One’s Work On Display

Recently published photographs from California Cedar’s “Blackwing Experience” at the Art Director’s Club in New York contained some images that looked very familiar. The image between the arrows was taken from this site.

Photo Credit: California Cedar Blackwing Experience Facebook page (Click to enlarge).

Part of it is a catalog image from the Eberhard Faber Company that I cropped (and was first posted here), but the photo of the Blackwing pencil to the right is my original photograph, which I combined for this graphic found here:

(Click to enlarge).

This image from the “Blackwing Experience” shows another printed image from my blog, which I cropped from a catalog and was first posted here:

Photo Credit: California Cedar Blackwing Experience Facebook page (Click to enlarge).

It originally came from this post:

(Click to enlarge).

Also, a scan of a ca. 1930 Eberhard Faber score-keeping card I have, which I posted under “Blackwing Ephemera” in June, 2011:

Photo Credit: California Cedar Blackwing Experience Facebook page (Click to enlarge).

(Click to enlarge).

It’s possible that they arrived at this image independently, but given the other items, it seems more likely that it was seen here first.

Postscriptum: Of course, I can’t say that their use of an Eberhard Faber stand is an infringement of my work, but given this post of mine from October, 2010 (and all of the other unique circumstances), I can’t help wondering where they might have gotten the idea:

(Click to enlarge).

Some conclusions:

  1. I posted this just to further document a trend.
  2. I can’t say with certainty, based on the photographs, whether my name or my blog is credited for each item, but it doesn’t appear so. No one mentioned their intention to use the materials. Some items are under my copyright, others aren’t, however they are all from this blog. If I am mistaken about this, I invite Mr. Berolzheimer to please contact me. Pending proof, I will amend my statement about the work having been taken from my blog.
  3. No one gets to say “I didn’t know”. Parties were aware by April 10th that some of my work was already appropriated for a video prepared for this event, and these photographs were taken approximately one week later. I don’t know if the displays were prepared by California Cedar or by someone else, but they had to have been approved by California Cedar since they were present for this week-long exhibit.
  4. I can’t say with certainty that this isn’t just a coincidence. However, I can say with certainty that it would have to be an immeasurable and incomprehensibly big coincidence.
  5. Though copyright is a concern here, it’s more about something else: that same feeling you get when someone next to you is copying off of your test. If that person scores highly on the test, you’re certainly not upset about going uncredited—you’re upset someone has copied off of you, even if the person admits to it.

Thank You.

Dear Readers,

If this is your first visit here, please be sure to visit this page, which is the summary of my research about the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602.

Not long after I started this blog, California Cedar’s first Palomino Blackwing* began making its way into the world, and I was excited like a lot of people and very supportive: I gave them some early photos of mine for free, which were used for some international PR, and loaned them some items to be photographed for their website. However, that initial excitement dwindled into ambivalence after some early misrepresentations were uncovered, but the benefit of the doubt persisted. Though not long after, that ambivalence eventually turned into disappointment—I, as well as others in the pencil community, noticed that the advertising campaign for the Palomino Blackwing was at times wildly inaccurate (if not purposely suggestive), and my site and its contents were in some ways becoming an involuntary partner to that enterprise. I finally began posting about these things along with other blogs in order to bring attention to what was going on. My intention was, and remains, to document as accurately as possible the interesting true story of the Blackwing, and to that end it was hard to understand the choices that CalCedar kept making.

For better or for worse it seems that this blog happens to be the only one of its kind vis-à-vis the history of the Blackwing 602 pencil. The blog itself is about two years old, but it represents about four years of work and countless hours spent researching, photographing, collecting, trading, and writing—all done just for doing’s sake; a labor of love. But because this blog has content unique to the Internet, it means that it gets the attention of those who would like to use that content. Most have done so rather innocently (personal blogs, sharing photos, etc.) which is fine by me, and some have been responsible enough to send queries or notifications, but others—including some for-profit companies—have been less honorable and have infringed upon my copyrighted work. But my complaint isn’t simply about scholarship and attribution, and it’s not at all about money. Rather it’s a combination of the appropriated work, plus how it has at times been folded into California Cedar’s questionable PR campaign, which in turn has distorted the Blackwing’s story, that has spoiled things (see this page for details). Everyone wants to be recognized for their work, but this is less about my wanting credit than it is about me wishing they would just do their own work and leave mine alone—just like how you’d want the person sitting next to you to stop copying from your test paper.

Knowing that a company—one with vast financial resources—was watching my every post (the CEO of the company has subscribed to this blog) slowly began draining my enthusiasm: it’s difficult to explain just what it’s like to work hard for each new and unique Blackwing-related “find” and to put the work into posting about it, only to realize it’s likely just to be taken or copied in some way (and sometimes even inaccurately to boot). And it puts me in a unique position: as a consumer, I share the opinion of those who think CalCedar’s marketing has been inaccurate and questionable at times, but I have no control over that. The best I can do for the Blackwing is to publish my own work and let people decide for themselves. But, when on top of everything else it’s my own work that is being copied—especially when it’s coming from a company that claims to be continuing the “legacy” of the Blackwing—that’s a bridge too far. My interest remains unabated, but I don’t want to continue this blog if it means being a source of reference for CalCedar’s designs—the Blackwing, and the work I’ve put into documenting it, mean too much to me.

 

I want to say how grateful I am to everyone who has visited here, supported this site, and contributed to the conversation. It’s remarkable how this immeasurably obscure thing—a pencil—could bring together so many kind and like-minded people from all over the world. I’ve enjoyed hearing from you and more importantly, learning from you.

I’m going to leave the site up and the comments open, and I will be cleaning-up and updating older posts as well as continue to edit and expand the “No Ordinary Pencil” essay, but I do not plan on posting any new Blackwing content. There’s always a chance there might be a new post, but if there is it will likely be about current events. I would have preferred to keep sharing my ongoing research about the Blackwing 602, to say the very least, but not everyone is playing fair—I hope you understand.

For anyone who thinks this is about pencils, it’s not—they’re just pencils. It’s about caring for something very deeply.

Thanks for all of your support, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading.

All the Best,
Sean

Boxed-up

California Cedar’s “Creative Legacy”

California Cedar has fixed the most recent errors, which I mentioned were originally copied from here but done so in an erroneous manner (see this post for the details). This is further proof that CalCedar closely monitors this site for information, but never credits it.

From Palominobrands (Click)

I know it’s too much to expect an “I’m sorry” from them for the copying, but I thought maybe a “thank you” or some attribution at least for doing their error-checking for them, too. Maybe a check’s in the mail. I wonder what would happen if I actually sent them an invoice. :) I don’t understand why it is so impossibly difficult for them to do their own work.

For a site that speaks so much about one’s “creative legacy”, I wonder what their’s will be.

Justin Oberman, the Art Directors Club NY, and the “Blackwing Experience”: Copyright Infringers

Where does it stop?

In a newly posted video for the “Blackwing Experience”, Justin Oberman of Obercreative.com has included one of my original photos without permission and without attribution. The video is watermarked with the “Palomino Blackwing” seal of approval in the lower right-hand corner:

From YouTube.com

You can see it here [video has been removed] If the video is taken down, I have saved a copy and will post a link. Surely Mr. Oberman won’t mind if I share his work without permission.

1. This is inexcusable and indefensible on Oberman’s part, on the Art Director’s Club part, and on California Cedar’s part. It seems David Rees is an unwitting participant. These are people who work in media, and they’ve chosen to plagiarize—there are no “oops, I should have checked” that will work here at this level. The copyright notice is clearly stated on my blog. But if it weren’t, there’s no excuse to take someone else’s work (unless you’re just hoping you won’t get caught).

2. As “artists”, I wonder how Mr. Oberman or the Art Director’s Club would feel if someone took their work without permission and attribution.

3. I know nothing of Mr. Oberman’s standing in the art community, but I’m betting plagiarism won’t put him on the fast-track to success.

Ladies and gentleman, even if you have been on the fence about recent developments, surely you can see that this is wrong and that it is a pattern. What more has to happen before something is done about this?

How is this O.K.?

Dear California Cedar: If you are going to take from me…

From Palominobrands.com (click)

…at least get it right.

The character’s name from Jaws is Matt Hooper, (wiki) not Matt Cooper.

I can’t say that I was the first person online to mention the Mad Men sighting but my post preceded yours (though his character’s name is Paul Kinsey, not Harry Crane). [Added: since I posted this, CalCedar has quietly updated their site, which illustrates how they monitor and use information from this blog.]

What a drag this is becoming.

John Lennon too? Michael at Orange Crate Art has discussed this more eloquently than I could (I wish I could audit some of his classes). It seems now that the standard of proof for being a “Blackwing user” has been lowered to nothing more than any single and virtually anonymous comment that has been left on a blog.

This reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live news sketch with Father Guido Sarducci, where he talks about how the Vatican’s requirements for sainthood have now been lowered to only three miracles, and two of them can be card tricks.

But yet it’s the Blackwing that suffers.

P.S. It’s customary, ethical (and I think required), to credit the photographers who took those pictures. I wonder how you’d feel if others were using your original content on their sites, without permission or attribution. For example, your exclusive dealer in the U.K. has been using my original content for months, and has refused to take it down or provide attribution despite my repeated requests.

What a drag this is.

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