HAMILTON ARTIST ACCUSES URBAN OUTFITTERS OF STEALING HER WHIMSICAL DESIGNS

Lee Meszaros has a line of designs called Eau Claire Resin

Artist Lee Meszaros is shown here outside her home studio in Hamilton on March 12, 2020. Meszaros was left feeling ripped off and taken advantage of after she said Urban Outfitters reneged on an offer to partner with her on a collection and instead created similar products of its own. (Aaron Lynett/Canadian Press)

An artist from Hamilton said she was left feeling “ripped off” after Urban Outfitters reneged its offer to partner with her on a collection and instead created similar products of its own.

It’s far from unheard of for big businesses to be accused of copying independent artists’ designs, so Lee Meszaros said she was initially wary when the retailer reached out to her in April 2019 to ask if she’d be interested in working with them on a line of floral resin goods.

“My fear all along, since I got their initial email, is that once you’re on their radar, you can either play along or get ripped off and have nothing to do with the process,” the 36-year-old said in an interview earlier this month.

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So Meszaros, whose line is called Eau Claire Resin, decided to respond to them. She said she did research for the potential partnership and sent it to the company explaining her process. She calculated how much it would cost to produce the items, and looked for new moulds she could use to create products in different shapes and sizes than what she was creating for her own shop. She also sent over samples of her products.

Her work turns the whimsical into the practical. To create her ashtrays and paperweights, Meszaros picks flowers she grows herself or finds in public spaces and painstakingly arranges dozens of them into “a little world” as she encases them in clear resin, she said.

After initially putting in a preliminary order and receiving the samples, Urban Outfitters decided not go ahead with a partnership, according to emails from July 2019 provided to The Canadian Press. They wrote the items would cost too much for its clientele.

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