Forgotten Fairytales Ripoff Drama

Monday, January 3, 2011

///Update 2:

Renselar has apologized to me, and has removed "Walls and Lies" as well as "Tuesday's Child" from his site, promising they were never sold and that he will never show them in public again.

He says the original photos were "on a CD-ROM that was given to him by a friend", and that the friend assured him that all the images on the CD-ROM were in the public domain.
"...I was badly misled and I therefore got it wrong. I’m angry too, because it means I wasted over 4 weeks of my time painting something I can never show."
Tell me I'm not the only one who tried not to roll my eyes. Really now.

Anyway, whether you believe the story or not, the important thing is that knock-offs have been removed and the man who made them has apologized and the works have been taken down now.

If you see works by other artists you know still on his site, please bring it up!


Cross posting from Matt Thorn's blog post: Mr. Walker has apologized to Ms. Zhang and also to me. has also removed Van Renselar from their online catalog. According to Mr. Walker, neither of the Renselar pieces based on Ms. Zhang’s work were ever sold through So, kudos to them. But Renselar is still peddling his knock-offs on his own site. Why not drop him a line and let him know what you think of his “original artworks,” as he calls them? While you’re at it, you also might want to check his catalog to see if he hasn’t borrowed from you as well.


No better way to start off a new year than some drama. Posting for the lulz and share along as you may.

I was browsing my Facebook's Photography folder when I chanced upon a link someone left on Forgotten Fairytales.

So I followed it, titled something like: The Spectacular Work of London Artist, Van Renselar:

The first piece of featured work in his article is a ripoff of one of my most iconic pieces, Forgotten Fairytales.

My original - Forgotten Fairytales, 2007

And he's supposedly a 52 years old man, really? Does he have no concept of shame and morals at all?

So anyway I posted about this on my Twitter and Facebook, and some people decided to leave comments on the page informing DiscoveredArtists that the work is ripped.

While I'm quietly waiting for my agent's return to town tomorrow to send them a formal correspondence, guess what, DiscoveredArtists replied in the comments section! (Not the artist himself, oh well)

Bitterness? WHAT bitterness? If anything yes I am sort of bitter that my work is being ripped off AND sold. Boohoo.

So clearly Mr. Brian Walker wants to be contacted directly, leaving his email, cell, tollfree number and what not, and I guess some of you went ahead.

But what surprised me, was when I found myself cc-ed in an email Matt Thorn had written to Brian Walker, alerting him that Van Renselar has plagiarized my work.

Matt Thorn, who's probably translated/is translating Hagio Moto's every English edition title, who appeared alongside Hagio Moto at her San Diego Comic Con signing last year, whose interview with Hagio Moto I had read, over and over and over, that had continued to serve as an inspiration to me for so so long, wrote an email for me. It's simple, professional and straight-forward. I was beyond touched, surprised and even honoured.

But guess what Mr. Walker replied!


The first thing you address is not about the plagiarism, but about how being alerted multiple times on an infringement could be a virtual harassment?

He didn't even do his research before the accusation, so much for working on the internet all day as he claims!

We're not even getting into details about the actual artwork itself yet, but I doubt it's going to be all sweet and rosy. What kind of people takes it out on others when they get called out on, seriously? I'm not impressed, DiscoveredArtists.


Anne Lorraine Uy said...

The truth will prevail in the end. Your works are timeless. <3 Unfortunately, it seems like you are dealing with very immature people who pretend to be professionals. -_-'

tabzchewy said...

Maybe years of experience is from when he left his head in a hole >[

For some "professionals", they're pretty immature >__<;

I got a comment on my own blog about how I should be grateful that people repost entire pieces of my content and not call it plagiarism if they at least credit me in tiny font at the bottom, but seriously, they should respect the creators of the content. This old 50 year old should get himself some b*lls and this dumb website should learn how to use the Internet! GRAAA!

angellusion said...

I find the behaviour of the other party appalling. I wrote a longer comment before but my browser malfunctioned and now I'm too lazy to type it all again ><;

As shown, you have the support from many fans and please don't let this get you down for the start of 2011. I know words may not do much but I'm sending you my love, hoping all of this will work out!

Catchild(Sarah) said...

That's ridiculous, I'm sorry that your work was stolen and that Mr Walker (?) was sort of rude to you about it, I hope that 52 year old man gets something like dis-credited. That's shameful for what he did.


Anonymous said...

Oh lord. This makes me fear going into this industry to have to deal with that. Luckily you have great fans which help out and link you to stuff like this.

Not the first time this happened, I'd appreciate if you could offer some advice in a blog post in the future maybe.

Samuel Alberti said...

I would at least think a 90 year old man would have some knowledge about being honest..

Wana Zainal said...

Oh my, when he mentioned that "bitterness", it's so sarcastic! It's hard to say this, but reali, there won't be an ending to all these copyright issues..bcos there's so many fakes out there. And another issue that people are not resourceful enough and make judgements all the time.

Whatever is gonna happen, you've got nothing to worry so much becos there's so many fans out here who'll always be by your side and looking out for all these bullshits in the future. Chin up dear! Hoping this would not spoil your 2011! There's so much more ahead for you! Take care and keep your amazing works coming :)

Claudie. said...

WOW. I'm angry for you.
This is infuriating. Forgotten Fairytales is my favourite piece that you've done.

Everything will turn out for you. D: Karma~

Renanjay said...

it's just pathetic for uncreative people to rip-off true-artist's work...why even bother to call yourself an artist if you got nothing to present but copycats....a true-blooded, unimaginative geriatric who should be left in the nursing home.....

Ayden said...

Yea! I am your crazy fan who created some 36 thousand different profiles!!!! I'm so glad you finally recognize my time and effort!!!

*cough**cough* love ya much Jingna. I hope this gets fixed soon-- and properly.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Their response towards the situation was rude and uncalled for. Really disappointed in this site. Also they should of dealt with the situation professionally and promptly at all times. I say very unprofessional to behave so when beneficial.

The Last Unknown said...

Wow seriously?
I guess some people truly never stop being a child and unfortunately he choose to keep one of the most unappealing features/personalities.

This will be a very interesting topic to bring up to my professors and classmates once school starts again considering we're all in school for photography wonder who'd they'll all side with

Hopefully this all works out for you and a retraction/apology is put out from Mark for his unprofessional and childish behaviour (although highly unlikely).

Andy King said...

His website needs an update too:


I create my pictures in 3 stages...

Firstly I hand draw and paint all elements of each picture on paper, fabric, board, found objects or whatever comes to hand that I think will help create the effect I'm after. There are typically 10-20 elements.

Secondly I scan all these separate elements into a computer using a very high resolution scanner. At this stage I can place the elements exactly where I want them and even make any adjustments to colours if I wish. Think of this stage as if you were making a collage. This results in a single computer file.

Thirdly, I can now output (print) the computer file using the giclee process. Giclee needs to marry the inks and the canvas or paper to guarantee light fastness, and gives an incredibly high quality image. "

The problem is that he might get away with it by playing around with the meaning of "art" (i.e. referencing to Lichtenstein and others) that by painting your photographs he transforms them, and renders them his own etc. But the paintings themselves do not look very painted rather edited to seem so.

aya s said...

What a way to start 2011. Cia you! That old man surely also in love with ur works soo much that he plaque it.
Again cia you, agrred with Wana, don't let it spoil ur 2011!

Saw Kang Jong said...

the replied from Walker's so arrogant.

EclecticallyB said...

I guess there just trying to avoid any conflict which is, really immature from then, and so not professional.
I really hope everything will turn out good and will discover some sense.
Anyway, they already lost some credibility from 36,000 people, we just need to spray the word.

Jakk said...

I hope this issue is resolved quickly!

Matt Thorn said...

Renselar is a shameless pig, and Walker is not much better. If Walker was trying to avoid conflict by sending me an insulting response, he was seriously wrong. I have now made it my mission to make sure that both Renselar and DiscoveredArtists pay dearly for their transgressions.

bykirabo said...

People like Matt Thorn are greatly appreciated.

I can't believe the cheek of these people, the "artist" and the promoters.
Hope everything gets resolved soon.


Frank Hong said...

I can't imagine such professional suicide. At such an age too. I think legal actions are required, and you have our support.

Frank Hong

Megan said...

The plagiarism is one thing, for a representative of the site to behave so immaturely in response to complaints and making ridiculous accusations is what drove me to write my own response and post it on the website.
However I've noticed that the site has been deleting comments, including my own and a couple people that posted after me just hours ago. Funny how it seems they're doing more work on that than resolving the actual problem.
As stated at the end of my deleted comment, "I hope that this can get resolved soon with a little less bitterness than you've[Brian] been showing other people".

Anonymous said...

Dear Z, I'll hope you'll appreciate the perspective... In one night, I was bombarded by over 50 negative comments related to one piece by artist Van Renselar - on The piece was uploaded to our online gallery over 1.5 years ago.

Please understand that we receive an amazing quantity of "negative comments" from a multitude of want-a-be artists/photographers every month - nature of the business.

These comments were different. Many individuals rallied to support your name, your integrity and,most importantly... your work.

After reviewing Van Renselar's "painting", compared to you original photograph, we clearly see what all the fuss is about - a clear violation of copyright infringement - though, we found it interesting that a talented painter selected one of your pieces to mimic in paint - he should have asked for your permission.

We have removed all external posts related to Van Renselar paintings, and have removed his presence on, entirely.

We apologize for the temporary infringement. None of Van's paintings ever sold on Discovered, including the piece in question.

We offer our sincerest apologies for carrying this particular piece from Van Renselar, and hope nothing but the most amazing success to you in 2011.

Most Sincerely,

Brian Walker

P.S. A special "I'm Sorry" to Professor Matt - you know who you are - a bad email exchange based on lack of information

Zsanna said...

I really understand it. A Comic Store has stolen my name as well. I invented the name Montasy from mosaicwords and they use it. They do not care because I am just a little photographer in Hungary. :(

discoveredartists said...

As a ridiculous side-note... for some odd reason, many of the posts suggested that I am in my fifties, or even 90 years old... For the record, I am 43.

I realize, of course, that this has nothing to do with all the drama that has ensued over a painting uploaded to my gallery almost two years ago, but felt like I needed to defend my age, if nothing else.

Please, people. Life is short... and dramas are always in demand. However, let's all put this behind us-in good faith.

God Bless.

Brian Walker

Arinae said...

Seriously, people can be so terrible and immature. >__<
I'm so sorry that something like that happened to you. Not the best way to start a new year, isn't it? I hope that everything will get reslved soon.

Rocking Doll Museum / Diabetic Lolita said...

I hope you can get it fixed!

But I see you got a long comment above from Brain!

sherinyc said...

Good thing Renselar was removed from the site. I've seen this happen once before, to a painter in fact! A photographer blatantly copied a series of paintings for an editorial... just know that YOU are the true artist with a clear vision. The other guy has no true creativity and therefore resorts to copycat methods.

Best of luck to resolving this issue.


Samantha Nandez said...

*sigh* always an adventure when people steal, contradict themselves, and act silly in response to serious matters.

I hope this gets sorted. <3

Matt Thorn said...

Brian, "52 years old" is a reference to Renselar's age, not yours. (The profile says he was born in 1959.)

Wailly said...

DiscoveredArtists has removed all reference to Van Renselar, but it's still there on his own site. Concerned artists/photographers should check it out over there; to see if any of your work has been ripped.

exillior said...

I'm embarrassed on their behalf. They claim to find their artists on the internet... but 1. don't know Zhang Jingna's work, and 2. accuse a professional of being an amateur? And moreover they seem to think you have a single fan?

It's so embarrassing on their behalf that I couldn't even laugh.

julie said...


Lisa said...

I'm glad that things have been cleared up now, but I still cannot believe how unprofessional the immediate dialogue has been.

Even if there was reasonable past experience to suggest the possibility that the negative comments stemmed from one person, to go as far as to firmly accuse someone is outrageous.

The thing is, even Brian himself admitted that the comments were of an entirely different nature to those that he was accustomed to receiving from 'wannabe' artists. So then why carry on presuming that the comments were all Matt's doing? Worst of all, why act on it and accuse him and ignore the crux of the matter? Perhaps he realised this in retrospect.

Anyway, it's water under the bridge now. I am extremely impressed by the way that you and Matt handled this situation. All the best for the coming year, you deserve all the successes in the world! And I suppose all publicity is good publicity, right? :)

karinalove said...

That's ridiculous! What a loser, he can't even change the pose a little. Some people just need to leave photography to the professionals. I hope he gets what he deserves.

-L O V E

J.Lynn Greenwood said...

Wow!!! What a mess!!!

My work has been stolen before and I was absolutely mortified!! I really cannot believe though that is handling this entire situation so poorly!! Have they no decency!! I hope that this gets worked out, and quickly!! Best to you.

dreamtomatoes said...

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!?! WTH!!!?!!! UGH!!! I guess that guy doesn't understand the concept of having friends or fans.

Euri said...

I don't get that DiscoveredArtists guy. His replies are way off. XD

Matt Thorn said...

Renselar has apologized to Jingna, and has removed "Walls and Lies" as well as "Tuesday's Child" from his site, promising to never show them in public again. He says the original photos were on a CD-ROM that was given to him by a friend, and that the friend assured him that all the images on the CD-ROM were in the public domain. Whether or not you believe that story, the important thing is that knock-offs have been removed and the man who made them has apologized to Jingna.

But now Jingna has to deal with another case of misappropriation of her work. A Japanese "celebrity lawyer" presented a tracing of one of her photographs as his original work on a Japanese television program. A lawyer! Since I speak Japanese, I have offered my services to Jingna to help sort this one out.

Well, I suppose this rash of rip-offs is evidence of Jingna's talent. (-_^)

Jean Liang said...

I'm so shocked at the manner discoveredartists chose to deal with this matter. Kudos for it being brought to just, lets hope nothing else like this happens again.

Anonymous said...

How fucking selfish are you?

Matt Thorn said...

Anonymous said:
How fucking selfish are you?
Huh? I don't even understand what that means. But it's an excellent example of the kind of cowardly, mean-spirited use of anonymity Stanley Fish just wrote about in the New York Times:

Euri said...

Tell me I'm not the only one who tried not to roll my eyes. Really now.

I don't buy this. XD

Euri said...

@Anonymous (January 5, 2011 9:40 PM): Are you an idiot or something? How stupid are you?

q said...

i don't know you or your work, but just came and read out of curiosity, from a link on twitter.

this made me think about a great blog post a friend of mine linked to:

Traci Matlock says it best "Please steal what I'm making. It will only force me to make more and better. Always."


best to you.

Matt Thorn said...

q, Traci's is a legitimate point of view, but it's certainly not the only legitimate point of view. I tried to find out if Traci is a professional photographer, or does it for pleasure alone. She might feel differently if her photographs were the source of her livelihood. On the other hand, she might not.

It is one thing for someone to try to imitate Jingna's style in an original work. It is one thing to use a copy of something she did for purposes of satire. It's another thing to take her photo, change the background, throw in a cat and a pair of shoes, and put it out there for sale as "original artwork." I don't think that's what Picasso had in mind when he said, "Bad artists imitate, good artists steal."

Momo said...

Zhanga Jinga and Matt Thorn, I definitely feel for you guys! Even on my blog, I contact the artist, give them links to the blog post, and even check up with them again to make sure that if I post their work, they are okay with it. I also posted in my information for my blog that if I post anything I haven't credited or that needs to be removed can be sent to an e-mail that I check regularly. So I hope the rest of this goes well for you guys and that all the ugliness of this situation can be forgotten so that everyone can move on and learn some lessons.

Daniel said...

Not only is it a ripoff, it sucks too.

michael iglin said...

Unfortunately, we can't always rely on Karma to sort these things out. Great job exposing these losers. They can quote "appropriation" all they want, but I don't see a single original idea in these pathetic copies.

Thank you Zemotion for being firm, for yourself and others.

sinsong said...

Any photographs, at the instant that it's taken, is instantly copyrighted to the photographer, unless there is a legal contract stating that that photograph is "work for hire".

Van Reselar's so called explanation that he is unaware that the original photograph by you is not copy righted only shows his ignorance about this industry.

Even if he did see "forgotten fairytale" as a public domain stock image, and copies a figure from a photograph and insert it into his "own" picture, without any sort of distortion of attempt of such from the original image, and then call it "original artwork". Come on now, this only shows that his whole idea of image making is utterly shameless.

And Mr. Walker, god bless him and his good faith.

We all see who's the immature ones here and who are the real artist.

Anonymous said...

Brian Walker is an ass, short and simple.
And kudos to you, you really reacted with class and dignity toward this whole mess.

kim said...

reading this makes me really mad-

someone should give him a nice slap on the head.

please don't harbor too much anger because these people are not worth your time and don't deserve a little spot on your mind.
hopefully your agent will be able to do something about this situation because this is such a shame and disgraceful :(

your work shouldn't be associated with something dirty like this T-T

Ting said...

Depending on which jurisdiction they are in you could just sue them. From the looks of things you'd probably got some considerable damages and your legal costs back. If they DID sell any of those copies, they'd be legally obliged to pay you all profits they've earned.

It is amazing how nice people get after they get hit with a civil suit.

Sylvia Liu said...

wooww I know this is late but just read this, I love your work !! and those people were so immature and super rudee ..

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear things were fixed and apologies given where they were due! Matt Thorn you're my hero : )

Risata said...

...but we noticed