Artist Shantell Martin Cries Theft, Saying Lane Bryant Stole Her Designs

It's just the latest accusation by an artist against a fashion label.

Shantell Martin at the 7th Annual amfAR Inspiration Gala New York, June 2016. Photo Mike Pont/Patrick McMullan.

“Stolen!” says artist Shantell Martin in a Facebook post, pointing out that clothier Lane Bryant has used her work on a T-shirt and in an Instagram post without her permission.


“I did not give permission to this brand to take/use my stuff,” Martin writes.

The T-shirt in question bears the words “you are you,” written as if in a thick black marker. That same affirming slogan, in that same style, appears in Martin’s work frequently, along with variations, such as “are you you.”

What’s more, a Lane Bryant Instagram post features a model wearing the T-shirt against a background that is clearly Martin’s work, showing stylized faces and stick figures drawn freehand in black marker on a white background.

Martin learned about the situation from fans who sent her messages on Instagram, she told artnet News by phone, adding, “And I said, who or what is Lane Bryant?”

The company has since told her, she says, that its designers were “inspired” by images they saw online, and didn’t know the designs were hers.

Lane Bryant has removed the T-shirts from its website, a press representative for the company tells artnet News in an email, and they are are no longer available for sale. The company is in “active conversations” with Martin, the representative said.

“It’s bewildering to hear that they were just ‘inspired’ by something,” Martin said. “How can you be ‘inspired’ by two different aspects of my work and not know where it came from? Lane Bryant should be working with designers who are inspired to create their own work.”

London-born Martin, a graduate of that city’s Central St. Martin’s University, has taught at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has also served as a fellow at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at New York’s Columbia University and is currently an artist in residence at the MIT Media Lab. Her work has been displayed at the Brooklyn Museum; the Museum of the Contemporary African Diaspora, also in Brooklyn; and the Bata Shoe Museum, in Toronto.

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