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Sorry MJF. It’s not heelwork. It’s stealing.

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The dope bloody Becky Lynch art that drew you into this article is by Manhattan-based artist Lauren Moran. I asked her if I could feature her art in this article, and she said yes. She gets a little free publicity, and my article looks more professional for featuring it. Easy peasy.

It’s so easy to make sure everyone receives the proper credit. All major social media platforms have tagging functions and retweet/reblog options. Asking for permission to post is just a simple DM away. There is practically no effort involved to make sure an artist receives basic credit for their work, which is why it is so shocking and upsetting when a wrestler flat out refuses to do it.

After WWE released Chelsea Green, she hit the ground running. I mean, this woman hustled and hustled hard. She flooded her social channels with reminders of her past gimmicks, plans for her future, photos, and fan art. Unfortunately, Chelsea didn’t credit an artist properly in one of her posts, and when the artist reached out and reasonably requested she credit them, she pettily refused and deleted the fan art. The artist (@salsaboiii on Twitter) was rightfully upset, so they shared the experience with their followers.

Rude doesn’t even begin to describe this course of action.

Imagine doing your job so well that you inspire a fan to create a piece of unique artwork of you only to undo all of that goodwill by effectively stealing their work to promote yourself and then acting like a child when they call you out on it.

Credit where credit is due (heh), Chelsea Green did issue an apology (of sorts) after a pretty brutal internet dragging and has since been very vocal about crediting fan art that she reposts.

Growth? In this economy? You love to see it.

Unfortunately, less than a month later, we were dragged back into the muck when MJF posted several non-credited fan art renderings of his post Blood & Guts bloody face with the insulting caption of “Mark art.” In a comical movie villain move, he even made one of them his Twitter profile pic.

When asked to credit the artists, he responded with a resounding “No.”

Several times.

Before you begin with the “But Stella! He’s a heel. It’s a work.” consider me Ryback because I am not catching you or your bad take.

Using someone else’s work for self-promotion without credit outside of a wrestling ring is not a heel move. It’s what’s known in the real world as being a colossal dick. These are real people — real fans — who created those images because they appreciated and respected the art created by MJF. He is blatantly disrespecting them and their art by refusing to tag them.

He has since started to retweet other fan art directly from artists’ accounts, but as of this writing, he has yet to tag the fan art that started this discussion.

I’m sure he thinks it’s some kind of meta heelwork masterpiece. Spoiler: It’s not.

Editor’s note: One of the artists in question tweeted they gifted MJF their art. We (Stella & Sean) missed that, which was an oversight on our part. They do indicate that not all of the images MJF posted were their’s however, so their situation doesn’t negate Stella’s position.

Also, they make dope art. Check it out.

This is, sadly, not a new trend. People and businesses all across the internet have been using uncredited fan art for their own purposes for years. It’s one of those inherent dangers of being an artist on the internet. Access to a broader audience base also means that the audience base - the good, the bad, and the profiteering - can access you and your work. Not too long ago, Lauren had to fight with dodgy third-party t-shirt companies selling merch featuring her Becky Lynch art without her permission or proper compensation. It sucks, but it happens.

But the fact is, wrestlers should know better. Many wrestlers are independent contractors. They have to hustle for gigs just like all the rest of us starving artists. Theoretically, they have intimate knowledge of what it is like to struggle and profit from their art form. You’d think that would make them try extra hard to make sure that artists like them get acknowledged.

Despite overwhelming evidence otherwise, there are, of course, wrestlers who are not complete trash bags and who regularly credit and (gasp) pay artists for their work. Bianca Belair is one such wrestler, as is indie darling very scary demon Danhausen. But they are babyfaces, you say! Of course, they credit the artists. Well, The Gargano way includes crediting artists (unless that artist is Dexter Lumis), and if they’re babyfaces, then I’ll willingly go to one of their horrifying dinner parties.

Hopefully, the Twitter machine has properly shamed these recent credit culprits, and their fellow wrestlers learn from their very public and very embarrassing mistakes (ahem, Young Bucks. Looking at you). Only time will tell.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out Lauren’s art. She’s very talented!