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Community Action Alert: Protect Your Copyrights

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all your input regarding credit lines for the new books. I was delighted to discover a clear consensus for "Color & Creativity by:", so that's what I used. Here's a sneak peak at one of the pages from the Zenspirations® Expressions of Faith book with the new credit line in place.

Congratulations to Sue Clark, who won copies of the new coloring books, which will be out in October. Sue, please let me know where you'd like them sent. 

As I mentioned last week, I was totally blown away by the amazingly creative work submitted by all of the coloring enthusiasts… and think such great work deserves to be shared. And so, in honor of the new books, I am inviting you to join the new "Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group, and to share your Zenspirations Creations!  I've been so busy trying to finish the new books that I haven't had a chance to design a special banner… so I used the art from one of my 'Loveline' notecards.

You can share your work from the first three Create, Color, Pattern, Play books (Flowers, Inspirations & Abstract) -- and, as a thank you to all the Coloring Enthusiasts, my editor said that it would be okay to post the 'sneak peak' pages from the new books in the new group. Since we can all learn from each other, I encourage you to not only post your work, but toalso share the tools you used to create it. And check back and/or turn on your notifications, 'cause I'll be posting some special things later this week. Here's the link:  I'm looking forward to being Zenspired!

But I'd like to devote the rest of tonight's blog to raising awareness about the Copyright Office's plans to create a new Copyright Act which would change the copyright protection that we have enjoyed since 1976 when our current copyright law was established.

My friend and colleague, Cherish Flieder, founder of the LinkedIn 13,000+ member Art of Licensing Group, and the online community of, and I are committed to making sure that visual artists voices are heard. Towards that end, we have co-authored this Call to Action, in order to:


1.      Raise awareness about the potential changes to U.S. Copyright Law and how they would negatively impact visual artists.

2.      Inspire each of you to make YOUR voice heard by writing a letter to the Copyright Office by Thursday, July 23, 2015.

a. Letters from U.S. citizens should be addressed to:

Maria Pallante
Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000

and begin:

RE: Notice of Inquiry, Copyright Office, Library of Congress
Copyright Protection for Certain Visual Works (Docket No. 2015-01)

Dear Ms. Pallante & U.S. Copyright Office Staff:

Send your letter electronically as a PDF or word document via this link:

b. Letters from non U.S. citizens should be emailed to Catherine Rowland at and should be addressed to:

 Catherine Rowland, Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000

 and begin:

RE: Notice of Inquiry, Copyright Office, Library of Congress
 Copyright Protection for Certain Visual Works (Docket No. 2015-01)

3.      Encourage you to share this information with everyone you know, and ask them to do the same.


In 2006 and again in 2008, Congress considered enacting “Orphan Works” legislation. An ‘orphan work’ is a piece of art whose copyright holder is unknown. As drafted, the 2008 Orphan Works Bill would have made it impossible for visual artists to protect their art and intellectual property because:

1.     It would have allowed anyone to use a piece of art for any purpose if they were unable to locate the copyright holder after a “diligent” search. 

a.     Since there is no searchable database of visual art, finding the copyright holder of a particular image is like looking for a needle in a haystack… nearly impossible.   

2.     It removed statutory damages, which currently prevent rampant willful infringement. 

  a.    Currently, if a company uses a piece of art that has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, without the copyright holder’s permission, they risk being forced to pay up to $150,000 for EACH product they use the art on! This ensures that most companies work out an agreement with the artists whose work they wish to publish, rather than risking expensive legal action.

b.    Lack of statutory damages would have made it “cost effective” for companies without integrity to steal/use art because no financial penalty would have been imposed.

The legislation was defeated in both sessions of Congress, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner of The Illustrator's Partnership, as well as all the 'team leaders' (myself included) who went to Washington D.C. to meet with Congressional representatives, and who served as the interface between art organizations and the master lobbying effort.


Since 2014, Congress has been holding hearings to gather information before drafting a totally new U.S. Copyright Actwhich would replace the Copyright Act of 1976. Last month they filed the Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report, which makes it clear that the legislation they plan to propose [you may read their 234 page PDF here: ] will reverse the ‘copyright exists upon creation’ premise, and instead require artists to pay a fee to register every design they want to protect. It would also allow infringers to create and register derivative works, which would in turn make it even more difficult for artists to monetize their creations because they would not necessarily be able to guarantee their licensees exclusive use of a design.

1.     Under current copyright law it is not necessary to sign, date or even put a © symbol on a work; ergo millions of designs created since 1976 do not have attributions attached, making it difficult to identify the creators.

2.     The Internet poses an increased risk for art without appropriate credit to be shared, making it imperative for the Copyright Office to continue to recognize the ownership of these works.

3.     Many artists are extremely prolific, creating thousands of images each year. It would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming to force them to register every design created in order to protect it (including past, present and future works).

The U.S. Copyright Office has issued a special call for letters regarding the role of visual art in the coming legislation. LETTERS ARE DUE ON THURSDAY, JULY 23rd. You can read it here: Notice of Inquiry on Visual Works:


At this point, there is no bill before congress, and our job is to make sure that when a bill is written, the needs of the visual arts community will be taken into consideration. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional artist, crafter, hobbyist, student, manufacturer, art licensor— or not involved in the arts— copyright impacts us all. This is a time-critical matter; LETTERS ARE DUE BY JULY 23rd!!! PLEASE WRITE AND SEND YOURS TODAY! And then ask every visual artist you know to do the same. We were able to defeat this legislation in two different sessions of congress because there were enough people who were motivated to DO something… together we can make a difference. Every voice matters… please make sure yours is heard!

Submit your letters online at:

If you aren’t sure what to say, here are some suggestions from Brad Holland of the Illustrator’s Partnership:

In your letter to the Copyright OffIce:

It's important that lawmakers be told that our copyrights are our source of income because lobbyists and corporation lawyers have "testified" that once our work has been published it has virtually no further commercial value and should therefore be available for use by the public.

So when writing, please remember:

– It's important that you make your letter personal and truthful.

– Keep it professional and respectful.

– Explain that you're an artist and have been one for x number of years.

– Briefly list your educational background, publications, awards etc.

– Indicate the field(s) you work in.

– Explain clearly and forcefully that for you, copyright law is not an abstract legal issue, but the basis on which your business rests.

– Our copyrights are the products we license.

– This means that infringing our work is no different than stealing our money.

– It's important to our businesses that we remain able to determine voluntarily how and by whom our work is used.

– Stress that your work does NOT lose its value upon publication.

– Instead, everything you create becomes part of your business inventory.

– In the digital era, inventory is more valuable to artists than ever before.

If you are NOT a professional artist:

– Define your specific interest in copyright, and give a few relevant details.

– You might want to stress that it's important to you that you determine how and by whom your work is used.

– You might wish to state that even if you are a hobbyist, you would not welcome someone else monetizing your work for their own profit without your knowledge or consent.

The U.S. Copyright Office  acknowledges that visual artists face special problems in the marketplace and they've asked artists to respond to five questions. If you are a professional artist, please consider incorporating answers to these questions in your letter:

1. What are the most significant challenges related to monetizing and/or licensing photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations?

2. What are the most significant enforcement challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?

3. What are the most significant registration challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?

4. What are the most significant challenges or frustrations for those who wish to make legal use of photographs, graphic art works, and/or illustrations?

5. What other issues or challenges should the Office be aware of regarding photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations under the Copyright Act?

Here are links to sample letters:

 Other related information:

 The most detailed background information on the subject can be found in a video interview where well known children’s book illustrator and educator, Will Terry, interviews famed editorial illustrator Brad Holland, co-founder of the The Illustrators’ Partnership of America (IPA), who has been active in keeping visual creators aware of the ongoing orphan works threat. VIDEO:


In summary, the copyrights to your photos, artwork, and other tangible creative expressions are VALUABLE and enable you to determine how and where your work is used; which companies to work with, and what products you want your designs to be on. The U.S. Copyright Office needs to take the needs of visual artists and the Art Licensing community into consideration when drafting this new legislation. Please take the time to protect your future: write today, and share this to encourage others to write as well.


Cherish Flieder
Illustrator, Designer, Educator, Art Licensor, Entrepreneur
Founder of and the 13K+ Art of Licensing group on LinkedIn

Joanne Fink
Best-selling author, Calligrapher, Designer, Teacher, Art Licensor; founder of Zenspirations® 

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers, but felt compelled to share what we’ve learned with our fellow creatives. PLEASE consult your attorney for a specific interpretation of this proposed copyright change and to find out what it would specifically mean to your business. Nothing contained herein or linked to should be interpreted as legal advice.

 Thanks for taking the  time to make a difference.

Stay Zenspired,




The Return of the Orphan Works Legislation

Hi Everyone,

My next two Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play books are due this week, and I've been working round the clock trying to get everything done. On Friday, my editor and I reviewed all the AMAZING and AWESOME images that several dozen coloring enthusiasts submitted for consideration… it was incredibly difficult to finalize the selection because the entries were all creative and inspiring. In fact, on a couple of instances, we wound up deciding to show more images on a page just so we could showcase additional inspiration samples. In the end we tried to pick pieces that were created in a variety of media… although a few of my favorites didn't make it in, overall I'm really pleased with the final selection. We got submissions from all over the world, and wound up selecting work by artists in England, India, South Africa and the United States. Can't believe that the new books will be in the stores (at least in North America) in three months!                          
One of the things I'm especially excited about are the 12 full color pages which will be at the front of the book. Six pages will be devoted to the inspiration pieces; the other six will be used to teach people how to add color, patterns and additional icons to create a truly unique piece of art. I'm also trying to show how the same image looks when colored with different tools, and asked my daughter to test some of the different tools I was thinking of featuring. I only have room for 6 leaves... another tough choice! 

 Here are close ups so you can see the contrasting textures:


I'm delighted to report that I have finished everything except the teaching pages for Birds & Butterflies, and am now focusing on Expressions of Faith. Here's a sneak peak at the covers:


If you'd like to win copies of the new books, please answer the questions below by leaving your repsonse in the comment section. I'll pick a name at random from those who leave a comment, and the luck winner will get a copy of each book as soon as they are published.

Here's what I'd like to know. Since I look on these pages as a springboard for individual creativity, I'm thinking of adding a line to the bottom of each page to give credit to the co-creator of the page. I'd really appreciate your advice on this. Please leave me a comment answering the following questions:                                              
Do you like the idea of giving a credit line for the person who colors the page? 
If you do, what would you like it to say?
Here are a few options I'm considering:
For the first part of the phrase, would you prefer:
1. ©Joanne Fink; (which is what I use now)
2. Zenspirations® illustration by Joanne Fink; 
3. Illustrator: Joanne Fink of Zenspirations®; 
4. Design by Joanne Fink/Zenspirations
5. Something else:_________________________                                                                                                      
For the second part of the phrase, would you prefer:
1. Decorated by: ____________________
2. Colored and enhanced by __________________________________
3. Colorist: ________________________
4. Color & creativity by __________________________
5. Something else: _____________________________                                                                                           
Thanks, as always, for your input… it means a great deal to me.                                                                                 
And now, before I go back to the coloring books, I have a favor to ask, and it's important. For more than a year Congress has been holding hearings for the drafting of a brand new US Copyright Act. At its heart is the return of Orphan Works. "The Next Great Copyright Act" would totally change the protection that we have enjoyed since 1979, when our current copyright law was enacted. This is extremely serious for those of us who make our livings in intellectual property, especially visual artists, but it will impact everyone.              
The last two time Congress considered similar legislation (the Orphan Works Act), I was one of many people who helped raise awareness and coordinated the opposition effort. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner of The Illustrator's Partnership, as well as all the 'team leaders' who served as the interface between a guild or art group they belonged to and the Orphan Works Opposition Headquarters, we were able to defeat the legislation. And now, much to my dismay, it's reared it's ugly head again. 

At this point, there is no bill before congress, and our job is to make sure that when a bill is written, the needs of the visual arts community will be taken into consideration. This is a time-critical matter; LETTERS ARE DUE BY JULY 23rd!!! PLEASE WRITE AND SEND YOURS TODAY! There's a LOT more to the story, but since I have to finish my books, and don't have time to explain everything, the favor I'm asking is that you go read my friend Joan Beiriger's blog:

Please read Joan's blog, read what Brad & Cynthia from the Illustrator's Partnership advise (link in blog), and draft a letter! And then ask every visual artist you know to do the same. We were able to defeat this legislation in two different sessions of congress because there were enough people who were motivated to DO something… together we can make a difference. Every voice matters… please make sure yours is heard! 

Stay Zenspired,
PS I forgot to ask Erica who won the copy of Dasherie, so I'll have to let you know next week. :-)





Lettering is Flourishing!

Hi Everyone,

I'm nearing the finish line on the two new Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern & Play books… they are due next week! I'm still polishing pages and have quite a few images yet to create… so it is a blessing to know that while I stay focused on the art, my awesome team of coloring enthusiasts are busy creating inspiration pages for the books. IF YOU ARE A COLORING ENTHUSIAST WHO DID NOT GET PAGES TO COLOR AND COULD STILL GET THEM DONE BY THURSDAY, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP and I will e-mail you a couple of pages to do. In case you are new to the blog, submitting pages is not a guarantee that they will be selected for inclusion, but I need more than a dozen pieces for each book, and am hoping to feature Zenspirational artists from around the world. It's really exciting to be able to see all the different things people are doing with my designs. Below is one I got this afternoon from Tombow Design Team member Jennifer Priest, who used Tombow tools to color the design. 

Over the past two years, Jennifer, who is my social media coach, set up my blog, Pinterest page, Zenspirations by Joanne Fink Facebook page, and Instagram! As of last month I even have a Twitter account (although I haven't used it yet). I'm still happily learning how to use Instagram-- following lettering artists, designers and coloring enthusiasts all over the world. I am continually awed by the incredible work people share. Social media is a wonderful way for me to get (and hopefully give) inspiration. I especially enjoy seeing what people are doing with the techniques I teach and the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern & Play pages they embellish. If you are posting a Zenspiration design, please use the #Zenspirations. (For those who aren't on Instagram, the '#' is a 'hashtag' and helps you search for topics of interest.) If you are on Instagram, I'd love to connect: If you aren't on Instagram, I'd recommend it! Here are a few of the things I've posted to Instagram this week:

The first time that I saw Zenspirations® on social media was in November of 2009-- about a year after I started experimenting with pattern & line. My local calligraphy guild, the Scribes of Central Florida, invited me to give my first-ever Zenspirations workshop, and one of the workshop attendees, Erica McPhee, blogged about it the next day. You can read Erica's original Zenspirations blog post on her website:

Although I wasn't active in the Social Media world back then, Erica was... and would occassionally blog about the Zenspirations projects she worked on. But what totally blew me away was the amazing Advent calendar Erica brought to the Scribes holiday party. Below are a few photos, and you can read the complete blog post at:

Erica and I have a lot in common-- we are both calligraphers, writers and designers, and we have a mutual interest in building community through the arts. I wanted to share a couple of Erica's ongoing projects with you. In November of 2013 Erica founded The Flourish Forum, an on-line community about everything related to calligraphy, lettering, flourishing, Zentangles®, and more. There are 4,000+ people from 28 countries registered for The Flourish Forum; members can peruse the extensive resources and tutorials the forum offers. Erica says "It's a wonderful community-- very positive, very sharing-- where a lot of friendships have been made. You can see a lot of the content without registering, but if you want to view the video tutorials and be able to download the full set of handouts, you'll need to register." One of the things I like best about The Flourish Forum is that it is a totally free resource… so if you are interested in lettering, I encourage you to check it out:
After founding The Flourish Forum, Erica realized there was tremendous growing interest in the calligraphic arts, and created something really cool: Dasherie Magazine ( 
Like The Flourish Forum, Dasherie is an inspiring resource for calligraphers and lettering artists-- as well as brides and others commissioning calligraphy. Launched in the summer of 2014, Dasherie is a beautifully designed magazine featuring gorgeous photographs throughout the 100 pages.                                                 
I'm sharing this, in part, because the third issue of Dasherie is at the printer,  and I'm honored to be one of the artists profiled! Below is a 'sneak peak' at my article.                                                                                            
If you'd like to order a copy, here is the
Now that the third issue is 'to bed' Erica is busy planning the next one. As a regular Zenspirations blog follower, Erica knows that you guys are often willing to share your thoughts in the comment section (especially if there is an incentive!). She offered to send a copy of the issue with my profile in it to one of the people who answers the following question: Who or what would you would like to see featured in a future issue of Dasherie magazine? A name will be drawn at random, and I'll let you know in next week's blog who the lucky winner is.
Speaking of winners, congratulations to Terri Young, who won the box of notecards from last week's blog! Terri, please let me know where you'd like them sent. I appreciate all your comments and interest, and would be grateful if you would keep me in your thoughts and prayers this week as I am finishing all the drawings for Birds & Butterflies and Expressions of Faith. I'm trying to create designs which other artists can use as a springboard for their own creative endeavors… and am finding it challenging to create images that look complete and inviting to color while still allowing room for people who like to pattern to add their own creative touches. As always, I welcome your suggestions.        
Stay Zenspired,

Take Note!

Hi Everyone,

Those of you who are regular blog readers may remember my asking for your input on a series of notecards that I was designing a few months ago. Many of you were kind enough to share your thoughts, which helped me finalize the line. I incorporated a lot of your suggestions into the line, and wanted to say THANK YOU again for sharing… I am deeply grateful for this creative and 'Zenspired' community. In May, the notecards debuted at the National Stationery Show, and I was excited to see some of the designs on display:
And tonight I'm delighted to let you know that the first five collections of notecards are up on Amazon! Here are visuals so you can see how they turned out. If you'd like to order some, you can click on the blue title above each collection, or you can go to the 'shop' button at the top of my website.                                             

LOVE LINES: M3322 Love Lines: 10 Assorted Blank Note Cards Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink w/Matching Envelopes.


M3316 Whimsical Waves: 10 Assorted Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink Blank Note Cards w/Matching Envelopes.


WORD STACKS: M3317 Word Stacks: 10 Assorted Blank Note Cards Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink w/Matching Envelopes.

M3321 Written In Stone: 10 Assorted Blank Note Cards: Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink w/Matching Envelopes.


M3315 Design Tunes: 10 Assorted Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink Blank Note Cards w/Matching Envelopes.


I created the music collection based on your input-- music and Scripture were the two most requested themes. I had trouble deciding whether to do musical instruments or music notes, and in the end just went with variations of the treble clef, as it is the most versatile. Here is a close-up so you can see it better:                      

Each collection is offered two ways; as thank you notes and blank notes. I hand-lettered 'Thank You' to coordinate with the different looks. For example, here's what I did for the Whimsical Waves:

I really appreciated your input during the design phase, and now that the note cards have been printed, I'd like to get your input again-- as an incentive, if you leave a comment answering the four questions below, I'll enter your name into a drawing-- and the prize will be a box of your favorite notecard collection! Since there are many readers with the same first name, please make sure your comment includes YOUR FULL NAME so I can properly identify the winner. Let me know how you like the new line, and please answer these four questions:

1. Which is your favorite collection?
2. Do you prefer thank you notes or blank notes?
3. Would you use these yourself and/or give them as a gift? If not, why not?
4. If the line is successful and we get to do more collections, what other themes would you like me to consider designing?
I look forward to your thoughts… 
Before closing tonight, I want to let all the Coloring Enthusiasts know that I'm running a little behind on sending out pages from the next two Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern & Play books, but they should be in your in-box by Wednesday night. If you are expecting them and having received anything from me by Thursday, please send me an e-mail ( to let me know, and I'll forward them to you. FYI, I WILL NEED TO HAVE THEM BACK no later than Thursday the 9th, so if you can't work on them next week, there will be another opportunity to submit inspiration examples in October.                                    
Stay Zenspired,



Press Check Complete!

Hi Everyone,

Thursday was an exciting day for me… I drove to South Florida to attend the press run for my new book, When You Lose Someone You LoveIt was truly special because in addition to being the artist and author, I'm also the publisher! It's hard for me to describe my elation as I watched the press churn out large sheets which will be cut down and bound into books. I took photos of some of the press sheets to share with you. Hard to imagine that by July these press sheets will be cut, trimmed and bound into gift books.

The book has 112 pages, and the last 32 pages (shown above) will have color. The first 80 pages (shown below) won't have color, but will have both line art and half-tones.

In addition to watching the pages being printed, I got to see the cover proofs. You'll notice that there are two versions in the photo below: one with a bar code, which is the version you'll get if you order the book, and the other with a logo imprinted on it, which is to help raise funds for the Modern Widows Club

I know first-hand that when you lose someone you love, you often feel confused and alone and aren’t sure how to get your life back on track. Joining MWC made a big difference in my life; I felt an immediate connection with the other widows I’ve met through the organization, and am deeply grateful for the support we provide to one another both in person and online. I care so much about the organization that in addition to creating custom-imprinted books, I am also going to donate a percentage of book sales to the Modern Widows Club, to help continue the wonderful mentoring work they do with widows around the globe. If you know someone who has been widowed, please tell them about the organization. MWC membership is an affordable $25/year. Coincidentally, today, June 23rd, is International Widows Day… please take a moment to check out MWC's post about it.                                                                                                                                                                
And now the really exciting news: since the book has been printed, and is on the way to the bindery,        I am taking pre-orders! Pre-orders won't be shipping until August (after all the wonderful Kickstarter supporters get their copies), but it would be helpful to know how many people want books so I can order boxes and shipping supplies. So if you would like to comfort someone who has lost a loved one, I'd be honored if you would consider gifting them a copy of When You Lose Someone You Love.                                                        
Click to pre-order the book, or hit the 'SHOP' button at the top of my website, then hit 'BOOKS', and you should see this:                                                                                                                                                     
In addition to my first self-published book, regular blog readers know that I am hard at work on my next two Zenspirations® Color, Create, Pattern & Play books, and reached out to all the Coloring & Patterning Enthusiasts to help me create inspiration examples. I'm not sure what I was expecting-- but I have been totally AMAZED and AWED by the submissions! Last week I sent all the volunteers pdfs of four designs from the new Birds & Butterflies book, (which you can see on last week's blog post) and have been truly delighted with the variety of creatively colored and patterned submissions.                                                                             
There are way too many masterpieces to share in tonight's blog (and I don't want to ruin the surprise for those of you who plan to get the new books when they are released in October), but I did want to share a few examples so you'll know why I'm so excited. Here are some examples of delightfully different owls. The once below were create by Hannah Kalish, Jamie Haberkorn and Kim Aarts.
The next row was created by Kathryn Leonard, Tina Walker and Terri Brown.                                                         
I especially love the ones below where the artists turned a simple coloring page into an interactive scene. From left to right these were created by Lora Trapp, Puneet Sekhon and Rita Barakat.                                                     
I'll be sharing all the incredible submissions with my editor on Wednesday, and will be in touch with the artists whose work she wants to include. THANK YOU to everyone who took the time create an inspiration piece-- you certainly have inspired me! And if you didn't have time to create something this past week, but would be interested in having your work featured in one of my books, there will be another opportunity to submit something for the Trees & Leaves and the Heartfelt Expressions books in a couple of months.                      
If you are as impressed as I am with the wonderful owls, please take a moment to leave a comment about the inspiration samples. I'm sure the contributors would like to know that their work has sparked some new ideas and directions for you, and I'd like to know if there are particular techniques you'd me to include in the new books.                                                                                                                                                                  
So until next week, Happy Coloring!                                                                                                                    
Stay Zenspired,



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