Cory Doctorow on Stock Photography in the Digital World

My friend Cory Doctorow gave a speech in DC recently on the subject of copyright and democracy. The whole talk is great, and well worth listening to I won’t bore you by trying to encapsulate it here. But during the question and answer period, Cory answered a couple questions, one about how he plans to make a living selling books when they’re all digital, and one about how the stock photography industry might respond to the Internet and the challenge it presents to their business model. Have a listen to his answers:

I thought his response was great, and might be useful to illustrators too. I talk to a lot of illustrators and artists about how the Internet is changing our industry. Our business model relies on our power to sell licenses to make copies of our work only now, just about everyone has a machine designed to make copies, linked into a global network of other machines with the same ability. Copying isn’t as hard as it once was, so selling that right to copy isn’t as easy either. How should we respond?

As Cory points out, we could sue people. Or we could try to invent some technology that would make copying more difficult. Both approaches have been tried by the recording industry, with horrific results that were bad for fans, bad for the industry, and did nothing to get artists paid. And the so-called “3 strikes” provisions cropping up around the world policies that would cut people off from the Internet after 3 alleged infringements are even worse, a draconian solution that would undermine the basis of a free and open democratic society.

I like that Cory doesn’t propose an easy answer to this problem. But he does suggest that it won’t come by burying our heads in the sand, pretending that new technology hasn’t already shifted the terrain and re-written the rules. I think the solution won’t come from lawyers or corporations or governments. It will come from people who can use the power of their imaginations to envision solutions others can’t see. And that’s why I think illustrators have an important role to play. We solves problems and think creatively as a normal part of our working lives. It’s time we turned our talent towards a solution that earns us money without damaging our society.


Sometimes when I’m eating tacos at one of the world-famous Mexican taquerias here in the Mission, it occurs to me that someone could make a lot of money if they could just figure out how to export this amazing cuisine to another city. Say, New York. Or Berlin. How about Munich?

Funny, because a few months ago I got a call from some a design agency called Worldstudio, who were working on just such a project. They were looking for a complete look for their Mexican restaurant in Munich, and was I interested? Um, yeah!

Here’s what we came up with for the logo. I did the logo, the type, and the trippy border (which has little eyes that stare back at you if you look at it long enough):

Here’s an alternate layout:

And here’s how it looks on their business cards!

Milagros are those little icons you see in Mexico, sometimes made out of bits of tin little devotional folk charms. A leg, an arm, a heart. So naturally I also had to design a series of milagros that could be used around the restaurant.

Oh, and here’s one of the rejected logos & type treatments! Hm, now that I look at this one, I’m kind of liking it better…

They’re also doing shirts, chef outfits, salsa and bags with the art!

It was a super fun project! And there might be more I’m still waiting to hear if I get to design the lampshades and floor tiles for the restaurant. Can’t wait to stop into the restaurant one day and see my art plastered everywhere!

Blame Sally Poster Gets More Love

The poster design that my wife Mati McDonough and I did last year for our friends in the band Blame Sally just keeps getting awards. Earlier in the year the poster was featured in the Society of Illustrators 52 show and annual. Now it’s garnered another honor: it is in the 3×3 Professional Show for 2010!

(If you’ve never seen 3×3 magazine, you should check it out. When it comes in the mail we rush to open it, fight over who gets to read it first, and linger over every page. It really is a beautifully designed, loving homage to contemporary illustration that is a must for any artist or designer.)

The t-shirt version printed on gorgeous Alternative Apparel shirts won best swag from the Independent Music Awards in 2009:

You can get your own copy of the silkscreen poster from us here, and you can pick up the shirt from Blame Sally here.

Mati and I don’t put our artistic heads together that often, but when we do we get an awesome product. (I guess that’s one reason the marriage works, right?)