Target says they were sold the design by San Diego's Mad Engine clothing vendor.
Felix d’Eon is a talented Mexico City-based artist who takes pride in his heritage and uses it to create Latinx LGBT art. He claims that one of his designs was recently stolen from him and used to make a profit on t-shirts being sold at Target.
The allegedly copied piece is called “La Bandera” which he created two years ago to celebrate LGBT Pride. The print itself is inspired by the Mexican card game Lotería which can be compared to Bingo in America, but instead of numbered balls, it uses cards. The “La Bandera” card is a part of the deck which displays the Mexican flag. D’Eon's version uses the Pride flag with a pink bow instead.
D’Eon says he recently found his conceptualization being sold at Target’s brick and mortar stores and online.
“I was upset when I first saw the image; it seemed clearly inspired by my painting, and it struck me as deeply unfair that I, as an independent, struggling artist, without their reserves of cash, should have my work stolen by a major corporation for their profit,” d’Eon says. “I was upset that I was not consulted beforehand.”
Target reached out to the artist via Twitter with an apology:
"Target respects the design rights of others & expects our vendors to do the same. We’ve removed the shirt from our online assortment & are in contact w/the vendor. We spent a lot of time selecting Pride merchandise that celebrates the LGBTQ+ & ally community. Please check DMs."
In a report from the publication Mitú, they say d’Eon pointed out that the vendor who made the shirt was San Diego’s own Mad Engine. D'Eon says on his social media pages that he heard from the wholesaler who told him it was a fluke.
"They suggested that it is a coincidence that their image looks so much like mine," d'Eon wrote, "which is something I cannot disprove, given the similarity of my own painting to the original 'La Bandera' card."
In the Mad Engine version, the words “La Bandera” are replaced with the Spanish word "Igualdad" which means equality, D’Eon says the absence of the definite articles "El" or "La" on the Mad Engine version is a lack of familiarity with the original game, the culture or the language.
In an interview with Mitú the artist is adamant that the designs are the same, "it's pretty obvious that they copied me,” he said. "I find it upsetting that my version is a lot more beautiful, and a cheap, ugly imitation with the same sentiment is the version that should become the one that people would end up wearing," he said. “It's disheartening to be a struggling artist, and find that a major corporation, with immensely deep pockets, and all the money in the world to spend on lawyers, would sell your work, while you yourself struggle.”
D’Eon goes on to say that copyrights are protected for large corporations, but less-fortunate artists don't have that same luxury, “I think that customers should boycott companies that engage in these practices and support independent artists and designers.”
He continues to say the use of non-Lantix models to sell the shirts is inexplicable to him “I suspect no actual Latinos were involved at any point in this, which is to say, that this is also an issue of cultural appropriation.”
D’Eon confronted the CEO of Mad Engine about using Caucasians in their ads, saying his, "inability to tell me if any Latinx or queer people were actually involved in the design or production of the t-shirt, including the artist, suggest that no Latinx people actually had a hand in the design of the Queer Latinx Pride shirt."
There may be a silver lining to it all however, the Mad Engine's CEO said he would like to create a Latinx line and wants d’Eon's creative input.
"I hope sincerely that [Mad Engine] does in fact do what was promised," said d’Eon hoping that Target Stores does something similar. "Instead of making products for minority communities without the involvement of said communities, such as the queer Latinx community in this particular case, I hope that they also reach out and make certain that Latinx artists are hired and supported, and queer Latinx individuals consulted, so that they are not simply capitalising on minority communities by trying to take our dollars, but also listening to us so that our concerns and opinions are addressed and queer and Latinx artists and models are supported."