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A painting by Chuck Close, taken from the Blum & Poe website and available for purchase on Wallpart.com (screenshot by the author)

Artists and photographers are up in arms over a website that is selling cheap posters and prints of their work, without their knowledge or permission. Called the Poster Shop and located at Wallpart.com, the site is tied to an incomplete address in Sydney, Australia, its phone number follows a British format, its packages ship from China, and according to Kotaku the domain was registered by a man named Sergo Zuikov, who lives in Moscow. It has been the subject of many articles and forum discussions warning artists and would-be buyers of its shady ways, and a petition calling for the site to be shut down has garnered over 62,000 signatures.

Wallpart.com’s administrators, apparently anticipating the backlash, have provided a dedicated copyright violation claim form that some suggest is the entire point of the site, which is nothing more than an elaborate phishing scam. “This is actually the main purpose for the site’s existence — they completely anticipate artists being upset about their work supposedly being sold, so they developed a system to exploit those who complain,” the blog Peter & Company writes. “Various pieces of malware and other malicious code have been found embedded throughout their pages at different times. … These people are pure scam artists, plain and simple. Avoid them at all costs.”

A print of Hyperallergic editors speaking in Baltimore, for sale on WallPart.com (screenshot by the author) (click to enlarge)

In other words, Wallpart.com is intended to enrage artists in order to prompt them to provide contact and other information. A quick search of the site reveals that, indeed, posters of virtually any image on the internet can be purchased from the site. A photo of the rapper Coolio scrubbed from Wikipedia? Check. A shot of the Centre Pompidou taken from France’s official tourism site? Check. A photo of Hyperallergic editor-in-chief Hrag Vartanian and senior editor Jillian Steinhauer giving a talk in Baltimore taken from the blog BmoreArt? Check. More insidious than the selling of images from Wikipedia and tourism sites — or Flickr’s short-lived fiasco of selling prints of Creative Commons images uploaded by its users — is that Wallpart.com threatens the livelihood of people who make a living from their images: artists and photographers.

“I received the first email alert about my art on Wallpart.com from Thomas Smetana, founder of 12by15,” said Joseph Nechvatal, an artist and Hyperallergic contributor. “12by15 has produced a t-shirt with me using one of my images and texts. Thomas told me that the image we used was popping up on Wallpart.com — because they ripped the image for my shirt off of his 12by15 site … I hope people understand that what they are buying, if they receive anything at all, is a shitty unsigned poster and not a work of art by me.”

An image of a poster of a work by Joseph Nechvatal for sale on Wallpart.com (screenshot courtesy the artist) (click to enlarge)

Because the site pulls in any image associated with shoppers’ queries, searching for “Joseph Nechvatal” will not only turn up images of the artists’ work, but also photos of him from various blogs, images that accompanied his writing on Hyperallergic, and other tangentially related images, all available for purchase as posters. And the same is true of virtually any artist who has a website, has been photographed at an event, or had their work posted on Instagram. Search for “Carla Gannis,” for instance, and you’ll find not only images of the artist’s hugely popular “Garden of Emoji Delights” artwork, but also photos of her at openings, profile photos, and a slew of seemingly completely unrelated images.

“The most popular work of mine showing up on Wallpart.com is in fact a mash-up of Unicode characters and a classic work of art authored by a 16th-century painter. I find that ironic,” Gannis told Hyperallergic. “Stranger, photos of me at events are showing up there, for sale, and I have no idea who would want to pay money for these photos? Especially when they can download any of these photos directly from Google and print them out on their printer, but again who wants a pic of me at an art opening to hang on their wall either way? Seems unlikely. Thus I imagine there is a back story to Wallpart.com, something nefarious and unethical, or a conceptual prank? I’m not sure. The site seems highly unoriginal, if it’s an art stunt or a real business.”

Hyperallergic has reached out to Wallpart.com for comment but received no response.

Correction: Due to the likelihood that Wallpart.com, among other things, is an elaborate phishing scheme intended to gather visitors’ data and information, all links to the site have been removed from this article.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...

17 replies on “Shady Website Offers Posters of Any Image on the Internet Without Permission, Including Your Art”

  1. poster shop is so brazen it even listed the site my art works can be found. That is listing me as “Saatchi Artist Carlo Grassini”. All this without my permission or Saatchi’s. Just out right stealing of Artwork images. They really should be shut down.

  2. Im afraid to go look… if I find my stuff on here when Im living check to check Ill have to go burn their offices to the ground.

  3. I just sent an email to wallpart.com / poster shop requesting they take all my ARTwork images down FROM THEIR BUSINESS/SITE.

    They are stealing images for a profit with nothing going to the artists. AS IF WE DON’T WORK HARD ENOUGH, THEN THESE THIEVING BASTARDS COME ALONG!

  4. To Joseph, you have to go wallpart.com, go to their sales section. There you will find contact info. My first attempt I got an “error” massage. But I finally got my message to go thru to them, I think. If they act on my message is another matter. I maybe just knocking on a steel door & with response. Let’s face it, these people are ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY. DON’T EXPECT FAIR TREATMENT!

    1. When I tried to contact them that way (twice) I was thrown to a 404 page. I think of this situation as an open wound, which I poke with a stick. I feel caught in the abstractive howl of machinic-cybernetics! My effort to contact these extravagant exponents of post-structuralism has been reliably revolting and boring, and impels me to castrate their callow art act as an experiment in Inhumanism. How to prosecute such an impossible combat against machinic incarceration……..

  5. Please do not contact the site or email a complaint. It is a scam. It is a PHISHING site entirely built to gather personal data from outraged people. The reporter from Hyperallergic did not do a thorough job reporting. REPEAT! Do not look up your name. Do not provide personal information. Do not spread this site’s information. Kill it.

    1. Looks like you missed the second paragraph of the article: Wallpart.com’s administrators, apparently anticipating the backlash, have provided a dedicated copyright infringement claim form on the site that some suggest is the entire point of the site, which is nothing more than an elaborate phishing scam. “This is actually the main purpose for the site’s existence — they completely anticipate artists being upset about their work supposedly being sold, so they developed a system to exploit those who complain,” the blog Peter & Company writes. “Various pieces of malware and other malicious code have been found embedded throughout their pages at different times. … These people are pure scam artists, plain and simple. Avoid them at all costs.”

      1. Who can now take seriously their ridiculously megalomaniacal aspiration for art to be cool when handled this way? But they seem to have a cache of weapons for making trouble, a toolkit for escaping from everything. How dismal, inhibiting and tedious.

    2. Hi Pamela. I found many comments and some posts suggesting that the site is in fact an immense ruse intended to provoke artists and gather their contact information and other data, but most of these claims offered scant evidence and a perusal of the site’s HTML turned up little suspect code beyond some very inelegant search engine keyword optimization — possibly because the site’s administrators are constantly rejiggering their code and covering their tracks. I have added a section (the paragraph quoted by commenter Kim Matthews) acknowledging the phishing claims, and removed all links to Wallpart. I apologize for the oversight and confusion.

  6. by entering a search term (ie your name), i wonder if this adds to the algorithm and so you end up on the site.

  7. Pamela is correct. They are harvesting your information. If you buy something, they have your credit card information. Additionally, several people I know reported that the site loads a Trojan Horse virus on your computer. I did not get the virus but it may just be a Windows virus.

Comments are closed.