Canadian illustrator Marc Johns has called out South Korean children’s clothing store Jelly Mellow for using his artwork on its clothing without permission after noticing an Instagram post with Drew Barrymore’s daughter wearing it.
Drew Barrymore posted a photograph of her daughter Frankie wearing a jumper from the clothing brand, Jelly Mellow, that was gifted as a present. It had the words 'the secret ingredient is always cheese' printed on the back, in a style that is an exact replica of Mark Johns’ artwork.
Marc’s drawings are whimsical with dry humour, that aim to say as much as possible with as few elements as possible. He’s acquired clients such as Google, WIRED, Tommy Hilfiger, Harper Collins and more, and he’s published three books.
Furious with the discovery that the Seoul-based online store hadn’t asked or paid him for using his artwork, Marc took to Twitter with rage, essentially live tweeting his emotions and publicly shaming the clothing store as the situation unfolded from Monday.
So this happened today: Drew Barrymore posted a photo of her daughter wearing a jacket (that was as gift) with MY artwork on it, except the company did NOT ask or pay me for it. pic.twitter.com/hlXL3xcwX2— Marc Johns (@marcjohns) January 30, 2018
And the cheese jumper wasn’t the only time. He also spotted a number of different items with his artwork printed on them, and even his book cover art, on the front.
And here's another ripoff: pic.twitter.com/DoJ5eVJHwy— Marc Johns (@marcjohns) January 30, 2018
Oh, and here's another: they used the cover of my last book and put it on clothing! pic.twitter.com/whoj7GM7IN— Marc Johns (@marcjohns) January 30, 2018
After a plea asking Drew Barrymore directly to take down her Instagram post, on the basis she was "unknowingly promoting a ripoff artist", Drew responded and reached out to Marc – offering to hire him as well as an apology.
Update on the whole stolen artwork on Drew Barrymore's daughter's jacket: Drew has responded: pic.twitter.com/nQw21gB3ea— Marc Johns (@marcjohns) January 30, 2018
Marc says he didn’t expect the response and has since been in contact with Drew Barrymore, although he’s still unhappy her original Instagram post is still online, as his latest tweet suggests.
I'm sure Drew Barrymore is a nice person, but her Instagram post STILL has the ripoff company mentioned in it, without word of theft. A TON of people have commented, and KEEP commenting, asking her to take it down or at least credit me. Still waiting... https://t.co/EnAbW0DLjD https://t.co/Eb9COdSWsV— Marc Johns (@marcjohns) January 30, 2018
But of course, Drew isn’t really the main criminal in this situation. After many others (who witnessed this debacle unfold) bombarded the Jelly Mellow Instagram account, Jelly Mellow has since made its account private and has removed any images of their clothing with Marc’s artwork from its website. Marc says they’ve also emailed him an apology.
In previous tweets, Marc expresses his frustrations, saying: "what is the point of making art if it’s just going to get ripped off, and other people will profit from it while I can just barely support my family?"
Although the apology is progress, Marc says the number of "ripoff products" is much greater than originally discovered, and he expects to see compensation as a "victory". And he has the support of other artists.
Artist and Adobe Photoshop brush maker Kyle T Webster also accuses Jelly Mallow of "continually" ripping off artists.
Do not buy anything from Jelly Mallow. They continually rip off artists. https://t.co/MgfbkIaLJB— Kyle T Webster (@kyletwebster) January 31, 2018
We suspect more on this story will unfold, so watch this space.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time an artist's work has been ripped off. Spoof Ladybird book creator Miriam Elia accuses Penguin of ripping off her idea.
If you think your work has been used without your permission, here's what to do.