Defend Art: The First 24 Hours


Update: The lawsuit has been settled by mutual agreement. A press release concerning the details of the settlement agreement will be posted here soon. — Dec. 4, 2009

Wow.

I am amazed at what has happened since I published the page on my site about the lawsuit brought against me.

I knew my friends would care. I expected a few blog posts and hopefully some support to help me continue to defend my art, but the response has been far beyond anything I could have imagined. I am awed, humbled and inspired by the way this story has spread and the incredible number of people who care… and by how deeply they care.

I want to thank you not only for your financial support, but more importantly, your emotional and moral encouragement during this time. This has been a tough year and the last couple days are the first time I've felt encouraged in a long time. By assisting in funding our fight in this lawsuit, you are not only helping our case, but showing support of all artists struggling with similar battles.

The most important thing I have to tell you today is this:

In my first appeal for help I wrote: "If you have a blog, please write a post and link to this page. Feel free to quote as much of this post as you like or to write about it in your own words. It is important to stick to the facts and to avoid derogatory language."

It is very important for all of us to take the ethical high ground in this issue and not to bully, threaten or malign the other side. I know better than anyone that this is an emotional issue for artists but don't make us look bad as a group by being hateful. Lets tell the story sticking to the facts. Let's raise awareness of the issues without resorting to name calling or other defamatory statements. The facts should be sufficient. By keeping it clean, it makes us look like the creative professionals we are.

Please be responsible with your actions. A few people left comments on Facebook or contacted the other side directly and this does not help our case. Remember that the goal is to try the merits of the case in court… I've written about this case so that we can raise the money to get there.

I hope to use what I've learned to educate other artists about their rights, and how they can best protect their own creations from falling prey to a similar situation. Please pass my message on, not only in support of my case, but in support of all artists.

I have registered the domain defendart.org and when this is over, I hope to set up a foundation to help other artists in need of legal assistance. Any money I raise that is not eaten up by court costs will be used for this purpose. Currently the only legal aid groups for artists that I have found operate only within the boundaries of each state. I can't find a national organization. In my state, Michigan, the legal program for artists was closed due to lack of funding. It's obvious from the stories I've heard on Twitter, in email, on forums and elsewhere that we need something like this and I believe that artists could work together to make it happen.

Because that's what artists do, actually: when they see something that should exist but doesn't, they build it.

Now that I see how many of us there are and how incredibly we can pull together I have a larger vision for #defendart. I think there's a way to raise funds that can protect artists when other options fail them.

Here's what we accomplished together in the first 24 hours after I posted my story:

  • The page on my site had 49476 page views
  • The bit.ly URL to the site had over 17000 clicks
  • It's hard to tell exactly, but I estimate that there were about 100,000 tweets about this story
  • Over 30 people posted about the story to their blogs
  • The Fire Imps project on Kickstarter went from 12 backers to 99!
  • More than 50 people donated on my site here. (and I haven't counted how many since yesterday yet).
  • I've had hundreds of emails and calls of support.
  • Artists have offered to donate their work to a fundraising sale. I think we'll do this.
  • Etsy seller Whimsy Beading has offered to donate 15% of sales this week to the defense fund.
  • Ryan Barton of Rhynomarketing.com created a great graphic to use to promote awareness.

If you are an artist who wants to donate a portion of etsy sales to the fund, or art for a fundraising sale email or message me on twitter and I'll promote your efforts in return. I think we could have an amazing online art sale with some of the best art the internet has to offer. It could be a great way to show solidarity while putting great work in front of a new audience. I'm still working on the details of the best way to make it happen and will post an update as soon as I figure it out.

We need to keep the momentum that we've built going if this is to succeed. Let's take a stand for all artists and show the world that we can defend our art. But Please, please, please remember that we have to do it in a way that is acceptable and beyond reproach. Keep spreading the story but do so with a civil and responsible manner.

Thanks again to everyone who has participated so far. I am just so excited to see how much people care about ethics in the arts. Let's continue to focus on the positive aspects of what we can do to show how much we care.

Do you have questions or comments?

« The Fine Art of Recycling | Main | Art Is War so Hazel Dooney is Rallying Reinforcements for John T. Unger »

John T. Unger