The Painters of Dafen

The Painters of Dafen

China, with its reputation for duplication, was the obvious place to turn for our Copycats issue. When videographer Seth Coleman pitched us on a topic we had read about but never seen – the craft of replicating paintings – we couldn’t say no.

Infographic: Mass Production

Infographic: Mass Production

Sharing, forking, xeroxing: we have innumerable ways to copy what others have originated. Duplication has been core to modern civilization, allowing our ideas go viral in increasingly tall spikes. But along the way, credit can fall by the wayside, forcing profit-seeking inventors to invest beyond their means in legal protection. […]

Observed: Copycats

Observed: Copycats

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala Daniele Volpe The backdrop of a US skyline enhances portraits for residents who often lack the means to travel. Djabal Refugee Camp, Chad Glenna Gordon Using a wood pen with ink and water, Koranic verse is copied in Arabic calligraphy. Residual water and sometimes the paper itself […]

Straight to DVD

Straight to DVD

Loud music blares from speakers perched just feet away from a main road, covering the busy marketplaces of Ajah, Lagos in sound. Passersby stroll past dozens of clothing stalls, fresh produce stands, and shops with CDs and DVDs in bright paper sleeves strewn along the ground and arranged on crowded wooden walls. This particular […]

Deep Cover

Deep Cover

An arm sliced off just above the elbow sits in a glass display case in the dimly lit office. Its white skin gives to the touch, and the palm lines are so clear a fortune teller could predict its future. Bone shards and sliced muscles protrude at the arm’s end, […]

Observed: Crowds

Observed: Crowds

In back alleys, street markets, and hidden workshops around the world, microentrepreneurs churn out new ideas and products to help them get by or improve the world around them. We could philosophize on this all day. But here in Observed, we ask our correspondents to say nothing. For the next […]

Infographic: Counting the Crowd

Infographic: Counting the Crowd

What happens when a group of people band together? It depends. The organization of a crowd, the tools it uses, and its culture all determine its impact. Is it structured to collaborate or fight? Does each node have ways to connect with and trust the others? Do its members require […]

Observed: Trade

Observed: Trade

In back alleys, street markets, and hidden workshops around the world, microentrepreneurs churn out new ideas and products to help them get by or improve the world around them. We could philosophize on this all day. But here in Observed, we ask our correspondents to say nothing. So for the […]

From the Makery: Imaginary Adventures, Building with Beer Bottles and Schools Around the World

From the Makery: Imaginary Adventures, Building with Beer Bottles and Schools Around the World

From the Makery is a weekly roundup of inspiring stories of making collected from around the web. Follow our Facebook page or our Twitter feed for daily updates. Imaginary Adventures Luka, a 12-year old boy with muscular dystrophy, dreamed of playing sports, swimming, and skateboarding. He teamed up with a […]

From the Makery: Tiny Libraries, Dancing from the Favelas, and a Grassroots Bikeshare

From the Makery: Tiny Libraries, Dancing from the Favelas, and a Grassroots Bikeshare

From the Makery is a weekly roundup of inspiring stories of making collected from around the web. Follow our Facebook page or our Twitter feed for daily updates. Tiny Libraries The Little Free Library project commissioned ten micro-libraries for installation around NYC. This one, by Stereotank, resembles a water tower […]