There’s a real benefit to being a small business and an independent artist. You can put out a design you want quickly and the way you want it. You aren’t bound by the normal BS rules of being under corporate’s thumb. On the other side of that, however, the big companies take their cues from the smaller artists. Sometimes that means inspiration, sometimes it means straight up intellectual property theft. Unfortunately, there’s usually very little the artist can do against the big companies and their teams of lawyers.
Companies like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 are notorious among the artist communities as design thieves, but now companies like Target, Francesca’s and Zara are also getting caught with their hands in the creative cookie jar.
Some of the worst examples include Target “borrowing” a black and white t-shirt design from Etsy artist, Melissa Lay, Forever 21 copying freelance Illustrator Sam Larson’s “Wild” design down to the brush strokes, Zara stealing from Tuesday Bassen, a creator of pins, patches, and other apparel, and Francesca’s Collections absconding with the designs of Susie Ghahremani of boygirlparty.
The good news is that more and more fans are helping publicly shame companies for this behavior. The bad news is that there’s not much more they can do to go up against the legal teams of the big corporations.