The Attack on Sharing


Rarely do I use my blog for any sort of activism, but something came to light recently and I’m having a hard time keeping quiet about it.

Earlier today, Abduzeedo posted this article about an incident that happened last week. A polite outline (as expected from Abduzeedo) can be found explaining what happened and how they dealt with it, but let me highlight the section that rubbed me the wrong way…

“We featured a beautiful photo in a post, giving full credit and linking back to the photographer and his work. We loved his work, it was on 500px and featured all options of sharing including on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and even an Embed Code. Maybe too used to the idea of sharing and fair usage, we included his image.

Unfortunately, we received a series of requests, like removing the content, which we did right away, a demand for public apology, which we more than happily did on the same blog post and a penalty fee. We apologize for featuring his work on our blog. Our one and only goal was to share what inspired us with others. We are truly sorry.”

Right, so Abduzeedo shared a photo in an inspiration round-up (with credit and link) and he wanted it removed. Fair enough, we all have final say when it’s our artwork in question and he has every right to request removal. He wanted a public apology. Kinda weird given there was no damage done, but alright. And of course, Abduzeedo obliged.

Then I read the part about the penalty fee… that’s when I got uneasy. As far as I can tell, a “penalty fee” means a demand for monetary compensation. A fee… for sharing a photo with full credit? Abduzeedo never claimed ownership of the photo, nor did they re-sell the image. Confused, I clicked on the link to where the photo is housed, and arrived here on 500px. Let me draw your attention to the giant social share buttons in the upper right corner of that page, which includes an option to embed the photo in your site. See where I’m going with this?


Now, lets have a look at what 500px has on their About page… I circled a pretty key word.


As I said earlier, we all have final say when it comes to our artwork, but this raises some important questions… if one does not want their photos shared, then why would one put them on a site BUILT for sharing then attack someone who shares them? Are these penalty fees demanded from everyone who shares a photo on Pinterest? Facebook? Twitter? Ffffound? Tumblr? Where exactly do we draw the line on what sharing is acceptable and what isn’t?

Rarely do I use the Signalnoise platform in this manner, but I can’t sit idle and watch this kind of thing happen… especially to a site which has done nothing but foster creativity and inspiration for the design community for 7 years. Designers depend on sharing in order to spread work across the web, whether it’s for promotion or inspiration and I’m worried this is setting a horrible precedent.

Am I coming to the defence of Abduzeedo? Of course. But there’s a bigger issue here, the core idea of sharing.

I urge you to discuss your feelings and views, because man, I really think this needs to be discussed. The louder the better.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Onstage in Amsterdam.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Dinner with Mike Holmes, Jason Edmiston, Phantom City Creative, Eric Miller and Chris Toms.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

The big guys! Mike Jones and Aaron Draplin down in Georgia.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Heavy artillery in Toronto. Aaron Draplin, Hydro74 and Eric Miller

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

An evening in LA with Greg Gorman and Kurt Russell.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Onstage in Columbia, SC.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Onstage at Montreal Meets 3.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

In front of a capacity crowd at OFFF Barcelona.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Selling wares at Toronto FanExpo and Lee shows up with that shirt!

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Hanging with Carolina Panther Ryan Kalil and Carolina Designer Matt Stevens.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Onstage in Helsinki, Finland.

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

Covering important topics in Phoenix, AZ.

To say it’s been a busy year would be a complete understatement. 2013 had, by a wide margin, the most travel I’ve ever done in my life. The Signalnoise World Tour kicked off in February with a 26-hour journey to Manila and I haven’t been sitting still since. The year went by so fast that I’m stunned to be writing this post already.

This year brought with it FAR too many wonderful meetings, memories, laughs and awesome times that I cannot possibly list them all in this meagre blog post. I’m not even going to try, man.

But this post DOES serve a very important purpose… a GIANT THANK-YOU to everyone responsible for all the killer events I attended and spoke at this year. I’m absolutely honoured that you’d even consider me to take your stage, let alone fly me from Dartmouth to hang out and tell stories. You are held in the highest regard.

And finally, another mega thanks to everyone who attended the events, and hung around long enough to see me speak. Every audience was so energetic and inspiring it made telling my little story a complete pleasure. So many of you hung out after events for drinks and laughs, the best thing a guy far from home can ask for.

Thus concludes the Signalnoise World Tour 2013. Hope to see you in 2014 as I start announcing new speaking dates soon.

‘Start to Finish’ illustration process by Lynda

StarKade by James White

Also titled “I don’t know the correct way, but here’s how I do it”.

A little while ago I posted the Creative Spark documentary Lynda shot here in my studio, introducing me and my work. Well, while the crew was here (and seeing my silly passion for illustrating wrestlers) they decided to shoot another piece focusing on my process. So here’s the result, the ‘Start to Finish’ of my Undertaker illustration.

Beware: I say “aesthetic” around 40 times in the first 2 minutes. My limited vocabulary really shines.

This is the first time I let anyone step into my space to record my process. I’ve had people request Signalnoise tutorials a lot over the years, but I don’t believe in teaching through “Push this button, now push that button” methods. So when Lynda brought up the idea of filming me in action, it was a great opportunity to discuss the nuts and bolts of my process while not being a typical “paint by numbers” thing. I’m a fundamentals guy, so you’ll see that there aren’t any fancy tricks or secret ingredients in my work.

This is the kind of stuff I do by myself in my office… just making it up as I go along. So it’s no lie when I say it’s weird for me to see this video out there. But I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into my process, and it encourages you to experiment with your own art and design techniques.

StarKade: Half-Shells (Cyber Monday)

StarKade: Half-Shells

StarKade: Half-Shells

The Leader

The StarKade Universe continues to grow. 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of everyone’s favourite turtles, so this Cyber Monday brings with it the launch of a new little series of prints… Half-Shells!

This series encourages you to “Collect ’em all”. Each turtle print will be released along side a mystery bad guy. Which bad guy will it be? That evil surprise will be waiting for in your mailbox. This little set includes 2 new character prints, both of which have an edition of 30 and are measured at 5″ x 5″.

The StarKade Series is printed on Museo Textured Rag 285 gsm by the fine people at Static Medium, Los Angeles. All prints are lovingly hand-signed, numbered, packed and shipped by James White out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

This first StarKade: Half-Shells will be available to pre-order on Cyber Monday… December 2nd at 1pm EST in The Signalnoise Store. Sets are $20. Other turtles sold separately… in the future. Don’t change that channel.

Please note: This is a pre-order. All Half-Shells orders will be shipped in early January.