Thursday, December 01, 2011

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Hey, that illustration is pretty good.

Top: My illustration. Bottom: Ripped-off illustration.
(Click image to view larger version)

This "designer" from Bogota, Colombia, liked my illustration so much that he used it without paying or asking for permission. It is yet another example of how easy it is to plagiarize anyones work from the internet. Also, of how many people out there are more than willing to steal other artists work and take full credit for it without giving it a second thought.

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done about this, even with my work having been copyrighted. The time and money I would have to spend to take a small company or individual to court is hardly worth it. Perhaps, if it was on a massive scale for a commercial product or huge company I may consider it. This guy probably got $20 bucks to do the design and it's likely that he would never be able to afford the copyright infringement fines, which means I would not be compensated anyway.

The one thing I have done is contact the hosting company for any website that I've found to have been plagiarizing my work. Several weeks ago I sent out a slew of notices to web hosting companies to ask that they delete the images from sites they host and they were all very responsive. My work was taken down from all of the websites within a few hours.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Chuck Rhodes Out and About illustration

Chuck Rhodes Out and About illustration
Left: New Chuck Rhodes illustration     Right: Current artwork
(Click image to see larger version)

I've always felt that the illustration for the Chuck Rhodes, Out and About segment on ABC27 news could use a bit of a makeover. So, I finally decided to go ahead and illustrate an updated version of what is currently being used. I think it looks a bit more professional and is a better likeness of Chuck Rhodes. This would look pretty nifty on screen now that they are broadcasting in HD.

Now, just replacing the new image in the logo would not work too well because the style and quality of the artwork would not fit well with what's currently being used. The rest of the Out and About logo would need to be redesigned as well. Maybe I'll work on that next.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Burn Creative website launched...

After weeks of planning, designing, tinkering and fine-tuning, the newly redesigned is now online and fully operational.

Sans Flash, the new website will be far easier to maintain and update and should result in better SEO. Without the use of Flash, the website is also more mobile device friendly.

So, that's it. If you haven't seen it and have some free time between browsing through Facebook and playing Bejeweled feel free to check it out.

> >

Monday, September 19, 2011

If it's online it must be free to use.

Google recently launched a "reverse image search" service that allows users to search the web for similar images. Simply drag an image file into the search box and it will find everywhere on the web that your image appears. 

So, I used the reverse image search last week to look up my own work and to no surprise, found more than a few companies using logos I designed on their websites. There were even a few designers who took my logos, changed them slightly and then claimed them as their own work on their websites. 

Try it out > > > Reverse image search.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The real cost of cheap design work...

Last week received an email from a business owner in response to a logo development quote I submitted. He wanted to let me know that he thought my rates are "way out there". Along with his thoughts on my rates, he provided a link to a website that provides custom logo design for only $150, and added that "there's no arguing how good their work is…"

So, I clicked on the link, navigated to the portfolio section, and immediately saw exactly what I expect from a site that offers logo development for only $150. The work was riddled with poor use of typography, cheap clipart looking images, swooshes, drop shadows... Certainly nothing to be impressed by. Things only got worse as I looked a bit more closely and saw designs that were derivative of existing logos, others that were flat out copied and there were even more that I know I've seen before but couldn't quite place where.

Below are a few examples of what I found.

The Long Island Nationals logo on the left, taken from the website in question, is an obvious knock off of the old Washington Nationals logo. It is only slightly changed so it is not an exact copy, which is still considered trademark infringement.

On the left is another plagiarized image. I recognized this right away because I know who did the original tiger illustration from an online forum we both belong to. The copied design was just a poorly redrawn version of the original, slightly modified and slapped on a new body. Again, that is still plagiarism.

Finally, the third example of a poorly recreated and then edited logo. Again I recognized this as soon as I saw it. That's because I had stickers and posters of that illustration all over my room when I was a young lad. The original illustration it was taken from, called "The Screaming Hand", is one of the most iconic images to come out of the 1980's skateboard scene. It was created by illustrator Jim Phillips for Santa Cruz Skateboard company in 1985.

There is no shortage of this kind of thing going on and business owners get lured in with the promise of top quality work for only a few bucks. The fact is that the work is cheap for a good reason. It's low quality and they're cutting corners even to the point of plagiarizing work in order to pump out as many logos as they can as fast as possible. They try to make money on quantity because there's no way they can do it on quality. Logo development and generally any graphic design work is not prepackaged, assembly line, paint by numbers type of work. Good graphic design is custom work, that takes time and should be tailored for your specific company.

There was a similar instance with another popular, cheap, online logo design site a several years ago. One designer, (coincidentally, the same one that did the original tiger illustration above) found some plagiarized work on the site and soon other designers started finding even more. That website used crowdsourcing for their work, so their "excuse" was basically that it was no fault of theirs because designers from their crowdsourcing pool submitted the infringing designs. How's that for top quality work and service?

The lesson in all of this is basically that you get what you pay for. In the best case scenario, if you're lucky, you only get a poorly designed logo that serves no real good purpose for your business. The worst case scenario is that you purchase a plagiarized logo, get slapped with a trademark infringement suit and have to deal with the expense of lawyers to represent you, up to $30,000 in statutory damages and on top of that you'll have to pay the legal fees for the company that took you to court. Then, there are the additional costs of getting a new logo designed and reprinting all of your marketing materials, business cards, signage and anything else that is branded with the infringing logo. Oh, and lets not forget the bad press your business will receive.

Unfortunately, ignorance is no defense in trademark infringement cases. Even if the company you purchased the logo from plagiarized the design without your knowledge you would still be held liable for using the plagiarized work.

So there you have it. For the low, low price of $150 you can purchase low quality work that can potentially land you in court and end up costing you thousands of dollars.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why a logo style guide is important?

You've spent a good amount of time, money and effort to have a good logo designed for your business. It is the cornerstone and most widely used element of your company's corporate identity. Unfortunately, someone will eventually come along and decide that your logo looks good as a document header if they stretch it out 400% horizontally. Then, another person takes your company's logo and changes the color and adds or deletes elements from it. Later on a few more people have added their own special touches to your logo and before you know it there are ten different variations being passed around.

In order to protect the integrity of your logo it is important to maintain consistency. This can be accomplished by having a style guide which will help educate your employes as well as outside vendors by providing specific guidelines on how to properly display your logo.

A style guide typically includes, but is not limited to:

  • Examples of proper and improper usage for the wordmark and symbol
  • Color palettes (CMYK, RGB, Pantone, Grayscale, Black, White)
  • Approved logo variations
  • File format specifications for digital and print applications
  • Positioning of logo and fonts specifications for layout on business cards, letterhead, envelopes
  • Guidelines for use on marketing materials 

You typically have the style guide available in printed format as well as PDF to e-mail or for downloading directly from your website. It is also wise to have someone at your company that approves any branded materials to make sure that the guidelines are being adhered to.