Unto Others – Merch Design “Little Bird”

It has been quite awhile since I have felt the need to update the blog, but today I saw something that I felt needed a discussion.

Immediately, I must call out that what this designer did is not plagiarism. Not even close to it, actually. Being that the illustration is from 1875 and on a legal stock photo site, artists can pay $33.00 and use this any way they want in part or in whole. Its very common for designers to use old illustrations for merch and album covers, but there must be transparency.

In this case, it is a serious misrepresentation of the artist’s abilities due to the fact that he sold this piece to a band with the lie that he created this artwork himself. If you look at this social media, you can see that a lot of his artwork looks like this complete with posts zooming in on details as if to tease his audience on what is to come.

It calls into question his entire body of work and when you consider some of the clients that he is working with and it makes you wonder how many of them know that they are paying money for a literal cut and paste job.

The band is not at fault here. They paid for a design and were told that this is original. And when you look at his portfolio, you can see that he does this type of work often. It doesn’t surprise me that a lot of bands would see this type of work and want some designs like this. It’s just unfortunate because the band had no idea that he isn’t even drawing this stuff. We can’t expect every band to research if an artist’s portfolio is legitimate, misrepresented, or straight up plagiarized. We need to call out practices like this so people stop ripping bands off.

Spermasaurus Rex (artwork no longer used)


UPDATE 5/9/2018:
The band has written me and shown me proof that the artist in question has fully refunded their money and so this artwork should be considered “UNUSED”.

This is a classic case of an artist creating what I call a “Google Album Cover”. They just typed in “T-Rex” and took the first image they could find that worked with whatever idea they had for this cover. It’s taken without hardly any edits and completely ignores the fact that the original render of the Jurassic Park T-Rex is owned by someone – in this case Universal Studios. While it is considered fair use when something is used online (a Wiki, a meme, etc), using something like this for a commercial purpose like an album cover is a big no-no. Looking at the artist’s social media, it’s clear that they do this with a lot of album covers. Even if you don’t care about the legality of such a thing, I think most logical people would agree that this is a lazy cover.

Bands: Please keep in mind that utilizing artists like this can easily get you in a lot of trouble if the original copyright owner decides to be litigious. This artist is most likely bottom-of-the-barrel cheap, but remember that “you get what you pay for”. When you go that cheap, you don’t get an album cover that was created by someone with skill. You get an amateur that goes to Google and takes a dinosaur from Jurassic Park whole-hog. I think it’s hilarious that someone would actually pay money for this, personally, but it won’t be so funny if Universal Studios decides to flex those deep pockets on your band. The better idea is hire artists that create original art.

Profanatica – The Enemy of Virtue


Note: I reached out to the label and their comment was as follows, “Well this is very disappointing. A fan submitted us the art and we didn’t think to question his medium, now we’ll have to replace it!”. Unfortunately, the release is physical and it’s out there. So I still have to document this, but I do deeply respect that the label wants to make this right. Lets hope they get a second printing out as soon as possible

This is a very common type of plagiarism in heavy metal. The designer in question (Unfortunately, I could not find his or her name – Please write if you know this and I will correct the image) found an image that they liked and mixed it with other elements to make a new piece. This would be called a collage except for all collages need to follow certain rules.

I pulled this summary from the Graphic Artist’s Guild website:

Collages that have more of the following characteristics are more likely to qualify as fair use:
*The collage incorporates many different materials from many different sources.
*The materials are juxtaposed or arranged in ways that create new visual and conceptual effects, the more different from the effect of the original materials, the better.
*The collage does not feature a copyrighted work as the central focus or dominant image. Only portions of copyrighted materials are used, rather than the entire image.
*The collage is a one-of-a-kind piece of fine art, or published in a limited edition of fine art prints.

As you can see, this image violates most of these criteria.
So it is not a collage. The artist simply found an image that they liked, cut and pasted it into their work. Unless credit is given to the original artist, Michael Hussar, in the credits this is blatant plagiarism.

I Shall Devour – merch design

25Most of the images on “Sad But True” are cases where a designer cuts and pastes from a source and adds it to their image, leaving OBVIOUS artifacts that are easily identifiable if you are familiar with the original artist.

This one is a bit more sneaky, because it’s clear that the plagiarist mostly used his own lines, but there is no doubt in my mind that this example goes beyond a simple “pose swipe”. For those that don’t know, “pose swiping” is something that is commonly done in the comic book industry to save time. Personally, I have always felt that it is a lame thing to do, but over the decades it has become somewhat of an accepted method to meet deadlines for a lot of comic artists. What the artist will do is basically find a similar pose to what they want and just visually copy it. This takes away all of the problem solving and saves time. Sometimes, it’s pretty harmless if the pose is rather generic. But sometimes an artist becomes known for very specific types of poses and it can still be pretty identifiable depending on the pose. In many cases, it is done visually (meaning the copier is just doing it by sight alone) or if it’s being traced directly, they overlay the artwork and only block in the sketch circles and drawing the rest of the piece themselves. Either way, in order for it to be ethical, you need to still create your own artwork on top of it and create something new. You can’t sit there and trace details and themes and expect to not be called out for it.

And that is what we have here. The artist in question, Attchit, took Gary Ronaldson’s design and traced the silhouette almost exactly. He did change details, but the silhouette is precisely the same and goes beyond a pose swipe. I’ve added some examples in the image above where you can see the cloth “bumps” on the shoulder are the same cloth bumps. Also, many themes are stolen including the stitched lips, the rectangle background, the logo’s position, etc. And even though a lot of the details are different, some of them are just clearly traced over like the eyes and nose. It’s just too close. This is not a direct “copy/paste” like some of the work on SBT, but it is absolutely plagiarism and sourced from a peer in the heavy metal art industry.

Ronaldson is a living, working artist in this field. It’s absolutely unethical to seek out other artists, take their work, and use it for your own designs.

Pestilence – Hadeon (no longer being used)


UPDATE: 10/25/17
Hammerheart Records and Pestilence have both issued statements denouncing this album cover and it has been clear that they will not be using it, nor will they be using the artist ever again. I’m updating this so that it’s clear that this is NOT the final cover any longer as they will be finding an artist to make another cover. This is a real-life example how plagiarism can harm a band, a label, and the metal industry at large. Now the victims have to find a new artist, change their agreed upon schedule, and lose money and time because of a completely unprofessional act by an artist with no ethics. When people say things like “This is bullshit…this is just digital art…no harm is done by stealing artwork on google”, I hope people will forward them to this post to correct them. It hurts SO many to steal artwork. Thank you for the support.

Original Post:

Before I even write this post, I want to make it clear that it’s been communicated to me that since the band was made aware of this, they are trying to rectify it in some way. I’m not sure if they will get a new album cover or if they will just be communicating each of the individuals who were stolen from and working out a deal, but they are going to try to make it right.

That said, I feel it is my obligation to post this  now because this same artist (Santiago Francisco Jaramillo aka Triple Seis Designs) has gotten in trouble before doing this example same thing. If memory serves me correctly, he stole an ENTIRE painting from a well-known fantasy artist and then claimed that he “found it on a free wallpaper site” and didn’t realize it was copyrighted, which is a terrible excuse.

I never posted about that case because by the time I was ready to add it to the blog, the band managed to work out a deal with THAT original artist as well. But now it’s clear that Jaramillo does not learn from his mistakes and he has a very bad habit of just googling images and using them in his art. He’s just a plagiarist at this point.

How long will it be before bands start realizing that hiring artists like this can get them in deep trouble? And even if it’s not an issue of legality, it just adds an unnecessary cloud over a new release as well as added stress trying to track down artists for compensation that wasn’t even in the original budget. Why not hire an ethical artist in the FIRST place so you don’t have to go through that? That is why I am finally adding this artist to the blog because I think it’s ridiculous that so many bands are having to cover his ass when he gets caught doing this.

On the issue of legality, because I see it brought up a lot. It is true that some countries have significantly looser copyright laws than some European or North American countries. In this case, I believe this artist is from South America somewhere. And if this artist was making artwork to only be used in his country of origin, he may have a case for his right to re-purpose this art without credit. But the fact is, this is an international release and it is the responsibility for the artist to be professional and make sure that they are creating ethical and legal artwork for a global market. You can’t just play the card of “Well it was legal in my country”…it just doesn’t work that way.

At the end of the day, this artist stole artwork from other artists and use them in his own commercial art that someone paid him for. He then gets websites praising him, publicity from metal blogs and fans for artwork he DID NOT DO. That is unethical and it is plagiarism.

There are plenty of artists out there that have no history with plagiarism. Please hire them!

Brutal Disorder = Blatant thief.


I don’t even need to write a description for this one. I have posted about Antonio Jimenez of Brutal Disorder Designs on this blog before when he painted over the album cover to Heaven and Hell’s “The Devil You Know”. It was reposted online a few times and a lot of the commentary that I saw from people was that “It was changed enough” to not be plagiarism. I disagree with that completely, by the way, but here is proof that Jimenez simply scours the web for artwork, takes it for his own use without even altering it, and sells it to bands. If you aren’t angry at seeing this type of thing, you should be. If you are a fan of this “designer”, you should ask yourself why? He didn’t paint anything here. He re-arranged WHOLE ART from another (better) artist and sold it to a band.

Is this all heavy metal artwork is to you? Don’t you think fans deserve better? Don’t you think the band who PAID for this deserves better? Don’t you think the ORIGINAL ARTIST deserves to be hired instead? I’m sure he would have happily accepted a licensing fee for use of the image. Probably at a reduced rate considering the art was already created.

If you can’t see the problems behind examples like this, as well as other examples on this blog, I truly don’t know what to tell you.

Reborn in Chaos


I think the name of the band is a sort of a hilarious irony when it comes to this example of theft. The original artist’s work was blatantly copied and pasted and “reborn” into the chaos that is this piece by Antonio Jimenez from “Brutal Disorder Designs”.

The problem with artists like Jimenez is that they always have an excuse. “Oh, I found this image on a free wallpaper site” is usually the excuse that I see online. A good comparison to that is arguing to a police officer that you didn’t see the posted speed limit when you get a ticket for speeding. The excuse of “well I got it on a site that says it was free” doesn’t absolve you of the theft at all.  Stealing from another artist is just low-class. Legal or illegal doesn’t even matter to me, to be honest. I am not a lawyer. I just see an artist who isn’t capable of creating the artwork himself and yet  still charges people money for his “skills”.

This person isn’t an artist. They are a compiler of other peoples’ artwork.

Serpentine Path – Serpentine Path

This type of plagiarism is wildly reckless. The designer seems to feel like they have “changed it enough” because it’s just used for background, but that isn’t the case here. To this designer, those are just pixels to be re-arranged, but each of those details left intact are the hard work of a very famous artist who spent decades creating unique artwork.
To take them and leave them as they were originally painted is theft.

A question I often get on my blog is “Well how do you know he didn’t get permission?”
And the answer is that I don’t know for *sure*, but we can absolutely assume so considering the original artist has passed away and I am certain the estate has no interest in doing licensing for small portions of Beksinski’s work. And even if they did do such things, the price wouldn’t be reasonable for heavy metal album cover usage as it would cut into the designer’s fee far too much.

Couple all of that with the reckless cutting and pasting that this artist does constantly (as shown on this very blog), the only conclusion is that this artist is a chronic plagiarist.

Minsk – With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (interior artwork)


Today I have two posts by this artist and what’s amazing is that he’s using a legendary artist like Zdzislaw Beksinski as his personal repository to take from. Both posts today have the same problem in the fact that this designer feels that he can just take another artists brush strokes as his “greebly detail” and use them for his album covers and layout. It’s direct and unquestionable plagiarism as the artwork has not been modified enough and in the case of this one specifically, it still basically looks like the same IDEA even though he photoshopped different details into the tower. Even the most casual Beksinski fan would see this artwork above and pick it out as his work.

The highlighted area is just for frame of reference, but I’m assuming that this entire piece has other elements lifted from other Beksinski works.

Sadistic Hallucinations – Atrocious Retaliation

This artist’s entire portfolio, and it is massive, is entirely based off of finding pictures on Google and editing them to his own needs. Most of the time, the source art is completely left intact, which is completely despicable. His favorite method seems to be finding pictures of prop and movie FX artists and taking their gory FX dummies and using them for his album covers, which he sells for under 100.00 dollars. The case above, though, was one that I immediately recognized as the cover to Heaven and Hell’s “The Devil You Know”, which is a very iconic cover. He actually did attempt to smudge some stuff around, but it’s clear as day when you look at a few specific details that he did a lot more than draw inspiration from this piece.

This artist is a good example of why I started this blog. This artist takes from other people who are more talented and more creative than he is, he steals from them, and crudely edits on top of them to appear like they are his own. And because of his ridiculously cheap price, he’s apparently amassed quite the underground following of people who either don’t care that he’s a thief or think he’s creating these pieces all by himself.

This isn’t uncommon at all in many industries. The most familiar term I can think of to describe his art, though, is “knock-off”. He’s not the original artist…he’s the guy who comes in and tries to do what the big-boys are doing for a tiny fraction of the price.