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Target may be eager to capitalize on LGBTQ pride, but a queer Mexican-American artist claims the company is selling a stolen version of his artwork on a T-shirt.
Queer painter Felix d’Eon was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, studied in the U.S., and currently lives in Mexico City. For one of his paintings, he redesigned the “La Bandera” card from the Mexican chance game lotería, replacing the Mexican flag draped around a pole with the rainbow flag.
Recently, Target was selling a very similar design available on a T-shirt, with the word “Igualdad” written underneath a rainbow flag, which is also draped over a pole. The shirt’s print looks so eerily similar to d’Eon’s work that he openly criticized the company for allegedly “stealing the art of a gay Mexican artist.”
“Target stole a design of mine and printed it on a tshirt,” d’Eon tweeted earlier this week. “Is this how you support the queer Latinx community, @Target, by stealing the art of a gay Mexican artist? I’m curious to hear what you have to say!”
Target stole a design of mine and printed it on a tshirt. Is this how you support the queer Latinx community, @Target , by stealing the art of a gay Mexican artist? I'm curious to hear what you have to say! pic.twitter.com/O4ItN6enEp
— Felix d'Eon (@FelixdEon) May 16, 2018
Target has since replied, saying that it “respects the design rights of others and expects our vendors to do the same,” explaining that it removed the shirt from online stores and is discussing the design with its creator, Mad Engine. In return, d’Eon criticized Target, arguing the company is still “profiting” off a stolen design from him in its retail stores.
“Your apology rings hollow so long as the tshirt is available in your brick and mortar stores,” d’Eon told Target over Twitter. “You are still profiting off my work, and appropriating from the queer, Latinx community.”
It has come to my attention that @madengine is the company responsible 4 stealing my design, & selling it to Target; was this an attempt to support the queer Latinx community, or to profit of us by stealing the design of a gay Mexican artist and selling it to a major corporation? pic.twitter.com/tqkqGVFvTA
— Felix d'Eon (@FelixdEon) May 16, 2018
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D’Eon argues that there are plenty of problems with Target and Mad Engine’s design, including the fact that the companies don’t understand the design’s cultural meaning. He believes his design was not just stolen but recreated through a white American lens.
“Every single [lotería] image has an ‘el’ or a ‘la’ before the subject,” d’Eon said to Into. “The fact that they didn’t do that, the fact that there’s not a number in the corner, the fact that the models are white makes me suspect that no Latinos were actually involved in the decision to copy the shirt, to produce the shirt, to publicize the shirt, which is a whole other set of issues around cultural appropriation.”
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.