Why Art and Design Theft Sucks

If you read the title of this article thinking that I would be talking about elaborate heists of priceless artwork, you've come to the wrong place. The art and design theft this article focuses on is happening right in front of us, most of the time without our knowledge. That's because in this case, large retailers, companies, and artists are stealing designs from small, independent artists and profiting off of them. In most cases, stolen designs are turned into clothing or accessories and then sold without consent from the original artist. In other cases, artists that have a larger following will either directly copy work that is not their own, or change it very slightly and pass it off as their own. In all cases, the original artist has not consented for their designs to be to used or duplicated which results in being cheated out of all profit and recognition. It's straight up artistic plagiarism.

Some of the most influential brands and celebrities are guilty of design theft. The worst part is that most of the time, there’s not much the original artists can do besides calling out those who ripped them off, as art is only considered ‘intellectual property’. Legal action is costly, and small artists usually have to stand up against wealthy companies and people. Sometimes even speaking out has its own costs in the loss of social media accounts (which most artists use as a platform to showcase their work) because the thieves will report the original artists’ account for bullying or harassment. So in an effort to support independent artists, here are a few to support - and who’s stolen their designs.

 

Destiney Bleu

Destiney Bleu is an indie designer who makes bedazzled bodysuits, hosiery, and even tour outfits for major celebrities including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Kesha, among others. Khloe Kardashian was accused of stealing Destiney’s designs for her bedazzled bodysuits after she purchased multiple of them over the span of eight months and reproduced them for her brand, Good American. After Destiney spoke out against the celebrity, Khloe served her with a cease and desist letter, and also claimed that she had never heard of Destiney before, even though Destiney provided screenshots of their correspondence over email. To purchase items from Destiny’s website, go here.

 

Tuesday Bassen

Tuesday Bassen is an artist and designer who makes everything from stickers and patches to clothing, mugs, and prints. Her designs have been repeatedly ripped off by clothing giant Zara, who turns them into their own pins and clothes without proper licensing and paying her for her designs. Tuesday’s style is cheeky, cute, original, and worth our attention. To visit Tuesday’s online shop, go here.

 

Sam Larson

Sam Larson is a freelance artist who also happens to live here in Salt Lake City. He is well known for his pen sketches of nature and adventure themed designs. One of Sam’s designs was stolen by Forever21, who turned put it on a crop top and claimed it as their own although the design is blatantly the same. Forever21 claimed they could not comment on the accusations. Sam sells signed prints, sticker packs, and clothing on his online store, which you can find here.

 

Unfortunately, these are just a few of the artists who have had their designs stolen. Art and design theft will continue to be a problem until more protections are put in place for artist’s individual work. In the meantime, be mindful of where you shop and what companies you support; artists deserve to be consulted and compensated for any reproduction distribution, or other use of their designs.  

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