Germán Canalla, an Argentinian tattoo artist, was going about his own business when he started to receive direct messages from some of his Instagram followers. People weren't slipping into his DMs to attempt to get an appointment, instead, they were alerting him to his art being stolen and repurposed in a truly disgusting manner.
A sticker had been circulating among employees of X-Site Energy Services depicting a naked woman bent over and having her pigtails pulled back by a man. The woman is labeled "Greta," a clear reference to Thunberg, and the logo of the company is at the bottom. The message being sent by the sticker is abundantly clear. The artwork on the sticker was pulled from a tattoo that Canalla had created and posted back in 2017.
As news broke about the sticker, Canalla eventually became aware that it was his design that had been reappropriated.
"At first I thought it was a regular rip of my work, for some stickers or something," Canalla explains. "But when I understood exactly what that screenshot meant, that was when I got shocked. I showed it to my girlfriend and we both felt disgusted. That was too much."
Canalla took quick action, and posted an Instagram story showing that it was his art that had been stolen. Unfortunately, this was far from the first time that Canalla had seen one of his designs stolen and used by others. "I'm used to people stealing or ripping off my work, either for tattoos, t-shirts or stickers," Canalla says. "Of course, that always bothers me, but this time I felt it was another level."
X-Site claims that they are not responsible for creating or distributing the offensive sticker. Not knowing who exactly produced the sticker could limit Canalla's options moving forward.
"I automatically thought about initiating legal actions against the company," Canalla says. "Not only had they erased my signature from the original print, but also they gave my art a totally different, filthy and disrespectful meaning."
Much of Canalla's work is sexual in nature as many of his designs contain elements of eroticism and BDSM. In no way would the artist ever use an underage girl, like Thurnberg, in one of his pieces. Canalla's art is provocative and beautiful. It may make you feel uncomfortable, but that's part of what makes it so engaging. "Sexual art is acceptable for me only in the cases when respect, love and consent are the basis," Canalla explains.
Seeing this art perverted in such a manner—particularly by an oil company attacking a child attempting to raise awareness for climate change—is beyond disgusting. There was no consent or respect involved in the creation of these stickers, the only aim was to humiliate a 17-year-old girl hoping to make the world a better place. It is completely unacceptable and hopefully those who were responsible will pay some consequences.