Yesterday, we ran a couple of articles about artist Nate Stemen, and what appeared to be a series of drawings and prints he was selling online and at comic book conventions that reproduced existing work by other artists, both amateur and professional, as if they were his own. Such as the Chewbacca picture being sold (left) and the image by artist Brian Pierce below.
We reached out to Nate before running any story, but received no response, though we noticed that after out first article, he started pulling images off his website portfolio.
Today, Bleeding Cool received the following message from Stemen;
I am writing you to issue a public apology I have made a serious mistake and for that I am truly sorry. I am removing all my pieces including my banner. Like I said I have made a drastic error I should have given credit to the artists and for that I am sorry. I am issuing apologies to the artists I have offended and am waiting for responses I am not a thief I made misjudgements, severe misjudgements. And for that I am truly sorry. I plan on making this right in anyway I can at heart I am a colorist and should have billed myself as such and that was my many mistakes. Again I am truly sorry and if there is anything I can do in your eyes to make this right I will.
There are customers who bought pieces who feel they have been ripped off. Making apologies and refunds to them would be a good start. An honest appraisal of your work and its origins may lead to confessions and apologies to those artists such as Brian Pierce, Charles Holbert Jr, Dave of Frostdust Studios, Randy Kintz, Steven Sanchez and Guido Guidi whose work you have appropriated.
But we're not trying to run anyone out of town. At least I'm not. A commitment to exhibit and promote work that is wholly yours, that doesn't so heavily rely on reference or the lightbox, finding your own voice, that would be the most ideal solution of all.
An apology is the start, not the end. But it's a welcome start.