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Ukiyoe Heroes - first proofing

Posted by Dave Bull at 2:40 AM, July 2, 2012 [Permalink]

The views on the Colour Block carving YouTube video I posted the other day have now climbed to nearly 50,000 ... it's very heartening to have that much interest in what we are doing!

But work continues apace, and with the colour block set now complete, I had a go at pulling some test impressions yesterday. Given the general amount of interest that seems to be building for Jed's project, I of course ran the camera through most of the session.

It's a bit longer than the video the other day; this one is nearly 15 minutes long - that's how long it takes to pull all the impressions for a copy! We hope you find it interesting:




Added by: Mark on July 2, 2012 11:22 PM

The proof, and the whole project looks very nice.
I spotted Jed's Pokemon colour design today - it's a great fun image, but it looks like a huge challenge to turn into a print - lots of graduations and coloured lines!
Without wanting to throw a wet cloth over this project (I'd love to see it succeed)- have the copyright implications of a set of commercially available prints based on these characters/games been thoroughly checked out?
I know these are Jed's interpretations of games and characters, and as such, he owns the copyright in his artwork, but the characters, games and their names on which he's based his images aren't.
I know people draw images based on their favourite fictional characters and upload them as Fan Art for others to view, but they aren't for sale - it's not a commercial enterprise.
This project seems different in that it certainly is a commercial venture.
I know you can't copyright an idea, but this project is in a bit of a grey area between idea and intellectual property.
I'm not an expert on copyright, but I know enough to advise Jed to get some specialist advice on the matter to cover himself, just in case. I would hate something like this to trip up such nice work.

Added by: Diane Cutter on July 2, 2012 11:34 PM

I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed watching this and the carving one from a few days ago. It's been inspiring and instructive. I feel I have a much better handle on this type of printmaking. Thank you, Dave.

Added by: Gayle on July 2, 2012 11:37 PM

This has been a joy to watch, Dave.

Added by: Jed Henry on July 3, 2012 1:32 AM

I'm writing in response to Mark's kind inquiry about copyright. I actually spent a few hours talking to my lawyer father on the phone, making sure we're legally ok. There is a huge precedent in American copyright law that has opened up parody as "Fair Use". Because we're making an artistic statement about the original work (that Japanese video games are in many ways an extension of Japanese pop culture through the centuries) we qualify as parody. Now, it's still a gray area. There are no clear-cut laws specifically about this type of project – only past cases that have established a precedent.

Also, because our art prints aren't in direct competition with game companies' products, we aren't damaging their sales in any way.

Long story short, we're safe. This is parody, and it's legal. If a company wanted to sue us, that's perfectly legal too. Anybody can sue anybody else, at any time. And in business, it's an effective way to clog up an enterprise. If that happens, we'll try to cut a deal and obtain an official license then.

My thought is that game companies will be more interestd in turning this into profits, by licensing us. Or maybe they'll ignore us. Or maybe they'll try to stop us.

Either way, I feel completely ethical in this endeavour. We're clearly within the law.

Added by: Andrew on July 3, 2012 2:24 AM

I saw the lines he is drawing. Great calligraphic lines. It will be a stretch for sure to do economically....but if you pull out all the stops...I bet there is enough interest to make it fly.
What a great image/challenge.
I'm in.

Added by: Jeremy Pearse on July 3, 2012 2:25 AM

Great Video Dave! I have watched most of the creation of this print from the initial cutting of the key block to this, the test printing and am truly amazed! I think that the print has come out better than I had expected and not to criticize Jed's initial color rendition of the design, I love the slightly richer colors of the woodblock print - especially the browns of the bridge and the carts. Also I love how you have so effectively captured the lines and shapes of the original image. Very well done!
Thanks also to Jed for clearing up the legal aspects of this project as I too really want this to be a huge success. I feel that it will certainly be in the best interests of the various gaming companies to work with you on this as all the publicity you are generating can only be good for them as well as you!

Added by: Tom Kristensen on July 3, 2012 9:48 PM

Nice work Dave and Jed. I am only wishing for some slight embellishment of the red fabric common to Toad and Mario. In Ukiyo-e tradition we would have to make something more of all that finery. Perhaps a shift in tone for Toad or an embossed pattern maybe. Sorry to be greedy, I should just be grateful for a job extremely well done. Congratulations.

Added by: Dave on July 3, 2012 10:53 PM

common ...

We're on that, Tom. Jed's original digital image has a single red tone for both, but I cut separate blocks for them; we have complete flexibility to make them as different as needs be. The second proof batch I made this afternoon has them more different - with a brighter red on the kimono, and a more vermillion tone on the creature. We'll see what Jed thinks.

As for embellishments and patterns, we are working at a pretty small scale here, and that central area of this image is just packed with detail. I'm not sure that I would encourage him to make it any more 'busy' than it is.

If you want a look at one of these proofs, you can see one over on the Ukiyoe Heroes page that is coming together bit by bit ...


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