High-end GTA tattoo studio suspends co-founder accused of copying artwork

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High-end GTA tattoo studio suspends co-founder accused of copying artwork


High-end GTA tattoo studio suspends co-founder accused of copying artwork | The Star

A high-end GTA tattoo studio has announced that it has suspended its co-founder, who was accused of copying artwork from a New Zealand-based artist for promotional material used online and on storefronts at two local malls.

Chronic Ink posted on Instagram on Friday that it would be suspending Tristen Zhang “indefinitely and effective immediately” after artist Jiayue Wu called him out on social media for copying her work.

Jiayue Wu’s artwork (left), next to artwork used by Tristen Zhang for online promotional material and on storefronts at two local malls. Zhang was suspended Friday from his company Chronic Ink.
Jiayue Wu’s artwork (left), next to artwork used by Tristen Zhang for online promotional material and on storefronts at two local malls. Zhang was suspended Friday from his company Chronic Ink.  (Twitter/@yueko__, Yorkdale.com)

The designs were on signs at Chronic Ink’s Square One location in Mississauga and its pop-up store at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in North York. Wu said she was alerted by a Twitter follower, who sent her a photo of her artwork after seeing it at Yorkdale.

“As you all know Tristen was one of our co-founders and he’s put 11 years of work into this studio so we really needed some time over the past three very sleepless nights to figure out what’s the right decision, and not rush and make one out of anger,” the company posted on Instagram.

“Eventually, the decision was still to suspend him. Right is right and no person should be above that.”

Chronic Ink said it discussed the matter with Wu, and announced that it would donate all the profits from the Yorkdale pop-up to Forest & Bird, a New Zealand-based conservation charity.

In an emailed statement to the Star from New Zealand, Wu said she was “satisfied with their decisions and the professional manner” by which Chronic Ink handled the case.

“I’m happy they were ready to right the wrong and I honestly wish the best for Tristen,” Wu said. “He’s a skilled artist who has promised to learn from this and I could hope for nothing more but the right message to be spread in the tattoo community about plagiarism.”

The Star wasn’t immediately able to contact Zhang for comment about the suspension.

Before his suspension was announced, he told the Star: “I am deeply apologetic for what this may have done both to the reputation of Chronic Ink and the very talented and original artists who work there, who were not party to this mistake.”

Wu has nearly 70,000 followers on Twitter and her series of tweets on Monday about the incident went viral. Wu posted side-by-side photos of her work and the image as it appeared at the Yorkdale location, showing that her illustration appeared to have been traced over.

“In this instance it is still uncertain whether I would have been acknowledged had I not the support behind me so I hope this discourages others from considering plagiarism especially for the sake of artists who may have less options in that situation,” Wu said in her statement.

With files from Temur Durrani

Tom Yun is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @thetomyun

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Chronic Ink said it discussed the matter with Wu, and announced that it would donate all the profits from the Yorkdale pop-up to Forest & Bird, a New Zealand-based conservation charity.

In an emailed statement to the Star from New Zealand, Wu said she was “satisfied with their decisions and the professional manner” by which Chronic Ink handled the case.

“I’m happy they were ready to right the wrong and I honestly wish the best for Tristen,” Wu said. “He’s a skilled artist who has promised to learn from this and I could hope for nothing more but the right message to be spread in the tattoo community about plagiarism.”

The Star wasn’t immediately able to contact Zhang for comment about the suspension.

Before his suspension was announced, he told the Star: “I am deeply apologetic for what this may have done both to the reputation of Chronic Ink and the very talented and original artists who work there, who were not party to this mistake.”

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Wu has nearly 70,000 followers on Twitter and her series of tweets on Monday about the incident went viral. Wu posted side-by-side photos of her work and the image as it appeared at the Yorkdale location, showing that her illustration appeared to have been traced over.

“In this instance it is still uncertain whether I would have been acknowledged had I not the support behind me so I hope this discourages others from considering plagiarism especially for the sake of artists who may have less options in that situation,” Wu said in her statement.

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With files from Temur Durrani

Tom Yun is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @thetomyun

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