Someone stole my artwork.
That someone "followed" my blog, "liked" my Facebook caricature page, and was supposedly a 'fellow artist'. Not that I know this person... I don't. But because our caricature community is small, and close-knit, I found out about a website/blog/FB page that had many examples of stolen caricatures---traced and re-done, or a different face substituted on another artist's work, or like mine, simply worked over with some heavy-handed rendering.
Specifically, the theft was of my two-year-old caricature of Kerri Walsh and Misty May, current beach volleyball Olympic champions. The 'artist' managed to especially ruin Misty's likeness and even added sunglasses, which makes no sense since they won their gold medal in a monsoon, as I depicted...Click here to see my original blog post about them and their caricature.
What's really sad is that this unscrupulous person plastered copyright notices, "all rights reserved", his own website and his own SIGNATURE on others' work. Certainly, he didn't think he would get caught. But the internet is a pretty exposed place nowadays, and many of the violated artists are making this public on their own pulpits. That has to be done to discourage other would-be hacks from doing the same thing, which is why I'm writing this post. I smudged his offending website and name above, but it's obviously a copy of my work. And it's just as obvious that this person had NO right to be selling prints of my caricature, which was clearly marked with my website address and signature. That's not even touching the issue of Kerri and Misty's right to profit from their likenesses (which is why I do not sell prints of any celebrities I draw.)
The downside to a caricature blog is that to put anything creative on the internet carries risk. The average person doesn't understand copyright issues, but this 'artist' did. If one is going to ever copy another's work, it would be for learning purposes only, never to sell or to mislead clients into believing that's what one is capable of.
Hopefully, this person learns from this, aside from the cyber-punishment he's bound to reap. He's already removed many of the offending images from his website due to caricaturist outcry, but because the internet is a permanent public arena, he will have to live with the exposure his actions have led to. The last irony is that on his "about the artist" page, he proclaims himself to be a church-going Christian--and his signature includes a cross.
UPDATE 5-22-10. Due to the cyber-efforts of artists whose work was stolen and others who supported them, this fraudster's website has been decimated--he's had to remove the majority of "his" images. Both his personal and caricature-fan-page FB pages have been deleted. He also sent me an "apology" email , where he stated:
In the Misty May and Kerry Walsh drawing I have made several changes to the drawing, color of suits, sunglasses , etc. It was my understanding that you can use another artists image as long as there are significant changes..
However, I am apparently misunderstanding copyright law.. We all borrow ideas from each other but I obviously crossed a line and I want to apologize. I have never sold any prints of this drawing. After evaluating it closer I can see how it is too close to your original. I have removed the drawing. Please accept this letter of apology.
This doesn't fly with me (he knew enough to seemingly twist the "significant changes" aspect of copyright law in his favor and hoped to get away with outright theft) but I don't plan to pursue this any further, after the two polite but assertive emails I sent to him. The best part of this has been the collective working-together of caricature artists ( and others) across the internet.