Referral Friday: Bowls of fire, buckets of ire

Referral Friday is an ongoing series inspired by John Jantsch's Make-a-Referral Week. For more about that, and loads more referrals for everything from cobblers to coaches to gee-tar teachers, start here. Pass it on, baby!


I'd dipped into the work and writing of artist John T. Unger years ago, when I first started blogging.

An inventive and talented artist with a generous spirit, Unger not only makes a good living by using the web, he shares his knowledge and experiences out loud on his blog for the benefit of other people on the same path. What's more, he does it with as much style, humor and care as he seems to put into his art; I'm a sucker for any fine artist who can also write his ass off.

He even cares about his ecological footprint! Unger's main art these days takes the form of these delightful firebowls, one of which is pictured above. Rather than create them from new materials, he works with salvaged materials from the scrap heap, and fashions them into usable works of art durable enough to last for generations. And he's doing all of these from the sticks in Michigan, helping to pump money back into the local economy. Making money and making art while he changes the world in his own small way? When I'm ready for a firebowl, count me in!

Unfortunately, he's currently enmeshed in the some of the weirdest, unpleasant-est litigation I've heard of in a while; "Kafka-esque" comes to mind. It's complex, as these things generally are, so I'll just quote what Unger himself wrote on his site:

My original art has been copied by a manufacturer who is now suing me in federal court to overturn my existing copyrights and continue making knockoffs. I have a strong case, a great lawyer and believe that if I can continue to defend myself, the case will be resolved in my favor. If I run out of funds before we reach trial, a default judgment would be issued against me and could put me out of business. I don't believe my opponent can win this case in court and I don't believe he really intends to try. I believe his goal is to use strong-arm litigation tactics to force me to keep spending money or risk losing my copyrights , not by true adjudication, but by default if he is able to outspend me.

Unger has already spent $50,000 of his own money to defend himself, but he'll need a lot more firepower (I know, I'm hilarious) if he's going to expose this weasel for the weasel he is.

To raise the necessary funds, he's selling his firebowls at a discount and also offering smaller pieces of specially created art for purchase on Kickstarter, the crowdsourcing fundraiser site.

As he says, he'd rather trade you art for your money, but he is accepting donations of any amount as well. I'm still downsizing, so I downsized myself out of a little cash for the cause.

Ultimately, in addition to having right prevail personally, and being able to continue to use his art to support his family, he's hoping to raise awareness about copyright issues on behalf of all artists. If for no other reason, I support him for that, although as someone who has gotten much value from the information he's shared, I'm only too happy to support him in some small way.

I hope you will, too, and that you'll pass along this message to your people as well.

Fight the power! With fire!

(Okay, really, no more bad jokes...)