Sunday, 26 October 2014

A return to glorious Art Nouveau (FREE picture)

We've finally had a bit of a slow-down in the orders for the Debbi Moore Santa Claus box (not that I'm complaining!) so I'm actually able to turn my mind back to Art Nouveau again.

This is the image that features on the box image of our Art Nouveau DVD.  This is by Paul Berthon who lived from 1872-1909.  No age, is it?

I love this image, beautiful - I think the style of the lady is just gorgeous, very 'of the age' but she also has a touch of medieval about her which reminds me very much of Pre-Raphaelite art (which I love). 

There's another Paul Berthon image on our DVD which I have on my lounge wall which I think has even more of the medieval style about it.

In honour of my little trip into Art Nouveau, I've put together an offer for both this DVD and our Art Deco fashion disc for just £9.99.  Fabulous images, love 'em!  You can see our offer here.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Debbi Moore's Santa Claus Inspiration in a Box

Even the best-laid plans get thwarted sometimes, but for a good reason this time.... 

There I was on a cheeky little Art Nouveau trip when Debbi Moore's Santa Claus Inspiration in a Box suddenly landed on us.  Much as I love walking the art history trail, stuffing envelopes with Debbi Moore's tasty offering has got in the way!

Before I go back to Art Nouveau, just a little bit about this lovely craft tidbit first....

Lovely product - don't know how she manages to do it so cheaply!  Lovely glossy magazine complete with TWO CDs - all the stuff to print on one whilst the other contains project videos so you can see exactly how to create all the projects.  The magazine already contains all the papers you need to create the cards, the CD gives you all the stuff again to print as many times as you want.

You also get metallic card, additional A4 papers, ribbons and gems, die-cut toppers and tissue paper, all for just £9.99!

We've sold so many of these it's unbelievable!  But we knew we would.... the Shabby Chic Cottage Garden Inspiration in a Box has already been a best-selling product so we knew the Santa one would be a winner!

Sad thing is, this one is a Limited Edition and once our stock's gone, that will be it. Shame, but that means you've just gotta get a move on!

Click here to secure yours!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Get your business head on (FREE picture of course!)

When I first started our original craft business (Mad about Cards) in 2002, I bought lots of things that I would use myself.  

I'd made lots of cards using pom-poms and pipe-cleaners which had always sold very well; caterpillar cards made with yellow and green pom-poms (very 'Hungry Caterpillar' in style!) and fairies using white pipe-cleaners for legs and arms, a white pom-pom for the head and a dress made of what we called sparkle paper.  These were tried and tested designs that I'd always sold a lot of at craft fairs and to friends.

So, when we started selling craft supplies, the pom-poms and pipe-cleaners, to me at least, were essential stock.

What I discovered though, was that these things aren't essential stock to most other people - they didn't sell and we ended up putting most of the colours in the first sale that we had.

Something I never wanted to sell was peel-off stickers.  Why?  Because I didn't like them. Rubber stamps were in the same category - I wasn't a stamper so I wasn't keen to stock them.

I was wrong.  

When you're in business you must put your personal preferences to one side and go with what sells.  You won't necessarily know what sells to start with but you dabble, try something out and see if it works.  And if you get a bite, you go deeper into that area until you, perhaps, reach a saturation point.

We ended up with hundreds and hundreds of designs and colours of peel-offs and masses of rubber stamps and stamping equipment at MAC, we sold loads of the things.

The point here is probably obvious - don't think about yourself and what you like when you want to make money out of something, think about your market and who you can be selling to.

Our public domain discs each contain hundreds of pictures that you can take and use for anything.  I compile each one on a theme so you'll know, ball-park at least, what you'll be getting!  Some pictures I love, some I like but I can't think of a use for them perhaps, some I might even not like but I could see how they would be useful.  Not everyone likes the same thing, as the pom-pom and pipe-cleaner examples proves.

BUT, I know they are worth so much in terms of what you can make and sell using those pictures.  As well as the obvious things such as card-making items, calendars, prints etc., I've been examining some of the shabby chic things in the shops lately.

The things that particularly come to mind are signs and clocks with an altered art/collage-type background - these look amazing and would be so easy to put together with a few basic graphics program skills.

Anyway, enough rambling.  Well, almost..... Did you know that it's a Jules Chéret poster that appears in the girls' apartment in Friends?

In fact, I've spotted more Chéret posters in other apartments whilst watching the programme too.  His stuff I love!

You can see more examples of what's on our Art Nouveau Posters DVD here.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

British Art Nouveau with FREE Aubrey Beardsley picture

As I said yesterday, Art Nouveau isn't just about French Art Nouveau, which is what would spring to mind for most people.

British Art Nouveau was a lot less ornate - it was 'new art' because it was different from what had come before.  Art had perhaps always been heavy oil paintings with lots of dark colours before the rise of movements such as Impressionism - Art Nouveau was yet another new style which was modern, fresh and exciting.

I'm a big fan of Aubrey Beardsley's work although there isn't a great deal of it, especially not in colour, as he died at the very young age of just 25 of TB.

If I had a room with yellow accents, this would be straight in a frame and up on the wall - shame!  Actually, my study is just plain white with a wood floor - I could do it.... must go, something to do!

If you love Art Nouveau you'd be mad not to take a look at our Art Nouveau public domain DVD.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Art Nouveau - FREE uncompressed picture included

I've been reading the marketing book again which inspired me to completely re-write our website blurb on our Art Nouveau DVD.  It definitely sounds far more inspirational now although I'm sure it will get more tweaks yet.

The bad thing about it is that I'd previously taken time to write quite a lot about Art Nouveau, but that's now all gone in favour of - well, more dynamic marketing-type speak now!  If you want to read our new blurb, you can take a look here.

You can guess what's coming.... shame to waste it so here it is in all its glory!

Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art, especially in the decorative arts, that was most popular from around 1890 through to the outbreak of World War I.  The name 'Art Nouveau' is French for 'new art', also known as Modernisme in Spain, Jugendstil in Germany (German for 'youth style' or the 'style of youth'), Modern in Russia and Secession in Austria.

The evolution of the poster was due to the development of printing techniques that allowed for cheap mass production and printing, including notably the technique of lithography which was soon followed by chromolithography, which allowed for mass editions of posters in vibrant colours to be printed.

By the 1890s the technique had spread throughout Europe.  Jules Chéret is considered to be the father of the Art Nouveau advertising poster.  He is said to have introduced 'sex' in advertising or, at least, to have exploited the female image as an advertising ploy.  In contrast to the often muted colours representing the seedier side of Paris night-life painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, Chéret's bright colours and laughing feminine figures brought a new conception of art as being of service to advertising (a bit like Simon Cowell using the TV to sell records!).

Posters soon transformed the thoroughfares of Paris into the art galleries of the streets. Their commercial success was such that some of the artists were in great demand and theatre stars personally selected their own favourite artist to do the poster for their upcoming performance.  The popularity of poster art was such that in 1884 a major exhibition was held in Paris.

By the 1890s, poster art had spread to other parts of Europe as well as in Paris, advertising everything from the theatre, actresses and the performing arts through to bicycles and bullfights.

What I probably see as the epitome of Art Nouveau are the posters of Alphons Mucha, who I wrote about a day or two ago.  His work is extremely ornate and detailed although his colours are perhaps more muted than Chéret's happy, dancing ladies.  Art Nouveau was a lot less ornate in both the UK and US, Aubrey Beardsley and Dudley Hardy leading the way here, whilst Edward Penfield was the prime Art Nouveau artist in America.

So many names and lovely pictures - hard to choose which one to show but I've settled on a Chéret.  

This one, Fête des Fleurs, is interesting as the background is very much in the style of Toulouse-Lautrec with its muted colours, whilst the foreground is pure Chéret.

By the way, this is an example of the quality of the images on our Art Nouveau DVD - another 249 on there! 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Pictures of pictures and Art Nouveau

I touched briefly yesterday on the subject of pictures of pictures, citing the Bridgeman v. Corel case.  I've been thinking about that since, and also about how much I love Art Nouveau - after all, it started my public domain career....

If you've read the 'about me' bit on this blog (which most of you probably haven't), I stumbled across public domain completely by accident.  Together with my sisters I'd been clearing out my step-dad's flat when he was going into a rest-home.  My sister pulled a tatty book out of a drawer - my parents probably considered it wasn't in good enough condition to put on the bookshelf but my mum, bless her, never threw anything away so in the drawer it remained.  

Being the 'arty' one, my sister gave the book to me.  It contained lots of colour pictures of Art Nouveau posters, and earlier ones too.  The book itself isn't that old (I still have it), it's only from the 60s but we were doing up our garage as a work-room at the time and I quite fancied having some of the pictures on the wall.  But, and it's something I probably get from my mother, I didn't want to break up the book to get the pictures so I looked on the internet to see if I could find the same pictures to print and frame.

Somehow, and I don't recall how, I stumbled into public domain and all it has to offer.

This is one of the pictures from the book - love it!  Which leads me to the other point.

Charles Gesmar, who created this poster, died in 1928 - great!  Perhaps unfortunate for him as he was no great age at all, but from a public domain point of view, perfect!  The poster itself is out of copyright BUT I haven't got the original poster, I just have a picture of it in a book.  To get it into that book, someone had to take a picture of it and, by doing that, a new copyright is created.

Each time any one of us takes a picture, that picture is copyrighted to ourselves.  We don't have to register it or acknowledge it in any way, it just is.  In the same way, if you take a picture of a picture, your photo creates a new copyright - and that copyright does not expire until you have been dead for 70 years.

I could talk here about perpetual copyright but I'll spare you that one.... for now anyway!

So, if you went out and brought a brand new book about Mucha, who I was talking about yesterday, you can't just copy the pictures in the book and use them for yourself because you know that Mucha's works are out of copyright - damn!  Sorry about that - if you read yesterday's post and your brain-cells started to tick over on PD, this one will burst the bubble!

The pictures in books like this have often been purchased under licence by image libraries such as Bridgeman, amongst others.  Under licence to the publishers, there's a copyright notice slapped on the book - you can't do it.

Which leads me to the point I was originally heading for.... You may have heard about the case of Bridgeman v. Corel - well, you will have done if you read yesterday's post anyway. I'll sum it up really quickly from the top of my head as I know if I go and read it all again, I'll be gone for hours.....

Bridgeman are an image library, they license out images to use in books, on TV, on retail items such as notebooks, bookmarks etc etc etc.  Corel is a software corporation - they produce the lovely graphics program I use (amongst other things), CorelDraw (wouldn't be without it!).

Corel produced some software or other that contained lots of paintings from the old masters. Bridgeman said 'hang on a minute, all of those paintings are from our website, you must have got them from us - you can't do that, it's a breach of copyright.  We've had these paintings photographed (or bought them from someone who had), so there's a new copyright and we're going to sue you.'

And that they did.  Corel had apparently bought the images from another company which has since (not surprisingly) been dissolved.  But there was no doubt where this company had got the images from.  The images on Bridgeman were the kind where you hovered over and could see the large uncompressed version.  The company had managed to bypass this (so-called) security feature (it's not difficult!) and copied the pictures, then selling them onto Corel.

To cut an extremely long story short, the outcome was a ruling that taking a true picture of a flat 2-dimensional image DOES NOT create a new copyright.

Aha, you say - so that means I can copy the book, I hear you say.... Not so.  For a start, that case was in the US - here in the UK the law hasn't changed.  Many here (and no doubt there), think it's a ridiculous ruling and would never be adopted in UK law.

And another point is that this case was the ruling in one state only, as far as I know it hasn't been adopted into law and has yet to be challenged.  It's persuasive but not the be all and end all.

I enjoy law, it's fascinating.  Complicated at times but fascinating.

Books and art led me there (although I have previously studied contract law at college so I have a head start), so the subject of copyright when it comes to artwork brings both of my passions together.

I did mean to talk about Art Nouveau a bit more but I'd be here all day then - another day.

You can see some for yourself on our Art Nouveau posters DVD.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Mucha and a myth about public domain....

I've just started reading a book about marketing and although I've only read a chapter or two, I can see that the author uses emails and comments from his clients to illustrate points back to his market - which reminded me of something....

When I first released our Art Nouveau public domain image DVD, a customer emailed me asking if I was sure the work of Alphons Mucha was in the public domain.  Reason? Because a friend of hers, she said, was buying Mucha images from some site-or-other therefore how could they be in the public domain when she still had to pay for them?

I'll just show one here so we know what we're talking about....

This one, probably not the best example, is a menu cover.  Mucha (pronounced Mooka) produced some wonderful work which is the epitome of French Art Nouveau and is most people's idea of what Art Nouveau looks like (although it's in many other forms, but I digress!).

Mucha, who was Czech-born in 1860 and worked in France, died in 1939 which is conveniently, in the matter of public domain works, more than 70 years ago.

Now there are lots of in and outs of copyright law, many of which throw works unexpectedly into the public domain when you wouldn't think it would be the case - but in the main copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author/artist.  For some countries it's less but you're safest if you apply 70 years to it.

So what was our customer talking about then?  Quite simply, just because a work is in the public domain, it doesn't mean that you have access to it does it?

If you don't have a picture of it, then there's nothing you can do about it.  Might as well be in a vault.  And the subject of having a picture of it is another one entirely ..... a photograph of something creates a new copyright which belongs to the photographer rather than the producer of the artwork.  If you read the case of Bridgeman v. Corel Corporation you may not think this is the case but bear in mind this is US law, not UK - and the outcome in one state only, yet to be challenged elsewhere.

That's off the point slightly but it should be borne in mind nonetheless...

Back to the proper point.  There are many image libraries out there that sell images - they are in the business of making money from images whether or not they are out of copyright or not.  If the pictures are still in copyright, they are no doubt paying a share to the copyright owner.  If not, they are keeping the proceeds for themselves.  Nothing wrong with that - they have it, you want it, you pay money to get it.... even if it's out of copyright.

You can take time and effort to track down a suitable-quality image for yourself, or just pay the money to the nice image-library man and get it now.  It's as simple as that.

So the question as to whether I'm sure Mucha images are out of copyright or not is yes of course I'm sure - the images on our DVD are taken from old books and publications that I KNOW are in the public domain and can therefore be used quite legitimately.

Organisations like Dover Publications that sell you images like this manage to get round it by selling to you under license - meaning that they can put restrictions on the use that you put them to simply because they say so, even if the images themselves are in the public domain.

I could go on and on but I won't - much of it is included in the information that's on every one of our public domain discs.

If you like Mucha and other images from the Art Nouveau period, take a look at our Posters of the Art Nouveau Period DVD now.