1. Sam Larson is a freelance artist based in Portland, Oregon.
2. Larson told BuzzFeed News that he used to design for a footwear company, but now freelances for various entities. He also sells his designs at his personal online store, Steel Bison.
The store sells prints, apparel, and other items featuring his artwork.
“I’ve been creating art since I could hold a pencil,” he said.
3. His unique artwork has earned him a huge Instagram following of nearly 250,000 people.
4. His online success has come with some downfalls too. Larson said he has seen people steal his artwork multiple times for products they then sell for a profit. “It happens all the time with my work,” he said.
5. But recently, Larson said he was outraged to find out that a design he had made two years ago had suddenly appeared on a shirt at Forever 21.
7. The artist said he was incredibly disheartened. “It’s gut-wrenching to see my art turned into a product without any permission to try to profit from. It’s just wrong,” he said.
8. So he decided to take action. He posted a message to Instagram decrying Forever 21 for what he said was their “ridiculous” art theft.
“I hope you plan on paying me royalties for stealing my art @forever21,” he wrote.
9. His post got nearly 11,000 likes on Instagram. Many of his fans also called out Forever 21 on its social media pages using the hashtag #PaySamLarson.
10. A spokesperson for Forever 21 told BuzzFeed News they couldn’t comment on the matter because of pending litigation. The chain has faced multiple copyright or trademark lawsuits in 2015 alone, including one filed in July by rival clothing company H&M.
11. Larson said the most maddening thing about the experience is to see someone else benefiting off of his hard work.
“I put so much time and effort into my work to try to make it as freelance artist, and then companies do this,” he said.
When asked if Larson had filed a lawsuit against Forever 21, his spokesperson said, “We would prefer not to discuss.”
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