Copyright infringement and idea theft are an artist’s worst nightmares. In the world of art, it can be very difficult to tell between what is inspiration and what is just plagiarism. Fortunately for some artists, some instances of plagiarism are so blatant that no one can mistake it. This is the case with one urban artist’s quite controversial but powerful work that was blatantly ripped off by clothing company ironically named Ethik.
Jennifer Osborne is an urban artist who lived inVancouver,Canada. She spent a lot of time earning the trust of the subjects of her photography line, “Wig Out”. In an artistic attempt to call attention to a very marginalized group of women in the downtown Eastside of Vancouver, she took artistic photos of women who had resorted to drugs and prostitution just to get by. Ethik clothing created a “Pop-Up” clothing shop inNew York, and its advertisement was directly displaying one of the more famous pictures taken by Osborne.
Ethik clothing company publicly apologized for the entire affair, claiming also that they had no knowledge it was an artist’s work, and that they found the work through a third party link that didn’t list Osborne’s photography credit. It’s debatable whether or not this can be believed, but in any case it ended in a decent resolution for all involved. Urban artists everywhere aren’t always so lucky. Urban art is the most often plagiarized art medium, as it is difficult for artists to take credit for work made public by its very creation.