Felix d’Eon is a Mexico City-based artist who uses his Mexican heritage to create queer Latinx art. Recently, d’Eon accused Target and Mad Engine of copying one of his designs and selling them. According to d’Eon, his “La Bandera” design was copied to a t-shirt that was sold at Target stores and online. He drew “La Bandera” two years ago for a pride line of art work and was angry to see it recreated for profit.
Artist Felix d’Eon is upset that Target has profited off of art copied from his art.
Target stole my design and printed it on a tshirt. The kind folks at @diet_prada as well as a bunch of fans pointed it out to me. I wonder, @target , is this your usual practice, to steal the work of a gay Mexican artist while pretending to support the queer, Latinx community? I saw that you are no longer selling it online. Will you be pulling it from your physical stores as well? I'm curious @target ; send me a note and let me know! #latinxpride #culturalappropriation
“I was upset when I first saw the image; it seemed clearly inspired by my painting, and it struck me as deeply unfair that I, as an independent, struggling artist, without their reserves of cash, should have my work stolen by a major corporation for their profit,” d’Eon says. “I was upset that I was not consulted before hand.”
Target responded on Twitter to d’Eon’s accusations and disclosed that the shirts came from a vendor.
Target respects the design rights of others & expects our vendors to do the same. We’ve removed the shirt from our online assortment & are in contact w/the vendor. We spent a lot of time selecting Pride merchandise that celebrates the LGBTQ+ & ally community. Please check DMs.
— AskTarget (@AskTarget) May 16, 2018
In a now-deleted tweet, d’Eon identified the vendor who made the t-shirt as Mad Engine. The San Diego-based wholesaler has not responded to mitú‘s requests for comment.
“When you see the two paintings side by side, though, its pretty obvious that they copied me,” d’Eon says. “I find it upsetting that my version is a lot more beautiful, and a cheap, ugly imitation with the same sentiment is the version that should become the one that people would end up wearing.”
D’Eon is disheartened to see big companies consistently profiting off of independent artists.
Your apology rings hollow so long as the tshirt is available in your brick and mortar stores; you are still profiting off my work, and appropriating from the queer, Latinx community.
— Felix d'Eon (@FelixdEon) May 16, 2018
“These large companies, like H&M, Target, and Forever 21 stealing the work of designers and artists creates an atmosphere in which it is extremely difficult to work, as a creative person,” d’Eon argues. “Its disheartening to be a struggling artist, and find that a major corporation, with immensely deep pockets, and all the money in the world to spend on lawyers, would sell your work, while you yourself struggle.”
The situation speaks to a larger societal problem where artists are undervalued and minorities are misrepresented, says d’Eon.
This happened with @UrbanOutfitters and @spires1776 too.
Blame the vendor, but ultimately @Target should have researched this more.
Using a Google Image Search of a screenshot from a vendor could have found @FelixdEon and original inspiration in less than 1 second.
— shortblondeguy (@shortblondeguy) May 17, 2018
“It speaks ill of both the company and society that copyrights are protected for corporations, but individuals without those resources have no way to protect themselves,” d’Eon says. “I think that customers should boycott companies that engage in these practices, and support independent artists and designers.”
Mad Engine’s CEO Danish Gajiani did speak to d’Eon according to a post on his Instagram page.
I spoke to the Ceo of Madengine, the company which produced the queer Latinx pride t-shirt which was subsequently sold by Target. They suggested that it is a coincidence that their image looks so much like mine, which is something I cannot disprove, given the similarity of my own painting to the original “La Bandera” card. The question of cultural appropriation, and misappropriation, however, is not ambiguous; the non Latinx model, the lack of an “El” or a “La” before the word “bandera” which suggests a lack of familiarity with the original game, and the CEO’s inability to tell me if any Latinx or queer people were actually involved in the design or production of the t-shirt, including the artist, suggest that no Latinx people actually had a hand in the design of the Queer Latinx Pride shirt. He listened to me and apologised, and offered me a line of t-shirts and other products which would be Latinx or Queer in theme. He also suggested that in the future he would make certain that members of minority groups would be involved in the process of making products geared towards said groups. I hope sincerely that Madengine does in fact do what was promised, and that Target does something similar. Instead of making products for minority communities without the involvement of said communities, such as the queer Latinx community in this particular case, I hope that they also reach out and make certain that Latinx artists are hired and supported, and queer Latinx individuals consulted, so that they are not simply capitalising on minority communities by trying to take our dollars, but also listening to us so that our concerns and opinions are addressed and queer and Latinx artists and models are supported. @target @madengine
The original Lotería game includes the articles “El” or “La” in front of the subject name. D’Eon says that the lack of the articles is calling more attention to the lack of diversity in these offices appropriating Latinx culture.
“Furthermore, the decision to use white models to advertise a Mexican themed gay pride t-shirt is inexplicable to me,” d’Eon explains. “I suspect no actual Latinos were involved at any point in this, which is to say, that this is also an issue of cultural appropriation.”
D’Eon does state in his post that the Mad Engine CEO has expressed a desire to create a Latinx line of clothing with input from D’Eon to do it right.