Is The New York Times Plagiarising?
Image: “Together” by Jermaine Rogers; Illustration for the New York Times by Shannon Freshwater.
On Monday, Houston-born artist Jermaine Rogers — well-known for creating incredible concert posters for the likes of Radiohead, Morissey, Neil Young and David Bowie (to name very few) — posted on Facebook about an illustration for a pro-Hillary Clinton article in the New York Times. The illustration looks extremely similar to a piece titled “Together” that Rogers created for a pro-Bernie Sanders art show, so FPH reached out to Rogers to get his perspective.
FPH: There’s an illustration in the New York Times that bears a striking likeness to the Bernie Sanders “Together” piece you created. How do you feel about that?
Jermaine Rogers: You know, in a way I guess I’m strangely flattered. I believe that art, at its core, is a visual language and when you find effective art, in a sense you’re finding an effective way to communicate a feeling or an idea. When there’s a counterpoint — especially when there’s a direct counterpoint to something that you feel, and basically your style of visual language, your dialect so to speak, is borrowed to try to make a point, it sort of endorses the fact that your visual language was really effective. Even people who disagree with you recognize how effective it was. So it’s strangely flattering in a way.
FPH: Has that ever happened to you before?
Rogers: Yeah, I’ve had that. When it’s an out-and-out situation in a sense of intellectual property, obviously that’s a certain issue to be followed up on. But you know, it’s what art does. Art feels. There are no new ideas, art just takes old ideas and refashions them and the artist puts his or her own stink on it and then you have a “new” piece. I’ve done it myself doing street art and rock n’ roll art and stuff. I’ve hijacked a lot of popular culture and sort of beaten it into my own shape and made it my own. That’s the key thing, when you make it your own, you’re creating a new idea. That’s where it gets tricky. If you don’t create a new idea then people will just see it as a rip-off. If you can create a new idea, then people will see it as a certain kind of genius.
FPH: In terms of intellectual property issues, will you be following up on that?
Rogers: I don’t know. At this point, I just saw it and I don’t know any of the background or any of the art direction that went into it. So at this point, I won’t even make a comment on that because I just don’t know. I would like to think that they respected the idea and the work and time that went into creating the “Together” image. I’d like to think that they respected that.