Row erupts over use of Portsmouth street artist My Dog Sighs' work in background of ad for luxury car maker Lexus on Facebook

A ROW has erupted over the use of artwork by Portsmouth street artist in the background of an advert for a luxury car.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 6:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 11:50 am
Artist My Dog Sighs with artwork he created for The News, Portsmouth, which was sold to raise money for charity. Picture: Sarah Standing (010520-8199)

Lexus posted a photograph of its Lexus UX 250h model with artist Clare Pentlow stood next to it with some of her Japanese Takumi – a form of paper art – on to Facebook on April 22.

The car manufacturer’s promotion was meant to be about how the car had inspired Clare’s work, however it caused an outcry on social media as the shot was posed in front of artwork by My Dog Sighs and SNUB23, two highly respected street artists.

My Dog Sighs, who is based in Portsmouth and has a global fanbase, is well known for his pieces which feature reflections in eyes and a large piece of his work was on the wall behind the Lexus and Clare.

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Lexus social media post featuring artwork by Clare Pentlow, My Dog Sighs and SNUB23. Picture from Facebook.

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On the social media post, My Dog Sighs commented that neither he nor SNUB23 had been contacted prior to publication - and claimed that it was breach of his copyright.

This prompted floods of fans to also comment on the post, sparking a furious outcry, calling for Lexus to apologise, credit the artists and pay them for their work.

Lexus swiftly credited the two street artists on the post, but it has refused to go any further, saying they had permission from the venue – FarGo Village in Coventry – when they booked it for a corporate photo shoot.

My Dog Sighs with his mural at Hilsea Lido last July.

My Dog Sighs has since claimed he has been blocked by the firm – which Lexus denies – and has posted that he has instructed lawyers.

The News contacted My Dog Sighs, however he did not want to comment while the incident is being looked into.

He posted on to his public Facebook page: ‘Despite my request and a public comment from them saying they would contact Snub and I, after five days they didn't.

‘So I contacted them myself yesterday. In their reply they're maintaining that they've done nothing wrong and have suggested we contact FarGo (the location of the mural) instead.

‘The irony of a post supposedly supporting the importance of art and mental health is very much not lost and I’m am both angered and disappointed that they feel they can just ignore us, claim innocence and brush us off.

‘It's a disrespectful act to us and all other artists, even more so given the sentiment they're trying to portray with the particular content that's at the heart of the dispute.

‘I’m particularly saddened for the artist they feature in the post. Please support Clare in any comments and support you offer on the post. Her work is beautiful and it’s a shame Lexus chose to overshadow it in the way they have.’

Lexus issued a statement to The News.

It said: ‘Lexus UK, through one of its creative agencies, hired FarGo Village, which commercialises its spaces and artworks, for a photoshoot. During our shoot we were accompanied by a FarGo Village representative, who was happy for us to photograph in front of the mural in question as part of our agreement with them.

‘FarGo Village markets itself as a: ‘A popular location for photography and film shoots, we have a variety of suitable spaces onsite. Our quirky street art and buildings make a great backdrop for film, photos and music videos’.

‘We have tried to encourage My Dog Sighs and Snub23 to engage with FarGo over this matter, as our commercial relationship was with the venue, and it seems sensible that artist and venue discuss the nature of their own arrangements; but this has still not happened to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing.

‘We were happy to update our content to ensure that the artists were credited and we'd have been happy to speak to them and understand their concerns of course, but unfortunately the first we knew of the artists having an issue with our arrangement with FarGo was repeated and organised attacks on social media, which have continued, rather than a conversation with us.

‘Contrary to suggestions, Lexus UK has not blocked the artists on social media.’

FarGo Village manager Emma Harrabin said: ‘FarGo Village was set up to provide a home for independent artists and small creative businesses; it has a track record of nurturing and supporting them. We have been made aware of a dispute between My Dog Sighs and Snub23 and Lexus UK over the use of an image that was taken on our site.

‘We have been in touch with both parties and we confirm that we will endeavor to facilitate a resolution between them. We remain committed to supporting artists and hope there will be opportunity for us to feature more of the artists’ work in the future.’