He Who Dares…

This is an interesting moment for street art in a global context. Undeniably, whether you like the term ‘street art’ or not, it has become a worldwide phenomenon, going from the gutters of suburbia to the walls of millionaires overnight.

As with all underground trends, graffiti got scooped up, rebranded and repackaged to sell to a bigger audience as something a lot tamer. Marketing companies all over the world fought for scraps of authentic cool to help sell their products, some artists gladly gave over their creative talents for the big bucks of the advertisers. And why wouldn’t you?

Now it seems the coin is set to flip again as Australian artist, RJ Williams, sticks it to Madonna for ripping off his artistic copyright. In April this year, Madonna released a new fragrance, ‘Truth or Dare by Madonna’. A great coup for the international pop artist as she brands an entire collection including footwear, handbags and accessories.

More jump off after the jump off

However, the launch was not such a joyful affair for the struggling Sydney artist. The new logo bears striking resemblance to his original artwork. Williams’ symbol, which has appeared in the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, has been used by him internationally for over 8 years.

The symbol has also appeared in press, including local papers, the Channel Ten breakfast show and featured in a Blackberry advert, for the Blackberry Torch product, in April 2011. Prior to that, ‘Eso’, from acclaimed Sydney Hip Hop group ‘Bliss N Eso’, was seen wearing Mr Williams’ symbol on MTV back in 2010.

Williams’ registered Trade Mark has also been used on clothing, skateboards, snowboards, jewellery and fine art prints. It was accepted for registration with the Australian Government IP Australia on the 28th July 2011 – Registered Trade Mark No. 1415347.

Whether Madonna’s people acknowledge the use of the symbol, this is certainly a great deal of exposure for RJ. The story hit national press today, with high profile headlines in newspapers such as The Sunday Telegraph, Channel 9 are also hot on the heels of the story. Like they say, no news is bad news…

RJ Williams released the following comment on the branding:

‘What’s my symbol doing on a perfume bottle? I reek of BO and haven’t washed for days…’