My Artwork Was Used Without Permission for the Album Cover of a K-Pop Star (IU)

My name is Jessica H. Lee and I am an illustrator/designer currently living and working in San Francisco. Since last October, I have been getting worried and surprised emails and calls from those who know my illustration saying that popular K-Pop star IU’s album cover artwork looks very similar to my work.

When I did more research, I found out that the illustrator who created the album artwork was somebody who had gotten in touch with me about my artwork for a different project a few years back, and who knows my work very well. I contacted the illustrator regarding this and she acknowledged that she took inspiration from my work for the “overall tone and manner” of the illustration. However, when I showed this to other illustrators, they thought the similarities are too close to just be a “tone” or “manner.”

I respect IU’s work and talent, and I am hoping that she did not know this happened. It was important for me to address this issue because an entire year of work went into creating these pieces for my Graduate Thesis. As a fellow artist, I’m sure IU respects the authenticity and integrity of one’s creation, and I hope to keep the originality of my artwork. I wrote this post hoping to raise awareness and get companies to talk more about their design inspirations and give credit to the network of hard working artists that created the work.

To show the similarities, I’ve compared her work and mine below.

The cover and map artwork included in IU’s album:

IU Chat-Shire Album Cover and Artwork

Below is a comparison of IU’s album artwork with My Work.

COMPARISON 1

Comparison 1
-
Identical Purple + Turquoise color combination and drawing method
- Similar look and feel/imagery
- Castle and the road leading to the castle similar
- Skull looks identical

COMPARISON 2

Comparison 2
-
Identical Purple + Turquoise color combination and drawing method
- Similar look and feel/imagery
- Spider web detail similar
- Shape and size of the small tree similar

COMPARISON 3

Comparison 3
- Identical Purple + Turquoise color combination and drawing method
- Similar look and feel/imagery
- Volcano: Shape of the mountain and the lava similar
- Cliff below the castle and the side of the continent are depicted similarly

COMPARISON 4

Comparison 4
-
Identical Red+Purple color combination and drawing method
**Jessica’s work is an appropriation of fairytales with a feminist twist. Color red was used to represent the strong female character, and used faded pencil drawing technique to give it a classical look and feel to match the theme of fairy tale. On IU’s album, the exact same drawing style and color combination is used.
- Similar look and feel/imagery
- Volcano/Lava detail and ground under castle — similar to the dripping shape of the candle in Jessica Lee’s work

COMPARISON 5

Comparison 5
-
Identical color combination: Green+Purple+Orange
- Identical drawing and shading method, especially in the vine detail