Who Did What and When?

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Yesterday a new anti-political party was announced called “No Labels.” The graphic scheme is arguably an overt copy of artwork produced by designer Thomas Porostocky, originally made in 2004 and titled “We Need More Party Animals,” produced when he was an SVA MFA Design grad student. It was later selected by Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic for a 2005 book, “Design of Dissent,” and that year included in an SVA exhibit of the same name. It was also featured in GOOD magazine. This time, however, Porostocky asserts he was never contacted for permission.

“I just found about this a few minutes ago,” he told The Gothamist, “so to be honest, I’m still a little stunned at the blatant plagiarism. I hadn’t been aware of ‘No Labels’ prior to today, so needless to say they have definitely not reached out in any way. Considering the names they have on their speaker list (Bloomberg, Gillibrand et al), this clearly isn’t just a simple mom and pop operation, so there really is no excuse for this. There are plenty of politically aware artists out there who they could’ve reached out to in a legitimate (and well, legal) fashion to create something original. There was no need to make a trip down to the Canal Street of ideas.”

Yesterday’s City Room blog by New York Times reporter Andy Newman quotes Dave Warren, Creative Director of Absolut Vodka campaign, co-founder of Puckett/Frankel/Warren, whose FLY Communications created the graphics for “No Labels,” insisting he came up with the concept completely independently.

“Mr. Warren said that he decided to riff on the donkey and elephant using clip-art animal shapes that are available free of charge or copyright.

“Conceptually, what I was trying to figure out was how to get away from the elephant and how to get away from the donkey,” Mr. Warren said. He said of Mr. Porostocky, “I’m sure his thought process was similar.”

Newman nonetheless points out: “Look again at the two graphics. Not only do they use many — though not all — of the same animals, but in one section containing a giraffe, parrot, dog, seal, stork, hippotoamus and butterfly, the sizes and positions of the animals are, to the naked eye, identical.”

Mr. Warren countered:

“I do my own thinking, man,” he said. “Feel free to come to one of my classes at Parsons.”

He added: “I have a long and storied history on Madison Avenue. I’m not stupid enough to steal anybody’s work; I have too much faith to come up with my own ideas.”

As for Mr. Porostocky, Mr. Warren said, “Tell the other guy to Google my name.

I recall when Mr. Porostocky produced the original image for a presidential election-year project he worked on with his classmates in 2004, while he was in the SVA MFA Design program. Compare the “No Labels” t-shirt above to the original poster below. Then ask who did what and when?

Incidentally, this morning the controversial graphic was removed from the “No Labels” website.

UPDATE: Mr. Warren apologizes.