Illustrator Muriel Fahrion, who drew the first designs for the Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and other classic animated characters, has shared a powerful Black Lives Matter message through her work. Fahrion first unveiled her protest sketches last month and is selling the designs for apparel online. Now, the copyright holders are fighting to take Fahrion's work down.
Fahrion drew the first concept art for The Get Along Gang and Care Bears after the ideas had been licensed, according to a report by Tulsa World. The acclaimed creator has made it clear that the spirit of her work is inclusive, as she posted a new "Black Lives Matter Bear" on Instagram last month. Fahrion donated the piece to a new pop culture museum being built in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, she announced on Instagram. Fahrion tried to make the designs available for prints, shirts and other products via the print-on-demand service Red Bubble until the license holder stepped in.
TIL the creator of The Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake is still alive and is forking awesome!!! Her name is Muriel Fahrion, her Instagram is full of her amazing dances, and she created #BlackLivesMattters Care Bears and other characters you can purchase on products. https://t.co/QeC0CZg76P pic.twitter.com/MXJtocF1T8— 🏴☠️ Daniel Schutzsmith 🏴☠️ Black Lives Matter (@schutzsmith) June 9, 2020
American Greeting Cards ordered Fahrion's Red Bubble store to stop selling the Black Lives Matter Bear design, according to a report by Heroic Girls. Fahrion had said that any money she makes from the sale of these designs would be donated to "the Reed Foundation, a Black-founded organization which helps disadvantaged youth in Tulsa."
Meanwhile, Fahrion followed that up with another design where Strawberry Shortcake's friend, Orange Blossom, held a Black Lives Matter sign. However, the copyright holders cracked down on this one as well. Fahrion asked fans not to blame them, saying they were "very understanding" and that "we will be having discussions on how we can move forward."
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The two pieces of ORIGINAL drawing art BLACK LIVES MATTER BEAR and ORANGE BLOSSOM BLM Will be donated by me to @okpoptulsa oklahoma’s pop culture museum which is in the process of being built in Tulsa Oklahoma. I am more than pleased that they will have their place in history.
Many fans on social media are surprised that Fahrion herself does not have some control over these intellectual properties. Fahrion made these creations while working for American Greetings, and later for Those Characters From Cleveland (TCFC).
Fahrion slowly phased out this kind of for-hire work later in her career, working freelance until she retired. She only recently resurfaced on social media, launching Outta Thin Air Studio in 2019. There, she is creating new original characters with plenty of references to her most iconic work of the past.
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This is lil iffi she was never quite sure of herself but she is now. #CharacterSpecialist #BlackLivesMatter #3Dcreation Last piece of art created before midnight. I have just uploaded to @redbubble for any of those interested. A portion of my profit this time will go to a BLM fund. We will find her under lil iffi BLM.
Fahrion's new original work is just as political as her Black Lives matter Bear design. She has posted pictures of cartoon protesters, face mask designs and other whimsical works. She also promotes and supports other artists from the Tulsa area.