Artist and hotel sort out copying of artwork

Artist Richard Lee is known for his nostalgic renderings of Singapore icons.
Artist Richard Lee is known for his nostalgic renderings of Singapore icons.

A Singaporean artist who found his work used without permission in the publicity materials of an upcoming hotel has settled the matter amicably with the hotel's owner.

Mr Richard Lee Xin Li, 27, discovered last month that his illustrations were used in an artist's impression of Hotel Indigo Katong Singapore, The Straits Times had reported. The 131-room boutique hotel will open later this year at the former Joo Chiat Police Station.

The artist's impression, uploaded on the hotel's website, showed a hotel room with a black-and-white mural of a cyclist and his pillion rider, and a man making teh tarik.

These were lifted off a series of Katong colour illustrations by Mr Lee, who is known for his nostalgic renderings of Singapore icons.

He met Katong Holdings development manager Elaine Seah and design manager Loh Sook Mun, as well as the hotel's general manager, Mr Adel Aramouni, on Dec 21, when an agreement was reached.

Hotel Indigo is the boutique brand of the InterContinental Hotels Group. The hotel in Katong is owned by Katong Holdings, which is made up of three Singapore-based firms: Master Contract Services, Keong Hong Construction and Asia Development.

Ms Seah told The Straits Times that she "explained to Mr Lee that his artwork was used solely for mock-up and concept purposes to guide the design of the actual guestrooms in the hotel".

"Unfortunately, the mood board with Mr Lee's artwork was unintentionally released externally and we have since removed all related images online," she said. Another artist, Mr Don Low, is designing the murals for the hotel rooms, she added.

Mr Lee said Katong Holdings had apologised at their two-hour meeting. "I would like to also take this opportunity to encourage attribution to content creators, be it (in the genre of) art, architecture, literature, film, photography or music. Attribution is of great significance for a content creator and the creative community at large," he said.

Mr Lee added he was glad to hear Mr Low was involved in the project, calling him a "leading figure" of the Urban Sketchers Singapore group, an informal network of artists who sketch the cityscape.

A similar case took place in June last year, when a horseshoe-shaped table tennis table resembling an art installation by Cultural Medallion recipient Lee Wen was seen at the SEA Games carnival. In Lee's original art piece, titled Ping-Pong Go Round, the table forms a complete circle. The Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee later removed the table and made a goodwill payment to the artist.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2016, with the headline Artist and hotel sort out copying of artwork. Subscribe