Wednesday, July 6, 2011

UPDATE: Forever 21 found RLand's "Loss Cat," adopted without asking

Posted By on Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 7:25 PM

Few Atlanta-based artists have as much visibility as RLand. From coffee shops to movie theaters to galleries, his distinctive graphic style has been a recognizable and celebrated part of Atlanta's local arts scene for years now. Which makes you think: if the clothing chain Forever 21 found a "Loss Cat" that happened to belong to RLand (whose birth name is Ronnie Land), it probably wouldn't have been too hard to let him know.

RLand, Loss Cat
  • RLand, "Loss Cat"
Well, that's not exactly what has happened. About a decade ago, the artist says he was hanging around Kinko's in the wee hours of the morning, looking for a way to amuse himself, and created a faux-flier for a lost cat from a stash of old photos. That piece, "Loss Cat," went viral the pre-internet way: getting passed around and posted up in different cities. It ended up in Found Magazine's book, mistakenly believed as a real flier. A band from Baltimore wrote a song about it. Then, about about a month ago, RLand got an email from someone who had seen a shirt being sold by Forever 21 with a barely-tweaked version of the work.

RLand's lawyer got in touch with Forever 21 and the shirt has since been pulled from their online store. Because the legal situation surrounding the use of his design is still unresolved, the artist is declining to comment directly. Just a little cursory research, though, shows that the clothing chain is no stranger to these sort of legal problems.

We'll be keeping eye out for a resolution in this case, but that may be awhile. Until then, you can check out a video of the adorable kid-fronted Eyeball Skeleton playing "Loss Cat" live and a timeline of events related to "Loss Cat" that the artist sent over earlier today.

UPDATE: Forever 21 responded to our inquiries last evening, "The Lost Cat design t-shirts were purchased from a Third Party vendor and upon being notified of the potential design issues we immediately pulled them from all stock. As with all legal matters we are taking this very seriously."

February 2001 - R.Land created the flyer at 3 am to entertain himself. He laughed so hard he decided to post them around Atlanta at 4 am.

March 2001 - The large flyer debuted on the Krog Tunnel. People began making copies and posting them in different cities around this time. Lots of people believed it was a real flyer.

April 2001 - He began making large scale paintings of the cat head 'Speckles'.

June 2002 - Began printing color screen printing the Speckles head and sold out of first run at his art opening that month.

August 2002 - Began printing silkscreen versions of the street art original flyer on wood for sale. Begins selling them at coffee shops, bars, restaurants and other venues around the country.

2003 - Began selling loss cat apparel and art to Vice magazine store in NYC and LA.

2003 Loss cat and Speckles prints are sold at R.Land shows that year in Chicago, NY, Ann Arbor, Seattle and Jacksonville.

2004 - Loss cat flyer anonymously appears in Found Magazine and the Found Magazine Coffee Table book which went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. On promotional tours of the book the loss cat flyer is highlighted as a fan favorite of the best seller. At this point R. Land contacts the writer to let him know it's a hoax and he created it.

2006 - Urban Outfitters buys original Speckles wall art to sell in their stores worldwide.
Baltimore based kid punk band, 'Eyeball Skeleton' writes and records a song about loss cat,
released as a single and played around the country on college radio, including WFMU NY.
The single featured the loss cat art.

Loss cat/speckles begins being used in several major motion pictures for Warner Brothers and Universal.

2006 - Begins selling loss cat apparel and art on the website as well as the site.

2007 - Losscat flyer is used as an animated character in the Cartoon Network's major motion picture release,
'Aqua Teen Hunger Force'.

2008 to present - Loss cat is continuously licensed for use in films, commercials, tv shows including the 2011 Cartoon Network show 'Off the Air', where the unabomber speckles appears as a character.

June 2011 - Unauthorized version of the loss cat t-shirt is reported being sold at Forever 21.

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