Steal Like An Artist: Jeremy Scott The Culture Vulture

Nas said, “No idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun, it’s never what you do but how it’s done.”  Judging from the ongoing legal issues spawned from Jeremy Scott’s 2015 Fall collection for Moschino, Scott has been profiting from this very concept.

To state this as blatantly as possible, Jeremy Scott (a man whose work is greatly admired) is guilty of stealing the designs, art, and work of other artists. From the more recent thieving from graff-writer and artist Joseph Tierny (aka RIME), to the robbing of Jim Phillips Sr. and Jimbo Phillips – two very prolific and successful artists for the skateboard company Santa Cruz.  These incidents alone are proof large enough to merit the allegations. jeremyscottcollage1

In Jeremy’s defense, the concept of a creation being entirely “original” is preposterous. According to the book Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, to create a seemingly original piece in the eyes of the masses, one must pull from as many sources of inspiration as possible so that their creation’s “family tree” is so expansive and deeply rooted that no source material can be traced. Only then will the work, and artist, appear original and reap the admiration and respect that comes with the originality.

Sadly – this is has not been the case as of late with Jeremy Scott and his designs for Moschino. He directly stole from a prominent fixture of the skateboarding world and a well-respected, active participant in graffiti/street culture.

The first dispute with Santa Cruz resulted in an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount along, with the recall and destruction of all garments containing the stolen copyrighted designs. The latter is still ongoing and Tierny hopes to come to an agreement before the next court date. Or in other words, he wants to get paid.
Scott, who was served legal papers during the premier of his documentary The People’s Designer, denies designing the print in question. And if Scott knows who did it, he’s not naming any names. Tierny caught wind of the thievery upon seeing Gigi Hadid wearing his work at Milan’s Fashion Week and Katy Perry adorning the faux graffiti-defaced garments at the Met Gala alongside Scott himself.

This could merely be Jeremy Scott having the idea of a graffiti-themed collection (how edgy) and getting into hot-water over one of his lower-leveled designers. According to Scott’s dismissive claims that no thievery is even occurring in this situation, none of that matters anyway. Scott’s defense is based on his claims that since graffiti is vandalism that is illegally conducted on public and private property, it cannot be copyrighted and doesn’t deserve the benefits that come with it.
Tierney is seeking damages for copyright infringement, falsification, removal and alteration of copyright management information, unfair competition, appropriation of name and likeness and negligence. In short – Tierny wants that bread.

As an off-and-on participant in the graffiti-culture (dry snitching alert), I recognize the artistic elements of my shit, but personally do it to break the law without directly harming someone and to leave my mark. Simple as that.

I want(ed) my “art” to document where I was at a moment in time and to be seen by whoever happened to come across it. Whether or not the observer admired the creativity of it was not my concern.
That being said, what I write is mine, and as anybody who considers themselves a “bomber”, “graffiti-writer”, or “graffiti-artist” will tell you, you can catch an ass-whooping or even get killed over crossing-out someone’s name, let alone directly stealing it. Luckily for Jeremy Scott, he doesn’t exist in that world – the exact reason why he should leave graffiti the fuck alone in the first place.

I believe graffiti belongs in the streets. Its appeal is undeniable.

Graffiti is one of the four elements that belongs to Hip-Hop culture, but it also stands alone as its own entity. There are not only stripes that must be acquired to solidify one’s place in the graffiti world, but the knowledge of the history of the art is important as well – something I am certain Jeremy Scott is lacking.

Regardless of how dope I think the dress and suit in question are (love them actually), borrowing from a culture without first planting roots will earn someone the undesirable classification as a “biter.” What RIME does when he goes out bombing is his art, and the least that could have been done to avoid this mess would be to reach out to him in the first place. What became a blatant case of stealing could have been a collaboration that brought validity to Tierny’s work.

My only hope is that we begin to see more designers take the dignified approach, rather than continue this trend of jacking a culture from which they only aim to profit.


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