CHICAGO — An aldermanic candidate is paying a local artist for images his campaign used without permission — a first for the artist who says his work is often lifted.
The campaign for Gilbert Villegas, a Marine veteran running for 36th ward alderman, used several neighborhood logos designed by Steve Shanabruch on about 2,000 holiday postcards and its website.
The 36th ward, which was redistricted for 2015, mostly encompasses the Belmont Cragin neighborhood.
After being notified of the source of the art this week, the Villegas campaign removed the images from its website and dropped its designer, said campaign manager Justin Heath.
"This is a major, major problem, and it sure does need to be addressed. The designer that we were using made a major personal mistake, and we will not be working with him anymore," Heath said. "We want to make sure Steve is made whole by this whole thing."
Shanabruch, 33, started a project in 2011 to design a logo for every Chicago neighborhood, going as far to do historical research and talk with residents for many of them.
In the years since, he said neighborhood groups and a bar have taken from "The Chicago Neighborhoods" website without contacting him.
"Across the board, I don't let anyone use them," Shanabruch said. "It's a personal project. I don't want to be associated with a brand or political movement."
The 33-year-old Ravenswood Manor resident said he was frustrated to learn they were being used in a political campaign — especially by a candidate who says he supports small business. Shanabruch's art is a side business for him, as he sells prints of his work online.
A percentage of the former campaign designer's paycheck will now be going to Shanabruch, Heath said. Shanabruch asked Heath to donate the amount to Ravenswood Community Services, a charity the "Chicago Neighborhoods" artist volunteers for.
"I wish the situation wouldn't have happened, but I'm glad that they've owned up to it," Shanabruch said. "Hopefully a bit of misfortune or error on their part will benefit the people in the community."
In a statement, Villegas said the use of the logos was a mistake.
“The inappropriate use of Steve Shanabrunch’s beautiful artwork was a huge mistake by our former designer," he said. "Intellectual property is a very important issue in the modern world and our former designer should have been more aware."
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