They say there's nothing new under the sun, but when you're someone who makes a living off of their creativity, plagarism is a serious issue. Case in point: makeup artist and Instagram sensation Vlada Haggerty, aka @vladaMUA, who says that Kylie Jenner has been copying her original work to sell Lip Kits.
Haggerty is also a ferocious protector of her creative work, and called Jenner the hell OUT for allegedly stealing a look she created back in September.
The similarities are striking — and the backstory is, allegedly, even more explosive.
Vlada's photographer (and longtime collaborator) Julia Kuzmenko McKim shared their side of the story.
Social media is a big deal for creatives like Vlada and Julia. "Like most independent and driven artists, we work really hard creating new work, growing our social media following, trying to get our images seen by our future clients. Every re-post, every tag matters," she says. So stealing their ideas is a HUGE problem.
Julia and Vlada were understandably proud of this series they'd created, sharing the images on their Instagrams.
Turns out that Marcelo — tagged in a LOT of Julia's professional work — was the photographer behind this near-identical Kylie Cosmetics holiday campaign.
For Julia, it was especially rough — because she frequently worked with Marcelo. "My initial reaction was emotional, and my Instagram post contained harsh words such as “pathetic knockoff.” I was in shock and disbelief," writes Julia. "I am not proud of that, and I removed them shortly after I posted it and apologized to the photographer, he accepted my apology about using those words. But the issue is still there, whatever you name it."
Julia also points out that the ombre in Kylie's campaign is near-identical to ANOTHER of Vlada's looks.
This is from September 8, 2016. "Vlada and I pride ourselves on always striving to create something new in our field," says Julia. "We never want to simply copy other artist’s creations. It just kills the joy of being creative professionals for us. While it is difficult to create something new and original in our day and age, we never stop trying."
Seeing other photographers, makeup artists, and creative directors stealing artists' work is sickening to me — and I hope to other people as well.
This is not the first time that Kylie Cosmetics has been accused of stealing Vlada's work.
Back in December of 2015, Kylie Cosmetics posted this iconic photo of Vlada's to the brand's Instagram — without crediting her.
"The second I saw it I my heart dropped with excitement, up until the moment when I realized I wasn't mentioned in any way on the post," Haggerty said in a 2015 interview. "Even after they edited the caption it still said 'Inspo @vladamua #likitbykylie,' I have no affiliation with the brand, I didn't give them the permission to use my image. The most frustrating thing about this is that this lip look will be associated with Lip Kit By Kylie, it's very recognizable and now I can't use it for anything else."
Fortunately, Julia knows exactly what can be done to address these issues of ALLEGED creative plagiarism.
A. Hiring the artists who have already created something that they would love for their own campaigns. In our case, we are not even in a different city – we are here, in Los Angeles, just a call or an email away. Some companies do so and I applaud those brands for giving a chance to the talented underdogs.
B. Simply adding “Inspired by such and such” in the captions when sharing their images that are so similar to the lesser known artists’ work.
And we as consumers need to kick up a major fuss when we see this "inspiration" going too far.
Indie brands and artists keep the beauty industry moving forward. If we want Vlada and Julie to keep blessing our feeds with their amazing work, we need to make sure they get paid FAIRLY for that work.
And Instagram seems to agree — the comments on the Kylie Cosmetics post are currently full of snake emoji. So.
What do you think about all of this? Do you agree with Julia that Kylie Cosmetics went too far?
Let me know your feelings in the comments, or over on Facebook in emoji form!