33 thoughts on “TypeFaces”

  1. Jeffery I have to ask, did Adii ask your permission to include you on the playing cards?

    I know Jason Santa Maria and Andy Clarke both were not asked and both of which were not too thrilled about it.

  2. Adi did not ask my permission to be included, and if he had, I would have said no (I don’t really like being involved in anything that promotes an elitist/cliquish vibe in the web community). That having been said, I’m not too bent out of shape about being included. I’ve talked to most of the others who are included, and they all seem to be angrier about it than I am.

    I was initially very pissed, because Adii had included a “joke” on my card that said I got pulled over for drunk driving (which isn’t true), and I didn’t think there was anything funny about that. But, he agreed to change it, so kudos to him for that.

    Adii didn’t ask permission from any of the people I’ve talked to who are represented in the cards, and there’s no doubt that’s a questionable way to go about things. I’m not sure if it’s illegal, but I do know that it’s just plain uncool to use someone else’s likeness, especially if you’re going to profit from it, without their permission.

    I guess I choose my battles, and this isn’t one I really want to fight, but I totally get where people are coming from in being upset about it.

  3. It is illegal to use someone’s likeness for commercial purposes without written consent. If it were opinion / review or journalistic, it would be different. But ifthe guy’s just putting other peoples’ names and faces on products he’ll be selling, I suggest that he get a damned good lawyer – especially if folks are already pissed.

  4. Thanks for choosing to do the right thing – rather than just accepting it as a bit of promotion, Jeff.

    All that these cards seem to do is make permanent the fact that there are ’20 top web designers’ (there aren’t), or whatever else.

    Personally, I’d be pretty hacked off if someone was making money from my image. Especially without permission.

  5. Meh.

    Granted, I can’t imagine the position of being one of the many folks who were included, but it all seems to be in good fun.

    And Jeff, I don’t see how thetypefac.es is any different than Happy Webbies (as far as elitism goes—I’m sure everyone is asked permission, at least if they are a t-shirt). I agree, elitism sucks, but most everyone on Happy Webbies/thetypefac.es deserves a pat on the back for doing something. I’m a proud owner of a Dan Cederholm tee, and I intend on stocking up on a few more.

    I don’t know how much the cards are selling for (the website is down), but I can’t imagine the guy racking up dough off them.

  6. Trying not to rush to judgment since I don’t know this fellow, but from an objective standpoint it seems like a lame way to try and get the attention of “famous” people in the industry and capitalize on that.

    I’m the biggest skeptic in the world though so take my thoughts with a grain of salt ;)

  7. The only reason anyone has heard of these is webcelebs drawing attention to how much they hate them.

  8. Granted, I can’t imagine the position of being one of the many folks who were included, but it all seems to be in good fun.

    Precisely, Judson. It’s no different from the silly Happy Webbies or the even sillier “Bullet Tooth Web Design” presentation Andy Clarke and Jason Santa Maria put on at SXSW Interactive two years ago. (Admittedly, “Bullet Tooth Web Design” was Andy’s work; Jason appeared mortified.)

    The TypeFaces cards are better drawn and more stylish than most of the other such things I’ve seen. Plus the TypeFaces artist makes me look like the stud I am, which is a considerable improvement over the typical bloated corpse of Jakob Nielsen that gets passed off as a drawing of me.

    People in our community sometimes honor other people in the community without asking their consent, and the taste or style of these honors may not always be to one’s liking, but in most cases it’s probably best to smile and say “thank you.” Be glad anyone gives enough of a damn about you to even try something like this. Ashton Kutcher you’re not.

  9. I tend to agree with Jeffrey about just accepting it as a compliment and moving on, and I *definitely* agree that Adii did this with the best of intentions, and wasn’t looking to upset anyone (quite the opposite, in fact). Those are precisely the reasons why I’m not one of the folks up in arms over it.

    BUT…the difference between Happy Webbies and this is that Happy Webbies are original art, whereas this is using an existing likeness and photograph without permission. That’s the legal grey area some people are bothered by.

    Also, I believe (but I don’t want to speak on behalf of nGen Works here, because I haven’t been with them long enough to know for sure) nGen Works has asked permission from each person before selling any items with their likeness on them.

    Also, I find it fascinating that the folks who are upset by this are happy to send me e-mails, insisting that I, too, should be enraged, and happy to post tweets left and right throwing Adii under the bus, but apparently aren’t willing to show up here and express their opinion. I guess this is a demonstration of what some people in this industry do better than me: kiss the right people’s ass (on in this case, avoid challenging the Big Z).

  10. …but apparently aren’t willing to show up here and express their opinion. I guess this is a demonstration of what some people in this industry do better than me: kiss the right people’s ass (on in this case, avoid challenging the Big Z).

    We’ve all got jobs, man. Sometimes it just takes a couple hours to get around to getting around. :)

    I know full well that Adii had good intentions here, I’m not mad at him or anyone. But good intentions don’t make something right. I applaud anyone looking to turn a buck from their hard work, this one just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t care if it bugs you, or Z, or anyone else involved, but it bugged me.

    The difference for me is that my name and likeness are my business. It’s important for me to be in charge of that representation. Choice is what’s important here, had I been asked, I would’ve said no from the start. Plus, I really dislike things like this that serve to put web designers on some sort of pedestal.

    I think it’s great that some people are OK with it and others aren’t. I wasn’t, so I asked to be removed. Simple as that.

  11. > The difference for me is that my name and likeness are my business. It’s important for me to be in charge of that representation.

    I definitely think this hits on the difference. Even though my name is also my business, just like yours is, I don’t really think of myself as a brand, or trying to manage my image like one (I’m not saying this is a good thing…it’s bitten me in the ass many times — just saying that it’s probably the difference between those who are bothered by this and those who aren’t).

  12. …but apparently aren’t willing to show up here and express their opinion. I guess this is a demonstration of what some people in this industry do better than me: kiss the right people’s ass (on in this case, avoid challenging the Big Z).

    Woah there. Got a book to write…

    I agree with Jason. Regardless of whether it was rude not ask permission from folks (it was). Regardless of whether it’s a legal grey area (it is). Regardless whether the Jeffs are happy to be included. Regardless what intentions the guy making them had. Regardless whether anyone thinks I’m an arrogant ego-maniac. Regardless of all that.

    I think the product is terrible and I don’t want my name on it. I’m very happy the guy responsible agreed promptly and politely to remove me.

  13. Jeff said:

    BUT…the difference between Happy Webbies and this is that Happy Webbies are original art, whereas this is using an existing likeness and photograph without permission. That’s the legal grey area some people are bothered by.

    Ah, true. In fact, not a grey area at all. If you use someone’s photo as the basis of an illustration, you’re violating their copyright. Of course, older and more experienced designers than Adii have been accused of doing likewise:

    Iconic Obama poster looks a whole lot like freelancer’s photo

    But that doesn’t make it right.

    The thing is, as far as I can tell, Adii is a young designer who intended to honor his heroes. And the responses by some have been unkind. Those who protest harshly have not made allowance for his youth or his intentions. That feels wrong to me.

  14. Jason said:

    The difference for me is that my name and likeness are my business. It’s important for me to be in charge of that representation. Choice is what’s important here, had I been asked, I would’ve said no from the start. Plus, I really dislike things like this that serve to put web designers on some sort of pedestal.

    Although I’ve benefited by it, I also dislike things that put the same small crew of web designers on a pedestal. There are so many good designers in our community; so few get the recognition they deserve.

    But the pedestal, like a speaking engagement or a design award, is also a kind of recognition for things you may have done in your career. In your case, for example, people read your blog or ask you to speak because they perceive that you’ve contributed to the overall quality of design (and especially type) on the web.

    As for our names and likenesses being our business, My Happy Webbies thing makes me cringe. Not so much because the illustrator makes me look like a drowned, bloated corpse of Jakob Nielsen, but because of the fake quotation ascribed to me (“<you> dumbass </you>”).

    I remember the first time someone connected with the enterprise showed me one of these shirts, which they had already been selling on the web and distributing at conferences all over the world. He obviously expected me to be pleased. I gave him the best smile I could muster.

    When it comes to publicity, Lance Arthur said it best: “Just spell my name right.”

  15. This kind of thing makes me think it’s all about money, ego and no substance. I’m sure that’s not why the designers included are in this business, nor do I think their wrong to feel glad that they were included, but it does give off that air. It just all seems a bit tasteless and self obsessive to keep yourself included.

  16. Does Britney Spears get to approve the jokes Jay Leno makes about her? A public figure is a public figure. If you write books, or a popular blog, or get up on stage and yak, then within the community you address, you are a public figure, and as such you must expect some people to honor you (even if the honor is not to your taste) and others to take shots at you (even if the shots are unfair).

  17. Jeff –

    Interesting position. Are you asserting that a public figure is public domain? What makes a person a large enough public figure to allow their likeness to become public domain? This situation, along with your previous post about copyrighting a tweet, create a complex picture of what a public figure is, what can be owned, and what is public domain. Most importantly, what public means in the digital age – a hot topic for those in a tizzy about Facebook across the web. It also follows neatly with Seth Godin’s post this morning about elitism.

    On a separate note, your comments about the quality of your illustrated self are hilarious. And I’d like to add that I am now pondering a badass illustration of you, complete with hefty bling, an OG look on your face, with a working title of “J-Z: 99 problems but fame ain’t one”. However, out of respect, I won’t sell it. Perhaps I’ll do a one-off at http://shirtmockup.com/ and send it to you.

    Much thanks for hosting lively discussions.
    Have a great day.
    CT

  18. I really can’t see how using someone’s likeness for profit can be illegal (not that anyone necessarily said that).

    Does People magazine have to ask for permission from every single person whose photo they publish?

    Does the evening news have to ask permission to display the photo of a boy that was kidnapped? They profit from the news don’t they? They don’t ask permission from every person whose face they broadcast.

    Does an interviewer doing a broadcast on the street have to ask every passerby for permission to film the back of their head? Where do we draw the line?

    All that having been said, however, it is best in a case like the one being discusssed to ask permission first. Not for legal reasons, but for ethical ones.

    (And for the record, I think the evening news should pay royalties to the parents of the kidnapped, since they make ridiculous amounts of money off the misfortunes of others.)

  19. > The thing is, as far as I can tell, Adii is a young designer who intended to honor his heroes. And the responses by some have been unkind. Those who protest harshly have not made allowance for his youth or his intentions. That feels wrong to me.

    I agree completely.

  20. I’m pretty sure, in fact 100% sure Adii saw this coming the moment he decided to do it without asking permissions, which makes him a hell of a player! He took the risk, yes, and I applaude on this. I’m not sure if I would ever have guts to do the same. I still think it was wrong way of doing it but on the other hand this project never would have seen the light of day if done other way.

    I also must agree with the Britney Spears example Jeffrey stated. It’s just like Paparazzi’s, they shoot a photo of celeb’s and publish it without permissions, they take the risk. Are we having “Web Paparazzi’s” now?

    Bottom line. It’s a great project and you should be proud being part of it.

    Your, Marko Prljić

  21. For what it’s worth, I’m with Mr. Z — once I go out on stage to speak or sing, or dance with Jeff Croft at an after-party, I can’t expect to have total control over what other people decide to do with my image. And I’m ok with that.

    I’m not thrilled with my specific illustration in Typefaces, but that just means I won’t be putting a copy of it up on my wall, or using it as my avatar, and that’s my choice. For the friends of mine who decided to have their likenesses removed from the cards, I support their decision, too.

    I hope to always feel honored and surprised when someone recognizes my name, chooses to feature my image, lets me speak (or sing) to a crowd, asks me to write a book, or takes time out from their day to read an article I’ve written. May none of us ever take these things for granted.

  22. I just downloaded the wallpaper for Jeffrey Zeldman and to me it might give the impression he is a) late for things, and b) quite scary. I personally wouldn’t be happy about that. I dread to think what the other cards say.

    It might be fun but could also give the wrong impressions about each designer.

  23. Personal issues aside, (and no disrespect to the designers) who would really buy these things?

    I’m sure he got quite a few hits on his site, but would anyone really buy? Very interesting thread.

  24. The thing is, as far as I can tell, Adii is a young designer who intended to honor his heroes. And the responses by some have been unkind. Those who protest harshly have not made allowance for his youth or his intentions. That feels wrong to me.

    Well said. I like to think that I’m in one of the younger classes of web design, and watching these guys push out work is amazing. [I/We] look up to them. it’s a different perspective.

  25. I too am outraged. Not only did Adii use my likeness, but he made me look way too much like this Zeldman chap, and spelt my name completely wrong. I love that he and millions like him love and respect me and want to see my fae when they’re playing strip poker, but to quote the wonderfully badass Marlo Stanfield – My name is my name.

    Stuart (Sometimes spelt Jeffrey) Frisby.

  26. I am just wondering though, Adii as a successful online entrepreneur, ya know – the Rockstar that is he is… Not asking permission for using famous people’s likeness for a product that he knew he will be selling is a rather obvious mistake. The word ignorance is being used way to many times. To me there is a difference between this as a product and the example that have been mentioned like magazines and the news.

  27. > To me there is a difference between this as a product and the example that have been mentioned like magazines and the news.

    Magazines and the news are products, too — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I worked in journalism just long enough to learn that. :)

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