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OWAG Track Light #9—> Maria Uve (Spain)

The “Track Light” series serves to briefly introduce a number of individuals involved
with the One World Artist Gallery (OWAG) from their various places around the globe.

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Today, I talk with Spanish illustrator and photographer María Uve.

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John: Hi Maria! I was excited when you first contacted me through Instagram about collaborating on a DrawBag.

María: John! Sorry for the delay in finishing everything.

John: No, no, you weren’t late. Everything is in it’s right time. I’m just happy to have connected with you.

John: I’ve recently made more contact with artists in Spain as there is quite a wealth of talent there. Elena Pancorbo had just finished an original design on a DrawBag before you and I first spoke, and Jesuso Ortiz was also a collaborator early on.  What is the artistic community like where you are in Vigo?

María: Well… the truth is that I live in a part of my country with a very small artistic community. The larger groups of artists in Spain are really in the capital, but thanks to online social networks I have met artists of many nationalities and that has enriched me a lot.

John: The idea of community is continually being redefined in terms of its borders through technology, isn’t it?

María: Yes, and I think we should really support one other instead of competing because if our related community wins… really, we all win.

John: Where did you get your training as an artist and with what different media do you work?

María: I studied illustration, photography, and graphic design at EASD Antonio Faílde (School of Art & Design) in Ourense, Spain and have spent the past year and a half dedicating myself professionally to my profession– illustrating book covers, being exhibited in galleries, publishing my own book, and collaborating with various magazines.

John: Your style is quite recognizable. Were there other artists whose work influenced you in your own development of this style?

María: I think we are all influenced by everything. By other artists for their music, by the cinema, etc… I could not tell you specific names, though, because I try to escape the similarities. 

John: I’ve been really inspired by a handful of female artists who I’ve discovered this past year primarily through Instagram… #zipcy and #littlethunder being two others beside yourself.

Illustration by #zipcy.
Illustration by #littlethunder

 

Illustration by #maria_uve_

You are all quite different in expression, but seem to be similar in that your artwork embraces love, sexuality, the body, and emotional intimacy in ways that are neither prudish nor porn. Your work celebrates a genuine and nuanced eroticism that I think has otherwise been cheapened over time by happy endings to romantic comedies, free streaming porn, and the convenience store of online dating. Truly falling in love with oneself or others is not something we click to purchase, but must engage in with our whole being to experience both its heights and depths. But that’s my perspective, of course, haha. What is it that you are doing when you create your artwork? What are you communicating through it?

María: Obviously, artists expose themselves to having a free interpretation on the part of the receiver and that is inevitable. But yes… I am communicating precisely that which you just expressed: the importance of feeling good about oneself, experiencing love in healthy ways, de-objectifying the body as only a sexual object, making relationship a natural part of our conversation, respecting all kinds of people and all types of relationships, and breaking conventions and traditional values.

Illustration by #maria_uve_

John: There are quite a few symbols and motifs you return to in your work, including what I assume to be the red thread of fate from Chinese folklore, creeping yellow vines, tiny phrases in blue on the body, the serpent, skeletons, and various images of the galaxy.

Can you share a bit about your wider perspective on life and why we are here? Where we are going? And how that is reflected in your current stage of art making?

Illustration by #maria_uve_

María: Well, I wish I knew why we are here! I guess my perspective is as simple as finding happiness and satisfaction within myself, without hurting anyone or anything else.

John: Fair enough. I think a lot of young artists would be very jealous of the 300K followers you currently have on Instagram. How did you gather that global following? Did it take long for people to find your work on Instagram?

María: I think there are no jealous artists. We are all non-conformists. Perhaps we can get too focused on how things are going with others, but I always encourage artists to support one another and help share one another’s work with the world. I think everyone deserves to have the same possibilities for success.

And the truth is that I do not know how all my followers came about… but it was fast. In just over a year I suddenly went from having 150 “friends” to 300,000.

John: There can be fine line between genuine expression of oneself and finding a strong following in that… and then monetizing that expression into a product for sale which loses its original intent. How have you kept your artistic journey genuine and connected to its source?

María: I didn’t monetize my work until recently, when my first book was published. I always have some prints available for sale in case someone wanted them but I never advertised until now, because it has been important to grow my work first.

John: And how many new pieces of work do you make… say, per week?

María: One or two.

John: Tell me more about the book Nosotros which you recently published.

 

María: It’s about self-improvement after failed relationships. At the moment I do not have a version in English… only in Spanish. Everything in time, though.

John: What else fills your life besides from art making?

María: I love animals and nature in general… music, movies, reading, and traveling. Too many things and only one life!

John: You can see more of Maria’s illustration or photography via Instagram or Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or purchase her work here. Her recently published book Nosotros is also available in Spanish. Updates when available in English!

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How to Patent a New Product

In the early stages of coming up with the idea of the DrawBag, I needed to learn about the US patent process. This included initial research into prior patents and then the drafting of both a provisional application to patent and a later design patent.

Although having read alot of useful information available online, I ultimately decided to pay for consultation as it would my first time to draft and submit a patent application. To find a suitable consultant, I used the freelancer website Upwork and eventually settled on the very generous and professional Brad Muise, Ph.d.

As part of a series of blog interviews with individuals who helped me learn and launch the DrawBag in 2017, I recently messaged back and forth with Brad to talk about patents and the process we went through during the summer of 2017.


John: Hey Brad. So how long have you been freelancing on Upwork, and what services do you provide?

Brad: I have been freelancing on Upwork for several years now. I enjoy it very much. I work with inventors like yourself everyday and assist them through the innovation trail.  I do everything from concept sketches, 3D computer modeling, prototype development, 3D printing, CNC machining, patents, sell sheets and more.

John: What’s your experience been like using Upwork?

Brad: Upwork has been great. At first I thought it was not viable, but over time the work started to grow and as my rating improved the work become more available and more exciting. It seems to be the future of work so I feel very fortunate to be on the platform now.

John: So you helped me in the very early stages of the DrawBag, before I’d done a first manufacturing run or even fully revised the design. I think I had a first prototype done back then. What did you think of my design when I approached you?

Brad: Your skill set tends to be above most of my clients who have no patent experience. You seem to be very artistic and captured your idea well because you can draw. Plus you were very focused in how you perceived your idea. Which was also a great idea by the way.

John: Thanks! I remember you being super-supportive during those early days as I was still figuring it all out. Like me in  those early days, there may be others who are confused about the differences between a design, utility, and provisional application to patent. Can you explain those briefly?

Brad: There are a lot of perceptions surrounding patents. The simple story is that the utility patent protects functions and the design patent protects the external shape. Provisional patents are not exactly protection, rather they are a place holder for the utility patent. Once the utility is approved it gets backdated to the provisional. Its my understanding that no one goes to do battle in court with provisional, but having the ‘patent pending’ status it provides can intimidate copy cats until the utility is completed.

John: What was the most interest patent you worked on?

Brad: I am not allowed to discuss my patents but the most interesting ones tend to involve drones and internet of things. There is a great deal going on in these arenas. It’s always interesting to gain insights into the future and working with inventors is kind of like a crystal ball.

John: Still speaking generally, what about some really odd ones you’ve come across?

Brad: Military inventions are difficult to get through the patent office. Not sure why this is, but Im sure there are more stringent issues related to these that we may not even be aware of.

John: Although you aren’t a patent lawyer, you have a lot of experience researching and writing patents. How did that happen, and what advice would you give to a small startup who needs to consider the patent process but doesn’t have a lot of money to put into a patent lawyer for research or writing?

Brad: Anyone can write and submit a patent. The USPTO states it directly on their website. For simple inventions I always encourage my clients to submit the documents themselves. The provisional patents are much simpler than the utility patents and writing a summary of the invention according to the rules setup by the USPTO should be within everyone’s reach. If the invention is very complex and someone is seeking a utility patent, its best to have someone with experience involved. The lexicon of the utility patent can be very confusing and the claims language can be down right weird. But its all written in a very defensive manner so it tends to break all the rules of grammar and sentence structure you learned in school.

John: Yeah, I remember that when I read one of your first drafts of a patent for me. I was like, “Does this guy even know how to write?? This sounds bonkers in several places.” I guess Grammarly can’t really be applied to patent writing at this stage.

Let’s talk about patent figures (drawings). How good of an artist does one need to be to submit these? Would you recommend a small startup pay for a patent artist to do these?

Patent Drawing For The 1906 Wright Brothers Flying Machine.

Brad: The figures do need to be clear. The USPTO will reject any figures with shading and colors so it is good to find someone with CAD engineering experience. I was a CAD operator when I was young so I’m fortunate to be able to write well and generate good figures.

John: As I learned more about the patent process, as well as protection of patents, I realized it may not always be in one’s best interest to patent a design. Countering potential infringement is not necessarily easy, and what specifically is protected by a patent is also up for interpretation by the USPTO and according to how the patent is written. Do you have any “rules of thumb” about how to determine if a patent is right for a product or not?

Brad: This is a very good question. Not everything needs a patent. Certainly conducting a search of prior patents is the least you should do before you jump into an invention so as not to step on anyone’s toes. The patent office does not protect anyone per se, it’s merely a library of sorts – protection is your attorney’s job. So if you see another patent with your idea and are looking for a battle, then you need to have deep pockets. Patentability is about risk – there is always overlap between patents, and how much overlap you find acceptable with your invention can only be answered by you as the inventor. It’s always about risk.

John: If there’s someone looking to patent an idea and they would like to get in touch with you for support, what’s the best way?

Brad: They can contact me on Upwork here.

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OWAG Track Light #2—> El Mordi (Mexico)

The “Track Light” series serves to briefly introduce a number of individuals involved
with the One World Artist Gallery (OWAG) from their various places around the globe.

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Today, I talk with illustrator and designer Jaime García (El Mordi).

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John: Hey Jaime, what’s up? I really dig the DrawBag you recently did.

Jaime: Thanks, John. It was a pleasure to collaborate with you.

John: As you know, the artists involved in the OWAG project are from all over the world. Can you tell us more about the design you drew?

Jaime: My illustration is basically a modern representation of a character from Mexican culture known as La Catrina, which represents death during El Día de Muertos (the Day of the Dead).

John: Now, you go by the name El Mordi, which is different than your birth name. How did that come about?

Jaime: It’s actually a cheesy story. My ex-girlfriend started calling me that after a phone call in which I was eating a sandwich. She asked what I was doing and I offered her a bite by using the first two syllables of the word “bite in Spanish which is “mordida. She thought it was funny for me to say “mordi,” and started calling me Mordi. Shortly after that we started calling each other by the name and I created a couple of characters which represented the two of us: “Mordi & Mordi”. From that moment on I started signing my artwork under this name.

Self-portrait by Jaime Garcia (El Mordi).

John: What were your first memories of art-making?

Jaime: I started drawing at a young age. One of my first teachers was my older brother. I remember drawing by his side… as a matter of fact, at the beginning I just used to copy his drawings. And I’ve been connected to that early way of expressing myself ever since.

John: That’s funny, I had the same experience with my older brother. And were there any working artists or illustrators that influenced you in your development over time?

Jaime: I like the work of contemporary artists such as Mark Ryden, James Jean, Alex Ross, Sachin Teng, just to name a few… because honestly, I really like a lot of artists.

John: I would say there’s a bit of tension in our world right now…

Jaime: Yes… I agree.

John: Are there any artists who are interacting with those tensions in a way that inspires you?

Jaime: There’s a lot of chaos in the world right now. I like to use creativity as a way to criticize political and moral aspects of society, and so Banksy’s work is an inspiration to me in that way.

John: What form is your own artwork taking these days?

Jaime: I’m currently freelancing with my art and before that I was fully into web design. But now as a freelancer I have been focusing on children’s illustrations. I like the world of children’s tales a lot.

John: And what about when you aren’t drawing..?

Jaime: I like watching movies, playing video games, and hanging out with my friends. The truth is I’m pretty ordinary in my interests. But what I enjoy the most by far is drawing and getting inspired by the artists I follow!

You can see more of El Mordi’s work on his website or follow him on Instagram.

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Where Do Ideas Come From?

 “Ideas come from everything”
― Alfred Hitchcock

When I decided to design and manufacture my first product in 2017, I didn’t know at first what it would be. Not because I didn’t have any ideas, but because I had too many ideas!

Once I had committed to creating something as a part of a larger business and not just as a hobby, I had to decide on what that something would be. So I started by simply focusing on and taking note of what was interesting in the world around me. This was my starting point.

I think many would say (and I don’t necessarily disagree) that you should start a business from something you already love, are already doing, or are already good at, but I’m going to propose an alternate path that may work just as well– that you start a business based on a new idea from outside of yourself that connects with things you love, but are not necessarily doing yet, or even very good at.

Trust me… you’ll learn what you need to learn along the way.

Looking for starting points was a playful time for me, where a train I was riding on or a street I was walking down became a creative field to harvest.  What words, sounds, or music attracted me amidst a crowd? Were there any curious materials or designs in the clothes of others on the subway that appealed to me? What problems or challenges were apparent around me?

I tried this out for a number of months, and besides from being quite invigorated, I was able to harvest several notebooks full of ideas. Below are a handful of them:

  1. Distressed jeans? Let’s try distressed business suits. (2)
  2. Recyclable pen service. We come to your school or business, collect the empties and replace with new ones. (1)
  3. Woman struggling to manage her luggage down the stairs of the metro– refused my help. What can be designed for her luggage? Diagonal skis attached to the underside? (1)
  4. Interior of train is video flat-screened. Attached light-gun type aerosol cans and pens are available for riders to color and decorate the walls of the carriage. (2)
  5. Free bluetooth audiobooks streamed on trains. Just connect and get educated. (2)
  6. Concrete planters for the home and office that look like little deserted landscapes or collapsing cityscapes. Add soil, seeds, and water to beautify with bonsai, grass, etc. (3)
  7. A clothing line organized for customers just as makeup is (by seasons: summer, autumn, winter, and spring) so you can shop in your section to find color combinations particularly matched to your skin, eye, and hair tone. (2)
  8. Umbrella shafts that can be adjusted into angles so the umbrella rests naturally on one’s shoulder and relaxes the arm. (2)
  9. Grips for standing passengers on the subway that light up and play notes/different instruments when pulled a certain way. Encourages riders to make music collaboratively as well as give their seat to others. (1)
  10. A backpack made of kraft paper with an attached marker pocket in the shoulder strap for students’ friends to sign like a yearbook during graduation week. (3)

One obvious thing to point out here is that ideas are free! How great is that? The world, as they say, is your oyster… if you’re willing to fish.

Don’t forget that we are all born explorers and innovators.

One of the keys for me during this idea-collection stage was to be completely non-judgmental, and to quickly record elements and ideas that tickled me— ones that were attractive in themselves apart from any other meaning or considerations.

As mentioned, I also needed to take note of all of this so that I wouldn’t later forget. For this reason, I carried a notebook with me at all times as well as my phone with its voice recording app.

Basic gear for collecting ideas.

Later, I would review my notes and put the ideas into one of several categories:

  1. A fun idea, but probably not one to pursue.
  2. A fun idea, but not realistic or practical to pursue at this time.
  3. A fun idea worth starting immediately.

You can look back at my first list above and now see how I categorized each idea upon review. Notice that I didn’t assign them to categories in terms of being good or bad, but rather based on them being fun, practical, actionable, or not. Even category 1 ideas remain in my notebooks—they aren’t ever deleted. And category 3 is in no way a finished idea… but it is a starting point that by my estimation is worth pursuing.

Simple right?

Believe it or not, within a month and a half I had had filled up more than two notebooks with words and sketches. Most fell into category 1, while the others were fairly balanced between categories 2 and 3.

Too many ideas!

 

In a future post I’ll talk about what I did with my category 3 ideas.

 


TO SUMMARIZE:

Where do ideas come from? Ideas come from all around us.

How do you find ideas? You find them by opening yourself up fully to the world around you. You look, listen, and otherwise invite ideas in freely and without judgment.

How do I record ideas? You can record ideas with a physical notebook you like, on a tablet, or with a voice recording device at the moment of inspiration.

How I do know if an idea is good or not? Don’t worry about this at the beginning. “Good” and “bad” ideas always come together, like an extended family on holidays. All you need to do at first is record the ideas you find interesting.


(Britain’s number one pest by Paul Townsend is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)