The artist behind a Spanish government poster encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to be proud of their bodies has apologised for failing to seek the permission of the models who inspired the work.
On Wednesday, the Women’s Institute – part of Spain’s equality ministry – launched a campaign called “Summer is ours too”. The accompanying poster, designed by the artist Arte Mapache, shows five women of different body types, ages and ethnicities. It also shows a topless woman who has had a mastectomy.
“The campaign is intended as a response to fatphobia, hatred and the questioning of non-normative bodies – particularly those of women, something that’s most prevalent in the summertime,” the Women’s Institute said earlier this week.
Despite the positive message of the campaign, social media users soon noticed some of the women in the poster bore a very close resemblance to real models.
On Thursday, Arte Mapache issued a public apology for using the models’ likenesses without their permission, and for using a typeface that she had understood to be free.
“Given the – justified – controversy over the image rights in the illustration, I have decided that the best way to make amends for the damages that may have resulted from my actions is to share out the money I received for the work and give equal parts to the people in the poster,” the artist said.
Arte Mapache said she had never intended to “abuse” the models’ images, and had only sought to demonstrate how great an inspiration they had been.
The artist also said reports that the commission was worth €84,000 (£70,500) were false, and that the fee had been €4,490.
The British model Nyome Nicholas-Williams said she had no idea the image had been used until an Instagram follower sent her a news story about the poster.
“It was nice to see the image initially but then I saw that it was for a campaign and I then felt annoyed as I hadn’t been asked to even be a part of this,” she told the Guardian.
Nicholas-Williams said while it was good to know that she had inspired the artist, she would have appreciated being approached about the use of her image – and being paid for it. A photoshoot in Spain, she added, would have been even better.
The model welcomed the artist’s apology and offer of a share of her fee, but said she would still like to have “a conversation on the importance of consent and asking people to use their images”.
A spokesperson for the Women’s Institute said it was aware of the issue and was in contact with the artist.
In a tweet, it thanked Arte Mapache for her “anti-fatphobic activism, for recognising the mistake in the illustration and for being open to listening to the women involved in the struggle against fatphobia and racism”.