Rose went on to detail that her proof was in a watermark she'd included in the piece. She said she simply meant to offer the artwork as a free digital download, but it would include her signature and couldn’t be used commercially without her permission.
“What happened was, I created a tab on my website for a digital download. As long as you went on my website and put in your email address, you could download the high-quality digital copy of my work, with my signature on it, for free,” she began. “On Twitter, I put a specific watermark, and then on my website, I put a specific watermark. It was actually on accident, but the fact that I did that tells me that Walmart — or whoever — stole it from my Twitter.”
The artist revealed that the original piece had five “@artbyrizzo” watermarks, but the perpetrators edited all of them out except for one in Hussle’s hair.
Rose told Yahoo Life that some people online have been critical of her, blaming her for the infringement of her own work. But she says she isn’t fazed by those trying to denounce her experience.
"I'm going to do me regardless, and I think everybody should have the courage [to do the same]," she said.
"It already takes courage to be an artist. Erykah Badu said it best: 'I am an artist and I'm sensitive about my ish.' Why should I have to minimize myself, dim my light [or] shrink myself because a corporation may try to exploit me?” the Colorado artist added.
Dave Ratner, a lawyer with Creative Law Network who is also a member of the pro-bono legal collective Colorado Attorneys for the Arts, expressed that this type of attack on small business owners and artists is quite common.
“It’s very prevalent,” he said. “I think a lot of that has changed because of digital media. Before the internet there was no ‘right-click, save as.’ You couldn’t just find someone’s image and go and take it, you would have to go somewhere and get a physical print.”
Thankfully, Rose had the wherewithal to place the watermark in a place appropriators overlooked.
“It’s kind of surprising whoever infringed their work with Walmart left the Instagram handle on the artwork,” Ratner said. “That’s sloppy infringement.”
“Walmart is not a very common infringer, but we see it on, for example on Etsy, or Redbubble or eBay all the time," Ratner continued. "Anyone can sell their wares through these online portals that Walmart would not. I see instances of infringement on those websites far more frequently.”