Monday, May 24, 2010

The Art of Stealing

An unfortunate situation has been forced upon me, one I never thought I would have to deal with. Thanks to an informative post here on my blog from artist Bob East, I learned that a person by the name of Mark Bruton was suspected of stealing a digital painting I did of John Wayne. So I began to investigate, and this is what I found:

My initial reaction was that a mistake had been made. It seemed that this person had simply used the same photo reference as I, but upon closer examination I discovered that Mark Bruton's John Wayne drawing was in my opinion an altered version of mine own.

It seems he has taken my painting off of my blog, drawn or painted on top of it, and put his name on it. What's more, he was selling it on his webpage.

Now, had it not been for Mark Bruton's lame attempt to dodge the blame in his response to the cease and desist order I sent him, I wouldn't be spending all this time and energy providing evidence of his obvious infraction against me. Mark writes:
". . . it is a well known fact that all artists [use] reference photos and others works. After comparing these drawings I can see how one might draw the conclusion that they are very similar. However mine has many color differences and others as well. Many artists have done renderings of this photo."
Nice try Lao Che! Here's my retort:

Not entirely obvious until you start to compare the simplified
shapes for the eyes, nose, mouth, and chin.

Notice the highlights on, and the general outline of, the nose,
and the graphic shadow shape of the nasal labial fold.
Also pay attention to the brush strokes in this region.

In my opinion, it doesn't get any more obvious than this.
The brush strokes are exactly the same. Also, notice that
the shirt in the reference photo is red while in both
drawings the shirt is blue.

And in case he still has doubts, here is a video of the two images superimposed together.

Some may say I'm coming down a little too hard on this guy. Perhaps, but take into consideration that I'm not the first artists he's stolen from. 75 percent of the art for sale on his web page was stolen from other people. He even had the audacity to put a copyright symbol on them.

Check out these blog posts from other's who have caught Mark Bruton stealing from them:

Emily's Caricature Sketchblog
Monty's Muse

The bottom line is that i believe Mark Bruton has stolen from me. This is my opportunity to expose his dirty deeds and hopefully he will get the hint that he is not welcome in the art community as long as he continues with his dishonest practices, especially if he's not going to be MAN enough to admit he's done something wrong.

If he really wants to do the right thing, this is my advice to him. Own up to your misdeeds, give credit where credit is due, and stop trying to profit off of other people's hard work. An apology would be nice too.

Working within the realm of honesty and integrity is the first lesson for an artist to learn. The second lesson is . . . simply redrawing or recreating another person's art DOES NOT MAKE IT YOUR OWN . . . legally, ethically, or artistically.

UPDATE - June 4th, 2010:

I've come across a few more examples of work that Mark Bruton has stolen from other legitimate artists. You may have to get out your Google Translator for some of these, Bruton's gone international:

Colectivo Bicicleta
Noticias De Cartoon
Bruton Facebook Fan Club

Also, It's been twelve days since my email and I have yet to hear back from Bruton. No witty retort, no defense, no apology. I guess this shows how "big" a man Mark Bruton really is.


Kevin Lu said...

sucks he stole your work. What an asshole.

francesco giroldini said...

I wish I could punch a hole through his face.

Natasha said...

wow, so not cool. really well composed post matt, hope he learns.

The Bearded Wonder said...

That's what you get for being awesome, I guess...

It might be a good idea to throw this up on or cgtalk to get more publicity and hopefully blacklist him from the industry.


Greg Hettinger said...

You aren't coming down on him too hard at all! You have every right to defend your own work. Obviously this wasn't his first theft either. Take him down to the fullest extent of the law.

jane said...

Hey!! I didn't know you had a blog, or I would've started reading it earlier :-) Farnell sent me the link to this post, as something rather similar just happened to me... with the City of Waycross stealing my photos!

Here's my story and then here's the follow up.

Your situation is worse, because this asshole is trying to sell what is essentially your work... but in my case the web designer was getting paid to build a site, for which he used my photos as the decor. Blah!! People suck.

Anonymous said...

There was a Mark Bruton who stole me on Ebay.Never get my product.He is a liar and cheat.

Matthew J Killian said...


You should send me more info and some pics. If we're talking about the same Mark Bruton, I'll post about it here on my blog so as to keep people properly informed of his activities. You can email me at