Friday, March 7, 2014

Art Thief Targets the BJD Community--the Community Fights Back

I am making an extra post this week to help spread the word about a heinous theft of intellectual property.  An "artist" by the name of Matthew Christopher Nelson has been discovered posting photos of dolls and original artwork collected from various online sources.  He has manipulated these images in PhotoShop or a similar program and claims the work is his.  This would be bad enough by itself, but he was also in the process of raising money on Kickstarter to fund a book of his "original" artwork.

I became aware of the brouhaha a day late and therefore missed seeing his Facebook photos myself, but I saw enough screen captures of his work, side-by-side with the original artwork, to sicken me.  Is he delusional?  How can he apply a filter to someone else's work, a task that PhotoShop accomplishes in mere seconds, and then lie on his site that he has spent days sorting, laying out, and drawing the piece?  It did not take long for Kickstarter to shut him down.  His photos are no longer available to the public on Facebook.  Whether he took them down or merely hid them is another question.

The art he stole and adulterated belongs to a wide variety of people:  BJD owners; faceup artists; costume designers; photographers; bona fide artists who posted their work on DeviantArt; ball jointed doll companies; even large corporations like Disney.  The doll owners and the artists went to work matching the bogus works of art with the originals and notified unsuspecting victims.  I imagine the corporations will set their lawyers on him.  Is he shut down for good?  Unlikely.  He has attempted such a scam before.  Then too he was shut down.  The man does not learn from his mistakes.  He went so far as to respond to his accusers online, "You people are pissing me off."  Unrepentant.

Among the things I don't understand are how his backers could fall for his scheme.  Perhaps he didn't show them any artwork?  Anyone who looks at one of his pieces will see that it is digitally manipulated.  Anyone who looks at his earlier work can see that there is no correlation between then and now.  Even among the photos he appropriated, there is the work of divergent minds and hands.  The only commonality is the fact that he has vandalized each and every original work he took.  He has even cropped photos to remove the original artist's name and other identifying marks.  He is no innocent blundering into no-man's-land.  That action alone clearly shows knowledge and intent. 

Another thing I don't understand:  he gave names to the doll photos he manipulated, identifying them as characters in the book.  How can he account for the fact that he can never show two or more of these characters together in one photo, or in a different pose or costume than the one shown?  As someone who shoots doll photos, I know from experience that for every photo published online there are a dozen more sitting in my computer or my camera.  Unless I have since sold the doll, I have both the doll and the costume shown in the photo and can produce them on demand.  He can't.  I have the wigs, I have the patterns, I even have leftover scraps of the fabric used in the costume.  He has none of those things.  Even if I have sold the doll, I have plenty of other photos of the same doll in the same and other costumes. I imagine the same goes for other doll owners.

I am not posting any links.  He is easily found online.  If you have access to Den of Angels, please read the thread that deals with this subject.  The last time I looked--this afternoon--it was already 26 pages long.  Many of the links posted there are now broken, either by the "artist" or by the site administrators, but there is plenty of evidence on display nonetheless.  And if you are wondering what his "art" looks like, here is an example I put together myself using one of my dolls.  In the first instance you have my original doll photo.  In the second you have my photo after I applied two PhotoShop effects:  fluorescent chalk and a lighting filter.  As you can see, the original is still identifiable.  Same with his pieces.

But is it Art?
And can you sell it as yours, if you carefully remove the original artist's name?
No, dear.  That is Theft.


  1. Wow. I hope he gets in serious trouble for this. You are right. That is theft.

  2. A lot of these "broken links" can still be viewed by using the Google cache. Plug the original URL address into Google search and it comes up with its results. It will have the result Title in heavier bolded font and then immediately under that it will have the URL address is a smaller bolded font. To the right of the 2nd line is a drop down arrow. Click on the little arrow and a little box titles "Cached" pops up. Click.. and there you see a cached view.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Christina. It has really been bothering me that I couldn't follow any of the links to see if he had stolen any of my stuff. On the one hand I doubt it, because he seems to go for Lord of the Rings and other fantasy type stuff and that's not my style. On the other hand, I just want to know.