Sunday, January 16, 2011
Pride and Plagiarism
Stealing ideas from designers and artists is commonplace- you only have to look at the blog youthoughtwewouldntnotice to see that.
This isn't the first time my designs have been stolen and printed onto T-shirts. Urban Outfitters carried a whole range of "Doggy Greetings" T-shirts which were all very similar to my Bonjour/Hola/etc designs. The company who produced the T-shirts (not UO, although I'm still uncertain as to how much input they had in that case) eventually pulled them from sale after an internet outcry.
I drew the "Bonjour" design in 2009. It is, I'll admit, not the most sophisticated of concepts. A French Bulldog, wearing a beret and stripy T-shirt, with the word "Bonjour"; all in the red, white and blue of the French flag. Anyone could have thought of that, right?
New Standard, the company to which I license designs for T-shirts, printed my Bonjour design in 2010 and it has sold pretty well. It is for sale through various online stores as well as on the NS site. It's no huge stretch of the imagination to think that a company like Junk Food might visit the site of a smaller company like NS to find "inspiration"... but at least they changed the concept and the design to a point that I'm almost not bothered by it. They even went one step further... "BONE-jour"? Why didn't I think of that? So, I wasn't hugely upset by the Junk Food T-shirt.
What I am upset by, however, is the baby Gap T-shirt (above). A friend sent me this photo yesterday, having spotted the T-shirt for sale in the US. It is very similar to my design, from the markings on the dog's body, to the pink underbelly... It's not the same, which in a way is more annoying. If they had literally just traced my design, I might have been able to do something about it. Although... a company in the Philippines traced my "Pugs Not Drugs" design and printed it on a tote bag and there was sod-all I could do about that, mostly due to the sketchy copyright laws that cover China and most of Asia.
Because Gap (is it THE Gap, or just Gap? I'm not sure, so sorry for the inconsistencies in this mini-essay) haven't exactly copied my design, but made their own version, I can't do anything about it except quietly seethe and write short essays on the subject on my blog. It's incredibly frustrating. I feel like I'm at the bottom of a design-foodchain (along with all the other illustrators and artists that this has happened to) when we're the ones thinking of the ideas, only for the bigger companies to steal them and make their own crappy versions. We make pennies, they make billions. It isn't fair.
Posted by gemma correll