process, I don't ever bite the feeding hand.

Then I'll delineate, in the kindest way possible, what you may do with your request.

(wheeze … )



  1. If you ask me, that friend -- the regular reader you mention -- sounds like a pretty cool guy.