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Patriotism and Plagiarism

For over 3 decades I have been known to create many styles through my graffiti, paintings and murals. I’d use any medium: spray paint, airbrush, paint brush, oils, acrylics, even Photoshop – my tools to develop my styles. Neither the tools, nor the surface mattered – paper, canvas, brick, steel or screen – the only important thing was, and still is- is the outcome. Creating cutting edge concepts and styles, always pushing creative envelopes to stay ahead of my peers has always been my MO. 

I’m bearing down now on almost 40 years of creating art, living solely off this talent that I cherish and respect daily. My skills have shown me the world and allowed me to experience cultures and other talented people throughout. Needless to say, I have been very, very fortunate in this life.

I fully understand that without having the foundation of graffiti and my history growing up in the LES then Brooklyn to LA, I would never have developed the many styles I have under my belt and although, I am in no way a fan of politics, politicians or any of the corrupted corporations that litter the American psyche, I do honor the rights I enjoy as an American.

Before 9/11 I was able to honor this feeling by creating a series of deconstructed-reconstructed contemporary American flags that were so well received. I almost began to think that I may be painting flags for the rest of my life. 9/11 however, changed that and after hearing someone ask me “Oh, so you’re doing flags now too” I knew it was time to wrap that series up. I would never want to be known as a bandwagon jumper. I secretly vowed to return to this series when I felt it was appropriate and 10 years later on the 9/11-decade anniversary I got that chance.

My second series closed that chapter in my artistic affair with flags and I was happy and proud to display them at my exclusive gallery in Wynwood, Miami. I treat my flag series with my highest respect and never tried to over market them or over capitalize on their images-the flags would have their own journeys.

Plagiarism, or as we called it back in day: biting, is a super no-no in the graffiti community and although some say imitation is the highest form of flattery, I ain’t buying it. Sending a royalty check or at least giving credit is flattery. I worked very hard to create my styles and I have seen many people bite things from me so much I almost got used to it…almost. I always appreciate seeing my styles influence other artists and I love seeing them take aspects of what I created and build upon them. It’s very cool but when someone comes along and bites my flag series I had to draw the line, so I am asking you, my virtual family what do you think? Is this flag, by Justin Bua and Annie Preece, biting my style or am I making too much of this? Did they break out of their own signature styles here (to sell prints I am guessing)? I already know what my lawyer will say about this, but I would love a second opinion here, what do you guys say?. Here are the 2 pieces:

Annie Pierce

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He may be best known for his development of the 3D graffiti style that has influenced thousands worldwide to follow his technique; however, Vales, has a portfolio reaching far beyond what might be expected from a graffiti artist. Now a creative powerhouse, Vales has completed many successful projects ranging from large-scale murals, to art directing films and videos, fashion, photography to restaurant and nightclub interior design worldwide. His collaborations have placed him in the heart of Google’s NYC office and the surreal world of photographer David LaChapelle. He has also worked closely with video director Hype Williams, spanning his art across all mediums.

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