There’s an old quote by Oscar Wilde that some seem to have forgotten –

Be yourself;  everyone else is already taken.

I read that and I think, “Well duh?  Who doesn’t know that?”  But apparently, some people don’t.  I won’t name names because I refuse to give traffic to this guys blog but recently, Jennifer Garant was … well, was she supposed to be flattered?  Let’s just call it what it is, ripped off.

This guy on the internet did a series of Santa paintings based on the style of others – naming each.  This is what he said about his Jennifer Garant wanna-be art:

This Santa was done in the style of one masterful licensed woman colloquially described as “that chef artist”, Jennifer Garant. Her stuff is all over the place, her style and subject matter continue to be popular. I personally would really, REALLY enjoy her art if it weren’t so widely seen, (how then would I view Maxfield Parrish if I were living during his commercial art reign?), or at least play up on other themes beside chef art, Parisian living, etc.

In fact, maybe she DOES do a lot of other stuff, possibly as a separate gallery artist persona, and I wouldn’t doubt it. However- and BIll Watterson is high fiving himself somewhere in open range Ohio- that’s what you get when you turn to licensing your work out- the inevitability of over-exposure. That can help or hinder an artist. I’m not saying either case is true for Jennifer, and I could let her Swiss bank account speak for itself, but I will say this….


So first he says she’s a sell-out, then says that she’s over-exposed, yet he copies her and wants people to PAY HIM for his sad attempt at being her!

I’m sorry – this really irritates me.

Even if he is just sharing his study of various artists’ techniques, which is apparently a common exercise, it seems to be in very bad form to bad mouth the artist, then want to profit off of it, especially if said artist is alive, well and trying to make a living!

Is any press, good press? Is copying the best form of flattery? In this case, I don’t think so.  Not when your business and hard work is at stake. It’s demoralizing, annoying and an energy drain.  Jennifer said she’s had to sue 12 manufacturers for copyright infringement and was told by a few that they just budget for that sort of thing – they just wander about using other people’s art and hope they don’t get caught. But if they do, well, they have some lawyer money in reserve so don’t worry about them.

This isn’t the only person this has happened to of course.  Many others, both in and out of art licensing, have complained about it.  Why would an artist want to be a “me too” artist and not an original?  I don’t want to be “the next best thing to Jennifer Garant” – the second choice if she won’t license to them – I want to be myself.

Early on in my art licensing career a small gift manufacturer (I had never heard of them and don’t remember who they are) asked me to basically knock off Jim Shore.  Were they crazy?  For one thing, he already exists and has a very successful business – probably with more reserve cash to sue me than I’d have to defend myself too.  And how could I defend myself?  It just wasn’t right so I simply said “No thank you.  That’s not what I do.  This is my art and style – are you interested?”  They weren’t, we parted ways and that was the end of it.

Of course artists will do similar themes and some people’s art might remind people of another person’s art.  Paul Brent isn’t the only one painting coastal scenes and Jennifer Garant isn’t the only one painting chefs.  But they have a unique style and look that they have worked hard to create, perfect and put into the market place.  So if you want to do chefs too – do your own style because guess what, Jennifer’s is taken and she’s tired of of the free press and flattery.

If we can’t support each other and celebrate what we each bring to the world as artists and the industry of licensing, who will?

Let’s also remember the sage advice of Thumper – the rabbit from the Disney movie Bambi,

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Be yourself, create with integrity and watch your karma!  Sorry – I simply had to rant about this a bit… feel free to add your comments.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed