(This is a solitary investigation into the subjects below. While writing this the two parties have agreed to move forward and put the past behind them, the article below is meant to be an insight into the troublesome world of artists using other artists work.)
The top image above is by artist Mallory Rose. It was created in May 2011 in a series of similar written word pieces by Mallory. The bottom image is by Ashkahn Shahparnia. He allegedly stole Mallory’s (see Ashkahn’s original version of the piece below) sometime after August 2011 and since that point in time has profited from the original work of Mallory.
Once Rose was aware of the similar work she contacted Ashkahn on several occasions starting in late 2012 asking him to stop using the stolen image. Ashkahn acknowledged being inspired by the work and later offered proceeds if Mallory deleted a certain Instagram post calling him out on using her work. Rose insisted on him ceasing production of the image and even tried contacting several of the outlets that were selling Ashkahn’s version to no avail. She has seeked legal action but has decided to move forward. (Information taken from Facebook posts by Mallory Rose.)
I, however, feel attention needs to be drawn to the subject if only for pointing out the headaches artists often have to go through when their work is stolen.
Yesterday, August 19 2013, Urban Outfitters - who have a history of stealing other artists work - officially released a version of “I Think About You Everyday. Asshole." credited to Ashkahn. (The card uses a slightly different font from that Mallory’s own handwriting and the words "Every" and "Day" have slowly become farther apart over the years.)
Ashkahn’s original version which is a direct copy of Mallory’s which she never printed (He’s deleted the original from his Tumblr, this is the only post of it I could find):
A view of the Tumblr post, originally posted by Hemingwayandpickett and reblogged by Ashkahn reads “Two new cards by Ashkahn!" with Ashkahn replying ":)":
Ashkahn’s updated version of Mallory’s original work (now deleted from his site):
Ashkahn’s Urban Outfitters version features a slightly more separated “Every” and “Day”:
Upon posting it on their Instagram it was inundated by comments saying that Mallory was the original author, calling Urban Outfitters thieves, at replies linking back to Mallory’s Instagram, and several different hashtags that were in Mallory’s favor.
These posts were all deleted by Urban Outfitters later in the evening - many of those commentators were even blocked by the clothing outlet on Instagram.
Urban Outfitter’s first official response to Mallory tried to push the blame elsewhere:
“Thank you for your email. Urban Outfitters purchased the card, currently being sold on our website from Ashkahn & Co. You may view their website here. http://www.ashkahn.com/. Given, that this item was purchased from the above mentioned vendor and not an Urban Outfitters product, any copyright concerns will need to be addressed with Ashkahn & Co. directly.”
Even though they’ve claimed any concerns should be discussed with Ashkahn, Urban Outfitter’s Instagram post (as of 6 AM this morning) has been deleted. The card is no longer available on Urban Outfitter’s website and Ashkahn has deleted “his” card from his own website.
Obviously the entire series of actions by Urban Outfitters is questionable. Why try and cover your tracks if you had no idea the art wasn’t original? Why block users after deleting their comments? Why didn’t they ask Ashkahn if he had actually created the work?
There’s no way to keep good art or ideas from being inspiration but artists should realize that in this era of social media and interconnectedness that stolen art won’t go unclaimed. I’ve run across it several times while being an art blogger and it’s always disgusting as the fake is never as good as the original. If your art is stolen don’t stop fighting for it and let everyone know that it’s stolen, that you’re the original.
UPDATE: While writing this article I was informed Ashkahn called Rose and fully admitted to being at fault, apologizing and that he and Urban Outfitters will be ceasing production of the card. They’ve both agreed to move forward.