Jeresneyka Rose woke up one day to tones of congratulatory messages from family and friends on social media. She was being cheered for striking a deal with Walmart to sell her artwork on the platform.
Worldwide, many businesses strive to have their products listed on Walmart for sale and so the buzz around the sale of her painting on Walmart was understandable.
However, the unfortunate aspect of the move was that her artwork, a digital portrait of late rapper Nipsey Hussle, was being sold on Walmart without her permission. The multibillion-dollar firm sells the artwork in its stores for $14.99.
“People were tagging me on social media to congratulate me on a collaboration that I had no idea about,” Rose told Yahoo Life. “I would have never known had it not been for social media.”
Hussle was fatally shot two years ago in a parking lot in South Los Angeles and Rose created the portrait in his memory. She published her tribute to the late rapper on her social media with an option to download. She, however, added five watermarks to prevent theft. Shockingly, Walmart allegedly removed all but one of them.
“They edited the picture and removed my signature and changed the background to yellow, but my watermark was still in the hair,” Rose told Southeast Express. “I guess they couldn’t get that off, and that’s what saved me.”
Among other things, Rose is exploring the potential of legal action to get her due, noting that this is not the first time an artist’s work has been put up for sale without his or her consent by big corporations.
She told Yahoo Life: “I’m not well-versed when it comes to things like that, but there’s so many other artists out there that this happens to and they never find out — they never get their due diligence, so I just would like to see what the process looks like. I just know right is right and wrong is wrong — and this is wrong.”
Rose, of Colorado, is the founder of Art By Rizzo. According to her, she started taking her artwork seriously after trying out some corporate jobs and noticing that she could no longer fit in. She now makes much of her money from her artwork in which she sells online or at community events in Colorado Springs, her hometown. She told The Express that she was financially hit by the pandemic and that she found Walmart making a profit off her back egregious.
Rose said she wants to use her predicament to bring to fore how big corporations are exploiting the artwork of small businesses, especially Black-led ones, for monetary gains.
“It’s not just the fact that it’s one corporation — this happens every day to black artists and people of color and women, and impoverished people that don’t have the resources and funds to fight for themselves,” she said. “We don’t have a standing chance. It’s bigger than me.”