Where have people seen this before?
April 22, 2008 1:49 AM   Subscribe

An image that my friend has created has been seen before by other people. How has this happened?

A friend who I run a record label with created this image a couple of years ago for a flyer. We have since expanded into making T-shirts as well as records and made up a few shirts with this image on. A couple of people have said that they have come across the image before. One person in the UK and another in France - they both said they had seen the image in Thailand. However my friend created the image from a health leaflet found in the UK.
Are they mistaken and have seen a similar image, or has my friend appropriated an image already available accidentally?
I don't know how to search for an image of two children looking at each others bits, without coming across dodgy stuff so thought I'd ask here.
posted by djstig to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total)
 
I could easily imagine that some T-shirt manufacturer in Thailand saw your friends flyer or the health leaflet (either maybe from a tourist) and made up some T-shirts to sell either on the street or shop.

I think the tone (I can't think of a better word) of the English words on the design would appeal to Thai teenagers.

I haven't seen that design while I've been in Thailand, but I wouldn't be surprised to see someone wearing it.
posted by selton at 2:03 AM on April 22, 2008


I've seen it before. It's from a cartoon where the girl character is saying to the boy character: "Oh, so that explains the difference in our salaries!" I'm in the U.S., if that makes a difference.
posted by amyms at 2:05 AM on April 22, 2008


This is the only picture I could find of the cartoon I mentioned. It's different from your picture, but similar. But I'm certain I've seen one with a version of your picture.
posted by amyms at 2:08 AM on April 22, 2008


You already say that he appropriated the image from a health leaflet found in the UK, so where is the confusion? Your friend just isn't the first one to come up with the idea of "creating" an image for a for-profit item "from" an illustration that a non-profit likely paid for.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:36 AM on April 22, 2008


When I saw that I immediately thought of the image amyms linked, if that helps any.
posted by cmyk at 3:44 AM on April 22, 2008


It's been around forever. I've seen it with the punchline, "You're right, there is a difference." The one amyms links is an updating of that one, I think.
posted by beagle at 5:06 AM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


That certainly seems to be an image I've seen before. (I've lived in several states in the U.S.) Perhaps it was a similar photo, or a drawing. As you said, it was on a leaflet, so it's not really unique.

And perhaps I actually didn't see it, but it has a familiar look to it. Maybe it's like one of those faces that seem familiar. (I seem to have one of those; people often think they have met me before.)

Anyway, yeah, no surprise there.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:06 AM on April 22, 2008


Yes, that image has been around for a long time.
posted by gjc at 5:08 AM on April 22, 2008


Your friend stole it from a leaflet and you're surprised other people have seen it before?
posted by fire&wings at 5:26 AM on April 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's been around forever. I've seen it with the punchline, "You're right, there is a difference."
My grandmather had a plate or something when I was a kid that had this on it, and I think it was vintage, if not antique, at that time and that must have been 50 years ago.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:33 AM on April 22, 2008


However my friend created the image from a health leaflet found in the UK.
... has my friend appropriated an image already available accidentally?

uh?
posted by bonaldi at 5:33 AM on April 22, 2008


The image is pretty common and the idea isn't exactly copyrightable by your friend if that is what you are getting at. I have also seen the image many times here in the US at least 30 years ago.
posted by JJ86 at 6:31 AM on April 22, 2008


If you copy something, you shouldn't be surprised people have seen it before. It is, after all, a copy of something that already existed. This shouldn't be hard to wrap your mind around, really.
posted by splice at 7:35 AM on April 22, 2008


Cheers for most of the answers, I was simply curious about the fact that a similar image was out there independent of my friends creation. The images linked are not identical to the one that he has used, but I could see how people might see it as similar.
He used a couple of sources, and didn't just rip off the image wholesale as some people seem to think. Also I am not worried about the copyright issue of other people ripping us off as we have only made 20 odd t-shirts that have all gone now anyway.
posted by djstig at 7:50 AM on April 22, 2008


I have some friends who run a small business buying small-run t-shirts in southeast asia and selling them to hipsters in montreal. There's tons and tons of copyright infringement.... they had a really interesting shirt a little while ago from (I believe) thailand, that featured some images really really similar to Kara Walker's recent stuff. Kind of interesting to see these thai kids 'finding inspiration' in not especially mainstream contemporary art.


So it's not entirely impossible that your friend was copied, or that someone found the same source material. My understanding is that there are tons and tons of small manufacturers in SE asia pumping out small runs of shirts, and they do like western themes.
posted by cmyr at 8:07 AM on April 22, 2008


A fraternity on my college campus used the same image with "you're right, there is a difference." They added their greek letters to the diaper. Douchebags.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:21 AM on April 22, 2008


If you enjoy thinking about the differences between creation and appropriation, you might be interested in some of Metafilter's many discussions of Shepard Fairey.
posted by box at 10:24 AM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


There was even a punk rock sampler of some label that had this image in color and the tagline: Check this out, baby.

So it has been on a CD cover before.
posted by mmkhd at 11:03 AM on April 22, 2008


The version I've seen of this cartoon includes the caption, "No you can't touch it, you already broke yours off."

Just sayin'.
posted by sdrawkcab at 11:05 AM on April 22, 2008


Uuh, sorry. If found a picture of the cover. It is not the same, just very similar.
posted by mmkhd at 11:06 AM on April 22, 2008


Thailand sells all kinds of counterfeit stuff. Hey, you can get a ton of Calvin and Hobbes shirts there, even.
posted by konolia at 12:53 PM on April 22, 2008


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