Art

Let's Talk About How Vice's 50 States of Art Is a Total Rip-Off

Oh, hey.
Oh, hey. Boston Public Library/Flickr Creative Commons
Hey Vice, just curious...

Did you think we wouldn't notice?

It was a few days ago that we first saw pieces from your 50 States of Art series circulating on Facebook. We thought: Oh, that's cool. You guys are taking a closer look at artists across the country for the project. That's no small undertaking. Much respect.

Conceptually, it sounded a little like a series we do called 100 Creatives. That's the massive project we take on every other year to spotlight local talent. It entails writing 100 profiles on 100 consecutive weekdays.

Pretty sure you've seen it.

A few days into your series of Arizona artist profiles, we spotted other similarities.

Francisco Flores was profiled in our 2016 series. So was Douglas Miles. And the Fourtoul Brothers. ColorOrgy, too.

Yai Vila, a.k.a. Yai Cecream, was part of our 2014 series. Frank Gonzales was included in 2012.

At first we were like: cool. Now, we're like: nah. - SCREENSHOT OF VICE CREATORS PROJECT'S 50 STATES OF ART
At first we were like: cool. Now, we're like: nah.
Screenshot of Vice Creators Project's 50 States of Art
Okay, okay, we figured. Chalk it up to imitation, flattery, the fact that we are good at what we do — all that.

Of course, these artists are way talented. That's why we featured them as part of 100 Creatives in the first place. No way are we gonna be upset that you're giving them a platform to discuss their work.

But then, the flattery crossed a line.

Maybe this'll jog your memory:

We saw that Julio Cesar Morales had a byline in your series. A badass choice, for sure. He's talented, has a distinct and politically charged point of view, works with one of the Valley's best museums, and — yeah — he was also featured in last year's 100 Creatives series.

Which, as of this writing, brings the grand total to seven. As in seven of the eight Arizona artists you've profiled first appeared in 100 Creatives. Fine.

Yeah, that photo is by Lynn Trimble. - SCREENSHOT OF VICE CREATORS ARTICLE
Yeah, that photo is by Lynn Trimble.
Screenshot of Vice Creators Article
But then we took a closer look — specifically at the lead photo on Morales' piece about political art in Arizona. See, it looked a little too familiar.

Depicting the controversial anti-Donald Trump billboard that went up in downtown Phoenix a few weeks ago, the photo chosen for Morales' piece was the same one we used in Lynn Trimble's piece about the controversial billboard. Not just a similar angle.

A quick control + click revealed that you didn't even bother to change the file name, which includes Lynn's last name.

So glad you're enjoying our work!

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski