Is the NFT art community sufficiently broad for two Western-themed art styles? A recent NFT collection titled “Outlaws” has been criticized by some collectors for its similarities to the work of artist Jeremy Booth.
On Wednesday of last week, Outlaws conducted a public sale of 10,000 profile picture (PFP) NFTs, allowing collectors to purchase the digital collectibles for 0.05 Ether each. According to the marketplace website, they have since sold out, and the cheapest Outlaws NFT is presently available for 0.067 Ethereum.
Sadboi, a self-described NFT artist, stated on Friday that the Outlaws endeavor left them feeling “conflicted” due to its moral ambiguity. From their perspective, it is an evident copy of the work of another artist.
This statement referenced Booth, a well-known NFT artist with a minimalist and cinematic approach to Western-themed artwork. His recent “Dirt” series is one of several examples of how, over time, he has developed a distinctive style for depicting landscapes and characters.
An insightful Twitter user observed that the boundaries between plagiarism and inspiration are frequently blurred in art. The speculative nature of various NFT projects can increase an artist’s sensitivity or consciousness of resemblances in their work.
Outlaws and Booth’s Western-themed works share similarities beyond cowboy hats and landscapes, including the use of simple shapes and deep, dark shadows to emphasize facial features.
However, parts of Outlaws and Booth’s Western-themed NFTs are reminiscent of a series of posters made between 1938 and 1941 for the National Parks Service by WPA artists, depicting locations like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.
Prior to any issue about the project’s aesthetic, Outlaws discussed its origins at the beginning of April, going into great length about a number of topics, including how the collection’s overall color palette was chosen as well as how the project’s backgrounds were chosen.
The project’s blog post mentions a few other painters as inspirations for its Western style, including Charles Marion Russell, Frederic Remington, and Albert Bierstadt. The post also draws comparisons to famous Western films such as “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” and “The Magnificent Seven” regarding character design.
The post states that the collection was developed with the goal of honoring the cultural heritage and history of the American West while also offering a fresh and distinctive perspective on the genre. It draws on a broad range of artists for inspiration, with the intention of creating a diverse and inclusive collection.
Booth clarified to his followers on Twitter that he is not connected to Outlaws, labeling it a warning sign that the project’s official Twitter account mentioned his name while it was engaging with potential collectors.
The Outlaws Twitter account responded by citing additional artists who helped lay the framework for the PFP collection’s flat aesthetic, including Malika Favre and Levente Szabo. It was noted that the project never attempted to position itself as a component of Booth’s work, and Western-themed art is hardly novel.
The account further clarified that they had never claimed to be Booth and had been transparent about it. They requested people to compare Booth’s portraits with theirs and pointed out their significant differences.
The Outlaws account also said that it had retweeted a statement from Booth on April 4 in which he clarified that he is not connected to the project.
According to a tweet by Booth, his issue with the Outlaws project was different from its style but instead with how he was referenced in private messages and tagged in certain promotional content.
On OpenSea’s web page as of Sunday afternoon, Outlaws was identified as a trending project. OpenSea’s website reports that the collection has generated total sales of 2,668 Ethereum, which is equivalent to over $5.6 million.
Booth acknowledged that the release of Outlaws had an impact on him, but he stated that he has chosen to rise above it and not let bitterness consume him. On Twitter, he mentioned that he has been in the industry for a considerable amount of time and plans to stay in it for a long time.