I think it started something like this: a friend called and asked me if I'd recently designed some t-shirts for Target. I said no. He went on to tell me that he had seen some shirts at Target that looked like my work. A day later two separate friends emailed me photos of t-shirts they'd seen at Target with what they thought to be either my work, or something that looked very similar to it. So at this point I decided to head to Target to investigate the matter myself. I needed to buy toilet paper and shampoo anyway, so it wasn't really an inconvenience.
So that's where the story starts. I won't make the assumption that you have any idea what my work looks like, so here's an assortment of images for you to look at to get an idea of what my personal aesthetic feels like. It's mainly monsters and skateboarders with skull heads. A few ramps and knives here and there. Definitely not groundbreaking imagery. But it follows a tradition of skateboard graphic illustration and I've worked for over a decade to develop what I believe to be is a fairly recognizable personal illustration style. And I think that I incorporate a few signature marks and characteristics when I'm drawing that let the viewer know they're looking at something I drew. At least I used to think that…
Feel free to haul ass through the following illustrations. I'm not trying to trick you into looking at my portfolio, I just want you to have a good idea about what my imagery looks like so that you can make an educated decision about whether or not my work has been appropriated for a line of clothing available at Target.
Here we go…
OK, so with those images still fresh in your heads, let's check out the t-shirts from Target.
Let's take a closer look. Let's see, that monster dude on the green shirt totally reminds me of something… oh yeah. It reminds me of the character that was on the shoe I did with adidas a few years ago. Well that's sort of weird.
Sketchy outline: dialed.
Uh huh… looks good.
Sure, sure. I like what you're doing here. You got the hat right.
OK, so here we are. I don't know what your thoughts are, but I think that somebody is referencing my work to create these t-shirts. I should mention that these are part of the Shaun White collection available exclusively at Target. If you don't know who Shaun White is I'll tell you. He's a snowboarder.
So obviously all of my friends that have seen these t-shirts are curious as to what I think about them. And I gotta tell you, I couldn't be happier. As a freelance graphic illustrator, it has always been my dream to land a large commercial account that would catapult my career into the mainstream collective conscious. And I think that these t-shirts might have just done that.
BUT… I totally didn't have to deal with filling out a bunch of contracts, or worry about invoices, and I for damn sure didn't have to think about collecting royalties. And what would I have done with all of that money? Seems like a huge headache to me. So I got all of the benefit of having my imagery available at one of the largest retail outlets in the United States without having to deal with any of the financial benefits. Total win for me.
I also got the heartfelt warmth that comes along with helping out Shaun White and his family. The internet told me that his net worth is only 20 million dollars. Poor guy. I think about his struggles when I'm driving around in my '92 Honda Civic with no a/c and a broken tape deck. It breaks my goddamn heart.
I'm digressing. The point of my column today was to tell you two things. 1) I just painted these two new paintings for my 1-year-old boy's bathroom. And 2) to tell you that Shaun White just partnered up (again) with Target to offer an exclusive range of home furnishings for kids. So, if the stars align, hopefully I can buy my son some bed sheets or curtains with some bastardized version of the above paintings in 2012. I'm really looking forward to that.
Oh yeah, and this thermal is now available too. Just in time for Christmas. Good stuff.
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