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Exploring the magic of writing

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Counterfeiting: The Not-So-Lost Art

The following is a sample interactive article that I created for my Writing for New Media II class:

Vera Wang shocked the business side of the fashion industry when she decided to charge customers nearly $500 (3,000 Yuan) to try on dresses in her Shanghai bridal salon. Negativity was sent reverberating back to the designer, and because of the backlash, she has decided to drop the try-on fee entirely, not only at this store, but also at other stores with similar fees in place.

(Ideally, I would insert a map of stores that have a hover feature to show the try-on fees that were in place.)

She did so claiming, “We wish for all Vera Wang customers to enjoy the same standard of excellence worldwide.”

Media outlets and others that heard of the try-on fee saw the fee from the Chinese American designer as a prejudice and ridiculous business move. But, Wang claimed to only have implemented the fee to “protect the copyright of the designer” and limit the amount of counterfeiting of her designs. Considering how big the market is for Vera Wang knockoffs, and just as an artist in general, this seems like a reasonable goal, right?

(Infographic with information about counterfeit goods would go here. Something like the image below.)


Well, not really. You see, fashion designs can’t be copyrighted.According to a New Media Rights website, copyright laws are in place to “encourage creativity so the public can benefit from that creativity.”  That being said, anything “functional” and “utilitarian” can’t be copyrighted. So, despite how avant-garde a design may be, the functionality of clothing trumps the design aspect, and therefore makes fashion designs non-copyrightable.

(A video about copywriting would be inserted, like the clickable image below.)


So Wang will never be able to fully copyright-protect her designs, which is why she was trying her best not to stop, but to limit the amount of counterfeiting of her unprotected designs. Keeping with the vein of encouraging creativity so the public can benefit from it though, isn’t that what we are all trying to do as artists and designers? Aren’t we all trying to create art that will inspire others to create art much in the same way that we are inspired by other art and artists?

Now I’m not saying that producing nearly an exact replica of something is art, necessarily, but I am saying that there’s an art to counterfeiting—no matter how ethical or unethical it may be.

What can be considered unethical is when counterfeiters try to pass off their designs as the real deal. But, counterfeiters don’t always do this. Some are very up front about the fact that their the products are fake. And there’s definitely a clientele for both counterfeit and designer markets, alike.

In the case of Dapper Dan, counterfeiting was art. This Harlem-based artist made a statement with his counterfeit goods and started a trend in the rap music culture. That’s what took him to the next level. He wasn’t just counterfeiting, he was doing something new and different with the same designer brands that already existed.

Not all counterfeit goods do this, Dapper Dan is a very specific example, but there is an undeniable counterfeit culture that exists.

Counterfeiting is so prevalent in China, that they “dominate the consumer market for luxury items.” The market is so huge there that the government can’t even really monitor it or stop it without putting tons of stores out of business. It’s just become a part of the culture. A culture that takes artistry, no doubt.

(Infographic to show rate of counterfeiting in China would go here. Similar to the image below.)


A Business of Fashion article quotes a knockoff designer saying, “For the experts you don’t need to try on the dress to figure out how to copy it, you just need to see it or feel it at the shop.”

There’s a certain talent that goes into being able to see a dress in person or online and know what it would take to replicate it. It takes a well-trained eye to be able to do this. It takes an artist.

Wang won’t be able to combat such a large counterfeit market, and despite the artistry that goes into replicating one of her designs, some things can’t be replicated easily and cheaply.

If you want the same quality as an original Vera Wang dress, you’ll buy the original. But let’s face it, even Wang’s designs aren’t completely original. All artists are inspired by someone or by something that’s been done before.

We as artists and designers don’t exist in a vacuum. As Salvador Dali once said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” Counterfeiters definitely aren’t scared to imitate, and neither is Wang—they just do it to varying degrees.

Philosopher Henri Bergson said, “What I call my ‘present’ has one foot in my past and another in the future.” With an industry such as fashion that is so forward-moving and yet so rooted in the past, even if only so not to replicate it (although we do see the same trends repeated) this idea of the present being fleeting or non-existent was never more true.

In other words, we can’t move forward without looking to the past to create the future in any form of art, especially in fashion. If fashion designs could be copyrighted, we would stop the progression. Although copyright laws are in place to encourage creativity, wanting to stop counterfeit is not a good enough reason to block creative progression in the fashion industry. 

Filed under Vera Wang china China counterfeit counterfeit goods knockoffs designer brands luxury brands copyright copyright laws design observer dapper dan Dapper Dan New Media Rights Business of Fashion counterfeit infographic ethics art design artist designer ethical issues writing

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Repurposing Materials: A Project

Our final project for Creative Thinking Strategies was to take a bag, a book and a skirt and make something new with them, combine them to give them a different purpose. 

Our group liked the whole idea of repurposing and wanted to make something that had multiple uses/functions. After lots of brainstorming, we landed on the idea of camping gear. Why not make something that could be packaged or folded easily? We started thinking about camping chairs and decided that we wanted to make some sort of chair.

We looked at tons of images of furniture and found this image:


We liked the idea of making one basic shape and stacking them to make something. We decided to create a basic rectangular shape that could be stacked to make a chair with a foot stool and a table with a stool. Given the amount of time and materials, we also decide the chair would be made for children. That way, we could make it smaller and so that it could hold less weight.

Read more …

Filed under repurpose repurposed art repurposed material rock Art art creative thinking creative thinking strategies furniture modular furniture paper mache furniture

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Think Like a Creative Genius

As an exercise to get our creative juices flowing in class the other day, we were assigned an artist, a “genius” in their field, and we were given a list of items to choose from. We were supposed to choose an item and then force ourselves to think like the artist we were assigned. How would that artist design this item?

The item I chose was a beach tent, and the artist I was assigned was Mariko Mori. She is an artist that likes to mix the natural with the supernatural. She has many scenes, either photographed or digital, where she will take a natural scene and insert herself dressed as an alien in the scene. 

Some of her works look like this:

So, forcing to myself to think about designing as she would, I came up with an idea for a beach tent that would be something you had to use a ladder to get into, something off the ground. I wanted it to look sort of like a UFO because I thought that would mix natural with supernatural and still supply shielding from the beach sand, wind, etc.

To make the tent even more conceptual, I also came up with the idea of being able to project onto the walls of the tent so that you could, in a way, transport yourself to another place.

Here’s a few sketches of my idea:

Thinking as another designer was a great tool for not only coming up with ideas I might not have otherwise, but it was also a great tool for looking at the world differently—looking at it through someone else’s eyes, thinking about the world with someone else’s mind.

I found this to be helpful in this instance, but it can be applied to any form of ideation, no matter your field of study. It’s even a great trick for writers, try writing something the way your favorite author would, you might surprise yourself with the outcome.

Filed under Mariko Mori ideation art Art writing creative genius nature supernatural creative thinking

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Noticing the Obvious

To continue working with the idea of forcing ourselves to notice the things that are obvious, but often go unnoticed, our Creative Thinking Strategies class was assigned the task of creating an interpretive map. 

We were supposed to visit the places we visit all the time, and notice something we’d never really noticed about those places before.

When I first started thinking about what I wanted to do for this project, I thought about things that really stuck out to me in Hong Kong. One thing I thought about was the smell. Hong Kong is a very smelly place, with tons of different smells all mixing and becoming very specific to a place. Different parts of Hong Kong had very different, but quite obvious smells. 

Read more …

Filed under Art art Hong Kong smell scent interpretive map Savannah map creative thinking

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Invisible Gorilla: What We’re Really Missing

Christopher Chabris Daniel Simons teamed up and created an experiment called Invisible Gorilla. The experiment involves watching a video of a team playing basketball. Viewers are asked to count the number of times the ball is passed as they watch. They are so focused on counting, that most completely don’t see that a person in a gorilla suit walk onto the middle of the court, beat its chest, and walk off. 

Roughly half of the people who saw the video failed to see the gorilla. This is because of inattentional blindness, which is where unexpected objects go unnoticed because attention is being paid to something else.

This study proves something that I had already begun to notice, and the reason I started this blog. I realized in Hong Kong that, although I’m looking and I feel like I’m paying attention, there’s so much that I don’t notice. Some of which should be really obvious. And it’s not just me. Everyone does it. 

Read more …

Filed under seeing inattentional blindness art experiment invisible gorilla Invisible Gorilla Hong Kong travel writing Christopher Chabris Savannah Daniel Simons creative thinking

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The Magazine As Readymade

The Dadaists resisted “logical” ideas and forms of media, so they took it upon themselves to create their own magazine to represent and spread information about Dada instead of relying on the traditional magazines and newspapers to do it.

What they created not only spread information about Dada, but came to embody Dada. Featured works were Dada in nature and spirit, but when placed next to other Dada works and writings in magazine layouts, they began to take on a new meaning. The magazine itself began to be a collage of sorts. The mass produced medium was treated like a work of art. Everything was hand-selected and carefully placed. It was really more of a readymade than a magazine.

Here’s some examples of Dada magazine pages and covers:

These images came from a journal I read, “Documents of Dada and Surrealism: Dada and Surrealist Journals in the Mary Reynolds Collection”

Filed under dada dada magazines readymade writing media mass media

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Poetry For Those Who Don’t Understand

I’ve been studying Dada artists and particularly Dada writers for a research paper I’ve been working on. Francis Picabia, along with Tristan Tzara is one of the writers of note for the Dada time period, and he’s one that I’ve been reading a lot about.

Through my research, I found a book called I Am A Beautiful Monster: Poetry, Prose, and Provocation originally written by Picabia and translated by Marc Lowenthal. The book contains Picabia’s writings, some prose pieces, like his manifestos, and tons of his poetry.

After reading the book, I fell in love with Picabia’s nonsensical approach to writing. He had a different way of looking at and approaching writing. His poetry may not make sense, but it’s not necessarily supposed to. He claims to not know what his writings mean in many cases.

The book featured a poem he wrote titled, “Poetry For Those Who Don’t Understand,” and I assume dedicated it to all of the people who said his poetry didn’t make sense, simply because they couldn’t understand it, or didn’t want to. In other words, this is a poem for those who have to have their information fed to them:

Poetry For Those Who Don’t Understand:

FRIED CALF’S FEET, small entree. Cook them au naturel (see page 201), 

bone them, and cut them into pieces; soak them in batter or coat them

with breadcrumbs, and fry them (see Fried calf’s head).

Filed under picabia writing Picabia's writing poetry prose Dada Dada writing Tristan Tzara I Am a Beautiful Monster

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Art for Joy’s Sake

For an assignment in my Creative Thinking Strategies class, we had to install a textual installation into a specific location. We worked in groups, and our groups could pick any location and install any word, phrase or sentence that we wanted.

There’s a blog called Aesthetics of Joy that focuses on the joy-envoking qualities of art. Colors, textures, patterns, all elements of art and design can evoke a sense of joy and happiness. So, why not create art with that in mind?

In doing research for our own text project we found an artist, Julia Kidd, that promotes positivity and happiness through her art using text. It was the perfect combination. Here’s some of her artwork:

We chose a square on River Street as our location. But, it wasn’t your average square, it’s known as “Echo Square,” and if you stand in the center of the square and say something, whatever you say is echoed where only you can hear it. It gives the effect of being in a cave or somewhere like that that would echo, but you’re actually in an open space.

The message we chose to install in this location was “Surround Yourself With Positivity.” By standing in the center of our installation and saying something positive about yourself, you would hear that positive comment echoed back in your own voice. It was a self-esteem building, positive exercise. And if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty well. 

Take a look for yourself:

Filed under art text art positivity joy art with positive message Julia Kidd Echo Square river street savannah