I am an artist and, ergo, poor. I once became incandescent when the soles of a 140 euro pair of boots I had bought disintegrated like stale breadcrusts after barely a year. I began studying the soles of shoes as if seeking insight as to what had gone wrong. The soles of shoes/trainers are like fingerprints - all different, even within the same brands. Someone should do a PhD on them. I can only assume that, subconsciously, foot fury led to the gestation of this painting. The patterns on the soles became burnt into my soul. I saw the 'O' and the 'U' as the sole of a shoe. I licked myself all over at how clever and creative I was to see this.
Many artists paint words. Words are just another subject like still lifes, portraits, landscapes, abstracts. But painting four letter words can be fraught.
In 1965, American artist Robert Indiana (1928-2018) was responsible for creating the iconic image 'LOVE'. The 'LO' is piled on top of the 'VE' with the 'O' tilting to the right. In the original image the letters are in an orange/ochre colour, the background is blue and green. Nothing too special you might think. But the image became famous as a MoMA christmas card and it caught one of those inexplicable waves that surf things around the world and elevates them to an exclusive level of notoriety. It has been endlessly copied, translated, mimicked, sculpted.
However, Indiana failed to file a proper copyright. He achieved fame rather than cash. And the day before he died, a company called the Morgan Art Foundation Limited sued him and several associates for copyright infringement. The organization claims that it has owned the copyright for LOVE and several similarly configured works by Indiana, including AMOR and YALE, since the late 1990s. The suit alleges that recent artworks produced by Indiana violate the copyright of the Morgan Art Foundation—an offshore company whose owners and interests are secret.
The laws of copyright are complicated; leaving the EU is easier. In theory creative works do not have to be registered before any copyright exists. The copyright exists as soon as the artist brings the work into being. No artist registers every image he makes. That would be silly. How was Indiana to know that his creation would take off like it did, rendering a proper copyright necessary?
Adidas’s three-stripe logo is one of the most famous in the sporting world. In 1952 German cobbler Adolf 'Adi' Dassler acquired the logo from Finnish footwear brand Karhu Sports for two bottles of whisky and 1600 euros, and had it trademarked in the early 90s. (Incidentally Adolf's brother, Rudolf, split from his brother's business in 1947 and set up a rival footwear firm Ruda, which later became Puma.) In 1994, Adidas took offence when an outlet called Payless started selling shoes with two stripes and four stripes. After years of wrangling Adidas took Payless to court fearing that the Payless lookalikes would tarnish their good name. The trial lasted seven years and Payless were eventually ordered to pay $305 million dollars in compensation to their three-stripe counterpart.
Oh to have such problems. Without wishing to blow smoke where the sun don't shine the image of a soul as a sole seems to me to be far more creative than piling the letters of 'Love' on top of each other, or adding an extra stripe - Addiddas? - to Adolf's logo.
If this rambling explanation is not enough evidence that I am the rightful creator of this image, I have protected myself in other ways. But if anyone at Adidas/Puma/Nike/Asics/Converse/Timberland/Jimmy Choo/Miu Miu/Stuart Weitzman etc etc wants to use this image for an ad campaign I am sure we can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement involving bottles of whisky and hard cash. I will alert my accountant in the Cayman Islands to await your call.