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INMAN PARK: 'Loss Cat' artist settles dispute with Forever 21 | Business

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INMAN PARK: 'Loss Cat' artist settles dispute with Forever 21
Business, Style
INMAN PARK: 'Loss Cat' artist settles dispute with Forever 21

ATLANTA -- He's reluctant to say it himself, but Ronnie Land may be Atlanta's most successful pop artist.

"I haven't had a job since I lived here," he said from his Inman Park studio. "I never worked for anybody. And that, in itself, was one of those things that made me feel like I'm in the right place."

He moved to Atlanta from Florida 20 years ago, with a style honed in street art, laced with humor and urban accessibilty.

"(I) put stuff around town, like sort of anonymously, just trying to infiltrate my future home basically," Land said.

He began by making screen prints of his work on t-shirts, then "dumping" the shirts in bins that supply thrift stores. Within days, he'd see the shirts worn by young people in stylish in-town neighborhoods.

"(I was) just trying to get those unusual images out there," Land said.

The giveaways paid off. Now, R. Land has a thriving commercial art business. He's the artist behind a show on Cartoon Network. But he tries to stay credible by staying rooted in street art.

One of his most improbable successes was a nonsensical poster he made in five minutes at a Kinko's store at 3 a.m. 10 years ago. It's called "Loss Cat."

The flyer was posted around Atlanta as a joke, then spread. He licensed the image for a T-shirt sold by Urban Outfitters. But then this summer, clothing retailer Forever 21 began selling a shirt with what appeared to be a slightly altered version of R. Land's Loss Cat.

"It's flattery in a certain way," Land said. "And it's also troublesome."

Ronnie Land hired attorney David Prasse, who contacted Forever 21. Although R. Land had made his name by giving away his art, this was different.

"When you have something that's considered to be intellectual property, and you've had it for a long time and you've established it and someone takes it, you have to protect it," Land said.

Prasse said he contacted Forever 21, which pulled the shirt and settled to avoid a lawsuit. Prasse said the issue was settled "amicably," and declined further comment.

Land said his clientele raised a bigger stink than he did. The reaction, he said, was an eye-opener. "Like, wow. People really care about the little cat," Land laughed.

And that, R. Land said, was the biggest payoff for an artist who, until then, had still never considered himself completely established in his new hometown.

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