News, Reviews and Interviews

Have RedBubble Gone Too Far?

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Avatar of Isabella
Founder of 1stAngel Arts Magazine http://1stangel.co.uk Social Area Manager on Fine Art America http://fineartamerica.com An oil painter by profession, it is actually my digital work which has been exhibited. I enjoy bringing art to non artists and artists to other artists. I have interviews on my magazine from all kinds of artist, writer and musician. I hope you enjoy them and my site as much as I do

The art community online is in a real uproar over the past few weeks over RedBubble.  Could it be true?  Are they really condoning child porn?  Pro Nazi paraphernalia?

RedBubble was founded in April 2006 by co-founders Martin Hosking, Peter Styles (the company’s managing director) and Paul Vanzella. Initially funded by the founders, the start-up then raised a little over $4 million from angel investors in Australia and overseas.

Just recently I started to hear disturbing rumours about them and child pornography.  It seemed to boil around an image of a naked child holding its genitals that, instead of removing, RB just told the photographer to ‘put the safe filter on it’.  Could this be true?  Well, it seems it was true but I understand the image has, after much controversy, been removed.  (EDIT Yes, it has been removed and so have any other images in this mould I understand.  Well done RB for listening).




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However, there is more it seems.

RedBubble started out with high hopes and have been a success on the backs of their regular and loyal artists.   These artists are the same ones who are leaving now to find pastures anew in droves due to supposedly pro Nazi affiliations RedBubble have, being sole provider of Hipster Hitler T’s.  These t shirts scoff at the Holocaust victims and make fun of the atrocities that took place.  They are for adults AND children and babies.  They are also highly acclaimed by the pro Nazi groups.

I think my main issue was with my own conscience as to whether or not I wanted my integrity and name associated with a company that promotes anguish, hate, racism, child pornography, etc….I understand the legal issues involved as far the the ‘freedom of speech’ laws, and perhaps they couldn’t legally do anything about it – I don’t really know, but for me it was a personal choice (one which we all have). I weighed the pros and cons and did a lot of soul searching and tried to NOT be influenced by anyone…..I decided to leave and removed all my work and closed my account – a big burden was lifted.
An
Ex Bubbler

Jokes on the makers of the Tshirts, site, hipsterhitler.com, are (or were, I understand they have been removed now) very bad.  If easily offended please do not read the next sentence.

What’s the difference between a boyscout and a Jew? Boyscouts come home from their camp

You can read a lot more about this on FirmSpy, a self proclaimed ‘firm gossip’ site.  Be prepared to wade through many, many posts.

I have also found out disturbingly that ecommerce law has apparently been broken by RB, by selling work of members that have left already by a length of at least 2 weeks after.  However , management there may have a job finding legal help to protect them at the moment, as the lawyers they DID have, an old established, respected firm, started by self-made migrants who fled to Australia during or soon after World War 2, Arnold Bloch Leibler, have just dropped RB like hot coals once they found out about the Nazi angle.  However I was interested to find out that they still represent Hosking’s other company, Aconex.

Martin Hosking (the owner) is also chairman of Aconex (a large online documents management company). He also in hot water over their for screwing with the public share structure. He got taken to court and lost and had to pay over 3 million to one of the shareholders. That same shareholder then tried to have him ousted as chairman. But the Aconex lawyers backed up Martin and wrote to all the other shareholders and told them to back Martin. 
Another Ex Bubbler

More Information here and Here

Another reason the ex members say they are leaving is the thousands of posts and threads, journals etc, on RB that are being deleted every day if someone disagrees with the Ts.  I have personally seen this happening and can vouch for the truth of it.  However, I have also seen some really awful name calling on the part of the Pro T’s party, nicknamed by most RB members as the ‘Melbourne Mafia’ which are still in place.    However RB say that they do not allow hate posts directed against other people and this is the only reason the posts are removed.  In that case it would follow that the children Hitler and porn Ts and a lot of RB’s other Tshirts would be removed as it also says this in the rules…

Under Nudity
Nude or ‘sexualised’ children: We exercise a conservative approach to images of children, and request that children are appropriately clothed. As a general rule, ‘appropriately clothed’ means no genitalia, no uncovered bottoms and, for pubescent girls, no bare chests. We define a child as anyone under the age of 18. In images of babies or infants, some nudity is acceptable (for example, in the style of Anne Geddes portrait photography) but we request that genitalia is covered.

Under Inciting Violence, Hatred or Racism
Any work or behaviour where the intent of the artist is to incite hatred, violence or racism is not permitted.

Under Defamation, Libel or Vilification
(anything that) Gives an individual or clearly identifiable group of individuals a negative image.
Any work or behaviour that can reasonably be considered defamatory, libellous or vilifying is not permissible on RedBubble.

There are more and, to some, the Tshirts appear to be in the guidelines as they are written here, JUST, but as a business surely it is better to err on the side of caution and, if something is sitting ‘on the edge’ remove it before it topples over onto the wrong side. After all, if something is wrong, it is just wrong.  If something is upsetting a huge amount of your members and visitors, remove it.

When does art stop becoming art and socially acceptable?

The Hipster Hitler t-shirts come dangerously close to contravening laws in Europe that prohibit the trivialisation of the holocaust, and yet redbubble are nevertheless selling the merchandise in these countries. In my view, the behaviour of this company, in respect to Hipster Hitler products, is reckless and unethical – truly a case of profits at the expense of principles.
Judith

Thank you to everyone that spoke to me about this issue.

ADDENDUM – I was suspended from RedBubble within a few hours of this being published.

© 2011, Isabella Francesca Abigail Shores. All rights reserved.


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24 comments

  1. Avatar of parichumroo

    GOOD BYE RED BUBBLE I WILL NOT HAVE MY ART ON A SITE LIKE THAT. Keeping art there supports their displaying child porn art.

    I was raised to know better than to have affiliates like that.

    ASTA LAVESTA REDBUBBLE!!!

  2. Roy Barry /

    Redbubble is a joke, these days-the shell of a once proud and vibrant community of true Artists. Goodbye and good riddance.

  3. Thank you from an X-RB /

    Thank you so much for this article. I was a member who complained only to receive hate mail. You are spot on. I hope people start seeing Redbubble for what it is.
    Thank you again!

  4. Avatar of Isabella

    I would like to let people know that I too have now had my account suspended. It does appear that, instead of discussing this and proving that our fears are unfounded, they would rather just kick us all off for asking questions or daring to mention it in public. RedBubble was a great site. Once.

    • Avatar of
      vivian /

      Well, fortunately I’ve been well informed once again by you Beth, and so, though I was ‘in’ RB but didn’t upload, I’m now ‘out’ as if I never existed. Can’t condone arbitrariness and worse still, support for any of T’s activities. Anyone is free to chose to disengage where they’re associated with something against their beliefs. Thanks for your article…Vivian

  5. exBubbler /

    I have been shocked by Redbubble’s promotion by featuring t-shirts by “Hipster Hitler” which poke fun at victims of the Holocaust.
    Unethical, disreputable and possibly illegal. They call the t-shirts “art” and the designer “artists”. What a joke. It is profit from most evil of crimes under cover of being part of an “art community”

  6. So what other sites have people been using, other than Zazle/CP/Image Kind? That is reliable, honest and does really good quality prints?

  7. Now with all of this it is/has been a long standing practice of RB to pirate Intellectual Property of trademarks and copyright. Though they skirt the legal by pointing out each artist is responsible but they lack the moral and ethical backbone to be proactive in protecting artists intellectual property.

  8. I left RB and then rejoined. I asked about all of this on FB the other day and no one replied, so I am very grateful for the article and the comments of others. I shall not be part of a site that promotes any of this – or is even suspect, because it is strongly against my moral code.

    Too many people are leaving for it to all be a story. Just my opinion. If I catch RB selling anyones work I recognize I will report it to authorities that will listen.

    Zeana

  9. Finkey /

    Who do they think they are at Redbubble? They are using the credibility and good will of thousands of artists who have helped build their community into what it is and attract visitors to market these horrendous t-shirts. Someone clicking onto Redbubble for one thing only has to see the Featured Work to see genocide t-shirts. The fabric of the community is being woven into something that the community would never have agreed to before joining. I thought artists and art communities would never allow this sort of thing. How wrong can you be, it’s happening before our eyes. When will they wake up that this will unravel it all?

  10. Tony /

    Why does anyone want a Hipster Hitler? Hipster Jeffrey Dahmer next? T-shirts making fun of rape, torture, murder and cannibalism? But its “Hipster Dahmer” the creators would say, “a new way to hate the serial killer”? “Why should his victims be sacred from a bit of fun at their expense?” And if someone can profit from selling the t-shirts, so what?
    People should not forget that Hitler was 100,000x worse than Dahmer in his crimes.

  11. You all might find this interesting. This is a very long article and it explains the entire redbubble situation in great detail. http://su.pr/2UmK4O
    After reading your article I have deleted all artwork from their site and posted just one. This one http://su.pr/9d09X4
    Thank you for bringing this situation to light and I’ve since started spreading it like the plague on facebook, twitter and stumbleupon.

  12. exBubbler /

    The kids clothes are appalling, probably illegal to advertise or sell
    Just one example

    http://www.redbubble.com/products/configure/566122-kids-clothes

  13. Found another news story today on RedBubble

    http://www.jwire.com.au/news/law-firm-drops-hitler-t-shirt-client/16462

    The story is slowly seeping out about how Redbubble is being run

  14. Diane Daigle /

    I have since closed my account,, thank you for an incredibly important article Beth.

  15. Ann /

    I see the Australian equivalent of the ADL is taking Hoskings to task. This is good news.

    http://www.jwire.com.au/news/hipster-hitler-clothing-an-update/16489

  16. Hsien-ku /

    I left redbubble because of their promotion of neonazi artworks. I had been there for more than two years and had been very happy. It was a wrench to leave – but how could I turn my back on such unethical behavior? I guess there must be hundreds of people by now who have closed their accounts on redbubble – a blow to the otherwise dazzling reputation of the company. And yet no change is on the horizon concerning Hipster Hitler’s presence on the site. Such a shame for everyone.

  17. Goldie /

    So RedBubble have dropped the Nazi-themed t-shirts and been praised for this by Jewish lobby groups such as the ADC and Simon Wiesenthall Centre. However, perhaps a further 1st Angel story is needed on the lack of apology both for the Nazi t-shirts and toward the RedBubble members who brought the issue to light. Far from apologizing, there seems to be an attitude of continuing censoring of posts and retribution toward those who helped RedBubble make the right decision. It tends to show the decision to drop the tees was made reluctantly and insincerely as a result of pressure rather than genuinely because RedBubble could see it was the right thing to do.

  18. dishmoptop /

    Interestingly, one of the photographers of a naked ‘child like model’ claims she is over 18 but specializes in looking young. This may be true but isn’t it still child porn if the model looks like a child? It is still stimulating to people who are interested in children (pedophiles) and that is the concerning part.

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