An Original pencil drawing by June Pauline Zent 14×18 inches on archival linen board.

This drawing features the hands of William C. Watson and the feet of his son William Jr. My husband and our son.

The drawing above was copied by a thief who made cheap massed produced prints for sale and marketed them in the same state where I reside. the perpetrator was arrogant to the point of leaving the signature as it appeared on the original.

Here is what happened: I was in a small restaurant waiting for lunch and started scanning the wall decor out of boredom. My eyes fell on an image across the room that I recognised . It was the drawing above framed and occupying a prominent space. Since I had printed a Limited Edition for sale finding one in this casual place was at first pleasant. Viewing it up close I was horrified because it was a very poorly done photo print with no hand written signature, lacking in detail, not archival watercolor paper, and no certificate of  authenticity. In fact the copy was warping as the cheapest paper used in a home printer will do.

I approached the owner who described a man in a SUV who sold it to him for a few bucks and stated that he had hundreds of them. The restaurant owned said that the image grabbed him and he couldn’t believe the small price. I wanted to track this thief down but he said that it had been several months ago. what bothered me most was the degrading of the image that I had taken the utmost care to produce both in creating the original and the best printing technique available.

I bargained with the owner to bring him a much larger legitimate hand signed and numbered print in exchange for his relinquishing the poor fraudulent one. He agreed and at least I had removed one hijacked imitation out of circulation. From that experience I developed the habit of looking for these offenders everywhere I go.

Even more diabolical are the low life’s who see my work and  recruit real people to pose exactly like one of my compositions down to the colors of clothing, ages of hands, and exact background, etc. They actually believe that because it is not paint or pencil they cannot be faulted. Wrong! It only has to be 70% like the original composition for me to have a case with merit.

Of course it is easier and cheaper for them to suck up the creations of others than to hire an artist or to create something worth while themselves. The irony is that I share limited copyright for individuals to use at little – or  in the case of charities- no cost. However, I have never not been contacted by a charitable organization wanting to use one of my images to raise funds. They appear on pamphlets, book covers, and other advertisements for worthy causes. I am very proud of that! My son is handicapped and I have received their guidance and resources for him proving the legitimacy of their causes.

But here is another way that large business firms use to make money for themselves and a tiny amount for charities. In other words USE the charities. On one occasion I opened Time magazine to a double page spread of a campaign called “Choose to Make a Difference” Staring  back at me was my own artwork except it was a photograph of real people posed exactly as my painting: ages, colors background, and they even placed it in a frame. I ran out and purchased other major magazines and sure enough there it was! The football super bowl  was on TV. There was my work again running several times.

The painting was “They Walked Together” and the tagline of the ad was “TOGETHER we can make a difference”  In their arrogance also using part of my title. They gave a very small percentage every time someone used their card but it was tiny compared to the millions made for the business. I found the name of the CEO and managed to get him on the phone. He said that the image was taken from a photo bank and they had paid for its use so the photo bank was responsible. But that is not true! You must always research any images origins and contact the artist. In addition credit to the artist is required. If I had agreed to this and been given credit think how great such exposure would have been for my art. However, I would not have agreed because 3% is nothing compared to 97% It is a joke and a misuse of otherwise worthy causes.

I packed up several magazine ads and a print of my original sending them by mail to the CEO. Even after my phone call to him the ad was taken off the TV and did not appear in any more magazines. I contacted a lawyer who said the case had merit but would take years to litigated and I would be responsible to finance it.

Here is was a single parent raising six kids with one handicapped and grateful for a roof over their heads with adequate food. You can guess the outcome. It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the hurt and anger that you feel when someone steals a part of your heart and soul because that is what artist’s creations are. They impart themselves into their creations; they are extensions of the artist’s essence!

This happened and there have been others less dramatic but I am not in the same situation now. My children are grown and doing great and my hurt son is in a very protective environment where I have worked to see that he has the best quality of life possible. In addition I am now lucky enough to be one of the few artist’s who actually make a living with their creations.

So, if you are considering using my work for your monetary gain think about this: I will not rest until I find you and you will pay much more that you would have with my blessing. the internet makes it much easier to track offenders. I will do this for my art and for the sake of every other artist who is blocked from justice or circumstances  that prevent them from demanding recognition and compensation for a creation that is truly a part of themselves.


About artzent

I am a visual artist and teacher of Fine art working and teaching in all 2D media. You can see images of my work in many categories, view my biography,comment on artwork, see what's on the easel right now, and more when you go to https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/junepauline-zent I will be blogging here about personal true stories and sharing my life and work. I hope that you will comment and share yours with me!
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  1. Sharon says:

    Way to go June, you tell them! I hope you sue the pants off of anyone who steals your art. I would think it would be so much easier to just ask your permission, and to go about it in a proper manner. There are so many low lives out there, who would rather steal than to do thier own work. I wish you luck in finding any offenders! Glad you are in a better place now, to make a stand for right! Love you, Sharon

  2. Oh, June, what a horrible story. I can only imagine how violated you must have felt. That would be like someone stealing my story and writing another book about it. I don’t understand how people can make their way through life stealing from others. I’m glad your stronger and wiser now and that your son is in a good place.

  3. artzent says:

    Thank you for being a loyal friend and family member. I might not make many friends with this post but it is worth it for myself and many others. Love right back at you!!!!!

  4. zeejewelry says:

    You are a true artist and I admire you. You have guts and protect what is yours. There are times when I have fleeting moments of worry. I think all artists do. My ideas for what I make come straight out of me. I have no idea if somebody else thought of it first, or will I be copied. It does not stop me. I still show my work online. Keep going forward, your work is beautiful! All the best!

    • artzent says:

      Trust me, No one else thought of it first. You put too much of yourself in your work for anyone else to make something even similar to what you do . This piece is very popular and so its a target for low life’s to grab. It’s not that they are sensitive to the message it’s that they look for popular work that speaks to others. I will still show my work on line with a warning and I will protect it and any other artist that I know are being raped! Thank you for coming here and the compliments

  5. Manu Kurup says:

    I can understand your pain and anger, June as I too have through something similar. Courts and laws have similar effect on every continent, I guess, after reading this, they seem to have little effect to bring a halt to any of these from happening again. You have every right to voice your opinion… in fact the harsher the better. All gifted artists need to have this courage to protect their work of art. Another thing I wanted to tell was the first impression i had when I saw this sketch.. that I had seen it somewhere before. The more I read, I came to realize that it must have been in some website or something. We are all with you June, in this to protest against the pathetic thieves who ignore the pain of the real artists just to get a gain somehow. I hope you’ll find yourself at peace soon. 🙂

    • artzent says:

      I have no doubt that you might have seen it either copied or hands and feet set up to mimic it. This piece was done in 1975 and is popular still. I can prove it’s origin but all one has to do is copy a print.
      I do make prints for people who cannot afford an original but I am aiming for one day only releasing originals. That makes it easier to catch a thief! I very much appreciate your joining in this cause and if you see another one of my pieces just let me know where and I will go after them. and that goes for your work too!

      • Manu Kurup says:

        Of course, you can count on me for that.
        I will pass the word around. Been thinking about it for a while ever since someone copied a photograph of mine that had won an award. He made it as his own and even had it printed on hoardings and greeting cards and stuff. I’m equally agitated about the issue and any help in bringing these buggers to justice is my cause too….

  6. artzent says:

    I see that you know exactly what it’s like. The cheapening of the image GREETING CARDS for crying out loud!
    I will look out for your work too. This piece has also won awards, nothing matters to these losers. I have had a best of show piece from a show in City Hall Tallahassee, Florida ripped off and used on line to market a tiny amount to a worthy cause and a huge amount going to a very big business. They need to be warned that it’s not hard to find them on line.

  7. soumyav says:

    tht sounds so terrible..being cheated and still getting along with it…people around feel art isn’t a worth to be paid for and keep on getting a shortcut for everything..Thanks JUne for raising a voice agianst such incidents..

  8. Breathtaking drawing! Sad but true

  9. artzent says:

    Sad for them when I catch them! Thank you for your compliment and for coming here.

  10. lillianccc says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine how terrible it must have felt to see your work being copied at such low quality AND to have it all done without your knowledge. People take artists and creators for granted so much of the time and it makes me so angry when people don’t see “what the big deal is.” I sincerely hope you catch any other thieves out there! Also, as much as it might hurt to do so, I suggest creating some sort of watermark to put on your images here to prevent people from copying and pasting. If you’re not sure how to do that, I’d be more than happy to help you out so just let me know. We’re all 100% behind you here!

    • artzent says:

      Thank you so much for your support Lillian! That’s why I wrote this piece. artist’s need to stop being victims by thinking that there is nothing they can do. They can look out for each other and report violations when they see them. The laws are there to protect them but they have to be proactive. I do need to find out about watermarks on line and would appreciate you help but I think a determined offender might be able to get around it. I know that they regularly remove signatures but I am willing to try anything to stop them.
      Thank you again for all your support and for your compliments.

  11. My Mia's Art says:

    Wow! That is so painful to read…I am still so new to all of this and the pitfalls of being an artist. I’ve started to watermark my photos on my blog and I have often wondered if this is enough? Thank you for this timely reminder. Love your work June.

    • artzent says:

      Thank you Mia! One person wrote that art is not valued but the fact that a lot of money is made selling artwork proves it’s value. Most artist’s though don’t have the marketing connections that the offenders do so they don’t make the money, They just allow losers to take advantage of them.. The attitude also factors in and prevents artist’s from going after these jerks. I am glad the you are not going to allow this to happen to you. Thanks again for your compliments!

  12. Oomwah says:

    I’m speechless… A beautiful drawing and a passionate post. Speeches like that would make me consider you for art office. Thank you for sharing with us.

  13. artzent says:

    Thank you so much for your compliments. I hope that the post will help fire artist’s up and help them realize that they are not helpless victims. We need to work together to identify and bring them to justice not just sit back and do nothing. Isn’t it ironic that people revere artist’s but don’t think they should pay for the work . I am tired of the attitude that ” God gave you the talent so you should give it away” Nonsense!! I worked my butt off with what I was given to become the artist that I am. It’s worth real money not just admiration. Thanks again for your great compliments!

  14. You have so much talent, I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you.

    • artzent says:

      It happens to most artist at one time or another but I am going to do my best to keep it from happening again to me and other artist. Thank you for your compliment and your support!

  15. dilipnaidu says:

    What an experience. Your courage and determination is inspiring. Good wishes to you and a Happy Teachers Day too.
    Kind regards.

  16. sojourner says:

    Hey June, I just read this last night. It is sad.

    Your experience fortifies the truthfulness of the saying, “There were two types of people: those who create and those who take the credit.” Please take a look at this blogger friend who has this quote in her Sept 1 post (http://spilledcookies.com/2012/09/01/quote-sept-1-2012/)

    I admire you for being part of the group who creates. Those who take credit for your creativity will sooner or later deal with the natural consequences of their action, whether you chase them or not. Justice is a cosmic law, no one is exempted. 🙂 And as for you my friend, you are blessed! 🙂


  17. artzent says:

    Arnold, Your words have made me cry but not from sadness. This is the first moment that I feel I can put this behind me as far as emotions go. You have made me realize that no matter how bad it is the important thing is having friends who care and reach out a hand to help you. You have helped me in a way that no one else has and I will always be grateful. Thank you my friend!!

  18. Oh my goodness, this is terrible! It must have been really crazy to suddenly see your own picture on the wall. I hope whoever did this to you cant sleep at night knowing hes stolen such a beautiful art-piece. Keep up your fabulous work, would be a tragedy if this horrible experience puts you off art. You are very talented!

    • artzent says:

      No, it never could keep me from painting but it does put me on my guard and boost my resolve not to let it happen again for me or any artist that I know. Thank you for coming here and commenting and your compliments are gratefully received. thank you!

  19. Artzent, you know i am so sorry that happen to you…I would probably freak out too. The images that i use are from google images but are only for sharing on the blog, never for proftt, After reading your post I went to I stock to start buying some photos to use. And i will try to take a few pictures as i start walking again early in the morning. Thanks for the very important message! Much love and i hope you catch the culprit! I like you have let some ministries use some poems in the past but they had no images, and were to help their minstires. But i too will be careful!

    • artzent says:

      Thank you Wendell for coming here and being supportive. Yes there are always bad actors to look out for but I think that catching them is important for us and them because they do not learn unless they face the concequences and we feel violated unless the wrong is righted. One person said ” There are two kinds of people those who create and those who take credit for it.” I am blessed to be a creative one and so are you but right is right and you must defend you creations and let them be used for good not to line a bad actors pockets.
      Thank you again for your support!

  20. Your work is so outstanding ArtZent and i agree with you.Totally. These people just need to style up.They deserve a visitation by the hand of justice! Keep up with the remarkable work.

  21. artzent says:

    Thank you so much for coming here to give your support; it means so much to me! I really believe in Karma of what goes around comes around but I think that you can help out a bit if you are determined. It does anger me that art in all forms is taken advantage of and the artist is usually left without making a living while others reap the benefits of their work. Just because it has always been that way does not mean that it has to continue like other injustices. I do very much appreciate having the support of you and others in the blogging community!

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