Aliexpress / Amazon – Stop Buying Stolen Art From Them

tl;dr – Buying stolen images on cheaply made products on aliexpress to resell with copyrighted images doesn’t excuse your laziness and is still a copyright violation.

Ok, so I’ve known for quite a while now that there are multiple, like MULTIPLE, sellers on aliexpress that are selling my art. It’s a literal shit show to try to have anything removed from that website (worse than amazon,) and honestly it’s a second job to go through every.single.listing that has my art being sold without my permission. Now, while *I* am aware that just because you buy an item for pennies with art on it, doesn’t mean you can turn around and sell that. Are there really that many people who see a picture and think “OH! I can sell this phone case that I bought for ten cents with a cute cat image on it!” and not realize that image might actually be copyrighted? A simple google search of “autumn coffee cat” will show you who the actual artist is…and some typical amazon (literally like aliexpress) stolen art items.

autumn coffee caatcoffeee cat googlecoffeee cat gooooglepumpkin coffee cat

Every day, there’s some new Facebook sponsored ad or new page that just popped up overnight sharing images of stolen art on t-shirts, phone cases, whatever. And every day fans will tag me in a comment or message me asking, “Do you know about this?” “Did you authorize this?” and every time it’s the same. “No, definitely didn’t authorize this…” and I go fill out multiple Facebook copyright reports to have the images removed. But it never ends. I have tried all sorts of different watermarks on my images, and it honestly doesn’t matter. They remove them, or simple sell the item WITH the watermark on it. No, seriously, you’d think seeing © RYAN CONNERS across the image would be a deterrent, but it isn’t.

starkravingmad

But I digress. I’m here to give a head’s up to people who are starting their new “ecommerce” website selling items from aliexpress or amazon, or etsy (yes I’ve seen them there as well) – those items with those cute little images, those images are copyrighted and somehow my fans will always find them and let me know about them. Then I’ll have to report you. It cracks me up when said people message me on my ART PAGE on Facebook, asking me to prove that it’s my work. Like…you’re messaging me on my art page, look around. It’s your responsibility to do some due diligence in finding out whether those images are free for use or not. It’s 2019 people, we’ve been on the internet long enough, “I didn’t know” isn’t an excuse. You’re lazy, you didn’t care. That’s your truth.

Now, back to painting for me, because like my art, my time is wasted every damn time I have to address stolen art. GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH. Use it.

So, There’s This Towel Company…or Companies…

I’m fairly certain there’s someone who works for this Casaba kitchen towel company that just flips through my art for their “inspiration.” Casaba is apparently a product of Deborah Connolly Designs, with a “team” of designers, product developers and “world renowned manufacturers.” They sell to places like Pier1 (gasp) <insert big store name> (gasps again) and other such stores. Every time around this year I start getting messages from fans and customers about how they’re seeing my art in stores such as the above mentioned places, as well as others. This year is no exception. So I started looking through Casaba towels via google search and I’m definitely seeing a pattern. Now, this is different from past times when they’d literally just slap my actual art on to a pillow, or piece it together with multiple pieces of my artwork. It isn’t just Casaba, it’s Nicole Miller Home with Persian cats on towels that look rather familiar, and a yet unknown designer just last night was spotted in a Meijer store in Texas.

home goods theft

So how do I combat this? Is there anything I can do about this sort of theft? I mean, it’s super obvious they’re getting ideas from my art, but how much change is enough of a change to allow this to be legal? Any insight is greatly appreciated.

I’ve gathered a bunch of images of their items and put them together with my paintings to get a better look at the similarities. I’m absolutely eternally grateful to my fans and customers who spot these items and message me immediately. If it wasn’t for them, I’d never know about any of this.

Edit to add larger image of the stolen autumn coffee cat:
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autumn coffee catbringing home the xmas treecats on summer holidayhalloween witch and road trippersians with glassespink valentine cats

So you can see, there’s definitely a LOT of inspiration going on from my work here, but when does it go from this cute word “inspiration” to out right theft. So what can I do about this sort of thing, if anything?? Below is just a sampling of the messages I get from fans telling me about all these sorts of things. From my art being painted on some electrical box somewhere in Russia, to my art on a sweater in a boutique in Italy. Like…what? As one of my friends said, “You’re like this famous artist that no one actually knows!” And that is how I feel at times. It’s especially frustrating to think about.

The Art of Deceit

A couple days ago I received an email from a fan who wanted to let me know a seller on Ebay was selling pillows with my artwork on it. It’s not the first time, and probably not the last, as many artists have had to deal with this for years. I contacted the seller, filled out Ebay’s VERO form, and then set out to contact all the other artists I could find, by Google image searching artwork on the pillows. I found about 12, mostly on Etsy, contacted them and passed on the info. I thought that was going to be it for the day!

fridaskitties-7

 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t. A friend had recommended a website called ImageRights. They offer up to 1000 free uploads of images, which they will search the internet for. The results are bundled into folders like, “blogs, possibly resellers, outside our protection,” etc. That’s when I found my Frida and Friends painting. It was clearly my painting, but someone had vomited flowers all over it. So I turned to Google image search and went looking for the creator of the image. A girl in Peru, with tons of stolen artwork, she was passing off as her own. My piece, was apparently her signature piece.

Untitled99
The thief’s website, first image featuring my altered painting.

I was literally stunned. I found her Facebook pages, her personal Facebook page, and I shared them on my personal Facebook page. My friends and Mom went at her, commenting on all the pictures with my painting, pointing out it wasn’t her work. I went to work contacting other artist who she had stolen work from.

A costumer showing appreciation for a pillow she purchased from Flavia.
A costumer showing appreciation for a pillow she purchased from Flavia.

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I even found it on Society 6, which pissed me off a bit more since I actually sell there.
I even found it on Society 6, which pissed me off a bit more since I actually sell there.
Judging from the printing lines on the foreground flowers, it looks like she prints out the edited image, then paints over the flowers.
Judging from the printing lines on the foreground flowers, it looks like she prints out the edited image, then paints over the flowers.
She even participated in some art+KIA thing, and had it put on a car.
She even participated in some art+KIA thing, and had it put on a car.
Being interviewed.
Being interviewed.

After quite a few hours of reporting every image I could through Facebook to have them removed, she finally emailed me. She said it wasn’t her art (clearly) and that nothing had been sold (clearly…) and that I should keep quiet about it and she will remove all the images. That *I* should keep *quiet* about it. She has made her living off of directly stealing other people’s artwork, I wouldn’t care if she was inspired, we’re all inspired, but her “thing” is taking artwork, puking flowers all over it, slapping her name on it and saying it’s hers. That’s unacceptable. This is my livelihood, so I can’t stand idly by.

As of today, she has removed her 4art design Facebook page, as well as her Flavia Macedo(insertotherwords) page. She’s tried to remove all traces of her theft from the internet (I got screenshots =).) Surprisingly, she hasn’t removed all of the stolen artwork she’s taken from other artists. If you recognize any of the artwork, please contact the artists so they can get their art removed as well.