Update 1/14/14: It looks like Justin is making a sincere effort to reform. There’s something to be said for that.
Updates have been made to this post 1/5/2014
I first noticed Justin on Redbubble when I ran across a t-shirt in his store which was clearly lifted straight from Alex Ross‘s cover for Batman: Harley Quinn comic. Having a look around the stuff he was selling, I saw several recognizable pieces ripped straight from the work of other artists. Some were digitally degraded and ‘splattered’, which seems to be his go-to method, and some were traced over and them re-colored, splattered or whatever.
Here are links to Justin13art’s (aka Justin McCafferty in his bios) various stores and sites so you can look for yourself.
REDBUBBLE – http://www.redbubble.com/people/justin13art
ETSY – http://www.etsy.com/shop/Justin13Art
SOCIETY6 – http://society6.com/artist/s1ngxthexs0rr0w
WEBSITE – http://justin13art.com
EBAY – http://www.ebay.com/usr/justin13art
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/Justin13Art
INSTAGRAM – http://instagram.com/justin13art
To be fair, there also seemed to be a few less-polished drawings which were more likely to be original (or attempts at originality, it’s hard to say – see update at end for the last time I assumed that). These did not exhibit the same strong lines, style or overall talent as the other offerings. Not at all. They’re basically fair, beginner cartoon drawings. But I don’t want to knock those as a couple of them were kind of cute. However, these drawings made it clear that the artist in question is not the creator of many of the other pieces.
So, down to business. Let’s look at a few example of Justin13art’s out-and-out plagiarism. Yes, he’s modified them. Just as anyone who traces over a drawing that is not their own creation modifies the original.
But it’s still plagiarism. And since he’s making money off these, it’s straight out stealing; Money made off the work of others.
UPDATE: Thanks to the reader who pointed out I’d typed Justinart13 instead of Justin13art all over the place. I’ve fixed the text and will update the images soon.
First up, let’s look at that Alex Ross painting and Justin’s appropriation of Ross’s work to sell on t-shirts and prints. I say ‘traced’ even though this was likely done digitally over top of the original. I’ve sized the two images the same in case anyone would like to take the two images into an image editor and drop the copied image on top of the original. You’ll find they fit perfectly. (click any image to enlarge it)
Next up is an image created by tracing over a promotional image from the video game Lollipop Chainsaw. It then has some basic hashing added and is re-colored as Harley Quinn.
As Justin seems to be a Batman fan, there are several Batman-related pieces including this straight lift from a Harley Quinn image by Bruce Timm (Update: I’d incorrectly attributed this to Paul Dini until he corrected me). All he’s done is turned the suit in Timm’s drawing into a silhouette and added a background. This one is particularly egregious in my opinion.
Another obvious trace I ran across also stood out as being pulled from another Lollipop Chainsaw image. It gets the same thin trace and hashing as the other, along with some blacks for shadow, and is, again, re-colored as Harley Quinn.
And then there’s also a Joker image pulled directly from a still from the Batman The Animated Series. I don’t think this is an actual Bruce Timm drawing, but the series was based on his designs. Either way, Justin13art did not draw this. He traced and re-colored it. Oh, yeah, and threw some splatters on it.
The last plagiarized piece before I throw Justin a bone is a trace and paint-over using a still from the AMC television show The Walking Dead. I will give him props for adding the blood (although the pose is clearly right before the zombie gets brained) and choosing a pleasing color palette. But it’s still not original. And I’m not so sure it doesn’t involve some level/curve adjusting, so it may be mostly programmatically created in Photoshop or the like.
And, finally, I want to illustrate [pun intended] the level of Justin’s talent so that you can see the disparity, while simultaneously showing that he does sometimes draw free-hand. It’s a picture of, stay with me now, Jack Skellington and Sally referenced from a Disney promo image and then changed into a Nightmare Before Christmas version of Joker and Harley Quinn. But at least it’s not traced… as far as I can tell. UPDATE: It’s traced. See image below this one.
Well, that didn’t last long. I did one more search and up popped the original. I don’t know the original artist, but I’m sure it’s incredibly unlikely that Justin drew the original with more skill than he’s exhibited so far and then traced it with less skill. So, yeah. It’s traced.
So. There you have it. “Why pick on this guy?”, you might ask. Well, it’s simple. He’s making money off the works of others. He’s a plagiarist. People are paying him money, quite a bit from the looks of it, for artwork that he did not create. He stole it, changed it in simple ways, and took peoples’ money for it. Just because a drawing, painting or book or photograph is on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s free for taking and exploiting for money.
Justin13art is an art thief.
UPDATE #1 1/15/2014:
After some comments from some people outraged by this thievery (you’re wonderful people) Justin/Justin13art gave this reply on his Facebook page:
Justin 13 Art & Comics I think you are absolutely correct in some instances and some pieces should absolutely come down, being way too close to what the original artists have done. Some that are from actual photos for example, i would consider but have been used many times by people to paint/draw the image. Truthfully, i hate using images as a crutch and have a ton of respect and love for the artists (dini,ross,lee,capullo,mcfarlane) and have planned on for a long time doing my own thing with the same classic characters. I still have a lot of original pieces where no reference was used and i am proud of them, but yes you are correct.
We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.
UPDATE #2 1/5/2014:
Justin has begun dismantling most of his online stores. It’s not justice, but it’s a start. Thanks to all who helped in this endeavour.