Steven is a teenager (actually he just turned 20!) who has been helping me out at GOST over the Summer. We have a lot of the same interests, like science, skepticism and rollerblading, so it is fun having him around. I also never get tired of listening to him talk. He is a teenager (basically), so he HATES everything! Food, movies, video games, furries…there is never a shortage of things for Steven to bitch about.
Steven’s girlfriend is Kim. She joined Steven and I at the Agenda trade show in Huntington Beach, which is where the photo above (of Steven and Kim) was taken.
Kim is a teenager herself and it turns out that she is a pretty amazing artist. She created the self-portrait above when she was only sixteen!
Now here is where it gets interesting. Kim was shopping at a “Forever 21-ish” store in Santa Monica recently called Love Culture. You can imagine her surprise when she came across a shirt in the store with HER self-portrait on it! The image had been flipped and there were some accoutrements added like flowers and a bow, but it was definitely her image.
Just to be completely clear check out the side-by-side comparison. Keep in mind that the Love Culture image is photographed from a shirt, so it is slightly distorted. Even so, the plagiarism is unmistakable. I highlighted just three examples that leave no question that they didn’t just reference Kim’s picture, they used it:
1) The shape of the hair coming down onto her cheek is exactly the same.
2) The shading around the shoulder is identical.
3) The light wisp in her hair is in the exact same place.
Kim suspects that an unscrupulous artist lifted the image from her PhotoBucket account on the web.
Things got really bizarre when we tried to contact Love Culture. By all appearances this is a giant company. According to their website they have stores all across the country. Yet when we called, not only was there no answer, there was not even an answering service.
After several days (honestly!) of googling and calling several different numbers, we did eventually manage to reach a couple of people, although we never reached anyone who could help us. We reached someone at the customer service department for the online store and we reached a random store manager. We didn’t have much luck reaching anyone at the “Corporate Headquarters,” and when we were finally given a number to call to try to get some answers, we were surprised to be greeted by someone speaking Korean. After they promptly hung up on us we were never able to get our call answered again.
Googling did not turn up very much information about this company at all. I doubt that they are only worth $974!!
Their Headquarters are in Los Angeles and one of the phone numbers, to the alleged Korean buyers, traced back to a company called Great American Color Co.
It looks like our fingers have “walked” about as far as they can and if we have any hope of resolution we might just have to make a field trip out to the Love Culture Headquarters.
God knows what we’ll find there!
Wish us luck!