Coleman Ripped us off

Posted by Taylor Barkin on

UPDATE: We are proud to say that we have come to a positive place with Coleman. On 11/7/20 We received the following public apology:

I Hate to say it but Coleman (as in the massive outdoor brand Coleman) has ripped off Tanners artwork.
Yesterday we went public with this on our Instagram and the response from our community has been heartwarming and larger than we ever anticipated.
I wanted to take a second to provide some insight as to what happened, how we're feeling, how you can help and how we'd like to proceed.
How'd we find out?
Yesterday I went into the Coleman store to buy a campfire cookbook. I haven't been to a physical store since COVID started but I had a friend that had a question about a defect on her tent. I went in with her briefly, saw the cookbook, decided I wanted to just buy it because it was on sale and get on with my day. As we were standing at the register, my good friend goes-"hey, isn't that Tanner's artwork..oh" At first I thought it was because it isn't uncommon to see this sticker in the wild because it has gained incredible popularity for many years and is sold, legitimately in many stores.
As I looked closer, my stomach sank when I realized it was indeed a ripoff from a brand that we both grew up using on our camping adventures. The adventures that heck, even inspired us to even have the brand we have today. When I think of camping growing up, all I can picture is the bright red Coleman cooler my parents would bring on our trips that I have very fond memories of.
I quickly snagged a photo of the sign showing their sticker offerings but bought my book and left. I instantly showed Tanner and he asked me to get a sticker. I pranced back in the store, and said you know I think I'd really like to buy one of these stickers too, do you know who the artist is? The 16ish year old cashier simply said she had no idea but thought the design was a neat one.
I went home to process the information and then my blood started boiling. I was there the day Tanner created this. I watched his design inspiration spark. I watched him proudly execute this super fun concept I had never seen before. It was his and it was beautiful.
What's the scoop on the design?
For those of you that don't know, we are a husband and wife run company. I (Taylor) run operations, back end, development and all the fun stuff in between. Tanner is my better half who does all of our design and product development. I'm sharing my thoughts because he is one of the most humble people I know and I've been the one closest to him as he's evolved as an artist for over 12 years. He's hurt and because this is something so incredibly personal to him, it can be a challenge to always find the right words to say. Everything written in this blog is a culmination of our conversations together about what is happening.
Tanner created this design in 2015. One day in college he started with a doodle that ultimately became this design that through the course of 5 years became his signature concept that even inspired the name of his freelance design company, Camp Cup Design.
This was a sketch that Tanner has proudly kept framed since it was created. The initial sketch inspired various color ways and variations over the years. He has created well over 30 illustrations in the same camping cup style, but with different design elements over the course of 5 years. If you want to see all of the variations he's done, the concepts live on his Instagram here.
We launched the Camping Cup Tee on our site in one of our first collections. Due to popularity, we have kept it in circulation for years and have even launched other cup variations in the meantime. This has been a product for Moore for many years and has been a core foundation for various client projects he's worked on.
Originality, Integrity and Intention
I've been with Tanner for 12 years, since I was a freshman in high school. Part of what made him so cool to me (I still think he's cool 12 years later) was the artwork he would do on his notes, or for me in high school that always clearly came straight from his own brilliant brain.
While his artwork has improved, evolved and changed over the 12 years I've known him, the thing that has always stayed the same is his strict dedication to remaining original with the work that he creates. He knows how much goes into creating a piece of original art or design and it means a lot to him to not take it from someone that put the work in to create it.
I've seen over and over and over the way that he approaches new collections and design concepts and I can sit here and say without a doubt that they have always been approached with all the integrity he has.
Can't you just sue them and collect the damages?
Ah if only it was that easy! The problem is that small business and legal battles don't always mix.
As many people know, legal fees are expensive and don't always lead to the results one would hope for. We have seen artist after artist get ripped off by large companies like Target and Urban Outfitters to name a few. Some collect big damages, others end up SOL because guess what they want to spend their time practicing? ART, not law.
We have done all that we can to protect our artwork and have legally protected many designs but to truly copyright every single design Tanner has drawn, it wouldn't be financially viable for Tanner to keep his career as an artist, the costs are just so significantly high. We'd like to believe that we could just live in a world where once something belongs to someone, it's off limits to someone else but that is just unfortunately not the reality.
We have been dealing with people stealing our artwork on various occasions in the past year and I will be the first to tell you that it sucks. It's not fun and it's been costly. We've paid thousands of dollars to simply tell people to cut the shit and stop using our artwork to make a profit. To actually receive damages is certainly possible, but the fight costs us more and more money. It becomes a game of cat and mouse and the question always becomes, "how hard will we fight this one and what cost are we willing to bear to do so?"
We are prepared to move forward with a legal battle on this but it will be an expensive one. As a husband and wife run team that does approach all that we do with integrity and originality, it would be damaging. The time spent on the process would take us away from doing what we are good at and what we love and that becomes EXHAUSTING.
The artists that have been able to truly get justice with these large company ripoffs have turned to their community to help make it right and that is what we are asking of ours. In a world where the power of our social networks speak as one of the loudest voices we have, we will use it to make it right.
We have the lawyers and we have the ability to fight legally but the cost to do such a thing takes us away from everything we love and it will become an emotionally taxing process, but we are willing and ready to do it.
What would be the best case scenario with Coleman?
If any of you know us personally, you know that we aren't the sharky type of people nor the ones to try to make someones life a living hell but that doesn't mean we won't fight with all we have to make this right.
Someone ripped this off. Whether it was someone on the in house Coleman design team or an "artist" they hired, someone took it and Coleman is making money off of a piece of work that Tanner created from scratch, and nobody else. Yet Tanner is the only one not getting paid for this.
If Coleman wasn't aware of it before, they sure are now and we need to come to a solution with them. We know things happen and we know that sometimes in large companies, there can be a large disconnect when it comes to knowing if the design being sold came from the original artist or not. Whatever the case is, we just want this to be made right.
We are reasonable people and trust us, if we can get to a middle ground and both leave with a positive solution, that is the road we will like to take. That said, if something can't be worked out, we already have a plan in place to proceed with legal action.
The bottom line is that if we had the opportunity to do a collaboration with a company we grew up using all the time and could actually be compensated for the work of that collaboration, it would've been a dream come true. But to sit here realizing that Tanner's work had been stolen and sold for profit by this company we've forever looked up to and valued is a true gut punch.
Coleman, if you really want to make this right for us, we hope to see an apology and a level of compensation. What does that look like? We don't know until we can talk further about this, but let's get to a common ground.
People keep asking how they can help, here's what we'd love your help with!
Like I mentioned above, the power of our community speaks volumes and that is what we need. We have been grateful for the community response thus far. We won't back down until we get somewhere, and we need your help.
Please know that every single shout out to Coleman, every single thoughtful message to us means more to us than you might ever know.
If you can spare less than a minute to head over to the Coleman USA Instagram, and comment on their latest posts asking for action to make it right for @campcupdesign, that will help us amplify our voice to be heard.
If you know someone at Coleman, please say something. If you are someone at Coleman, please speak to your team about proceeding to make this right with us.
If we don't hear back, we will be incredibly disappointed and our voices will truly get louder and louder.
Coleman, do the right thing. We will be waiting to hear from you.

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