Oakland artist Lisa Congdon has been a Bay Area resident for over twenty years, and a painter for over a decade. She has created an impressive body of work, and has a client list that includes The Museum of Modern Art, and publishers Simon and Schuster, and Random House. Her work is currently on display as a part of the Neu Folk Revival Show at LeQuiVive Gallery, 1525 Webster St in Oakland, CA
Like many contemporary artists, she keeps her portfolio on a website online. Monday, she was stunned to discover that those images seemed to be the basis for a series of Christmas ornaments by holiday ornament wholesaler Cody Foster & Co.
“I saw the page from the catalog and instantly recognized it as a copy of my work,” said Congdon. “There are several images of original artwork that I made, and the ornaments they made look like they have my artwork copied onto them. The animals had very distinct artwork on the jackets which came from my imagination.”
Looking at the images from the catalog and Congdon’s work side by side, the similarities in coat design, body postures, and colors choice are hard to miss.
Congdon found out about the alleged intellectual property theft via the Flickr site indieripoffs, which documents suspicious resemblances between works previously produced independent artists and artisans and the new additions to the latest Foster & Co. product catalogs.
The original artwork of one of the Congdon paintings in question, Reindeer, (24" x 18" x 2.25) Gouache & acrylic on a Masonite panel, sold for $900 at her exhibit at Gallery Hijinks in San Francisco two years ago.
“For this body of work, I am really inspired by Nordic imagery. I do a lot of paintings of animals and textiles and different patterns that are inspired by Nordic culture,” said Congdon.
According to Congdon, Cody Foster & Co made no any licensing agreement with her, and there is no record of them having purchased any of the pieces. It would have been easy for them to copy photos of the images from her online portfolio.
“There has been so much media attention about this case that so far,” Congdon added, “Fab.com and Westelm.com have pulled Cody Foster from their websites.”