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TEDxFulbright is coming soon!

Don’t miss an exciting day of ideas worth sharing at TEDxFulbright on Sept. 26th in Santa Monica. Even better, a limited number of discounted $35 tickets for UCLA students are available.

Click here for more information and don’t miss out on this unique opportunity!

Want a taste of what to expect? Watch speaker Dolph Lundgren talk about TEDxFulbright, ‘War Pigs’ , and his project against human trafficking:

Rebranding our Shame

Of all the 2015 TedxUCLA talks, the one I felt our DCA students would benefit from the most was Adi Jaffe’s talk, “Rebranding our Shame.” Jaffe shares intimate details of his less-than-savory previous life, a life that could have left him branded many negative words forever (I won’t spoil his powerful storytelling by sharing what some of those are).

Many of our DCA graduates go on to help clients take a fresh look at their branding and create new identity systems. I’ve personally felt my preexisting notions about, for example, a “cheap but cheerful” LA restaurant transform as I’ve perused a new logo, storefront, menu, and takeout packaging created by one of our students. The design communications arts can be an extremely powerful tool for shaping how we feel about almost anything, including other people.

Watch Adi Jaffe challenge us to reconsider how we brand one another:

 

AIGA student group visits the El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA)

Photo 2Last week, the AIGA student group visited the El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA) for an incredible behind-the-scenes tour of Scratch, the museum’s latest “experience.”

The gallery featured floor-to-ceiling paintings by LA’s most prominent street artists as well as a selection of rare books from the Getty Research Institute. We learned that the exhibit was inspired by the LA Liber Amicorum, or LA Book of Friends (also known as the “Getty Black Book”), a collective sketchbook that emulates the street artist tradition of carrying black books to be inscribed by fellow artists. The name “liber amicorum,” and the manuscripts on display, referenced a very similar tradition among 16th- and 17th-century European merchants, who also carried books to be inscribed by friends—an amazing historical parallel!

The artwork in the exhibit itself was created in the same spirit of friendship, uniting artists from different cultural backgrounds and all corners of Los Angeles. The backstories for each piece—shared with us by ESMoA education specialist Chelsea Hogan—were both inspiring and fascinating. We also had the opportunity to make our own “scratch” marks on the lobby wall.

To conclude our tour, we went upstairs above the gallery—normally closed to the public—to visit the beautiful artist-in-residence studio and rooftop deck.

Thanks so much to everyone who was able to make it to ESMoA! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on future events.

Check out this gallery of photos from the event:

Photos by Michelle Quach and Leah Yuan.

 

Upcoming Lecture: Practical Legal Knowledge for Photographers and Artists

As you enter the professional world as an artist, legal questions and concerns begin to present themselves. You’ve mainly been photographing friends – will you begin to present them with model releases? How will you protect your work as you try to market it on the web? It can be overwhelming, and difficult to get good information as you build your business.

To address these issues, we are pleased to present a lecture by John Baldrica, MFA, JD, and assistant General Counsel for SAG-AFTRA. Tailored to the concerns of photographers and artists both starting out in the business or deep in their career, this three-hour talk will present a streamlined overview of the laws most relevant to their calling, from contract basics to intellectual property. Participants will discover common misconceptions about the law and glean powerful, practical lessons from other creators’ hard-fought legal battles.

The talk will be held on Thursday, Sept. 25 from 6-9pm. To learn more and enroll, click here.

We spoke to John about his background, and the world of arts and the law. Please note: John Baldrica is Assistant General Counsel for SAG-AFTRA;  the opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.

John Baldrica

John Baldrica

What are some of the unique legal challenges faced by artists that others might not be aware of?

There are certainly legal issues that artists face more frequently. For example, a lot of the basic rights and obligations related to creative works–things like the ability to use or sell a particular image–turn on who is the legally recognized owner.  This may be addressed by a contract, but might also be affected by the circumstances surrounding a particular work’s creation.  Does an existing contract make it a work for hire, owned by an employer?  Could someone else’s involvement mean they might be considered a co-creator?  Did the people in the photograph give consent?  Consider all of the academic questions that surrounded the Ellen-Oscar-Selfie, and imagine what a mess it would be if a creative business relied on using images like that but didn’t think through those issues ahead of time.

Another challenge–and this is not unique to artists–is that legal disputes can often follow financial success.  One of the intentional features of our court system is that it is designed, in part, to be burdensome and expensive, with the hope that people will try to resolve their disputes and only fight it out when the underlying issues are really worth it.  You can argue whether the system has the intended effect, but as a practical matter it means that if you’ve just made a million dollars selling the Oscar-Selfie, those questions are no longer just academic.

Is there a common mistake or oversight you see artists make that can have serious consequences?

Again, it’s not unique to artists, but one of the most serious risks anyone can take is signing a contract that they don’t fully understand.  This is not to say that artists should avoid formal contracts.  They exist because they are very useful for handling anticipated problems that might not be addressed by the “default” laws in effect.  And artists, by the nature of their work, are often pushing boundaries of technology or expression where the law is not entirely settled.

But the flip side is that, in most cases, the law will treat a contract that two parties have willingly entered as the starting and ending point of the inquiry, even if it gives a clear advantage to one side.  That could mean anything from being obligated to pay the other party’s legal bills in a lawsuit, to giving up all of your rights in your work.  And, because individual artists are often dealing with large companies, there is already an imbalance of negotiating power, so it’s even more important that artists understand all the obligations they are agreeing to.

Its Your Show 2013 Reception image for slider

Pondering the legal ramifications of displaying work at our student show.

What in your background led you to this area of the law, or why did you chose to focus on issues of law in media?

Before law, one of the things I worked in (and taught) was web and Flash design.   At real risk of dating myself, this was in the Wild-West days of unique, subversive, creative work being done for the Internet, before even the advent of YouTube.  Think “email link to a GeoCities page.”   As a result, I was inevitably fielding questions about the legal ramifications of various projects, to which, at the time, I could basically say just “try not to get sued.”

Now, a decade or so later, I can give basically the same advice, but with lots of Latin words.  I’m (probably) joking, but the exciting and occasionally nerve-wracking thing about the edges of any developing medium is that the law takes time to catch up with the culture.  So often the best you can do is to try to anticipate what might be issues in the future.

What do you hope students will gain from the lecture?

There’s a natural tension between the arts and the law, because, in part, one is focused on taking risks and the other on avoiding them.  But, when they are working best, both the law and the arts are about solving problems and finding balance.  It’s certainly a matter of debate where that balance should be, particularly in terms of allowing creative expression.  But, ideally, we probably want a legal system that is flexible enough to encourage innovation and risk taking, but protective enough that creators can benefit from their innovations.  Through this lecture, I’d hope to chip away at least a little of the perceived complexity surrounding the law and give students concrete ideas of how they can use
it to help themselves.

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