Artist Finds That IU’s Chat-Shire Cover Art Was Basically Plagiarized From Her Own Work


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So, it seems that IU just can’t catch many breaks these days in regards to her great Chat-Shire album. Not only was IU stupidly accused of sexualizing kids with some lyrics on one track (and then forced to apologize for it after) but the bonus track on the Chat-Shire album entitled “Twenty-Three” also came under fire due to its production’s similarities to a Britney Spears song.

Now, it’s Chat-Shire‘s album art that is receiving some pretty heavy (although valid) flack. In a recent post on Medium, artist Jessica H. Lee wrote that she couldn’t help but notice the striking similarities between the artistic design of the artwork on Chat-Shire‘s album and her illustrations. While the direct comparisons that Lee found between Chat-Shire and her work are moderately strong, the overall aesthetic similarities between Lee’s art and Chat-Shire is pretty unmistakable.



To make matters even more damning, after doing some digging of her own, Lee found that the person who drew IU’s album cover had actually contacted her a few years ago about a different project and that the individual was very familiar with her work.

After posting the article, Lee did receive an apology from the people behind Chat-Shire‘s look which sounds like an admission that the album art went beyond simply looking to Lee’s work for inspiration.

Since I posted this article, the designer who art directed the album cover got in touch with me and sent me an email where he apologized. If there are any updates, I will make sure to post them here.

Moral of the story: LOEN needs to get its shit together so that stuff like this doesn’t overshadow their star’s own work. For what it’s worth, IU hasn’t been connected to the album art (which probably won’t stop netizens from trying to make that link) but having another story that needlessly connects “IU” and “plagiarism” is a pretty stupid and avoidable disaster. For her part, Lee bares no ill-will towards the K-Pop star:

I respect IU’s work and talent, and I am hoping that she did not know this happened. It was important for me to address this issue because an entire year of work went into creating these pieces for my Graduate Thesis. As a fellow artist, I’m sure IU respects the authenticity and integrity of one’s creation, and I hope to keep the originality of my artwork.

You can read the rest of Lee’s piece and see the other comparisons that she makes between her art and Chat-Shire HERE.

UPDATE (12/15): Lee has removed her previous update that she had received an apology from the designer who directed the album’s cover art. Not sure what that means, but take that for what it’s worth.



  1. Man, this sucks for IU, BUT: While I haven’t dug into this myself yet at all, having just now read your synopsis, the art DOES look very similar, it is clearly not EXACTLY the same. They didn’t just copy it… another artist drew it. Last time I checked, simply making a piece of art that LOOKS similar to someone else’s (even when done for profit) is not wrong per se. Can no one draw anything that look like “Alien” because H R Geiger was the first to do so? Does he OWN “that”? How is “that” defined”? How similar is too similar? Me thinks a simple nod in the form of “cover art inspired by the work of xxxxx? would have been sufficient acknowledgement. Better yet though they should have simply hired the original artist if they like here work (assuming someone in a position “knew”). Sure, if they simply copy the art, nuance for nuance, AND as a discern-able “whole” that’s one thing, but a spider web, a skull & a castle. Come on.

    What was the scandal with the A-Pink & the girls holding ice-cream cones in the park? Ridiculous. You can’t “own” the concept of pretty girls in dresses in a park holding ice-cream cones just because you were the first to film it, or put in a music video, or paint it or whatever.

    1. As far as I understand it (and spending a few years as a TA at a college and getting REALLY used identifying the gray areas when it comes to plagiarism), plagiarism isn’t solely straight up copying something verbatim and passing it off as your own. It is, in a general sense, presenting an idea as yours when it actually originated from another source (that’s where attribution comes into play). It seems that that’s what happened here seeing as the artist for Chat-Shire knew Lee’s work very well AND the art director for the album contacted her to apologize.

      1. Imagine if IU wasn’t the “Nation’s Little Sister” and these kind of controversies had come up. Imagine if poor old Bom had released something like this with so many issues. She’d have been stripped of her citizenship and deported to North Korea. As rough as this has been for IU, for a lot of other artists it would be much worse because they aren’t as well liked.

  2. Emulating an art style in a completely different piece is NOT plagiarism. The two are not even close. They’re vaguely similar at best.

  3. Lol that’s not even slightly plagiarised. When your main points are that both have a skull and spiderwebs then you’ve not really got much of a case. Shame you wrote a blog about this non-issue so now more people see it.

    1. Again, plagiarism isn’t solely “Copy+Paste.” It is merely using someone else’s idea and submitting it as your own without giving proper attribution. I have no idea if there’s enough for a lawsuit seeing as countries have differing laws when it comes to intellectual property but Lee seems to be saying that her work didn’t get properly recognized by the people who made Chat-Shire’s album art. Again, if the people behind the art direction of Chat-Shire contacted her to apologize as she says that they did, then that seems to be the case here. No one is saying that she should sue the hell out of IU.

      1. For sure it’s not just copy and paste, but this Lee’s art looks just like a shit tonne of other drawings on the internet, I doubt she attributes them as her influences, mostly because it’s not a original or unique art-style.
        Whilst I do agree the Chat-Shire artist definitely should have said “yo this Jessica Lee is rad, props” in the liner notes IF the influence was there, I can’t see it being a big deal.

  4. The IU show continues.

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