My dog stars in an anti fur video!

When my beautiful companion, Meisje died in July 2010, I never imagined I’d be able to open up my heart to a new love…but along came Kobu ( nee Afu ). He was a rescue dog from Taiwan and his face and story cried out for me to meet him. It was love at first sight and in January 2011 I had a new love. A gorgeous male, Saluki/Shepherd mix flown all the way to Canada from Taiwan!
Just recently I was approached by an animal rights activist musician, Gabriel Nicolau, who was inspired to write a song and do a video exposing the horrors of the fur trade. Kobu so closely resembles the beautiful coyotes seen on so many disgusting coats around town these days ( especially the uber ridiculous Canada Goose jackets!) that he was the perfect spokes”dog” for the job. I’ve attached the video to this post for you to see.
Warning… some of the imagery is not pleasant. But then again, neither are the lives of the poor animals used for our stupid, callous fashion sense.
Please share this video and spread the word!

ABC’s! Working on a new Project…

Hey there! Life throws some wonderful changes sometimes. It’s been a very busy year that has taken me temporarily astray from my Anouk’s Ark focus. The shift occurred when I got engaged to a wonderful man who happened to come fully equipped with THREE kids (all under the age of 10!) and a dog named Sam. I brought my dog, Kobu and my hamster, Simon to the mix so I’d say my fiancé got off pretty easy! 😉
So, now engaged, living in our new house, renovations galore, taking care of instant family 50% of the time and trying to get back into my art…phew! Having kids around has given me some new creative outlets. The four year old got me thinking about how I could help her with learning her letters…which has lead to my new series of alphabet drawings! Here are the first 3 letters of our alphabet…more to follow…please keep in touch!

Anti Seal Hunt Demonstration

It’s been some time since I’ve sat down to write here. I feel compelled to communicate my disappointment in Torontonians today. A select few of us participated in a peaceful anti seal hunt demonstration this afternoon at the corner of University and College in Toronto. A very busy corner swarming with U of T students, business people, medical staff for the nearby hospitals…For the most part we were met with indifference, avoidance, lowered heads, comments of ‘no, not interested’, ‘no, don’t want any information’…Groups of young people would walk by, speeding up to pass us to avoid any interaction. I am amazed at the apathy, the desire to plead ignorance, to not want to learn about what our country promotes using our tax dollars. To not even show a tiny bit of interest in such an act of cruelty and violence is appalling to me. This head-in- the-sand attitude that affects so many gets me down on occasions like these.
What are you so afraid of people? ‘Ignorance is bliss’ so they say…Everyone is so caught up in their own little ego bubbles, their blackberry conversations, their lattes and fur trimmed coats…Look around you, engage in your city and its diversity…wake up!!
I was also disillusioned by the no show of animal rights activists today. According to the facebook page that had organized this event ( thank you Susan ) , over 80 people had said they’d attend…I think maybe 10 showed up? Was it inconvenient? Too cold? Do you feel that by saying you’ll attend that’s doing enough? I don’t get it….
Well, at the end of the day, I felt we made an impact in our own small way. We were visible, politely vocal and we did manage to get some signatures for our anti seal hunt campaign and we did manage to hand out a good number of flyers. Thank you for those activists who showed up and thank you for those Torontonians who were open to learning….

photo courtesy of Susan Morris

Riverdale-East York Town Crier Article

Well! A little media attention has finally been given to my artwork that was lifted from this very website and made into stamps, or more correctly “perforated labels”. A previous blog post of mine outlined the whole ordeal…but you can also read it here thanks to Town Crier reporter Kelly Gadzala’s story!
To this day the Australian woman who says she purchased my artwork online is refusing to reveal where she got the stamps until I sign and send them back to her. I don’t know folks, what do you think…should I send them back?? Why won’t she simply tell me where she got them? What does she have to hide? Who is she protecting? It’s all a little bit too fishy for my liking.
I’m all for being accommodating and helping my fellow humans, but I’m no idiot. I’m not signing anything that could give away any rights to my artwork so more can be produced freely. It’s unfortunate she chooses to protect the ones who stole the work rather than help the artist who’s work was stolen.
Another lesson in life and the weird morals and ethics of some people…

Copyright Infringement!

I have recently been the victim of copyright infringement. Not a good feeling. For all I know this has happened many times before and I was blissfully unaware.

On November 24th, 2010 I got an early morning phone call from a woman in Australia. She was excited to have found me. She had gone to some lengths to locate my contact information, first calling my dad at his studio, then my mother who gave her my home phone number (thanks mom!). 😉

Woken from a nice morning sleep by a friendly sounding voice happy to have me on the line, I tried to shake the cobwebs as I listened to this woman explain that she had purchased a series of stamps online filled with my artwork and could she please send them to me to have them “signed by the artist”. I was now wide awake and completely confused. How could someone from Australia possibly have stamps of my art? I asked her to explain:

-“I am an avid collector. I saw these stamps and fell in love with the beautiful imagery. They are Russian and I bought them online. I would be thrilled if you would agree to sign them!”
(I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s more or less what she said.)
-( Whoah! Back up lady! You have what?) “How do you know these are my images?”
-” Wwell, I am looking at your website right now and see your barn owl called Ginger, your cheetah, chimpanzee, opossum…” ( she rambled off several images )
– “Hmm! Well, indeed I have drawn these animals, but I have never made stamps out of them. Where did you say you got these?”
-“Oh, I bought them online in good faith and paid good money for them too.”
-“Wow, well, I know nothing about this. I’ve never okayed anyone to use my artwork to make stamps. I am curious to see them. Yes, please send them my way.”

I asked her to email me so I would have her contact info and to solidify that this conversation really happened (and that it wasn’t one of my vivid morning dreams)!
She emailed me an hour later thanking me for agreeing to sign the stamps and that she’d contact me once they were in the mail.
I wrote her back immediately asking her to please tell me where she had purchased them… a name, a website, anything! I never heard back.

A few weeks later a package arrived by registered mail. Sure enough, inside were 4 sheets of stamps filled with my artwork, beautifully printed and by all accounts appearing like actual postage stamps with the year ( two sheets said 2009, two sheets with 2010), and foreign writing and currency! Two sheets looked like they were from some Russia or an eastern block country and two sheets had what looked like Japanese text on them. I was blown away! Shocked! Impressed. ANGRY!!! Who the hell had stolen my artwork to make stamps and sell them for a profit and not tell me or mention my name anywhere?!?!? I was outraged. I had a lot of questions.

I emailed the Australian woman to let her know the stamps had arrived and indeed they were filled with my artwork. Could she PLEASE tell me where she bought them? Was she aware that these images were stolen directly from my website (THIS WEBSITE!) and did she realize this was copyright infringement and illegal?! She became very defensive saying she only bought them because she loved the beautiful images and that she was a victim here. She was not going to reveal where she bought them. She now feared she was going to be implicated in the theft. My head was spinning. The nerve of her to not reveal the manufacturer of these stolen works. What did she have to lose by telling me?

There were too many inconsistencies in her story. Why did she so desperately want me to sign these? Why wouldn’t she tell me where she bought them? How on earth did she find out I was the artist?! Nowhere on the stamps is my name or contact information! She claimed that while she was waiting for the stamps to arrive she was surfing the internet and came across my website and realized I was the artist of what she’d just purchased. I’m sorry but that is like looking for a needle in a haystack! I tried for hours to locate my images by naming “barn owl”, “cheetah”, “aye aye”…and on perhaps the 50th page of imagery I came across one of my barn owl drawings! Something was definitely fishy about her story and now she was refusing to help me in any way. She had turned around and was accusing me of stealing stamps she’d paid “good money” for. She was afraid I would not return them to her and was going to “confiscate” them for evidence. The mind boggles! I was gobsmacked. The nerve! I simply want to locate the manufacturer of these illegal items and get to the bottom of this, and my one link (a supposed “fan” of my work) was refusing to facilitate me in this quest.

My parents spoke to their lawyer- who is not a copyright lawyer, but gave his advice to the best of his knowledge saying that unfortunately, unless the stamps were made in North America it would be pretty hard to fight it. How upsetting! So, some company on the other end of the world can steal directly from someone’s website on another continent, create marketable products and profit while the artist struggles to make ends meet from her art in her own country. Where is the justice here?

How can this happen? Continue to happen …and there be no recourse?! Why does the artist get the bum wrap here? It’s hard enough trying to make a go of it in this world…double that by being in the arts and working for yourself…Where is the legal backing and compensation? Of course the majority of artists don’t have the kind of money to spend on lawyers to fight this sort of thing. Does this make it okay for it to occur?!

You may notice most of my images now have ©Anouk Bikkers splashed across them…a tough lesson to learn. The damage has been done. A blatant disregard for the fact that on every page I’ve stated All Illustrations © Anouk Bikkers…I had to take it one step further and take every drawing off and embed the © file and reload them onto my site. How else am I to let the world know of my artistic capabilities if not to advertise them on my personal website? It’s so unfair.

I am hoping to get some media on this…there is a local paper who has written the story and is awaiting confirmation from my parents lawyer before they print the story. But this is a big issue and it’s not going away anytime soon. The internet is the “wild west”…anything goes! Stealing is obviously okay and acceptable. I am shocked by the loose morals of consumers like this Australian who seem to think it’s okay to buy stolen work and have the nerve to expect the artist to be complacent and agree to send “their” property back to them – signed no less!!

What would you do in my situation?

Totsapalooza 2011!!!

Just a head’s up that Totsapalooza 2011 will be here before you know it! Feb.27th between 2 and 4pm at the Revival ( 783 College St. W.)…
See poster below for all the fun stuff going on! Go to Small Print Toronto for tickets and details.

Toronto Star article has my blood boiling!!

Today’s Star gave three pages away to a story that makes my stomach turn. A man who hunts gets attacked by his prey and now seeks to put an end to it once and for all.
CLICK HERE for story.
I couldn’t keep quiet, I wrote a letter to the editor…I hope it gets published!

Dear Toronto Star Editor,

I was trying really hard not to blow a gasket while reading your story this morning (Revisiting Stories of 2010, Dec.27, 2010) about Gerald Marois, a man attacked by a bear – while hunting!!! – who is seeking revenge. How can the Toronto Star allocate not one, but three pages to this story? We are accosted with sensationalistic visuals of Marois’ hospital-gowned body and indignant face, complete with injuries, on three separate pages. This is beneath you Toronto Star and better reserved for the pages of supermarket tabloids.

Marois, a self proclaimed “lifelong big-game hunter” finally gets some payback. A bear living out it’s natural life in the wild is confronted by a man intruding on its territory and the bear defends itself. Marois claims he’s had a spiritual awakening because he survived and “there must be something I’m supposed to accomplish, so I keep my heart open”. Does an open heart suggest go after this creature and “get him” as payback for his injuries? He says he’s not vengeful. If that’s not vengeance, then what is it? Marois survived, he should call it a day and count his blessings.

What I want to know is why the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources spent valuable man hours and our tax dollars setting traps and tracking down a bear that was merely defending itself? Why, when an animal is provoked, must it end in the death of that animal? Where is the justice for the bear?