Kylie Jenner’s Latest Cosmetics Campaign

I am very humbled and thankful to see that so many people and respected publications saw this situation for what it is. On behalf of all of the independent artists, we want to thank everyone who supported us.

There is a significant part of the story that is missing in the shared articles and I want to fill in the blanks so you can see it through our eyes.

IDEA & PHOTO SHOOT

On September 17th, my colleague and friend, professional Makeup Artist Vlada Haggerty (@vladamua on Instagram) and I got together for our regular creative collaboration. We usually have an idea for each photo shoot, but this time we both had been very busy and did not prepare in advance, so we decided to wing it. We had no reference imagery, no idea, no plan. The sole purpose of our non-commercial shoots is to practice our craft, explore our creativity and hopefully add new beautiful work to our portfolio, which will help us win new clients and get new work.

Like most independent and driven artists, we work really hard creating new work, growing our social media following, trying to get our images seen by our future clients. Every re-post, every tag matters.

I had been wanting to shoot a “See No Evil. Hear No Evil. Speak No Evil” beauty story, in which we could showcase the eyes, the lips and a full face makeup in separate frames. The reds and gold sounded festive, so we went for those colors in the name of the upcoming holiday season.

I loved the glossy Ombré lip design that Vlada and I did before, but never released those images, so we decided to re-create that again:

britt_168-spread-web

Model: Britt of Osbrink Models, makeup by @vladamua, photo & post by @juliakuzmenko

For the whole duration of the shoot we would throw ideas at each other and combine whatever we both liked, so we ended up with the story:

britt_350-all-web

SEE NO EVIL 🙈 HEAR NO EVIL 🙉 SPEAK NO EVIL 🙊 Model: Britt of Osbrink Models ✨ Makeup by @vladamua, photo & post by @juliakuzmenko

And more reds and golds:

britt_785-all_red_web

 

I posted the See No Evil image on my Instagram on September 23rd, 2016. And the following post was an Anastasia Beverly Hills image that I retouched for the company. I tagged the team who created that image, including the photographer Marcelo Cantu:

ig-post-web

 

KYLIE COSMETICS CAMPAIGN

On Saturday night, Vlada sent me a link to the new images posted by @kyliecosmetics. This campaign was shot by the very same photographer whom I tagged a couple of times in the past couple of months when reposting my retouching work for Anastasia Beverly Hills.

My initial reaction was emotional, and my Instagram post contained harsh words such as “pathetic knockoff”. I was in shock and disbelief. I am not proud of that, and I removed them shortly after I posted it and apologized to the photographer, he accepted my apology about using those words. But the issue is still there, whatever you name it.

FIND 10 DIFFERENCES

Vlada and I pride ourselves on always striving to create something new in our field. We never want to simply copy other artist’s creations. It just kills the joy of being creative professionals for us. While it is difficult to create something new and original in our day and age, we never stop trying.

kylie-web
You may call it a coincidence.

You may say that the Ombré on the lips is different… let me show you this post by Vlada, dated September 8th, 2016.

Only 18 images back from the Speak No Evil image that she posted much later than I did:

DID KYLIE REALLY KNOW ABOUT ALL THIS?

I cannot know what happened there. I am a professional photographer and I know that commercial shoots could go both ways – the client may have reference images that they present to the creative team, or the other way around. It can also be that the creative team or the photographer describes the concept to the client and encourages to shoot it.

But after Vlada and I posted the comparison images, Kylie Cosmetics campaign photographer Marcelo Cantu posted a comparison between his own older image and my recent work, implying I copied him: “Ideas in art get recycled all the time… these are similar but both beautiful.”

marcelo-web

He removed it later that night after comments about how “ridiculous this defense attempt” made him look started rolling in:

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This is not the first time Vlada has had an issue with Kylie Cosmetics:

Other artists and brands have also accused Kylie of copying their kits, looks and makeup formulas:

THE AFTERMATH

It breaks my heart to see how large brands take independent, unprotected artists’ work and use them to multiply their wealth.

In an ideal world, big brands would easily prevent such backlashes by:

A. Hiring the artists who have already created something that they would love for their own campaigns. In our case, we are not even in a different city – we are here, in Los Angeles, just a call or an email away. Some companies do so and I applaud those brands for giving a chance to the talented underdogs.

B. Simply adding “Inspired by such and such” in the captions when sharing their images that are so similar to the lesser known artists’ work.

 

As of now, Monday morning, not even 48 hours since Kylie Cosmetics image was released, there are articles about our incident in:

UPDATE from Nov 22, 2016:

UPDATE from Nov 28, 2016:

 

We are very thankful to everyone who saw this issue for what it is and supported us.

Only does it really help us independent artists on a global scale.

Or is this publicity only beneficial for Kylie Cosmetics?

 

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Showing 19 comments
  • Ali
    Reply

    Great post Julia, thank you so much for taking the time to share the background details with such honesty and transparency. You have used this difficult situation not to sling mud, but to highlight a very real issue for independent artists and the creative community as a whole. This is a testament to your integrity as a person and as an artist. x

    • Julia Kuzmenko McKim
      Reply

      Thank you so much Ali, we never wanted this to happen to us.
      All we want to do is keep doing what we love – creating our art. But we also can’t just let a big brand step over us like this, At this point it’s not about us it’s about the tendency that is hurting thousands of independent artists and involved big brands that act like they are above the law and ethics: http://shoparttheft.com/

  • J
    Reply

    I am in advertising and have had my share of negative experiences. It is always sad esp for the art team because at least with a headline you can tell it is copied. With art it is not always easy. But I think that you have a much stronger case. In the USA UK EU Canada these issues are sacred. Elsewhere less so. Keep calling out those who take food off your plate. It will help the rest of us.

    • Julia Kuzmenko McKim
      Reply

      Thank you J! It has become exactly that, I hope it is a good fight for all of us, independent artists. We’re getting a lot of negativity from Kylie’s fans and it’s really disheartening to see that people do not even try to understand why this is a big issue for all artists.

  • Peter
    Reply

    If you posted images inspired by , I really don’t see what the problem is.
    The only issue I would have is if you used an image from a photographer with out contacting him or her to get permission to us or alter the image then you would be breaching copyright!
    I think it could be someone using the situation to get some free publicity!

    • Julia Kuzmenko McKim
      Reply

      Peter, I think legal professionals will know better than both you and I. And I also think you have never had your work copied so blatantly by someone else’s business, so you cannot possibly understand how it feels and looks from our side.

  • J
    Reply

    Aah haah..No one here is an unknown. Or needs to resort to ugly tactics for publicity. I had seen the photographers work in 2015 though I live oceans away. I checked my mail box. Same photographer. And Vlada and Julia are equally well known if not more thanks to clutter breaking work they do. Sure anyone can do ombre lips and eyes covered by golden hands. Its not a new concept. But together? In 1 pic? Given the history of the stakeholders interaction? Humm…
    Given the inausicious history of kylie cosmetics vs vlada julia there should have been a deliberate attempt to stay away from their work. In this case cant even suggest TinEye.

  • Jessica Madden
    Reply

    I love your work! Keep going strong, you are very talented!! Love from Germany <3

    • Julia Kuzmenko McKim
      Reply

      Thank you so much Jessica!

  • MasterPiece
    Reply

    Hi I have been following this story from the first launch of her lip kit. I myself am a fashion illustrator with a fashion blog. I grew up with Monica Rose one of the kardashian stylist who went into overhaul makeover on the Kardashians by implementing if not most but basically ALL my ideas. I felt robbed and not credited and I didn’t have proof because anything the Kardashians did was heavily more publicized. It was brought to my attention by my loyal readers and went I went on a rant about how eerily similar my concepts on paper manifested to one of them wearing a similar look.

    I am with on this one their team is nothing different from them and they will walk over anyone to get ahead. Social climbers. I support you and if you did copy right your dripping lip art Kylie Jenner would lose as you have the date stamps to prove it. They have been sued for copying Fendi bags and trying to steal the name “Khroma” for their beauty line, the beverly hills company Chroma sued madly and won, thus they had to change their lien to “Kardashian Beauty” . Also they were sued for copying the KK symbol where the second K mirrors the second. They got sued for this too.

    A true artist will always be inspired by great art, a real artist will use that great art as inspiration fora masterpiece.

    • Julia Kuzmenko McKim
      Reply

      I am very sorry that happened to you, and I know that only artists like us can truly understand the depth of this. It hurts, it does leave you feeling robbed. I don’t care for the silly 17-year-olds Kylie fans’ comments, it hurts more when adults look at this and say they don’t see anything wrong. Or better yet accuse us in seeking free publicity. Yes, we are very thankful for all the publicity that we are getting on this, but NOT because we just want to be in spotlight – this is a big issue and it needs to be addressed. Thankfully, the majority of serious publications see it for what it is.

      I don’t know if you are aware of this, but this is how far some big brands go in this, BECAUSE the punishment is not as significant as the profits from stealing: http://shoparttheft.com/

      PS: Thank you so much for this! This is all very helpful as we’re seeking legal advice now.

  • Monica
    Reply

    While I agree with what you have said here, I don’t think Kylie wearing an outfit that someone else had also worn a couple weeks before (designed by a popular Australian brand also worn by celebs like Miles Cyrus) is at all similar. that had nothing to do with her brand ripping off another artist, it was literally just her wearing an outfit/wig another well followed girl wore weeks before… Stealing someone’s art for monetary gain isn’t the same as copying their fashion choices lol.

    Regardless, I hope you and everyone involved in the shoot is able to find a resolution. Not cool what her team have done.

    • MASTERPIECE
      Reply

      @Monica sorry if what I wrote wasn’t clear. I am not talking about swagger jackin’. I was speaking more in terms with a “Fashion Forecast” part of my page where I predicted the next trends from pantone colors, to nail art designs and garment pieces and pastel tones. I understand people can draw inspiration believe me I get paid to do this, I have to get inspired too but will always give credit where its due. I even mention on each of my post or mood boards where my inspiration comes from whether it be McQueen, valentino or Reem Acra, i just don’t like who these people straight copy things from others and not credit them. Many other models on instagram post outfits and the next day its stolen by a Kardashian. I was just supporting this MUA on her facts and thing what they done is horrible. Time and time again her creative team has not even tried to hide the fact they copied something. Art is suppose to be original, for those who need to cheat to get by, I don’t see where the long term longevity will last. We seen what happened to rachel Zoe.

      • Julia Kuzmenko McKim
        Reply

        Don’t worry, I understood you correctly the first time, thank you so much for this!

  • Sarina
    Reply

    Instead of letting this Leach consistently steal your work, and profit off it, why not contact a lawyer and take her ass to court? You know, like normal people do. Rather than keep crying every time she steals your work for her own gain.

    • Julia Kuzmenko McKim
      Reply

      Sarina, this is the first time I have to deal with this, so maybe choose your words based on the facts, especially when they are clearly laid out right here, not your assumptions… You know, like normal people do.

  • Ashley sanchez Photography
    Reply

    I’m a photographer and honestly…I just have no words for this. I have so much righteous anger for you. The way you ended this post is so interesting…. The way this all fleshes out in the end… Are they aware? I think the real probability is that, yes…of course they are, but the benefits outweigh the consequences for them. Better to ask forgiveness than permission…isn’t that the saying? At least that way they still get the benefits from their “mistake” *rolls eyes* I apologize on behalf of every “imitation is the highest form of flattery” excuse you will hear. Your artistry, your creativity…essentially raped and laid bare. No victim shaming from me! So sorry, fellow creative! For what it’s worth, I fully believe in “truth will out!” 🙂 And your immense talent will shine through the muck when the dust settles,

  • Nina
    Reply

    Looks like your trying to get some of Kylies money….

    • Sarina
      Reply

      Actually, she never said she was suing her… I was the one who said they should sue her… because intellectual theft is still theft. Has nothing to do with trying to get anyone’s money. If Kylie, or someone on her team, didn’t lift the ideas from these people then nobody would have had a problem.

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