Street Artists Sue E-Retailer Over Mural’s Use

Street artists “Reyes” and “El Mac” created this mural for the side of building in San Francisco

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Two mural artists sued an online retailer selling mass-market reproductions of artwork on Tuesday, claiming the company is selling low-quality copies of their work and attributing it to the street artist Banksy.

Victor Chapa, who uses the pseudonym “Reyes,” and Miles McGregor, who produces art under the name “El Mac,” sued iCanvas Art of Morton Grove, Illinois, in federal court. They claim the company obtained a photo of their collaboration from the side of a building on Turk Street in San Francisco, called it “Burning Graffiti,” and sold the mass-produced copies of the work to big-box retailers Amazon and Walmart.

Their lawsuit notes that their mural was a popular fixture in San Francisco for almost five years.  In 2011, the mural was painted over and the building was refurbished. The bright, multicolored mural depicted a woman with a shock of blonde-brown hair.

“Nothing is more antithetical to the outsider ‘street cred’ that is essential to graffiti artists – or any fine artist, for that matter – than association with cheap, mass-market products peddled by iCanvas, and with ‘big-box’ retailers like Walmart and Amazon.com. To anyone who recognizes their work, plaintiffs are now wide open to career-ending charges of ‘selling out,’” the 20-page lawsuit states.

The artists seek damages, restitution, and an injunction.

Chapa says he is best known for his outdoor murals, and that galleries all over the world have shown his art. MacGregor says he has been commissioned to paint murals in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

The filing names Kroto, doing business as iCanvas Art as a defendant. Banksy is not a party to the lawsuit.

Chapa and MacGregor are represented by Jeffrey Gluck with the Gluck Law Firm. In an email, Gluck said that the artists discovered iCanvas was using their work earlier this year. Gluck is also representing an LA artist, illustrator and photographer Curtis Kulig, in another copyright complaint against the company.

“They were shocked and deeply upset. This case is extremely important to them, and to the entire artist community,” Gluck wrote.

Close to three years ago, street artist Eddie Colla filed a complaint against the company claiming it had reproduced his artwork “Ambition” without his permission. Colla settled the case in July 2015.

Courthouse News has reached out to iCanvas for comment.

 

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