Things That Matter

Etsy Artist Sues Frida Kahlo Corporation After They Claim Trademark Infringement

Artisan Nina Shope from Denver, Colo. is suing the Frida Kahlo Corporation (FKC) after her handmade Frida Kahlo dolls were flagged for deactivation. Last week, FKC lodged a trademark infringement claim with the popular e-commerce site Etsy.

Shope is demanding that the corporation ask Etsy to rescind its trademark infringement notice. The lawsuit also names a Panamanian organization related to the corporation, Frida Kahlo Investments, S.A. FKC is registered in Panama and has an office in Florida.

“I don’t believe that artists should be bullied or threatened into abandoning their art, silencing their voices, and stifling their creativity. That is the main reason why I am challenging the FKC’s alleged trademark registration, that has been used as a cudgel not only against me, but against a number of other creators and artists,” Shope wrote in a post on Facebook.

The complaint asserts that the FKC “submitted a false trademark takedown to Etsy claiming that Ms. Shope’s non-infringing use was in fact infringing.”

Shope isn’t the only Etsy artist selling Kahlo-inspired items on the site, a search of “Frida Kahlo” brings up more than 19k results while a search for #fridadoll on Instagram has more than 5K results featuring various artistic renderings.

The rights to Kahlo’s image expired in 2004, 50 years after the beloved Mexican artist and feminist icon died, and Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, the artist’s niece, placed a trademark on the name “Frida Kahlo,” and assigned that trademark to the FKC.

In 2018 the Kahlo family won a temporary injunction against toy manufacturer Mattel, forcing it to cease sales of its doll resembling the artist in Mexico as part of their “Inspiring Women” line.  

“I would have liked her to have a unibrow, for her clothes to be made by Mexican artisans. We, the Kahlo family, are the ones who have the rights to all these things,” Mara Cristina Romeo Pinedo, Frida Kahlo’s great-niece and Isolda’s daughter, told the AFP.

The mother and daughter disputed FKC’s rights to the artist’s name and image, demanding a redesign of the Barbie.

Consequently, FKC filed a lawsuit against Romeo Pinedo, alleging that she — who remains a shareholder and director at FKC — became dissatisfied with the group in 2011 and began a campaign to discredit the corporation and take over its role as the licensing agent for commercial products featuring the artist’s name and likeness.

“The Frida Kahlo Corporation actively participated in the process of designing the doll, Mattel has its permission and a legal contract that grants it the rights to make a doll of the great Frida Kahlo,” the company’s statement said.

Unlike Mattel, Shope and the other Etsy shops selling merchandise with her likeness are operating on a creative basis rather than overtly selling items directly connected to Frida or her work.

Shope’s complaint states, “The name of a doll does not violate the Lanham Act [the federal statute for trademarks, service marks, and unfair competition] unless the name has no artistic relevance to the underlying work whatsoever, or, if it has some artistic relevance, unless the title explicitly misleads as to the source or the content of the work. Here, neither concern applies.”

“We believe the doll represents a historical figure—you have to be able to say who that historical figure is without violating trademark. This is a brand new problem in the world of law and the world of art.” After having work removed from Etsy “the only way to get it back up is to sue the rights owner,”  Rachael Lamkin, Shope’s attorney, told ARTnews.

In a statement to ARTnews, a Frida Kahlo Corporation representative said, “We have made a significant investment in protecting the Frida Kahlo legacy, brand, and trademarks. We are prepared to vigorously defend our intellectual property and trademarks whenever our rights have been violated, and to stop any confusion that may be created in the market by such infringing activity.”

As of the time of publishing this post the handmade dolls are still available for purchase starting at $68 and featuring Frida’s signature unibrow.

Shope, who goes by SnapdragonOriginals on Etsy, launched a website detailing the reasons for the lawsuit, which she calls a “scary but exciting path.”

“I never imagined I would end up in litigation, especially against such a powerful corporation. However, I believe in supporting the rights of artists (especially those of us who are small artisans and craftspeople) to create beautiful and meaningful works of art that honor the legacy of Frida Kahlo. Although my Frida art dolls and hoops are not the totality of my collection (I have many folk-art inspired creations that I will later include on this website), they are a core element of what I create,” she wrote. “I will let you know how the lawsuit progresses, and hopefully the results will free more artists to share their visions with all of us.”

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This Oaxacan Artist Is Turning Sneakers Into Her Canvas For Día De Muertos And The Results Are Incredible

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This Oaxacan Artist Is Turning Sneakers Into Her Canvas For Día De Muertos And The Results Are Incredible

dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

As the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to a halt economies and countries around the world, it’s also helped shutter the businesses of artists who rely on galleries and street markets to sell their creations.

Mexico is one of the world’s hardest hit countries and artists in the country have had to get creative to find new clients and customers amid a global pandemic.

However, with the rising popularity of bespoke sneaker collections, one Oaxacan artist seems to have found the winning formula.

A Oaxacan artist has made sneakers her canvas and she’s highlighting her culture in this new medium.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

Mexico has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries by the Covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus-related restrictions have indefinitely closed millions of businesses across the country as tourists stopped coming to the country.

As these restrictions have impacted the livelihoods of millions of Mexicans, many have been forced to get creative. For one artist from Oaxaca, Doris Arellano Manzo, the choice was clear: a canvas is a canvas — it could be stretched over a wooden frame or stretched over a pair of athletic shoes.

Like other artists worldwide who are succeeding at beating the pandemic’s economic challenges to their careers, Arellano is learning to adapt — to be less conventional and to think quite literally a bit smaller: she now paints her art on sneakers.

Thanks to the pandemic, Arellano felt she needed to reinvent herself and her craft.

It all started in July when Arellano and her daughter Frida – a communications and social media professional, realized that Arellano needed to think outside the traditional. It was obvious that museums and galleries would likely remain closed for sometime, so how else could they bring her art to her clients?

“Since I love to paint, I can paint for you on a large canvas just as well as I can on a small one,” she recently told the newspaper Milenio. “As far as I’m concerned, while you have me here with my paints and paintbrushes, I’m thrilled.”

Each pair of shoes is unique, she said, “because it’s all done by hand, not by machine.” She describes her style as “traditionalist contemporary,” and says she is drawn to evoking the rites and customs of Oaxacan traditional culture.

Her Día de Muertos collection is garnering international attention.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

Arellano’s latest collection features shoes with colorful abstract designs in bright cempasúchil orange, with lush floral wreaths and, of course, featuring the iconic Día de Muertos Catrina.

The collection was timed perfectly since so many are looking for non-traditional art amidst a very non-traditional year.

Her latest collection of work, all painted on athletic footwear, is entitled after the celebration she’s commemorating, Día de Muertos.

She says her collections are an homage to traditional Oaxacan festivities that couldn’t take place in 2020.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

In addition to her recently released Día de Muertos collection which has been very popular, Arellano has created art with other Oaxacan themes.

In fact, when she first began her art-themed sneaker collection in July, at Friday’s suggestion, her sneaker art was based on the enormous festival of Guelaguetza. The Guelaguetza is a traditional Oaxaca cultural festival that had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic.

In some ways, she said, the enforced isolation of the pandemic has been a huge challenge for artists like herself, but in other ways, it’s actually been familiar.

“The work of an artist is a bit enclosed,” she admitted. “We go out when there are exhibits, when we have to go introduce ourselves in public or do interviews.”

Still, she said, the pandemic caught the art community flatfooted.

“Artists don’t have a way to show their work during the pandemic,” she said. “It’s all been halted, and we have to go back and look for new formats for the public to see what we are doing.”

It seems like 2020 has been the year of handcrafted sneaker lines.

Although Arellano is working hard to infuse her own culture into her art and her new sneaker line, she isn’t the first to do so. Just this year Nike released its take on the traditional holiday with a Día de Muertos-themed sneaker collection that had fans of both the holiday and the sneaker company excited for.

Then we got news that Bad Bunny was releasing a custom Crocs line – which flew off the shelves and are now selling for more than four times the original retail price. Plus, recent rumors say that Bad Bunny will also be launching an Adidas collaboration at some point in early 2021.

People have long been obsessed with bespoke sneaker collections, but thanks to the pandemic people are looking for new ways to support artists and satisfy their shopping cravings. We can’t think of a better way than by supporting local Indigenous artists like Arellano.

You can get more information here.

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This Latina On Instagram Is Using Art And Social Media To Share Her Journey of Embracing Her Vitiligo

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This Latina On Instagram Is Using Art And Social Media To Share Her Journey of Embracing Her Vitiligo

radiantbambi / Instagram

Ash Soto is a young Latina living in Florida using social media to bring acceptance and self-love to the vitiligo community. The Instagrammer has more than 166,000 followers and uses her platform to deliver art and activism one post at a time. Vitiligo is a skin condition and this Latina is reclaiming her skin one photo at a time.

Ash Soto is giving the vitiligo community some love and representation on social media.

Soto is a 24-year-old Instagrammer who is using her platform to show off her vitiligo and give the community some love and representation. The sudden social media star is catching a lot of attention after showing off her body in a way followers hadn’t seen before.

According to an interview with Self, Soto first started her Instagram page to do makeup and only showed her face. The reason was that she was uncomfortable showing people that part of herself.

Soto uses art to highlight and celebrate her vitiligo.

You might recognize Soto because of her incredible body art that is giving her vitiligo all of the self-love and acceptance. It is all part of her mission to reclaim her skin and make other people comfortable in theirs.

“I remember back when I was really young—you know when you’re in middle school, you try to fit in with the crowd,” Soto told Self. “I wasn’t fitting in. People made fun of me to the point where I would cry myself to sleep every night.”

Soto was young when she was diagnosed with vitiligo.

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Which one is your fav? 🌎🖌

A post shared by ASH SOTO (@radiantbambi) on

Vitiligo is a skin condition where a person loses the pigmentation of their skin. The cells in the skin that produce the pigmentation die or stop functioning leading to the loss of skin color over time. The disease shows up as splotches on the skin without pigmentation.

“I never realized how beautiful my vitiligo was until I traced it with a black marker, it really helps to bring out the different colors of my skin. I was always trying to find a way to look at my skin in a positive light, [and] I couldn’t do that before starting this,” Soto told Daily Mail. Now what others would perceive as an imperfection, I have made into something more beautiful and made it more accepted than before.”

Soto has been living with her vitiligo since she was 12 years old.

A moment in her teens made her embarrassed of her body and her skin. When she was a teenager, a little girl on the beach asked her if she took a shower in bleach. According to Daily Mail, that was when Soto wanted to lock herself away from the world.

Years later, Soto is flipping the script and embracing her vitiligo in all of its glory. You can follow Soto and her vitiligo journey on Instagram at @radiantbambi.

“If you feel beautiful, that’s what matters,” Soto told Self. “No one can say anything if you feel happy with yourself.”

READ: At Just 6 Years Old, She Told Her Parents To Put An End To The Birthmark Removal Treatments She Was Going Through

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