Friday, November 15, 2013

Did Dawn of the Donut steal this artist’s work?

Posted By , and on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 6:16 PM

click to enlarge Did Dawn of the Donut steal this artist’s work?
LEFT: Dawn of the Donut's logo on Facebook. RIGHT: John Sumrow's sketch from last year.

Earlier today the Facebook page for Dawn of the Donut, the zombie-themed donut shop on North Division, blew up with accusations from dozens of people about the company’s logo:

You are using artwork that does not belong to you. Pay the creator, John Sumrow, and take it down. How hard is it to draw your own style of zombie donuts?

Artists make a living off their work. TAKE IT DOWN OR PAY HIM! YOU ARE STEALING!

Apparently they feel they don't have to pay for artwork. Apparently that means we don't have to pay for their donuts. They expect free art. So we expect free donuts.

We got in touch with John Sumrow, an Albuquerque-based artist whose work includes zombie-donut drawings and sculptures. He says he would have been interested in having his work associated with the shop if he’d been approached about it — but he wasn’t.

“It pissed me off when they started selling shirts,” he says. “That is my bread and butter.”

He says he got in touch with the company a couple of months ago to point out the work was his. Dawn of the Donut used 99designs, a crowdsourced graphic design site where designers vie for projects, and told Sumrow they’d bought the work through 99designs for $299.

“I tried to play nice, but I kept getting rebuffed,” he says.

People who solicit work on 99designs may not always be aware if a design is directly taken from another artist, and the site warns about checking for stolen work and also offers a summary of copyright law. But it appears that Dawn of the Donut was familiar with Sumrow's work. Sumrow pointed us to the 99designs contest where the company solicited a logo — and it includes his sketch as a reference of what they were looking for. Here’s the request:

This is a theme donut shop logo. Donuts that are zombies, I have a picture of an example of the zombie donuts that I would like to have recreated. Essentially I'd like the logo to be THE SAME AS the cover art to the 2004 movie, Dawn of the Dead, only using the words "Dawn of the Donut". From there you will have to create some donut zombies where that movie art has actual zombies. I have attached reference drawings of donut zombies. The winner is going to have to incorporate both the movie Font with new wording along with original zombie donuts. I"d like the colors to stick as close as possible to the movie art.

We reached out to the shop owner, Missoula-based attorney Martin Judnich, and we’ll update this post if we hear back from him.

UPDATE: Over the weekend, Dawn of the Donut and Sumrow spoke about the issue. Dawn of the Donut has since removed the logo in question from their Facebook page and hinted at an upcoming collaboration.

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About The Authors

Laura Johnson

Laura moved to the great Inland Pacific Northwest this summer. She is the Inlander's new music editor.

Lisa Waananen

Lisa Waananen is the web editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She specializes in data and graphics, and her recent cover stories have been about family history, the legacy of Spokane photographer Charles A. Libby and genetically modified food...