Unlicensed: Bootlegging as Creative Practice

Over the last few decades, the term "bootlegging"--a practice once relegated to smugglers and copyright infringers--has become understood as a creative act.

Debates about homage, appropriation and theft, already common in the art world, are now being held in the spheres of corporate branding, social media and the creative industry as a whole. Today, bootlegging has become an aesthetic in and of itself, influencing everything from underground record labels and DIY T-shirts to publishing ideologies and acts of high fashion détournement.

Unlicensed, a project by Ben Schwartz, contains 21 interviews with a range of creative practitioners on the topic of bootlegging. Some of these interviews were originally published on the Gradient, the design blog of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where Schwartz began his research on bootlegging.

These conversations investigate bootlegging's creative and critical potential, and explore new ways it can be deployed in order to thrive as an impactful cultural force.