Spike Lee responds to plea from graphic designer

News Simon Brew 29 Nov 2013 - 06:32

Spike Lee accuses a graphic designer of a "cheap trick" in writing an open letter to him to try and get payment for his work on Oldboy.

A couple of days ago, a graphic designer by the name of Juan Luis Garcia posted - as a last resort - an open letter to Oldboy remake director Spike Lee. Garcia argued that he'd been commissioned by an advertising agency working on the new film to do some mock-ups for the poster.

As it turned out, he did the work, but then turned down the "insultingly low offer" from the agency when it came down to negotiating a contract to use his designs. His argument was that "I make the same amount of money in a single day as a photo assistant as what they offered and I had worked on these almost exclusively for two months".

He refused, the advertising agency was "furious" and Garcia never got a penny for any of his work. He put the posters in his online portfolio, chalked the experience up, and moved on. However, the posters then seemingly turned up on Spike Lee's personal and production company's social media pages, claiming copyright over Garcia's work.

In his open letter, Garcia was clear that he didn't blame Spike Lee for any of this, and that writing an open letter to him was an attempt to get everything resolved. You can read the full letter here.

Unfortunately, it seems that Spike Lee isn't giving Garcia the time of day. From his side of the fence, Lee has - as Garcia admitted - had nothing to do with Garcia directly. That notwithstanding, Lee's dismissal feels just a little bit brutal. Here's what he Tweeted...

On his Instagram account, Lee also responded to someone who directly to a commenter who wrote "Dude, pay the graphic artist" by writing "Why Should I Pay Someone Who I Never Met Nor Had Any Contact With Ever? He Never Made Any Deal With Me.Why Don’t You Pay Me For Your Stupid Text On Thanksgiving Day?"

Hopefully, this will have a happy ending somewhere. Spike Lee's new film, Oldboy, is in US cinemas now. As things stand, Garcia still hasn't received any money for his work on it.


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Oh dear, on the one hand youve got the graphic designer in an awkward position with the agency but subsequently using the images for self promotion then on the other Spike using the pictures Im presuming without due credit or permission. Slightly harsh response as well but then again if someone suddenly felt they were owed money from him for something that Spike was not directly involved with is silly. Either just take the pictures off any social media accounts from Spike or just give full credit with links to the Graphics Artists website etc.

I'd like to see Spike's reaction to people using one of his films for something without permission or payment. As a creative person he knows the score here, he has the power to get onto the agency and sort this out. his movie is benefitting from work the agency allegedly hasn't paid for.
Always seems worse when creatives appear to be taking advantage of other creatives

Anyone Else Find It Really Annoying That Every Word From Spike Lee Was Capitalised?

but equally, if Garcia genuinely has a case then he should go through proper, legal channels to make his claim.
Whole thing smells fishy to me.

The proper legal channels begin with a written letter laying out your case. Not a lawyer.. And how exactly do you confirm a very famous person has received and read your letter? Sounds like this guy is doing it right.. and you know what? screw Spike Lee. You can't ask someone to work, fail to agree a price and then KEEP the product. That's the risk you take when you don't pay by the hour. (Also, screw him for remaking Oldboy. - though a version without squid-gate might be welcome i suppose)

Spike Lee, never a man to really grasp the publicity machine - he always comes across as though he is a bit of a dick, It doesn't matter in the slightest what the truth of this situation is as far as Lee's response goes, I do not doubt that the artist has been ripped off and I do not doubt that Lee has essentially nothing to do with it directly - but may be wrong on both accounts. However, all Lee had to write was - 'Heard about this - will look into it. Yo' -

I am sure that he has access to loads of people that could investigate this claim before coming out with such a churlish, ridiculously ill thought out response. He seems to be happy to take what the internet can give with his crowd funding project recently but not spend any real time giving a damn about other aspects of it.

The problem he has is that bad will spreads across this web thingy like a virus and his response will hang over Oldboy and whatever else he ends up doing for a while.

Silly man

Perhaps people should boycott the film and donate the ticket price to the designer until he has earned what amounts to a fair price for the work complete. Anything over that can go towards awareness of intellectual property laws and artists' rights in general. Just a thought.

Why Is Spike Being A Douche?

One of the worst 'photoshop's??!!! Where the F are the dudes legs?! is he climbing out of the ground, through the box, on to the grass?!

We All Know By Now That Spike Lee Is A Massive Turd. This guy wasn't getting a response from the production company, so he went to the big-name director to get recompense, knowing he would have contacts. Spike acts like a dickhead as usual.

I don't like Spike Lee. He seems like the kind of person who just likes to pick fights with people.

The man is a helmet.

It's not Photoshop. Watch the original and you will understand. I won't put spoilers here.

Another day and yet another inappropriately confrontational comment from Spike Lee.

Human anatomy generally accomodates for this kind of position through the use of a phenomenon known as "joints". These "joints" allow limbs to "bend", often allowing the firgure to assume a position commonly known as "kneeling". believe it or not, right now you yourself are making use of your "joints" "bending" as you "sit" at your computer. Every day's a learning day! :)

'Clever' response but he must have some really small legs for this to make sense. Imagine him kneeling in this ... draw the lines on if you need a visual guide to see what I'm talking about ;)

Nope. He plainly looks like he's kneeling down. I can see how the positioning of his top half, leaning forward like that, might give the impression of his legs doing something else but I think he's just plain kneeling down. The lighting looks the same as the rest of the picture as well, further discounting Photoshop to me. it's also possible that they might have dug a small hole if his legs are longer. but this does not looke like a photoshop job to my layman's eyes. The tone of my response was more to do with your incredulity. :)

So digging a small hole may be the answer. He doesn't look like he's in much pain, he looks p!issed off more like it. If his legs are bent behind him and he's, kinda, resting on the front of his thighs then I can see it being possible. Looking at the trailer again and it looks like he's squashed up so the image does looks legit but I still can't get past the fact it looks like a guy with no legs crawling out of a box, photoshop fail or not.

Fair point.

Anyone remember when Lee tried to sue Viacom for naming their TV channel "Spike TV"? He claimed they were deliberately trying to "hijack his name, image and reputation." What a tool.

Maybe he wanted to handle it in a more civilized manner rather than immediately sue everyone involved. I would certainly like to see that kind of behavior more often. He assumed Mr. Lee was unaware of what had happened, and offered him a chance to make things right instead of immediately tarnishing his name.

Also, Juan Luis Garcia is not just some random guy on the internet trying to get publicity. You may even have seen some of his work (including the poster for The Great Gatsby).

That's a great idea. I would be down with that. Should try get it set up.

Hang on. Doesn't plastering 'Copyright Spike Lee' all over this guy's (un-purchased) work and then displaying it on Spike Lee's personal social media pages kind of have the effect of involving Spike Lee?

The designer in question is a personal friend of mine (hence why I was excited to see the story here!) but it's a sad story. This is all too common in the industry, designers get hired to do conceptual designs, submissions, etc. Design company says 'thanks but no thanks', essentially making the designer do all the pre production and conceptual work for free then they pay someone else to bang out the final product. Lee is notorious for being a douche bag, and Garcia's intention was to draw attention to the problem. Lee could have acknowledged like a human being that there was a problem, even if he wasn't intending to fix the issue. Lee and the designers of the eventual company are still at fault for plagiarism, as in the end the final design has to pass over Lee's desk for approval. Very dissapointing.

Errr no that's not how copyright works. You can't just credit the artist and be done with it. You pay them for the use of the image that they created. If they don't want you using their work because they don't like you or because (as in this case) you haven't offered them enough money then you don't get to use it period.

Ok clam down ducky, dont get your knickers in a twist over a humble comment.

Undermining your comment and subsequent comments is a pretty droll way of shutting down debate. Why bother to comment at all if your just going to do that when people point out your errors?

The reason 'ducky' got upset is the perpetuating myth that people can do what the hell they like with a piece of art providing they give credit. That simply isn't true.

Wasnt shutting down anything but if it floats your boat. Have a good weekend

I'm just gonna put this out there..

Everyone pirate this movie

Spike Lee Should Do The Right Thing

Good plan! Or failing that just go buy copes of the original instead

Just send me your PIN numbers, I'll see what I can do

He's obviously got Jungle Fever

You're both right. He's standing.

As if we needed another reason not to see Oldboy.

Spike Lee is CEO of the advertising agency that Garcia dealt with, so he absolutely does have a requirement to look into the complaint, even if he never met, hired or whatever Garcia. Before you can sue anyone you have to demonstrate reasonable attempts to resolve the matter amicably. And of course, you have to have the money to sue. I suspect Garcia does not have the money to go up against Spike Lee inc. so using the media seems perfectly reasonable to me. Spike Lee has just made himself look unprofessional and stupid.

I don't think the guy is like "Spike Lee, pay me, motherfucker", he clearly wants to shed attention on the matter at hand and see if the director can ask his people what went on and how it should be solved. Clearly Spike just wants to wash his hands off of the whole thing. Let it be a lesson for talent inquired to work in his projects.

Of course, and why not have my NI number, passport and fingerprints while we are at it.

Sounds like Reggie Miller is gonna have to teach Spike some manners again...

spike lee just didn't bothered to read the whole thing. what a as*hole. poor guy had he's share of bullsh*t in his life lately and then-here you go, spike himself sh*ts on his head. fantastic. I am not paying for his sh*tty remake.

Eveyone is getting bamboozled

Garcia just needs to Get on the Bus

It would be like a miracle at st Anna if that happened

You know how many times he's said that? Girl, 6.

I have no doubts they will come up with a solution in the 25th hour.


Yeah, once they realize we're all the same on the Inside, Man.

I have to say though after looking at garcia's art its pretty clear that he got game.

Right as always.

And he needs the money, man he's got a mortgage, a wife, 4 little girls

OH SEE SEE WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!! these jokes are old, boy.

Yeah we're the original kings of comedy alright. NOT

He comes by it naturally

Not as annoying as I find him referring to his films as, "joints".

yup. spike lee got the stuff, uses the stuff, benefits from the stuff, publicly ackknowledges the stuff. = JERK.

and you "shut it down" again with your last comment.

are you Spike Lee in disguise?

Lesson one: Designers should NEVER supply ideas and artwork for free without a prior agreement.

My password is 1,2,3,4.... wait a minute! How can I be sure this is legit?

Oldboy is a perfect little film and its pretty recent too. Why Hollywood feel they have to remake/bastardize it is quite questionable.

A cheap trick is remaking Oldboy instead of coming up with an good original idea, and it's been a while since he last had one of those.

Three words: Practice, practice, practice.

Heck, remember the time he tried to copyright the letter "X"?

Man, the negativity is wild here. Can you hear the flutter of white sheets and burning crosses? You people need to hear yourself. Whatever's happened you have no conclusive proof as to what has actually occurred, just some claims. I'm not saying the designer is fabricating anything, but there's no conclusive evidence as to intent. Lee works with a lot of people in his company and he clearly trusts them. If they lie to him and tell him that the design is theirs, who's he gonna believe? Some guy off the street or his own people? Not even saying that's what's happened, but it's possible. The only place that this can be determined is in a court of law. The flavour of these comments are so akin to the Obama baiting I've seen elsewhere. Is this the true face of fandom flying the flag?

He IS the kind of person who just likes to pick fights with people. He refuses to watch Django Unchained but still feels the need to say it's a racist movie & Tarantino is racist. He posted an old couple's address on Twitter thinking it was George Zimmerman & encouraged death threats to be sent there. He's a disgusting, egomaniac who needs to have his pride beaten down a peg or 10.

Remakes in another language are perfectly valid. Some people simply don't like reading films. there have been some excellent English language remakes of foreign films - no less valid than re-staging a play or filming a book.

No its just i replied whilst having a poo and would rather do that than endlessly debate something dull.

I feel this can be easily checked out and resolved by Spike Lee. Go to the company,ask them to show the mock ups submitted& if they are the same- PAY THE MAN! I actually went to see Oldboy before reading any of this. It's a good,though disturbing film. Mr. Lee,I gave you my money-if that's the man's work,give him his due.

Terrible story and apparently an all to common practice. Is it childish to name the agency in question?

Sounds like people are 'boycotting' it anyway.

An open letter as an opening salvo is NOT a civilised way to do things...

I'm not defending Spike Lee by any means and there are plenty of ways to ensure that your mail is delivered, if it is not read, THEN you go to the next step.
At no point did I say anything about lawyers. There are a whole host of legal channels that can be invoked that do not involve a lawyer...

I make the same amount of money in a single day as a photo assistant as
what they offered and I had worked on these almost exclusively for two

In a recent Neilson poll about this gossip, 91% of parties polled, overwhelmingly agreed to and gave a "major thumbs up" concerning the trailer to Spike's newest film. Rumor has it that this Spike Lee production, with a release date not disclosed to this reporter, had gossip and rumors already starting round town. The 91% number reached -- which includes a + 5% curve- all agreed that at least the tv show "Entertainment Tonight" and "True Hollywood Story" got it right. An unnamed source said "you gotta feel for that guy, he tramples out in a bad thunderstorm in the middle of the night to film this baby and all his pricey filiming equipment get's soaked with water." When Spike called the Studio for assistance, he was advised that the Boss, a/k/a financial backer of the film, had hung two signs on his door. One sign had huge letters written in Black Sharpie pen "DND" and the other sign said "Went Divin." Mr. Lee too is an experienced scuba diver and spends any extra time he has scuba diving in some of the world's most exotic locations. That source told this reporter, that Spike was shocked about the disappearance of the Boss, in that during the storm the script to the movie landed in some puddle somewhere and culd not be read. The highly prized original script was located somewhere in the Studio's Hollywood office behind locked doors. Funny, the source said "you gotta hand it to the guy, but I am told this one is worth waiting for." Efforts to reach Spike on comments 2 this story are still in progress. Neighbors said they keep hearing the sound of blowdryers or something like that, coming from his house and that he is probably working away as usual. They also added that the National Inquirer sucks and some phrase about "consider the source."

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