Vazza on Amazon

Unfortunately this isn’t a takedown piece as I can’t ascertain who the person or company Vazza is, but they sell a lot of phone cases on Amazon. And some of them feature art for which they have not obtained a license or permission for.

So let me just outline what I can so that anyone finding this while researching cases will know.

The very talented Jenny Parks (comics fans may recognize her Marvel cat variant covers ) was tipped off to one of her works being used on a Vazza case sold on Amazon ( by Vazza, Taobao and Cellection). Several people left comments on the item and Jenny contacted Amazon and the item became unavailable, presumably while Amazon investigates. Here’s a comparison image and a link to the item on her Etsy store if you’re interested in a legitimate item.
vazza_0

While looking into this (thanks Andriana for the heads-up) I found two other DeviantArt artists whose works were being used. I passed this along to Jenny and she’s going to contact them (as she’s on DA and I am not). One was this adorable giraffe by amidot.
vazza_1

Another was this Heath Ledger Joker pencil rendering by gokhansav.
vazza_2

So if you’re buying a case on Amazon and the brand or seller is Vazza, please be cautious. Hopefully Amazon will look into this a bit deeper as I suspect there are plenty of more un-licensed images on their cases. As I said, I couldn’t sort out who they are, but my suspicion is that it’s a Chinese company doing the printing and importing and someone in the US or Australia doing the graphics and text (they’re clearly in touch with Western pop culture). Or it could be that Vazza is just a distributor and is buying from another party. It’s hard to say. So we’ll have to leave this one as is for now.

-Nameless

When does a copy become a forgery?

UPDATES: Charlie Jane’s update and a link to the SA story that has way more info.

John Myatt was an art forger. For years he painted copies of works and a fence sold them on the art market. The fence did all the dirty work of faking provenance and selling the story of the piece as he attempted to sell the piece itself. Myatt just painted the picture which, in and of itself, was not illegal.

Except, that is, that he knew that that his copies were being sold as originals. And that’s fraud. If nothing else, the amount of money he was making for each made not knowing that impossible.

Eventually, John Myatt went ‘legit’ and stopped being, according to Scotland Yard,  one of the biggest art frauds of the 20th century. It took jail, though, to turn Myatt around. Once again he’s creating copies of famous paintings, but now he marks them as ‘genuine fakes’ and stays within the bounds of law, if not ethics.

But what if Myatt were copying contemporary paintings? What if he were selling re-created copies of paintings by artists who are still alive and even still working? And what if you were making a shitload of money from them?

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 has an article on Glenn Brown who is doing just that. Make up your own mind, but I hope you’ll keep the above in mind when reading it. The line between homage and rip-off is so very razor thin.

 

How a Science Fiction Book Cover Became a $5.7 Million Painting

 

 

racpop aka aracaniello

Update: SHUT DOWN! Redbubble has finally suspended this account. Thanks to all who helped.

Updated to add links to Nick DeSpain’s work.

As you might imagine, researching one plagiarist will probably lead you to another one. That was definitely the case while researching Justin13art’s shenanigans. But let me preface this by saying I’m not going to get into the [numerous] brand or trademark abuses by this person, and trust me, it is absolutely rampant in this particular case, I’ll leave that to the mark holders. I’m just going to outline the direct lifting of others visual art to use on merchandise that this plagiarist then goes on to make money from.

Today’s plagiarist is racpop, also known as aracaniello or Anthony Racaniello according to his Facebook. His angle is selling phone cases, many of which use un-licensed stolen art. You can see for yourself:
WEBSITE: http://racpop.com
REDBUBBLE: http://www.redbubble.com/people/aracaniello/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/RacpopCases
GOOGLE+: https://plus.google.com/+Racpop
YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_z7z7Fy0Ks
(I chose that video as it shows how he makes many claims of being legit [Redbubble does not partner in the way he describes].  And when he mentions artists… well, that made me ill. This artist receives no compensation.)

The image that led me to him was yet another Joker image ripped directly from another artist’s work. In this case,  it the an iconic  cover image from Detective Comics #880 created by Mark Simpson, aka Jock. There’s no pretense, no manipulation, it’s just a straight up cut-and-paste. (click images to enlarge)
racpop_1

If you watched that Youtube video above, you’ll know that one of Racpop’s best-selling cases is one with a painting of Bane on it. That’s Bane as painted by John Aslarona.
racpop_7

And then there’s a double offense when he takes Rich Pellegrino‘s original paintings of Marty and Doc Brown and slaps them together for this iPhone case. No attribution, no license, no payment. Just stolen and sold.
racpop_2

Ironically, before I could get a sample image of the stolen Spiderman image created by Sean Hamilton, it was taken down. Gee, I wonder why… Here’s a link to Sean’s original illustration and here’s a thumbnail from Racpop’s site to the now-removed  case.
racpop_3

Another straight copy-and-paste is one of Tom Munro‘s photos of Justin Timberlake on an iPhone case. Again, no license or payment or even the courtesy of a credit, not that a credit would make it legal.
And while many plagiarists will whinge about how rich some celebrity is, stealing is stealing. If it’s not yours, it’s someone else’s.
racpop_4

With that ‘rich whinge’ in mind, let’s look at the same situation with an artist who’s not famous, but is being ripped off nonetheless. Another case in Racpop’s portfolio of plagiarism is this lift of George Evangelista’s TMNT fan art. As you can see, it’s just lifted and slapped on a case and sold for a profit. Not George’s profit, of course.
racpop_5

And then there are the Lisa Frank rips. So many Lisa Frank ripoffs that I need to make multiple links. I’m sure these will come down the moment Lisa Frank, Inc. notices them.
racpop_6

So there you have it. Of course, that’s not all. Racpop has numerous cases for sale and there are plenty of obviously plagiarized images I haven’t covered. There’s an Alex Ross mashup (where someone repainted the head) that, because of the convoluted provenance of the image I didn’t even want to get into. But I think it’s clear from the above:

racpop aka aracaniello aka Anthony Racaniello is an art thief laughing all the way to the bank.

UPDATE: I meant to also include Nick De Spain’s hyper-realistic Ren & Stimpy which were also ripped off. But I forgot. So here’s a link to the phone case on Racpop’s Redbubble store:
Store page
Image Link
And here’s Nick’s original work:
http://nickdespain.blogspot.com/2012/02/some-oldnew-stuff.html

Justin13art

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

Senoia Georgia’s own (according to his bio) Justin13art has the dubious honor of being the first publicly profiting plagiarist to adorn this wall of shame.

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
 – http://justin13art.com/Portfolio.php
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)
plagiarism_justinart13_1

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.
plagiarism_justinart13_2

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.
plagiarism_justinart13_3

Not all the plagiarized pieces are from traditional or CG artwork. On his Society6 store he also lifts a image straight from a portrait of Johnny Cash  by legendary photographer Don Hunstein.
plagiarism_justinart13_4

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.
plagiarism_justinart13_5

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.
plagiarism_justinart13_6

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.
plagiarism_justinart13_7

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.
plagiarism_justinart13_8

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.
plagiarism_justinart13_9

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.