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Did ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ plagiarize this artist’s painting? [updated]
‘It’s almost as if key elements were traced,’ says the artist.
A Georgia-based artist is drawing attention to a particular background painting in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which he says bears a striking resemblance to his own work.
Joseph Butler was enjoying Netflix’s creepy Sabrina reboot when he saw something in the background that caught his eye. “During episode three in the court scene, I noticed a painting on the wall that looks oddly familiar to my own work I painted in 2016,” Butler wrote on Facebook. “The most noticeable similarities are in the composition.”
I recently started watching Netflix's series, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" and found something odd. During episode…
As he was watching the show, Butler told the Daily Dot “I was a bit taken aback. I had to pause and take a moment to look at the painting. I could clearly tell that the outline and a majority of the composition was copied.”
Butler explained that he had created the painting in 2016 for a Satanic art book called The Devils Reign II: Psychedelic Blasphemy, a book curated by a High Priest of the Church of Satan. He said he wanted to create a psychedelic demon that reflected the experience of “confronting one’s inner demons.”
According to Butler, this version of Satan he created is a unique interpretation of Biblical descriptions of the devil. “In the book of Revelations, Satan is described as having seven heads and 10 horns,” said Butler. “I thought it would be an interesting approach to merge all the faces together.”
It was this unique design that made the painting stand out. “It looks almost as if key elements were traced, especially the outline of the head and placement of the horns, faces, and cross,” wrote Butler in his Facebook post. In speaking to the Daily Dot, he noted that slight changes that had been made for the painting on the show, namely just removing some small details.
Butler says he feels “ripped off.” “If they wanted to use my work for the show, I would have happily let them if they had properly contacted me about it,” he said. “Art plagiarism is a serious problem, especially now in the digital age. Artists have their work copied or cheaply recreated for others profits.”
Butler says he attempted to contact the art director and set designer for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and was referred to their lawyer. The Daily Dot also reached out art director Aer Agrey and Netflix about the artwork and has not heard back as of this posting.
Butler is not the only one accusing Netflix of plagiarizing Satanic art for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The Satanic Temple is also filing a lawsuit, alleging that the Baphomet statue in the show is copied from one of its own.
Update 8:48am CT, Nov. 13: Butler told the Daily Dot that he and the production team behind the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina spoke, and have worked out a licensing agreement for the use of his painting in this and in future seasons of the show.
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.