Christopher Cooper is a California-based artist who works under the name Coop. Coop, who drew the cover illustration for the January 2013 issue of reason, specializes in cartoon iconography with a West Coast flavor; his imagery frequently features tricked-out hot rods, monsters, robots, gorgeous women, and an assortment of devilish characters. He has published multiple books and sells posters, clothing, and other items featuring his art on the website coopstuff.com. Senior Editor Brian Doherty interviewed Coop in March.
Q: Do you feel like people are robbing from you when you see them bite your style? How often does it happen, and what can you do about it? What should you do about it?
A: Sometimes you see something that somebody's done that obviously has been influenced, and it's kind of a compliment. Then, of course, other times, you see somebody's just taken something of yours without any credit or any payment. And yeah, you feel like somebody broke into your house and stole your stereo. I go back and forth on that a lot. I have in the past had to sue people.
Really though, it's kind of like the way in the grocery store they put all the cheap stuff right by the front door because they figure they'd rather have people steal the cheap stuff than the expensive stuff. And I kind of feel like with the era that we're in now with the Internet, there's a certain amount of that that's just going to happen. And there's nothing you can do about it.
Q: What are your legal recourses as an artist? You can copyright specific images?
A: I copyright everything. And yeah, you can pursue it, but it costs money to have a lawyer go after people. Most of the time, a simple cease-and-desist letter will stop people from doing that. But it's tough. Basically it's one of those things where, if it's somebody bigger than you, they sort of do it with the expectation of...