Well, kind of. Snapchat didn’t exactly come out and say “Yes, hands up, you caught us, we were totally copying without credit and we’re sorry”, here’s their very carefully worded response:
“The creative process sometimes involves inspiration, but it should never result in copying. We have already implemented additional layers of review for all designs. Copying other artists isn’t something we will tolerate, and we’re taking appropriate action internally with those involved.”
The online art world is filled with instances of copying without credit, or sometimes just downright stealing peoples work, there was Ssssamantha from Batalashes infamous pop art zombie that shadily ended up being used as temporary album art for a Lil Kim album, Mykie from Glam and Gores snake style makeup ended up on the runway without credit, but what makes the snapchat controversy that little bit more shocking is snapchat is widely used by social media stars, and those are the very people they have been copying from, I’m not sure exactly how they thought weren’t going to get caught.
So here’s the four artists (that I’m aware of) that have accused snapchat of copying their work for the filters.
Argenis Pinals Joker
On snapchat Argenis Pinal explained that he would have been happy to have his work used as a filter if Snapchat had asked permission first, and he had been credited for the work.
Mykie_ from Glam and Gores Watercolour
Mykie went ahead in an instagram post and broke down why she thought her piece had been copied, her main points were:
- The black line on the bottom lip being broken into three
- The eyebrows having hairs at the fronts, and being left open
- The inner corner of the eyes
Combined with the overall style and design of the filter, it seemed like one too many coincidences.
Alexander Khokhlov 2D or Not 2D Geometric Design
What makes this instance of copying that little bit more interesting is the fact that other artists are jumping in to claim that it’s their original work. In 2013 Khokhlov (photography) teamed up with makeup artist Valeriya Kutsan (face paint) to create this piece, and it was was featured on the cover of Scientific American Mind in July/August of 2014.
None of the other artists claiming that their work is an original have evidence of their pieces being created prior to Khokhlovs.
From the date on karlythibaults drawing it’s clear her piece was done in late 2014, after Khokhlovs work was already gracing magazine covers, and HAKIM states that his artwork was created in February 2016, 3 years after Khokhlovs piece.
Lois Van Barle
While Lois van Barle might not be a face painter/makeup artists, her artwork seems to have also been the target of some snap chat copying.
The similarities between these foxes is extreme, in the image on the right the snapchat foxes have been put on top of Lois van Barles foxes and made a bit transparent, and let’s just say the fact that they almost completely line up with each other makes me suspect that they’ve just been traced.
Snapchat removed the filters that had their origins called into questions and assured people that they would be putting more rigorous checks in place to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to take them too seriously seeing as Khokhlovs piece appeared as a filter back in May with snapchat responding:
“We agree that this lens is similar to other artists’ creations and we have removed it. We are sorry for this embarrassing mistake and we are taking action to make sure it won’t happen again.”
Just over a month later they’re back in the same hot water making the same promises.
Snap chat missed out
The way I see it snapchat missed a trick here, they could have approached the artists, many of whom have said they would have been happy for their work to be used as filters as long as they were given credit for the art. In most cases they wouldn’t even have had to pay anything, on top of it they would have got free promotion of the app from some big names in social media, because let’s face it, if an app like snapchat wants to feature your work as a filter chances are your going to be tweeting about it and instagramming pictures of it.
Instead, they’ve called their companies ethics into question in an industry that largely supports artists.