Portland, Oregon based artist Sam has over 243,000 followers on Instagram, which he uses to promote his unique, often nature-inspired artwork. Sam sells his work online at website Steel Bison, so he was angry to see that Forever 21 seemingly ripped off a design straight from his Instagram without any compensation or even acknowledgment. Sam reportedly posted the below "Wild" design two years ago on Instagram, but just recently saw it on a Forever 21 muscle tee.
While we don't know for sure if Forever 21 did take this design, seeing these photos side by side makes it pretty hard to say otherwise. If you were to put the letters over one another, they would match up almost perfectly, save for the arrow design on the I in the Forever 21 shirt. It's no wonder Sam called the company out for lifting his art.
According to Buzzfeed News, a Forever 21 spokesperson said that they could not comment on the accusation due to "pending litigation." While keeping up with what designs are popular on social media is a great way for brands to stay relevant to their consumers, directly taking designs without the permission of the artist - whether or not that was done here - is never okay. If Forever 21 is going to do this to artists, they should just start hiring them as designers - if not, Forever 21 will find themselves in hot water with artists looking to protect their designs.
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