Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Having one's work appropriated in some way is said (usually by those doing the appropriating) to be a compliment. I don't see it that way. More often than not, it just feels like a cheap mugging, with the loss of not only a sense of ownership but also some sense of self.
Nearly a year ago, I was proud to be invited to design a cover for a special edition of one of Australia's most widely read journals of new writing, Griffith REVIEW, edited by Julianne Schultz. My idea for it was simple: a rough board hand-painted in orange acrylic on top of which I created the issue's title, The Next Big Thing, in distressed, roughly torn, silver electrical tape. The effect was striking and relevant.
Eight months after The Next Big Thing's publication, I came across, by chance, a review of Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die, By Chip Heath and Dan Heath, published
this month in the USA by Random House. Imagine my shock when I saw its cover, above.
It'll piss me off no end if the graphic artist who ripped off my idea wins some crappy award for 'their' original work.


crybaby said...


i think you are awesome, incredible and you put my miserly efforts to shame, but aren't you being a bit paranoid?

can you guarantee that two people on opposite sides of the world can't have similar ideas without appropriating from each other? is it not possible that two people, thousands of miles from each other, can invent the wheel at the same time?

do you think Lichtenstein would be incensed if he saw some of your early works? or certain Manga artists? or countless graphic artists across many countries?

we live in a world with only a limited colour spectrum, range of emotions and visual stimuli. occaisionally two people might have an idea that is similar, if not the same. isn't that why some songs end up sounding the same - there are only so many chords to choose from, or why lyrics keep repeating themselves?

the artist/designer responsible for this cover has used gaffa tape, and whilst being a poor visual representation of the pun of the title, may have simply come up with it because "gluestick" would not let him use their patented packaging on the cover of the book (as the book might be terrible and they did not want to be associated with it - on this matter I am not enlightened, only posturing).

maybe they were up all night and couldn't come up with something more imaginative and used a bit of tape on a background and pitched it on a whim. to be honest, apart from the colours, i don't think that the two covers are terribly similar. the media is the same, the execution different.

are you going to suspect that every graphic image/advertising photo or painting you see of two girls fighting is an appropriation of your "self vs. self" series? weren't your paintings partially based on porn images of girls wrestling? someone else's pictures/photography? (ps. self vs. self are some of my faves of your works - don't think i am putting your art and themes down by any means - but let's just call a spade a spade).

back to making it stick: maybe they did copy you, but just perhaps they didn't? maybe they have never seen a copy of the Griffith Review, i never have (although that may be more of a comment on my philestinism) - open up to the possibility.

Hazel Dooney said...

I do accept your various points. However, I happen to know that in the case of the fighting women pose and slogan that I contend was appropriated from my Self vs. Self series for a well-known Australian ad campaign, one of the creatives in the agency that created it turned out to be a collector of my work. I drew a reasonable conclusion, I think. You might prefer to draw another. I think you would be wrong.

crybaby said...

fair point

crybaby said...

did you give the cheeky bugger a slap? i would have.