1,000 Dog Portraits: A Case Study in Silver Linings

I came across this book recently, and after doing some digging, I realized why I knew I needed to make a purchase. Sure it’s a frivolous buy, but the story behind it makes this one that’s well worth supporting.

Years ago I caught wind of a copyright case that involved a Seattle design firm that I’d always admired, Modern Dog.

Here's the gist of it:

  • In 2008, Modern Dog created portraits of dogs for the fly sheets of their book, Modern Dog: 20 Years of Poster Art
  • In 2011, unbeknownst to them, those illustrations show up on t-shirts by Disney and Target
  • Here's an article that goes into more detail, and a video Modern Dog put together to demonstrate the copying

The case seemed so insanely straight-forward—and that’s why it was so appalling. Because Disney refused to admit they were wrong.

At one point during the legal debacle the defendant's lawyer even tried to argue "there are only so many ways to draw a beagle.” Thankfully it appears this tactic didn’t work, and Modern Dog eventually won a settlement (after several years!), but what that gem of a statement did inspire, was this book.

Modern Dog co-founder, Robynne Raye, gathered portraits from artists all over the world and compiled them into the ultimate dog-lovers art collection. As the Amazon description states: "There's even a chapter called, "How Many Ways Can You Draw A Beagle?" showing the myriad of ways an artist can depict a single breed of dog.” Take that, smarty-pants lawyer! 

I love this story, and now I'm an even bigger fan of Modern Dog. I’ll be buying more copies for gifts this holiday season for sure. 

Buy 1000 Dog Portraits here, and enjoy!