This was the most annoying job I've ever done. I was called by a small, bastard design agency in Orange county and told a "large company" from New York were testing a "man's personal product" and wanted me to render the logo, which I did. Almost two years later I was driving down Hollywood blvd. in my Morris and saw this logo emblazoned on the side of the Chinese was a cigarette!

The cigarette companies knew from experience that no artist would work for they had to resort to lying and misrepresentation, and as this didn't look vaguely like cigarette imagery, it never crossed my mind to question it. I thought this was going to either be condoms or cologne.

I went nuts when I saw my work associated with tobacco (and everyone in the business knew it was "my" work, because I had my own "look"), called a lawyer, and we sued RJR in Federal court. They sent out their heavies from Raleigh, and hired the biggest law firm in LA to battle my lovely guys, who just couldn't match the egregious tactics RJR's fuckwith hotshots employed. They used every dark tactic in the book, which was disgusting to witness in court. Total assholes and the scum of the earth. We lost the case for copyright infringement (the judge we got just happened to be a chain-smoker and then retired after our case, which, if I'd have won, would have resulted in my owningRJR....funny that, isn't it?). The minimum statutory damages for copyright infringement are $250 per, with a maximum of $10,000 per. That's $250 for EVERY time that logo was printed, whether on packs, cartons, ads, magazines, name it. It would have taken the national budget to pay the damages if I had won.

All the people involved with this project misrepresented themselves and were the lowest of the low...but I guess that's how you have to be if you consciously make your living off of killing people. Scumbags. It makes me sick to have been part of this, but it's a striking logo and I'm proud of the work.

I learned one legal thing from this disgusting exercise: anyone can use your work and even SAY they copied it (when they used your original), and there's fuck-all you can do about it. There IS NO SUCH THING AS COPYRIGHT on visual Federal judge is capable of making a distinction between one identical image and another. Words and music, yes; images....forget it.

These bastards didn't even own the copyright (they hadn't applied for it because they knew they wouldn't get it, since I owned the image) yet they PRINTED "Copyright 1987 R.J. Reynolds" on the packets and the judge completely disregarded this gross violation. Was he paid off? You bet your ass he was. See "The Insider" with Al Pacino and Russell's right on the money. These "people" at the tobacco companies have no morals whatsoever. Scum-sucking pigdogs, all of them.




back to illustration page