An update: We are still in the midst of discussions with Antti Kalevi and his lawyer. The last correspondence between counsels was on 25th April 2018. We will keep everyone posted if there are any updates to the situation. In the meantime, we have removed all Harvest items from sale online and in-store.
I’ve always tried to be honest with you guys, and only share the things I feel deeply about. Needless to say this recent episode has affected me on a personal level, because of the pride and responsibility I take in my work, and the amount of distress I see it has caused. Here’s what’s on my mind.
It’s hard to draw the line (literally and figuratively) when it comes to the originality of artwork. If you do a simple search on Google, you’ll see that there are endless debates on this; what is deemed original, what is duplicative, what is derivative. There seems to be no clear answer. Who is to say whether something is truly original, and can it ever be? I read an article on The Guardian that says “For there is truly nothing new under the sun, or not entirely new, anyway. Originality does not burst from an artist’s head like an alien entity, but it is a subtle game of variations and transformations out of which, once in a while, comes the shudder of true artistic surprise.”
We are surrounded by so much stimuli and input every day, even without the help of technology. As I sit on my bed now writing this, I feel a strong breeze, I hear the rustling of leaves outside my window, the curtains blow open, highlighting an artwork leaning in the corner of my room. And suddenly I see,
Hey, doesn’t that pink circle look like the pink circle of the flower in question?
With this thought I instinctively pan to the right of my bed where I’m seated, staring blankly at the wall. And then again it’s like a lightbulb went off in my head, twice in a span of 5 seconds.
Hey, doesn’t that look like the leaves of pink flower too?
This is the view I see everyday – first thing when I wake up, last thing when I go to sleep. Is it possible that I may have pieced these images in my head, subconsciously without me knowing it? That the yellow of the girl’s hair is what really made me choose to create a yellow flower instead? The answers to these questions could easily be yes, as easily as they could be no. Because, what made me choose this particular artwork to lean on my wall, this postcard to buy? Was it influenced by something else I saw before this, something else I saw before that? How far back does the point of inspiration lead?
Along this road of inspiration, the truth is that I did see Antti Kalevi’s pink flower on Pinterest, not knowing it was his work at the time, or whose work it was at all. It appeared as an unnamed flower, just like many others on Pinterest, open to the public, for inspiration. Now knowing that it is indeed his work, I do feel apologetic, that the resemblance seems too uncanny, and that he wasn’t granted the proper respect that an artist deserves. While it might seem like a simple flower, I know that a lot more has gone into conceptualizing it, from choosing the shade of pink, to the tilt of the leaves, all of which that makes the pink flower as beautiful as it is.
This leads me to my next point – that there is more to a print than meets the eye. Beyond just the flower, there are other elements in our Harvest print at play. It is the other elements in entirety, together with the flower, that makes it our print, and not just a “copy” of the flower.
When I saw the pink flower, I was inspired by thinking of it as a peach blossom, and started to develop the idea of creating a fruit based print. I love fruits — any good friend of mine will tell you I’m fruit obsessed, even more so than plants, and it is not uncommon that I receive fruits as presents on a regular basis. So on our Harvest print, you’ll find a bunch of grapes, a semi-circle bowl to hold the bunch of grapes, which also doubles up as a nectarine slice if you’ll have it, and two rhubarb stripes. I wanted to include more berries, my favourite, but they didn’t work on the print.
On the whole, a lot goes into creating each print, as we’ve shared with you through other Journal entries before — we had to decide on our elements, tweak each colour so it was the perfect shade, add abstract elements to create balance, and adjust the spacing between each fruit so that it is precisely positioned.
And our work doesn’t end there. We then go through rounds of testing and sampling, on fabrics, on silhouettes. We have to readjust the colours of the print because what you print on paper is not what you get when you print on fabric. We reposition the size of each print to suit each silhouette, decide whether it should be a placement print, or a random print, and place the print exactly where we think it looks best. 2 inches more to the right? 5% bigger? 10 degree tilt? After this long process, we sample it again, just to make sure everything falls into place.
To the person/people who are now saying to us “now that I know OSN gets its inspiration from random images off Pinterest, I am a little hesitant to purchase anything again”, the truth is that our inspiration comes from the sum of all things we like, and yes while Pinterest is a tool which we use to gather that inspiration, we still decide what we like, what we don’t, and where we go from there.
All in all, what I’m trying to say here is:
1/ Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere.
2/ There is a lot that goes into each art piece, as with each print, that makes it one’s own.
On top of all of this, I would like to express my sincere apologies to Antti Kalevi, for causing him to feel that I disrespected his work. It was not my intention to rip him off, or “[take his] livelihood away”. I drew inspiration from his flower, amongst other sources of inspiration, as I’m sure he drew in creating this flower too. We’re in conversation with him at the moment, and are working on moving forward from this.
So, just like the grey specks I talked about in Milestone, and as with all the other dull moments in our life, I say this:
From down this low, it’s only up we go.
on behalf of Our Second Nature