As of 10:30 pm on November 27, 2015, Aeropostale has removed the pillow from their website and deleted the Instagram post containing the pillow image from last week. Thank you so much friends for your love and support. Words cannot express my gratitude for each of you…xo
I’ve debated whether or not I should write this post, having deleted each sentence over and over again, not knowing if taking this course of action is the “right” thing to do. I am someone who avoids confrontation at any cost and is able to let things go with ease. But at the same time, I am determined to not be a pushover or be taken advantage of, because it’s not the message I want to send my children. I also need to bring awareness to this situation as it’s occurring more and more frequently to not only myself, but to dear friends I care about.
In an industry where inspiration is so valuable and new ideas are harder and harder to come by, we rely on the web to be inspired and hopefully those ideas will ignite our own creativity. We often hear the phrase “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, but what happens when imitation turns into blatant plagiarism?
You may be familiar with my deer pillow pictured here. It’s one of my top selling prints and I have been humbled to have seen it in some of your homes.
I was fortunate to have it appear in the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas magazine this year, thanks to Emily from Jones Design Company. What a privilege, right?
And most recently, it graced the cover of the beautiful Hello Holiday guide.
So you can imagine my surprise when someone forwarded me this image from Aeropostale’s instagram account. The similarities are uncanny, aren’t they?
Here’s a side by side comparison, with the image on the right being my original work, which I had created over two and a half years ago.
Are they identical images? No, but the image on the left – undoubtedly ‘created’ by another artist and/or third party – certainly appears to be a replica of the image I had created.
Art is such a part of my soul and when someone decides to blatantly copy and take something from you in this manner, I don’t find the “imitation” to be flattering. In fact, it just hurts – both artistically and potentially financially.
Funds earned from the sale of my art help to support my family, but now I’m left questioning how I can possibly compete against a large corporation with marketing budgets, mass advertising and low (mass) production costs?
Friends, I come to you not to cause problems or to “get even”, but in the spirit of community in the hopes that we can somehow bring awareness to this together. Realistically speaking, I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to fully stop this, but I also don’t want to just stand by and watch it happen. Small business’ suffer everyday because of this.
Would you help me spread the word by sharing this post? I have seen and experienced first hand the support and strength of this blogging community and I would appreciate your support. Thank you so much friends.
I’m so sorry that this is happening. I found my blog in Russia with someone else taking the credit for my ruffled chair cushions and table runner. I was so upset. Then I thought wow they really like my work.
How can we compete. I thought of closing my blog, Facebook and IG just for this same reason.
Someone saw how they could make $$$$off your work and change it up a bit so it’s not identical.
Even though we copyright they still steal from us. Don’t know the answers????
I truly understand!
Linda another Artist at heart!!
Barb Jones says
I am very sorry this has happened. I have purchased your artwork. Your work speaks to my soul. I will be purchasing items from you this Christmas for gifts. Yes, I will share your post.
I am so sorry. I don’t even know how it must feel to have your work that you designed and take pride in ripped off like this. I don’t know that there’s anything that can be done but I’ve seen the strength of this blogging community and I hope that somehow we can break through. If it helps your pillow is so much cuter!
Oh wow Lucy the similarities are definitely not coincidental! You are doing the right thing by standing up for your hard work! I will absolutely help spread the word. xo
As bad as I do feel for you, and it has also happened to me, that people copy. I see it all over blogland, recipes that are copies and owner of the recipe not referenced, some of my own ideas, noticing someone coming to my blog and then within day seeing the same thing on their blog. Its a shame people do this, but unless we have copyright to something it’s up for grabs for other to steal. Think of of it this way, everyone who sees this deer will know it is yours!
“…unless we have copyright to something it’s up for grabs for other to steal.”
Just not true!
I’ve recently talked with a copyright lawyer [this happened to me as well] and the moment you put ‘pen to paper’ your work is copyrighted. Yes, you can take this one step further and register your copyright [which gives you a couple of additional benefits in a court case, including having your legal fees covered if/when you win], but your original work, is indeed copyrighted – whether your register it or not.
I’ve had this happen to me so many times. It’s tough to deal with.
Susan Krzywicki says
Have you reached out to the company through their corporate offices? In other cases I’ve read about over the years, this approach seems to be the most likely to bring about a good solution for you.
Julia of Cuckoo4Design says
I’m so sorry this happened to you Lucy! While I have to admit myself to trying to re-paint images from artists myself (we actually had to in art school to learn a certain process) , I think it is never ever ok to re-create for the purpose of selling the pieces. That is just plain awful.
How frustrating Lucy! It certainly looks like an attempted copy to me. Ugh! Makes me so mad when I see big companies doing this. I wonder if they feel they’re justified due to all the knock off posts flying around. In the case of a knock off post though it’s usually an individual making something for themself. But I do bet it could hurt a company if they’re losing sales to people who would rather DIY. Also, potentially the blogger is making big money on the post to if it gets lots of page views. Copyright, plagiarism, and knockoffs are a tough subject. I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around how anyone is protected once they put their work out there. Seems like every store sells the same things. Clothing styles, homeware patterns & designs, etc. Seriously, how is anyone’s original work protected?!
Lory at Designthusiasm says
Hi Lucy! I really feel for you and totally understand how you feel. A few thoughts here – first, I would definitely reach out to Aeropostale with a cease and desist letter. It’s quite likely that the higher ups have no idea where a staff graphic designer got the resource material from. They would probably have no interest in intentionally knocking off another artist. (I worked as a designer in the fashion industry for 25 years.) But at least they should know you are on to them to avoid future infractions.
It’s been many years since I was in art school, but my daughter recently graduated and has been taught in no uncertain terms that no resource can be taken from another artist whether it be a drawing, painting or photograph. They are taught that they must take their own photos to draw or paint from, if not drawing from life, and that should be industry standard.
Still, people try. Many years ago, I actually interviewed a designer who came in with a portfolio with one of *my sketches* in it!! Can you imagine that?
If it’s any consolation, the knock off pillow doesn’t come close to the beauty of your original.
If all else fails, you could consider contacting Aeropostale about buying art from you… 🙂
All the best,
I am sorry but not one piece of work you sell on society 6 is an original. NOT ONE! You just created “the idea” in another way. Shame on you for making money other other people’s original designs and thinking by using another medium makes it yours!
Hi Amy, I’m a little taken back by your comment, though I respect your opinion. The point of me writing this post was in no way to claim that I am the ‘creator’ of all deer paintings. In fact, since painting this almost three years ago, there have been several other artists and companies that have introduced deer into their product lines.
I have also seen my work being sold in small shops without my consent, but have chosen to not take any action.
It’s not about money or recognition. Truth be told, I make $2.00 per pillow. It’s about not allowing big corporations to take away potential revenue from small business owners.
Small businesses rely on people like you and me for their survival and cannot compete against big marketing budgets, mass advertising and low (mass) production costs.
Thank you for stopping by and expressing your thoughts with me. There are always two points of view.
Julie Mikols says
Well said, Lucy!
Lory at Designthusiasm says
Amy, I realize Lucy already responded to you and she’s perfectly capable of speaking for herself (nor do I know her personally and would never speak for her), but I must ask how you can say her work is not original? Unless you are a surrealist, interpreting what exists in nature in another way is precisely what art is all about. The infraction in this case was that the Aeropostale pillow was quite obviously taken *directly* from her painting, replete with ear size and positioning and cutting off the body in exactly the same place. Apparently Aeropostale agreed, as they’ve removed the pillow.
It’s a fine line between being inspired and stealing directly from another artist. I honestly think many people, especially those new to the industry, genuinely don’t know the rules. I think we can all be a little kinder in our attribution of motive. Large companies are populated by regular people and some make mistakes. At least they did the right thing and removed the offending piece. But since none of us invented deer, unless you can point to a specific piece of art that you believe Lucy’s was taken from, it’s pretty presumptuous to shame her work as not being original.
Cheryl at Sew Can Do says
I can totally relate. I just did a post about this happening to me (http://www.sewcando.com/2015/11/crafters-nightmare-my-work-got-stolen.html) – the seller was even using my photos with my markings photoshopped out and their own watermark added on. It’s so very frustrating & disheartening and while a few designers go viral (and the naming & shaming gets some sort of restitution), many of us don’t. Sorry to see the number of misappropriated designs is growing.
that is just awful!
This happened to another blogger I follow, except it was Target. We all blasted messages on their page, such as “shame on you” and they actually contacted her. If everyone goes to their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page and posts the picture we have above side by side, maybe we can get some action!
I’m asking all your followers to do the same. This is just wrong.
I recently had this happen, another blogger took my mask templates and used them for an event with a HUGE brand. She made money off my designs. When I emailed her personally she recreated different designs, but mine were the ones all over social media. I never received recognition, credit, or momentary compensation. A fellow blogger. I am still so bummed she would do that when we could have partnered together and been stronger for it.
I am so sorry this is happening. I am with you – what do we do? It is disheartening and discouraging. We create because we love to create. And praise God it can help provide for our families. I recently had this happen, another blogger took my mask templates and used them for an event with a HUGE brand. She made money off my designs. When I emailed her personally she recreated different designs, but mine were the ones all over social media. I never received recognition, credit, or momentary compensation. A fellow blogger. I am still so bummed she would do that when we could have partnered together and been stronger for it. Praying for your heart and mind as you decide how to proceed. Xoxo
This utterly sux!
I’ve had people use my designs to sell in small quantities on etsy, etc. I’m not too bothered about that but I would have to do something about what this giant company did to you! That’s just stealing and you should definitely contact the company. You are due some form of renumeration or royalties.
Hi Crystal, thank you for your comment.I’m sorry that someone has used your work.
I have found other small shops selling my work without my consent and have decided to let it go.
This is not about monetary gain or recognition. It really isn’t. xo
I understand you’re not wanting to cause a fuss or whatever in letting the small Etsy sellers steal your work, but the fact of the matter is… It’s just not okay. In fact, it’s illegal! By letting them continue, you’re allowing the problem to grow. This is happening because people [artists and thieves alike – including some commenters here] are misinformed about copyright law. It isn’t necessary to register a copyright of your work. Yes, there are certain advantages [specifically in court] to having your work registered. But – the moment a work is created , it is protected by copyright laws. If you have anyone using your work without your permission you should contact them to stop. If it’s a big company [corporation], consider having a lawyer do the contacting for you – even if you didn’t register the work. These big companies know how to license artwork from artists. They do it all the time. Shame on them for thinking they could steal from those who may not know it’s actually illegal. Just because a copyright isn’t registered does not make the work fair game! Let me just say that again… A work of art is copyrighted the moment it is created. Just because a copyright isn’t registered doesn’t make the work fair game!
It’s nothing like yours, your stag is beautiful, theirs looks cheap and tacky by comparison. No wonder it has been withdrawn, they know they have been outclassed.
Just found you, and love reading every post.
so sorry you had this happen and that it hurt you. I surely don’t want to sound unfeeling but with almost everything under the sun now on the interest in slight variations, we are technically all copying someone.
I didn’t realize my love for black-white-and apple green would become so popular years later here in blogland. Maybe I just wasn’t exposed to the interiors of others homes till I started blogging.
As a graphics designer myself who used to create and sell ebay templates, I know exactly how it feels to see my hard work copied and used, as well as sold by others.. But, again I didn’t create the first ever template, I saw others and decided to start designing my own..
Do what you feel is right about this sort of thing. Their rendition isn’t nearly as attractive as yours.
Seems like everywhere I look, I see watercolor pillows this year, even at pottery barn..
The digital age is wonderful in many ways , so of course there will be some not good ways too..
Best of Luck to you and don’t let this effect your happiness.
Hi Sonny, thank you for your honest opinion. I’m a little concerned that perhaps my point is being missed. It’s not about claiming that I came up with the idea of painting a deer. I know that I’m not the only one that has ever or will ever paint a deer.Heck, there are way better deer paintings out there!
But I wanted to bring awareness to this issue because it’s happening too often and small businesses are the ones that end up shutting their doors everyday because they just can’t compete. How can they? It’s not about money or recognition. It’s about ethics. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with me and I think that black-white and apple green is fabulous!
Lucy, I have very mixed feelings about this. I can not paint as you do and I love your work, so I have purchased several of your pieces including the pillow in question, and I love your free printables. I’m not a blogger, but I can sew and am a crafter so I often “copy” the ideas and things I see on a blog. While I don’t sell the items, I also do not buy them from the blogger. So does this make me “the bad guy”?
Hi Debbie, thank you for your comment and support. Perhaps I’m not expressing myself well. When you share life with other bloggers and small shop ownders like I do, you witness this occur over and over again. Where big corporations, whether knowingly or unknowingly, take ideas and mass produce. I am not referring AT ALL about kind readers like yourself who are inspired by what we do and make things for your own home. We love that, that’s why we do what we do, to inspire you. The point of this post was not to call anyone a ‘bad guy’ but to bring awareness to this situation,which could be detrimental to someone’s small business.
You are by no means ‘the bad guy’. I appreciate you stopping by..xo
Rebecca Francis says
You have been so very kind to share your artwork with us who cannot even draw a circle. I respect you as an artist and a generous person. There are a lot of cruel money seeking people out there but what you do and share with us cancels that out. Keep up the excellent work and I will pass on the word too. Thank you again for your talent…..Rebecca
Thank you Rebecca. I truly enjoy sharing my work and this situation will not deter me from continuning to do so…xo
Lucy, I’m so glad that Aeropostal pulled that pillow! And good for you for calling them out! Your buck pillow has caught my eye a few times, so after reading this article, I headed right over to Society 6 and finally purchased it. I love supporting original artists and am a huge fan of your work. You inspire me to pull out my paint brushes more often:)
Thank you so much Sarah. These situations never feel good for either party and specially for someone who hates confrontation like I do. I thank you xo
Gail Plaskiewicz says
I will try to make this short but I know someone that this happened to. Every year my sister has a shed at The Big E, the 5th largest fair in the country in MA. A grandparent looking couple were there with their glass hanging plant things. You put water in it and roots or cuttings and they sprout. I thought it was kind of cool but never bought one. My sister said don’t ever buy one and I asked why. She said it wasn’t their design. They do lots of crafts fairs and they saw this guy making money selling these. They liked the idea that he was making money so they bought one and copied it but tweaked it just enough so it wasn’t his. He had a copyright on the design. When he found out, he tried to sue saying his design was copyrighted. They told him it wasn’t the same thing. It was but it wasn’t, do you know what I mean? They kept him in court for 10 years! When he finally couldn’t afford to do that anymore, he gave up and the design is now theres. They don’t look like the type to do this but they are. Last year they weren’t at the Big E. Maybe the higher ups heard the story and said they didn’t want them anymore. At The Big E my sister sells photo purses, jewelry, cosmetic bags, all with her photos on them. She also sells shawls and capes that she buys from someone else. These same people decided to take out another booth across from my sister. The shed was vacant because the person who owned it had a death in the family. Guess what they were selling? My sisters shawls! Even the exact same ones that she was selling that year! People thought it was my sister with another shed and bought from her and not my sister! My sister lost money that year. This makes me so sad that people do this. Doesn’t anyone have an original idea in their heads? If you want to get really picky, isn’t a deer God’s creation and so isn’t it copyrighted? I know how that sounds but think about it. Whose going to get that picky though, right?
I am so sorry that happened to you. I will make sure everyone I know reads this. I don’t shop there because of their catalog that was mostly porn with models with no clothes on and selling thong underwear to little girls and I wouldn’t shop there now even if they offered me something for free! They always ask on Shark Tank if something is copyrighted. As in that guy at the Big E, what good did it do him to have a copyright? He lost what he spent his life making and doing. I hope you get some satisfaction from them. I will be praying for you.
So sorry for the pain this incident has caused you. Unfortunately, it is something that happens on an all-too-regular basis. Keep the faith. Somehow, some way this will benefit you in the end – even if you can’t see how at this moment. For now, take comfort in the fact that we are all behind you and supporting you.
I can only imagine how bad this hurts your sweet heart. You are one of the kindest and most creative people. I trust the wrong will be righted. With respect and admiration, Terri.
Sorry this happened. This is just some info. Unless you put copyrights to something you do not have much recourse. If you are working as employee all you create is not yours even if you designed it, it belongs to the employer . If you are a contractor you can put in the contract that you have design rights but it has to be done at the start of the project and agreed upon.
Is it possible Aeropostale did not know it was a design that was copied? Perhaps they bought the pillows to sell and did not realize? And when it was brought to their attention they removed them…? I guess I wondered if it was some other company that copied them.
I’m sorry this happened to you.
Terrible. I’m sorry this happened to you. You’re such an amazing artist and work so hard. I’m so glad they recognised it was blatant copying and took action. As for negative comments from readers there will always be someone who is not nice and will make you feel bad. Don’t listen to these people and continue to create magic. You are a wonderful artist and I admire your work and blog so much. xx
Just read this. So disappointing! Your beautiful pillows have donned my sofas and chairs and have been on my blog. My readers love them and buy them. I’m happy you got this issue resolved! Your art is AMAZING and one of a kind… just like you! xo
That is so terrible. That definitely seems like something that should be challenged! Good for you. I don’t have a blog but if you create IG tag I will definitely share it. It is not right.
Great update! See…us little guys can make a difference after all! So happy Aeropostale pulled the image and pillow from their site!!
This happens a LOT. Ez Pudewa from the popular (& now retired) “Creature Comforts” blog, suffered the same fate from a major t-shirt manufacturer.
From memory, I know she contacted them to complain and the item was pulled.
You are so right in emphasising that this isn’t about the (possible) revenue lost, but about the fact that the ‘big’ guys are stealing from the ‘little’ guys and this will eventually close the little guys down.
So many of your peeps have made valid and supportive comments above, and I just want to reiterate your sentiment, that the more we highlight this issue – the more likely we are to have a chance to stop the practice.
There will ALWAYS be bad stories/outcomes on this issue. Thats life unfortunately. But as with everything of value in life, it’s worth taking a stand against.
Contacting the company was a smart first step, and garnering support from us is a great second step.
Keep Creating and sharing.
It truly makes the world a richer place to live in.
Lucy – Your work is beautiful and unique! I just ordered your deer pillow after reading this. So excited to support small artists/small business! You did the right thing in contacting Aeropostale!
Lucy! Somehow I missed this email/post at its sending, but reading it now, I am inspired to write. I am not surprised that so many people have supported you, I just want to add that your deer painting is so far above the one Aeropostale offered, there is no comparison!
You are a talented artist, and your work is easily recognizable to me, and I’m certain, many others! You are so right to have taken issue with this … I would hope that Aeropostale “Corporate” was unaware of the plagiarism, hence their quick action to remove..
I must have your deer art pillow now ~ and hope it is still available so long after this issue arising … Thank you for generously sharing your beautiful work!
An afterthought: In the above Leon’s ad, I see your idea for the dusters used for “snow” in that gorgeous Christmas tree! I had searched for white dusters to do this for our tree(s) next year, but finding none in all white, I have been verrry patiently cutting blue “feather” strips from the blue and white mixed dusters the Dollar Store now sells! (I do this on road trips, and in any spare quiet moments ~ tho’ those are few.)
I will be doing the same for a couple small trees and wreaths for our Church’s (charity!) Bazaar, too. I had assumed this is acceptable, but I am prompted now to ask permission! Your thoughts, please?