GRAPHICS CREDIT: This photo-collage came from the WE BRING JUSTICE BLOG. Thanks for the graphic and for bringing attention to this matter!
Santa Cruz, California has a passionate bunch of surfers and skaters in its community. And they can get downright nasty when one of their own is disrespected.
In the last few days, an online flurry of anger erupted from passionate fans of Jim Phillips, a famous Santa Cruz artist, who was plagiarized by a well-known fashion designer named Jeremy Scott.
Jim Phillips created many iconic art pieces back in the eighties and nineties (and continues to this day).
Much of his art was created for skateboards and for the brand called Santa Cruz Skateboards. Together with his very talented son, Jimbo Phillips, the two are well loved by the skate and art communities.
So you can imagine the disdain felt by fans of the Phillips when Jeremy Scott emerged with a line of clothing that is a blatant knock off of their art.
It’s so blatant, that at first I thought it was either a joke or a publicity stunt.
But according to Facebook posts, both Phillips knew nothing of this clothing line until fans brought it to their attention.
You almost feel sorry for Jeremy Scott, as angry post after angry post is placed on his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.
(Update to this post on March 20, 2013: Jeremy Scott received so much hate “mail” on his Facebook page that he deleted it and created a new one in March 2013, here: https://www.facebook.com/ITSJEREMYSCOTT?ref=ts&fref=ts )
But, Scott should have known better. After all, he’s a designer himself.
Artists run into this problem all the time; they create something really awesome, a lot of people like it, and then some start copying it. Sure, all art comes from other art.
We all get our inspiration in many places, and it shows through in our own work.
However, there’s a line that should never be crossed, and that’s when your “inspiration” is so close to the real thing that you are mistaken for the real thing!
There is a huge difference between plagiarism and inspiration!
FROM A LEGAL POINT OF VIEW: Jim Phillips licenses his art for many products, including Stance socks, Tervis Tumblers, tees and many other things. In a typical licensing agreement, an artist contractually agrees to protect the copyrights of their work, and to go after infringements. So even if Jim Phillips wanted to be “cool” about this, he may have a legal obligation to his licensees to shut this thing down.
Do you think that Jeremy Scott went too far?
Without a doubt, in my opinion, he has done more than crossed the line. And I am willing to bet that right now Jeremy Scott is drowning in his sorrows, trying to figure a way out of this mess.
This could cost him his career. In today’s world, stealing and copying from others without giving credit is a reputation killer.
And you can’t get far with a bad reputation. Trust is everything.
But Jeremy Scott, all hope is not lost! Take action quickly and you might be able to fix this big, ugly mess!
An open letter to Jeremy Scott, encouraging him to do the right thing and hopefully, to help get himself out of this mess:
Dear Jeremy Scott,
As you know, there is a firestorm of activity online and in the news about your “use” of Jim and Jimbo Phillips copyright art on your clothing line. Sadly for you, this is not going to go away anytime soon.
You underestimated the impact on the art and skate culture that Jim Phillips has had. He’s been at it longer than you and I both have been alive.
As you can see, the huge fan base of Phillips will not let this go.
But, all is not lost. You may be able to save face, and I have an idea as to how you can do that.
Your best solution is to call Jim and Jimbo Phillips and beg them to sign an after-the-fact license agreement. Offer them a generous advance and a royalty rate. Convince them to assure the public that you are being respectful and that you have made amends.
Not only is it the right thing to do, but it just might turn this ship of hell around for you.
If they will come out publicly that you came clean, it might just un-tarnish your reputation. And, if you care at all about money, it might even sell the hell out of your “Jim Phillips” collection.
This could be a win-win-win for everyone.
Now, how to simmer down Jim Phillips’ undying, angry fans?
Send out a public apology. Make things right. Be respectful. They will eventually calm down and maybe even forgive you.
After all, Jim’s fans just want respect to be shown for Phillips’ work as an iconic artist.
It’s the least you could do.
A concerned citizen, and a fan of Jim and Jimbo Phillips
FOLLOW UP TO THIS POST – FEB 23, 2013:
This morning, on Jimbo Phillips Facebook Page, is the following statement from the CEO of NHS, Inc./Santa Cruz Skateboards regarding this issue:
We know there is a lot of controversy regarding fashion designers Jeremy Scott’s new Winter collection in regards to the iconic Phillips art work similarities. We are aware and our CEO issued this statement……
“We had never heard of Jeremy Scott until it was brought to our attention,” said Robert A. Denike, CEO and President, NHS, Inc./Santa Cruz Skateboards.
“This is not a collaboration or under license, nor did we or the Phillips family approve the use of this artwork on his apparel designs in any way.
“It’s obvious to us, the Phillips family, the fans of Jim Phillips Sr. and Jimbo Phillips, and fans of the brand Santa Cruz Skateboards, as well as many in the global skateboard and skate art community that there is clear and obvious infringement by Mr. Scott. We are discussing this with our legal team to determine our next steps.
“These two artists and this brand are iconic. Any true fan of skateboarding will tell you how the Phillips artwork style, this brand and the activity of skateboarding has positively influenced their lives.
“It may just be artwork to Mr. Scott, to be used and thrown away by next season, but these artists and brand mean a lot to many people around the world. And by the looks of the outcry on social media, skateboarders and non-skater’s alike are angry to have two of their most favored artists and one of the original true skateboard brands violated in such a way.
“I hope that Mr. Scott sees that his actions have hurt and affected many people, including the Phillips family, and that he has also severely damaged his own reputation. It is not too late for him to do the right thing, as an artist and creative person, and fix his error in judgement.”