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Kylie Jenner’s Imagery Is As Original As An Echo | Copies Other Artists’ Work, Again?

By Kishore Sawh on November 21st 2016

Could you recognize something as being the original, or at least authentic when you see it?

Julia Kuzmenko is a team member here, and together with Vlada Haggerty has, admittedly, been a bit unusually loud, perhaps even a bit shouty regarding an issue lately, but that’s probably because they have something to shout about: It would appear to them that Kylie Jenner and co. have blatantly lifted the creative efforts of the pair to the point it seems tantamount to theft. Take a look at the images below and you’ll conclude even Ray Charles could see the similarities.

Adding insult to injury, this isn’t the first time the Kylie camp has been implicated with theft of work by this particular duo, having directly lifted an image before.

All of it is, in one breath understandable because the pair does good work. I mean, being editor of SLRL I’m afforded the opportunity to look at an absolute firehose of imagery daily, from the burgeoning to the established, and you’d be hard pressed to find more compelling and contemporary make-up beauty imagery. But should the cost of innovation and execution be relegated to accepting this as flattery and eating crow while someone else reaps the rewards? After all, the technical execution of most imagery requires a rather common skill-set, whereas the creativity is the uncommon currency. But this is what the behavior and lack of appropriation or even basic acknowledgement  by Jenner’s camp seems to suggest.

I would be remiss not to mention at this point that there is a marked difference between copying and using inspiration for innovation; there is essentially no art that’s without influence, unblemished in its originality, and Julia and Vlada’s work is no exception. Most things in our life are not entirely original, but those who produce them have stood on the backs of creators of yore and instead of trying to take their space, created new ones from it, a new market. Your phone, for instance, isn’t something that would offend Alexander Graham Bell… And this is fine, as this pulls the tide of progress. This is not, however, what appears to have happened here.

While it’s difficult to expect the consumers of media to have both the time and inclination to police all they see for correct appropriation–to see if the right person was being credited and so on–we should expect that of companies and individuals directly profiting from the copying, and when they don’t, I for one advocate voicing it.

Make no mistake, if you’re a creative and they do this to someone else, it’s a slap in the face to you as it’s a clear disregard for your vocation and what’s required of it, and what sustains it. What we can do is urge brands to hire those whose work they admire rather than get someone else to pirate it. You can encourage it by being vocal, or speaking with your loyalty ($). On a smaller scale, if you are taking cues from another then throw some credit their way.

AS for Kylie, was she aware of what has transpired? Did she know of the original source and still gave the green light for this behavior or utter disregard? Perhaps not. But here’s there thing. It’s like being a parent whose child is bullying other kids at school – it’s your damn job to know.

You can check out Julia’s full take on it here on her blog, and as she is part of the SLR Lounge team, find some more of her work on her site and at the links below.

BEAUTY & FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY | THE SPECIFICS THAT DIVIDE THE GREAT FROM THE MEDIOCRE

THE CANON 100MM MACRO VS 100MM MACRO ‘L’ FOR FASHION & BEAUTY PHOTOGRAPHY

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

4 Comments

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  1. Andy Chang

    I’m slightly confused about the fine line. There seems to be a lot of this popping up in the news lately. I’ve never seen either of these two works so I wouldn’t know which was the “original.” I’m also confused because I’ve learned a lot of great techniques from SLR Lounge courses but if I re-create it just for learning purposes to match what I was taught and share it publicly, does that count under this umbrella? If a potential client sees a particular image from another photographer, puts it in a moodboard, wants me to re-create that for a shoot, what do I need to be aware of? That’s what I worry about. Is anything really that original now? Isn’t everything slightly borrowed nowadays? Would love some clarification here (perhaps in a mini-course?) because I think a significant amount of budding photographers are totally in the dark about this because nobody is teaching them what is appropriate.

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    • Andy Chang

      If you wanted a topic for FB Live or Ask SLRLounge after the holidays, I give this hot topic a vote! :)

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  2. Pye Jirsa

    This is pretty appalling. There has to be some sort of legal recourse when a large company does something like this @Julia?

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  3. Alex Petrenko

    Probably someone just read the cover of “Steal like an artist”…

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