Friday, December 21, 2007

Copycats *clarified

The thought of trademarks, copyrights, infringement, etc. frequently come to mind when I'm posting artwork or pretty much anything online. Today while browsing some websites I came across this artist:

The artist above is 'Brandi Milne'. I had never heard about or seen any of her work before, but it was very similar to this artist:

The artist above is Audrey Kawasaki.

Now is it just me or are they strikingly similar? I was immediately taken aback when I first saw Brandi Milne's work, just because it was so reminiscent of Kawasaki's work, down to the wood board with rounded edges. I checked out Milne's website, and it too reminded me of Kawasaki's own website,

Okay, I mean the similarities are pretty obvious, albeit superficial, even down to the font...

I'm not the artist being "copied" (if you want to call it that, we could call it "inspiration" too, or by any other word less provoking so as not to upset the more sensitive). I don't think it should matter but I do not know either of the artists personally (though many people do and find it offensive to compare or even consider these artist's work similar or inspired by each other (see comments)).
I felt like their artwork was alike enough to point out, because it aroused many questions and emotional responses. I never once suggested that was a bad thing or that it reduces the credibility of either of the artists just because their art is similar, I merely pointed out quite superficial observations between the two that I saw. Yes, the font. Yes, the materials. It's interesting the amount of emotion is stirred up when the slight mention of something possibly being unoriginal (especially when talking about art) makes people go on the defense or resort to personal attacks.

I had a strong emotional response upon seeing these two artists work in comparison to each other and I wanted to explore that response, what it meant. Why did some part of me want to defend Kawasaki's work? Was the sole reason because she was the first artist I discovered of the two that I thought had established this look and style as her own? I attributed this style to her work alone, and for some reason it was the naive part of me that still holds art to be truly unique to the individual that creates it. The more I think about it the more I find that it is almost impossible to call something "unique". How could one ever be sure or prove that? Plus, what does it matter anyway? And why do people get such a huge emotional outbreak when something is accused of being a "copycat"? I'm not saying I dislike either artist because they have similarities between one another. I'm not trying to put down either artist by comparing them, that was never my intention nor is it productive in any way. I just wanted to bring up the fact that we will never really be able to put a box around who's copying who, who's inspiring who, because we are all "inspired", we all "copy", whether or not we can admit that.

I mean, is being original or unique even the point of art anymore? We are in a contemporary world of art criticism, where we can have sophisticated discussions without resorting to personal affiliations or what not.

The fact is that art is forever debatable in terms of copying or originality. Of course when we see something we admire we get inspiration and ideas, this could be labeled "copying" (which is too offensive of a word for some people to handle). Never was I trying to attack either artist. I saw it as more of a philosophical question, what is inspiration? What is copying or plagiarism, what is the fine line between the two? These are questions that yes, span deeper than computer fonts and materials. To me, there can never be a right or wrong answer when talking about art, though some people will never understand that. Isn't art is supposed to provoke deep feelings and questions, as this "lame" blog entry has? I respect the opinions of those that have been so emotionally affected.
For me personally, I thought that to be satisfied with my work I needed to explore and practice my own technique until something unique came out that I could call my own without feeling like I "copied" someone else. But now that I think about it, is that even possible? With all that we see every day is it still possible to create something unique when in this day and age everything has been done? Is it even relevant to be unique anymore? What is the value of "uniqueness" or how can one even define that?
For example, what if I never even knew about Kawasaki's work? What would Milne's work mean to me then? It brings about a lot of interesting things to think about, like how much one can be "influenced" or "inspired", where to draw the line between admiration/inspiration and just plain copying, whether or not it is significant to be the "first one" or the "inventor" of a style and what it means to coin a style others will be inspired by and eventually 'copy'. These are just open ended questions, and of course everyone is entitled to their own answers to those questions.
There is an infinite amount to debate and question. But I guess that is part of your role as a human being. We're all unique and different. Or are we?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This is delicious.

But kind of expensive.
But comes with reusable glass.
That is all.

Zoe, remember having a conversation about pomegranates?

Pomegranates vs. Men.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Noah's Ark at the Skirball

My gloomy sunday morning was spent indoors at the Skirball Cultural Center, about a freeway exit away from the more popular Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The Skirball is primarily a Jewish cultural museum, with rotating exhibits as well as a permanent collection of Jewish historical items, etc.
Anyhow, I had read an article about the Noah's Ark exhibit in the LA Times and what interested me the most was that rather than taking a traditional approach to bringing the themes of Noah's Ark to life they decided to use secondhand/reclaimed objects to construct the animals. So an old boxing glove becomes the body of a kiwi bird, piano keys become the mane of a zebra, really amazing stuff. My favorite was the violin case that turns into an alligators mouth.
The creativity and attention to detail is amazing, not to mention that you can touch and interact with practically everything in the exhibit. The only down-side to the interacting part is that you'll have to deal with the tons and tons of kiddies this exhibit attracts, which isn't too awful but you can see some of the attractions have already been manhandled or broken. There are also special performances like a rainbow mist feature, so if you go at the right time you can see something different each time. I'm leaving out a lot of the details, you really need to be there to interact and discover all the nooks and crannies built into this 8,000 square foot exhibit. It's just so whimsical and fun.
The Noah's Ark project took 5 years to complete, so you can imagine how amazing the end result is. Pictures soon. Here are some from their website so you can see what I mean:

The alligator bodies are made of tire scraps, like the ones you see on the side of the freeway.

Iguana body constructed from a saw, the head is the handle of the saw...

Cute boxing glove kiwis

So if you get a chance, order your tickets online and make a trip over to the Skirball. It's worth it just to see how trash or junk can turn into something really amazing.

Will update with my pictures soon...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My blog annoys me.

Blogs in general can be annoying.
Blog the word is annoying.

So. It's fashion week.
Some good things from Grey Ant.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


what did i tell you

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

another girl

what is it called? stipple? pointalism?
i looked it up. it's "pointillism".

i realize almost all my recent posts have images of women in them. the "fashion" industry is permeating my mind. i look at pretty girl pictures all day long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

im trying

to start painting again. progress so far:

Friday, August 10, 2007

Very incredibly important work

you have to click on it to see it better.

Successes and failures come hand in hand. Try try again is the motto.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

SIGH. A haiku.

Talking politics
at a swim wear company
I am losing it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

get me outta here

work makes you draw semi-morbid images

Monday, July 09, 2007



Don't let that scratch paper go to waste okay?

Do it on your work time.
You get paid for it.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007


oops. i forgot end quotation marks.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Our SECOND (not first!) published collaboration.

In the right kind of story, I'd buy a purple roadie bike at Valencia
cyclery—the one that's on sale, the cheapest one there—it's a beauty
with a small, bright purple frame. My friend, who sold and repaired
bikes at the shop, introduced me to her. I hear it is possible to fall
in love with bikes, and if I were prone to that sort of love, the
purple roadie would be my special lady, and I'd name her Sweet
In the right kind of story, I'd ride all the way to Humbodlt
county just to tell Jordan I loved him. When I found him and told him,
he would tell me that he did not love me, so I'd tell him the truth.
The truth would be that I did not love him. The truth would be that I
couldn't go back there and Jordan wouldn't need to know where I came
from to know what back there meant and so, he'd let me stay with him
in his house set high in the mountains and deep in the forest.
In the right kind of story, the purple stains underneath my eyes
would disappear and bright pink would appear, and the fake blonde
highlights in my hair would grow out and my ashy hair color would grow
in. I would drop all my extra weight, I'd be all skin and bones, and
the bones in my mouth, my teeth, would be crumbling and no, it would
not matter.
In the right kind of story, late at night, we'd leave the house
in the forest and ride down to the dumpsters in the town. We'd
dumpster dive for food and sometimes we'd find tea and we'd drink hot
tea back in the forest, back at home. We'd sit on green milk crates
and sip hot tea from yellow plastic canteens. I can see our bony
fingers, pale and dried pink at the tips, wrapping around those
yellow canteens.
In the right kind of story, I'd lead a hillbilly life and when I
reached my maximum hillbilly girl potential, that is when the Police
Chief would declare Humboldt County was turning into a hellhole and
he'd declare that meth was at the center of it. He'd decide it was
time for some punishment to take place, so the Police Chief would
bribe some pathetic loser user and the pathetic local user would
mention the meth lab in a basement of a house set high in the
mountains and deep in the forest. One night when the moon was looking
swollen and hanging low, the police would creep up the lonesome
mountain road and the silent, single file row of black and white cars
would turn one by one onto a narrow country road that led to the front
of the house where I would be waiting. I'd be standing on the porch
with a shotgun in hand, holding it the way Jordan taught me, holding
it and aiming it at them real serious like, so serious like the cops
would fire. They would gun me down and that would set the house on
fire and cause the lab in the basement to explode, and the entire
house would turn into flames the color of the swollen moon.
But, as you probably know, this isn't that kind of story. No,
this is a story about a girl who lives near the city in a house with
her boyfriend, who is sleeping. She can't sleep and she can't really
eat either. All she can stomach is sushi, sparkling mineral water, and
lattes. You see, there is hardly any hillbilly girl left.

words:Zoe McCann. drawings:Jasmine Ou.
One time I was driving on the freeway back home and there was this annoyingly slow driver in front of me. So I switched lanes, and he switched into the same lane too. That made me even more annoyed, and I was about to switch lanes again but then he did. I was so angry that I passed him by, but then I saw his face and he looked like a crazy horror movie villan, like Quasimodo meets the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I felt bad that he looked like a murderer and I didn't hate him anymore.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I like dogs.

I like dogs a lot. This is what I did at work today. The background was an accident. I was going to scan my dog drawing but before getting around to it I started scanning this piece of fabric, forgetting about my drawing underneath it. I like the way it turned out anyway. Puppy surprise hahahaha.

Friday, March 09, 2007


This illustration is part of an ongoing collaboration with Zoe. She writes and I illustrate. Maybe she will let me publish some of her story on here. Zoe?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Neal Pollack

For those of you who don't know, which is most of you (which isn't a lot considering my small audience of readers of this blog ), my good friend Zoe introduced me to an author , Neal Pollack, about a year ago. I would recommend Neal Pollack's Anthology of American Literature for a good time.
Last month I drove up to San Francisco to go to a Neal Pollack book signing with her. These are the results of our Neal Pollack adventure:

Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle. Click on the picture for the article.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Anti-war Protest, San Francisco 2007.

One of the greatest pictures of the weekend:

Northern California

My weekend has been eventful, but for now I want to leave you with a quick link to a really interesting artist that my friend tipped me off to since she works at CBS news and always knows the most obscure news stories ever:

The city of San Francisco made out of jello.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


...have always interested me. Something about the scale, the preservation of even the finest details in something as simple as a plastic figurine.
It's amazing how these 2 artists, Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle, are able to take simple, everyday objects and transform them into beautiful backdrops and landscapes that allude to an alternate reality.
I love how whimsical and imaginative these photos are. Definitely check out the website for more of their work.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


The amount of time I am on the computer at work (eight hours.) I don't update this site enough. And I do kind of want to.
So who ever thought I'd end up in the fashion industry. Every girl's dream?

p.s. if I hear "Rick, please call me at extension 130"over the P.A. one more time my brain might explode.

Friday, January 12, 2007