While the trademark/copyright infringement case that graffiti artist, RIME, filed against Jeremy Scott and Moschino is making its way through federal court in California, New York-based artist/photographer Adrian Wilson took to a storefront to make a statement about the pending litigation. Wilson opened an anti-Moschino/Jeremy Scott gallery, which he says he “ironically” titled, the "Jeremy Scott Free Inspiration Gallery (or copying if you do the same to them)." Inside, there is an array of Moschino-inspired wares, including a spray paint can purse (a la Moschino F/W 2015), tote bags that read “STOLEN MOSCHINO ART” and tees that bear the slogan “Noting is SCOTT free.”
If you are not up to date on the case, here is a summary: On the heels of settling a copyright infringement lawsuit with famed graphic designer, Jimbo Phillips a few seasons ago, designer Jeremy Scott was been slapped with yet another infringement lawsuit. This time, Scott and Italian design house Moschino are on the receiving end of a lawsuit filed by Joseph Tierney, the street artist referred to as “RIME”, in connection with more alleged copying by Scott, who serves as the creative director for Moschino and his own eponymous label.
According to RIME’s complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in August, “Defendants Moschino and Jeremy Scott – two household names in high-fashion – inexplicably placed Rime’s art on their highest-profile apparel [think: on the dress that closed Moschino’s F/W 215 show and that Katy Perry wore to last year’s Metropolitan Museum of Arts Gala] without his knowledge or consent.”
As of now, it appears that the parties have a settlement deal in the works. More on that soon. In the meantime, we caught up with Wilson to discuss his anti-Scott/Moschino project on the heels of its debut at 151 Ludlow Street.
What piqued your interested in the Rime v. Moschino case?
Adrian Wilson: I read about the RIME case and was just horrified at the potential ramifications. Law is often about quoting relevant cases. Moschino is using a 1947 case where a criminal tried to sue the police and media for showing images of a body that he mutilated, arguing that he owned the "criminal handiwork"! Of course, it's a ridiculous comparison to say that if a murderer legally can't own the images of his victim's dead body, then by the same logic, a street artist can't own the copyright to illegal graffiti he created on a wall. Any slight infringement of the law negates any legal protection or compensation using Moschino's logic, and that is plainly ridiculous
The broader question is what this case says about disrespect of art, culture and craft within the fashion industry. The East now has cheaper and better manufacturing than the West. All we have left are ideas. If those ideas are disrespected and inspiration, copying, appropriation, and counterfeiting is the norm, then the West has no advantage or future. Why should anyone in bother with the time and expense of originality?
What was the impetus to start this specific gallery?
I originally wanted graffiti artists to do art on paper Moschino shopping bags but it became impossible to get enough bags, as the store started refusing to give bags away to the artists.
The change of tactic was to do the obvious and do what Jeremy Scott/Moschino did but in a more original way. There's nothing more apt than doing one-off street art on clothing in contrast to the copied, mass produced Moschino items that the case revolves around. Proving that street art on clothing can be respectful, original and creative.
The gallery incarnation is an extension of my Inutilious Retailer store idea, which is a store I opened for a period of time last year. There was clothing for sale but “shoppers” get the garment for free on condition that they make something to replace it in the printing shop set up in the back of the store. Their piece then goes “on sale” and the cycle repeats.
Art, commerce, value, consumerism, manufacturing and expectations were key themes of the store. The wider goal was to provide a seemingly lost window into the idea that, like walking on the Highline or having a plant in our apartment, we as humans all like to do something that does not have anything to do with money or ego.
What was the response to the anti-Scott/Moschino gallery like?
So far the response has been great from the street art/graffiti community, in particular, even though they are a notoriously singular and suspicious group. I have had artists ranging from an 18 year old kid to a guy who first started doing graffiti in the 1970's, who are all interested and just want to help.
Interestingly, most of them think that this [lawsuit] could have easily been avoided if Scott or Moschino had done the right thing and asked RIME about using his work, rather than just taking it and then saying a big corporate "fuck you" to the wrong person. There's a strict code of respect among street artists and graffs. Respect is earned over years and years of dodging cops and risking broken limbs clambering around the city. Often they have issues that drive other people to drink, drugs or crime but they find their release through art. To then have the supposedly creative Jeremy Scott/Moschino effectively tell a whole sector of the art world that their work is without value is frankly the most arrogant and disrespectful thing I have heard in a long time.
Has Moschino responded to your project?
Well, they have blocked me on Instagram so I guess I already upset someone at there, which means the gallery is already a success. Let's see where it leads. Hopefully Moschino will try and sue me for questioning their behavior.
Is RIME involved in the project in any way?
No. I haven't even met RIME. It's not driven by him and this case is much bigger than Jeremy Scott vs. Graffiti Art. It's indicative of the deeply embedded cancer of unethical behavior and copying that riddles the American design side of the fashion industry like a cancer and will ultimately cause it's demise. Clothing in this country is described as a utility, and without original, fresh, respected and protected design ideas, that's exactly how it will keep withering and become. That is so sad.