These covers look similar, don't they? LK Rigel purchased the artwork, named "City of Angels," used as the basis for her cover of Spiderwork from artist, Nathalia Suellen in 2009. HarperCollins contacted Ms. Suellen in May of 2011 and attempted to buy City of Angels from her for use on Alex Flinn's upcoming book, Bewitching.
Nathalia, the artist, writes in her blog (Wed, Aug 17th):
The story starts with Harper Collins (Illingworth, Sasha) inviting me to create a cover to Bewitching. They wanted something similar with "City of Angels". I remember I had refused it because this artwork had been already sold to another book and also because of my personal opinion about the theme. However it looks like they got angry with me and decided to copy my artwork. I have just received an email from LK RIGEL asking If I had sold my artwork "City of Angels". And sure I said no. I got crazy checking out the link she sent me [link]I followed the link Nathalia gave but it seems the artwork has been removed.
Even though Harper Colins offered Nathalia 4,000 dollars (Jane, at Dear Author writes that this is a normal amount of money for cover art) she rejected the offer because she felt it was inappropriate for the artwork to appear on the cover of more than one book. Although Nathalia is obviously a gifted artist, her integrity is what made me bookmark her name on my site. Currently, I do my own covers, but if I ever want an artist to do custom work for me, she is someone I would want to work with.
Did the artist's refusal discourage Harper Collins? It seems not. In the image, above, you see the cover Harper Collins sent Alex Flinn for her new novel, Bewitching. On the left is the image Nathalia created for LK Rigel. Yes, one could conceivably argue that the resemblance between the two covers is by chance, but that argument would seem more plausible if Harper Collins hadn't tried to buy the artwork used for the cover of Spiderwork. As it is, it seems that Harper Colins thought that if they couldn't buy it then they would just appropriate it.
I came across this story through The Passive Voice blog and PG has an excellent analysis as well as links to all the tasty little bits of the story. He, being a lawyer, talks about the legal issues involved in this situation. It is well worth the read.
Here are the articles I drew from in creating this blog post:
- Thursday Midday Links: What’s a Little Cover Art Copying Between Friends?
- Not a Good Week for Harper Collins – Cover Art Rip-Off
- Rip Off, Harper Collins Publisher