Designer Alleges That ‘Oldboy’ Poster Designs Were Stolen

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There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of the release of a film, so much craziness that I’m sure a lot of you don’t know just how bad it can be. Thankfully for PR, most of the problems stay behind closed doors. Not this time.

Designer Juan Luis Garcia took to his personal blog to express his frustration with his work on Spike Lee’s Oldboy (review), now in theaters everywhere from FilmDistrict.

Garcia alleges that the ad agency handling for the studio made him jump through an insane amount of hoops for peanuts, has yet to pay him, and even became threatening when early comps leaked onto the Web. He then passed on revising the project to return to his regular day job as a photo assistant. To his surprise, his unused comps, which were used to develop “newer” versions, were then posted online for public consumption.

Dealing with the agency was one the worst experiences of my life,” he writes. “It affected all aspects of my life from my marriage to my work and my health. I was taken advantage of, lead on, lied to, manipulated, and harassed for over two months while I put all I had into designing the comps.

The agency told me, ‘Congratulations, Spike loved a couple of the posters. Yours is going to be the key art,’ and I was thrilled,” he adds. “But when it came time to negotiate the licensing buyout fee the agency made an insultingly low offer. But they said that the important thing wasn’t the money it was the exposure and potential for more work. After thinking about it long and hard I had to decline. I tried to negotiate but they refused. 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. Plus there was still more work to be done so I had to refuse.

The agency was furious. They told me that I didn’t want to mess with Spike Lee, that I would never work again, that I was a despicable human, that they wish they never met me, and that they were going to sue my ass to oblivion.

Things just get more and more insane. He sounds like a man with steam coming out of his ears, ready to explode, and used the might of the pen to express his frustrations. His hope is that Spike Lee reads about his situation, and can rectify it. Ultimately, it’s more embarrassing for the studio as the director is rarely in direct contact or responsible for such actions. The ad agency in charge should be trembling in fear right now as I can only imagine the studio isn’t appreciating the negative press on opening day…

Read Garcia’s open letter to Spike Lee right here. Check out some of his art below…

  • Bryno

    People need to change their attitudes about designers. You wouldn’t expect a carpenter to work on your house for free to get exposure, they do the work they deserve the money. You don’t like what they charge? Find someone else. The thing about design is the simpler and better it looks doesn’t necessarily mean it was easy. Not to mention the time put into developing skills. Hopefully this situation is rectified.

    • sadiesaidhorror

      Seriously! Starving artist is an over-abused and outdated cliche that need to be seriously rectified. Preach on brother!

      • sadiesaidhorror

        *needs to be rectified (correction I was excited).

  • evilfairydust

    I was really sad to hear about this, especially since I liked the poster SO much. It was good because a designer that really cared put alot of time and effort into it. And the fact that he might have been blatantly ripped off (if his story is true) is just really unfortunate. Professional creatives have something special that you can’t find just anywhere…pay them for it, people!