The unpleasant story of how someone claimed the ‘Daddy’s Secret’ design

Me and my painting in the “Don’t Wake Daddy II” group show at Feinkunst Krüger in Hamburg, 2007.

Ok, so here is a very complex and strange experience I’ve had this year, told as a story both in pictures and in writing:
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I won’t mention names because this story is not about attacking or creating bad blood, it’s about sharing a very real and painful experience.
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So, earlier this year I found out that another artist (in my little corner of the art world) had just created a mask which was identical with the face of ‘Daddy’ from my 2007 painting ‘Daddy’s Secret’. I felt shocked, nauseas and upset. I contacted the artist who claimed she’s never heard of me and never seen my Daddy painting. I did not believe in this unlikely coincidence and felt confused. After a long discussion, the artist agreed to give me credit for the original design. After a few weeks. This mask was used as cover art for a music album and as far as I know, I was credited as ‘inspiration’ for the mask design. All was good and we were OK with the agreement. But today I found out that someone had made a tattoo, inspired by the mask and not by my painting, so the mask design has now got a life of its own. The internet is a strange place where pictures suddenly get new life and even cult status. Once again I was faced with the uncomfortable feeling of being robbed of something dear to me, something I love and feel proud of. My art is my everything, it’s my life, my work and part of my soul. I even chose art over motherhood.
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I could not think of any solution to this problem other than standing up for myself. After a friendly but uncomfortable conversation with the artist, they agreed to remove all photos of the mask on social media and take it off their website.
I don’t want to cause any problems for the artist  – who is still claiming they were unaware of my original painting (that is of course highly unlikely and only the Universe know the whole truth of this story). However I think this is an important thing to discuss. This can happen to any artist. I don’t know how we can protect ourselves from this?
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I have learned a lot about the relationship I have to my own art, about the integrity of the characters I create. They are my family and the only thing which is truly owned by me. You can’t own people and even if you buy a piece of land you don’t really own it, but what we own, is the art we make. Something rare that has never been seen or heard before – a new addition to the world around us that will inspire others to produce their own original ideas, characters and magic. There is a fine line between inspiration and stealing and I strongly believe that a stolen piece is charged with dark energy and doesn’t carry the magic of the original piece (if you compare them side by side anyway).
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This story came to a peaceful end today – and I hope that my painting ‘Daddy’s Secret will continue to inspire people out there, for a long, long time to come.

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