When Troy artist Jess Fink isn't designing art for video games, creating logos, illustrating children's books, doing caricatures or writing irreverently funny comic strips, she designs really cool t-shirts. She's designed shirts for bands like Fall Out Boy and Less than Jake, and she creates original designs for websites like Threadless.com. She's pretty awesome, and a lot of people like her work. Some like it a little too much.
As it turns out, Jess has gained herself lots of fans. And a few imitators. Unfortunately, in the graphic arts business, imitation isn't always sincere --or flattering. A while back, Jess discovered that clothing retailer Hot Topic was selling a shirt that was a little too similar to a design she did for Threadless. And more recently, she learned that clothing chain Forever 21 was selling a shirt suspiciously similar to another of her Threadless designs.
Hot topic chalks it all up to coincidence. They say their freelance designers look at a lot of clip art for inspiration. And technically, there's not much Jess can do, since Threadless owns the copyright to the designs in question. But, she says, it's more a matter of principle. "It's just really kind of painful. You're not making much money on this stuff....it's just kind of a slap in the face."
Is she still designing for Threadless? Yes. And she's got plenty of other work to keep her busy. These days Jess is focused on her blog and her funny, but a little bit heartbreaking web comic, Finkenstein, where she travels back in time to give advice to her junior high school self. And really, how many of us wish we could do that?
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