Forgotten Fairytales Ripoff Drama

///Update 2:

Renselar has apologized to me, and has removed "Walls and Lies" as well as "Tuesday's Child" from his site, promising they were never sold and that he will never show them in public again.

He says the original photos were "on a CD-ROM that was given to him by a friend", and that the friend assured him that all the images on the CD-ROM were in the public domain.

"...I was badly misled and I therefore got it wrong. I’m angry too, because it means I wasted over 4 weeks of my time painting something I can never show."

Tell me I'm not the only one who tried not to roll my eyes. Really now.

Anyway, whether you believe the story or not, the important thing is that knock-offs have been removed and the man who made them has apologized and the works have been taken down now.

If you see works by other artists you know still on his site, please bring it up!

///Update:

Cross posting from Matt Thorn's blog post: Mr. Walker has apologized to Ms. Zhang and also to me. DiscoveredArtists.com has also removed Van Renselar from their online catalog. According to Mr. Walker, neither of the Renselar pieces based on Ms. Zhang’s work were ever sold through DiscoveredArtists.com. So, kudos to them. But Renselar is still peddling his knock-offs on his own site. Why not drop him a line and let him know what you think of his “original artworks,” as he calls them? While you’re at it, you also might want to check his catalog to see if he hasn’t borrowed from you as well.

///

No better way to start off a new year than some drama. Posting for the lulz and share along as you may.

I was browsing my Facebook's Photography folder when I chanced upon a link someone left on Forgotten Fairytales.

So I followed it, titled something like: The Spectacular Work of London Artist, Van Renselar:

The first piece of featured work in his article is a ripoff of one of my most iconic pieces, Forgotten Fairytales.

My original - Forgotten Fairytales, 2007

And he's supposedly a 52 years old man, really? Does he have no concept of shame and morals at all?

So anyway I posted about this on my Twitter and Facebook, and some people decided to leave comments on the page informing DiscoveredArtists that the work is ripped.

While I'm quietly waiting for my agent's return to town tomorrow to send them a formal correspondence, guess what, DiscoveredArtists replied in the comments section! (Not the artist himself, oh well)

Bitterness? WHAT bitterness? If anything yes I am sort of bitter that my work is being ripped off AND sold. Boohoo.

So clearly Mr. Brian Walker wants to be contacted directly, leaving his email, cell, tollfree number and what not, and I guess some of you went ahead.

But what surprised me, was when I found myself cc-ed in an email Matt Thorn had written to Brian Walker, alerting him that Van Renselar has plagiarized my work.

Matt Thorn, who's probably translated/is translating Hagio Moto's every English edition title, who appeared alongside Hagio Moto at her San Diego Comic Con signing last year, whose interview with Hagio Moto I had read, over and over and over, that had continued to serve as an inspiration to me for so so long, wrote an email for me. It's simple, professional and straight-forward. I was beyond touched, surprised and even honoured.

But guess what Mr. Walker replied!

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

The first thing you address is not about the plagiarism, but about how being alerted multiple times on an infringement could be a virtual harassment?

He didn't even do his research before the accusation, so much for working on the internet all day as he claims!

We're not even getting into details about the actual artwork itself yet, but I doubt it's going to be all sweet and rosy. What kind of people takes it out on others when they get called out on, seriously? I'm not impressed, DiscoveredArtists.

Drama at Changi Airport

Those of you following me on Twitter/Facebook had probably saw my update when I said I was being refused boarding because of my passport's renewal date.

I didn't blog about the incident after touching down in the US because I was too tired, still pissed and didn't want to write about this when I was still angry.

Here's what happened.

Last Sunday, Oct 24th, I was departing from Singapore Changi Airport on the SQ12 for LAX.

While in queue for security check I was stopped by a police/security officer after he checked my passport and boarding pass. He insisted that because my passport was renewed in July 2009, it was mandatory for it to be biometric in order for me to visit the US on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

According to the official US VWP website:

* Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended on or after 10/26/06: passports must have integrated chips with information from the data page.
* Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended between 10/26/05 and 10/25/06: passports must have digital photographs printed on the data page or integrated chips with information from the data page.
* Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended before 10/26/05: no further requirements.

My Machine-readable Passport (MRP) was issued in Sep 2003 and renewed after Oct 2006. Maybe the phrasing in the text is a bit confusing, but if someone were trained for these passport checking, he should damn well know that my passport fits under "issued before 10/25/05" and that no further requirements were necessary.

Alas, I wasn't aware of the exact dates and terms until I looked them up during my transit in Narita. 

Before this trip I had travelled to the US four times in the past year, three times from Singapore and once from London. Not ONCE was I stopped or even told that my passport had issues. When the security staff got my passport he went on haughtily about how I was wrong about the fact that my MRP was acceptable and in actual fact I must have a biometric passport. (Where/who could I check with at that point of time, anyway?)

So he dragged me to the boarding counter where the ground staff were, and repeated his dates and my folly, to a counter of staff who knew no better.

One of the girls attempted to reach the US customs but in vain. Shortly after that she told me they were going to take me off the flight, I heard my luggage being asked to be put on stand-by.

You cannot imagine my shock then, never in my years of travelling was I so traumatized (at such a crucial time too, the flight was due to take off pretty much then).

I couldn't help and started crying. The security guy looked away gleefully.

Eventually someone (probably senior?) on the line with the ground staff seemed to have convinced them to let me go, but they reiterated over and over how I was responsible for myself and my airfares if I was turned away at US customs and deported back to Singapore. And that they were going to ALERT the US customs that I was aware that I was committing an "offence" but still going.

I mean, seriously, IF I were wrong and yet maybe I could have had a chance at landing, why did they have to completely blow it by being unreasonable, putting me in a bind that I could do nothing about, when clearly I had no problems the previous times, where was my warning because all previous times had told me I was right? What was the point aside from making me miserable?

And all these time they were doing everything still without ACTUALLY knowing whether my passport was legible or not. Wtf?

In the end I was let on the plane, still crying and angry and scared that I was going to be deported back to Singapore. But after calming down, the more I thought about it the more it felt wrong. I definitely remembered reading that my passport was fine being MRP when I was making my first trip to the US.

During my transit in Narita, I managed to get online to check the VWP website. It was only then did I finally have a peace of mind.

I boarded the flight again from Narita, going through the security and passport check again without any problems; I landed in LAX and passed through immigration smoothly too—my passport was fine.

I still can't believe how horrendous the security guy's attitude was.

I was clearly a frequent traveller and harmless, and yet through the whole time he was being nothing but god damned happy about my misery. Least he could have done was to be human and try to be helpful or understanding or comforting or something right? Really didn't help that the rest of the ground staff were such a far stretch from being competent.

What IF there was an emergency in my family (choyx10000 touch wood) and I was taken off the flight just because someone THOUGHT he caught somebody committing an offence and can finally rake some extra credits for being sharp, WHO is to take the responsibilities here? I can't imagine the pain I could have been in. For all you know I could have killed myself out of guilt for not being there.

I really do wish I'd taken down their names, but I was so overwhelmed I couldn't think. Argh.

I guess part of the point of this post is to serve as a reminder to myself, part as a warning to everyone to be sure to check your visas and passports before travelling—be clear about all the immigration and customs terms, lest you run into problems, or be wronged by poorly-trained security/ground staff/whatever have you.

Changi Airport, it was not cool. I'm beyond disappointed as a Singaporean.

Generally, I don't care how one criticizes me. Be it my works, personality, or everything that you conjure up in your petty heads.

But damn right I can be affected by things that have to do with people I treat and love as family, and in this case, is family.

I'm so angered by your slanders I'm at an utter loss for words, unable to believe that it's even possible for someone to stoop so low.

Saying that I'm unfilial, or even doubting my love for my mother, is as sacrilegious to me as saying a faithful devotee hates his god.

You have no clue of my childhood or life, or of the pain and hardships we lived through. Don't pretend to know me when the only encounter we'd had was on the night you gatecrashed my invite-only book launch/exhibition opening.

I love her above all else, you haven't a single right to say the words of lies you told.

I only pity your bitterness.

Isolation

I feel a strong need to distance myself from people (sometimes), lately.

I'm afraid to talk about myself, about my problems, about anything. Because the moment it leaves my mouth you cannot refrain from exercising your freedom of speech and whatever rights you think you deserve to judge me, criticize me, belittle me. Which by all means, is fine because it is your freedom. But to the point where it borders on verbal abuse? I don't know.

You say I'm self-absorbed and pretentious.

Am I supposed to talk about someone else's future when you questioned about mine? When did talking about myself when asked become a sin?

I'm tired of the same accusations, the same words.

I'm tired of the little images of what my success should be in your heads.

I'm tired of having to deal with it just because of how I think it's out of kindness you said the things you said, how guilty it makes me to be unable to follow your words which do not apply because you do not know my situations.

I cannot be one and a thousand at the same time and please every single one of you, each with an individual opinion.

I too want to lead my life down the path of choices I make.
No matter how your support has propelled me to where I am today, I still want to live my own life.

Is that wrong?

Why is even that being taken away from me?

Why's it so hard to understand?

I never really speak about this because I generally hate being rude. But seriously, just like what I hope is normal for everyone else, I don't enjoy being insulted and bitched at gratuitously. I'd would probably have worded the contents of this entry in a more calming manner if not for the ranting mood I'm left in, but here goes.

1. Asking questions with answers plastered readily all over the internet, is absolutely, abjectly, impolite as hell. Learn some consideration for strangers. (Yes, you are a stranger to me, and I don't owe you anything.) Honestly, does my name spell Internet Photography Helpdesk?

2. I reply to messages when I feel like it, when I actually have the time at all. I can't respond to every single mail, comment, alert, pm, note or interview, for every minute I spend trying is a minute I spend not creating my art. Maybe you don't care about that, but hey, it's my life, and I do want to do what I love to do.

3. You have no right to demand my time or attention just as I have none to demand yours. Guilt-tripping me as someone who doesn't care about others or has no feelings isn't going to work, get over your attention-seeking/self-centered self.

I am a living, breathing, imperfect human being. And I too, have feelings.

Talking to family can so easily drive me up the wall sometimes.

I may be vague, but it doesn't mean that I don't have plans.
I may say that I have uncertainties, but it doesn't mean I'm unsure whether I'll reach my goals.
I may not rebuke, but it doesn't mean you can freely speak ill of the ones who gave me life, endlessly.

I have my own ideals, targets and dreams. It doesn't mean I have none if I never bring them up.

I like leaving certain things flexible, because that is the way I want to live.

I don't want to plan out every single day of my existence till death because that is just bloody insensible damnit.

tell me how not to be angry.

when i care so much.

when i was hurt along the way, just as much as you.

when i was the only one who ever stood out for you, every time; when none of the people you'd devoted your life to, dared to or bothered.

when it's like watching a kid grow up and play the piano. who's playing the wrong note on the same key over and over, and over.

for a year, for five years, for ten years.

tell me how to ease this anger, knowing that you're in this everlasting circle of getting hurt, when it's stoppable?

it is your kindness, graciousness, to them. but have you considered, ever, just even for the tiniest bit, just how much it hurts me?

do you know, that till this day, i still have nightmares of him hunting us down, trying to kill us; of me watching my flesh being torn from my arm and being unable to turn away?

have you considered my pain, for all the greater good you do? or is it because i am kin, that my pain matters lesser than helping the ones who are not, no matter how they hurt us in return?