Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Blowing the Whistle on Redbubble's Serial Killer Baby Wear

As some of you may have heard, there have been ongoing protests surrounding, the art site I formally promoted my work on, until I learned of what RB's CEO was endorsing.

There was an issue of Redbubble selling a line of T-shirts adorning pro Nazi slogans, which you can read about in the following links:

FirmSpy proved to offer as a refuge where protesters could safely voice their opinions without being censored as they had been on Redbubble. 

Here is a fantastic write up by Paul Wilkinson offering more insight into Aconex, whom the Redbubble CEO, Martin Hosking, is chairman of. The writer explains how the issues surrounding the CEO's art site may effect his position at Aconex. 

The battle and story surrounding the 'Serial Killer Baby Wear' has just ended with a bitter-sweet "win".  A battle that in my opinion, should not have been necessary to pursue in the first place.  

A number of tasteless shirts celebrating Osama bin Laden being killed popped up on Redbubble following the news reports of his death, May 2nd, 2011.  

Through my objecting of these shirts, as I felt they contravened Redbubble's guidelines, I discovered they were not only available as men and women's T-shirts, but were additionally offered as baby and kid's wear.  Inappropriate?  Yes.  Absurd? Beyond comprehension. 

I brought this to the attention of Redbubble's CEO, he agreed they were "odd" results due to the fact, ALL designs uploaded to Redbubble, since the launching of the kid's wear just over 12 months ago (in May of 2010), were automatically available as baby and kids wear, by a default setting.  Were the artist aware of this default setting, they could de-tick their design to not appear as baby or child wear.  

But not all artists were aware of this default setting, and many non active members who had uploaded designs prior to the launching of the kid's wear, were likely completely unaware that their Adult Only designs were being sold on Redbubble as baby wear. 

After searching through the archived RB weekly Newsletters, I found the official announcement of the launching of the child wear, that being May 19th, 2010.  

Within one of the comments under the announcement was a link to an artist's journal whom expressed concern over the fact his own designs were highly inappropriate for baby wear.  He listed a few visual examples, including one of Charles Manson's face adorning a baby jumper.

Seeing this rattled me to the core.  I was deeply saddened, upset and quite horrified at what I had stumbled upon.  It was quite honestly a horrible day for me, and immediately brought me to the conclusion to leave and never return to or promote Redbubble.  

But the horror didn't end there, as I realized that although this artist appeared to express genuine concern over his design being unsuitable for baby wear, for some reason he had left it available for sale as such for 12 months.  

Again, I was horrified.  

It eludes me why anyone would want to market and profit from the image of such a monster, even sold as an adult shirt, but to choose to keep it for sale as a baby jumper left me stupefied. And let's not forget, Redbubble was alerted to this journal the same day the baby wear was launched, and they took zero action to address what was shown to them. 

The artist removed the design from the baby wear line once complaints were made, but not without dissent by some members of Redbubble who have consistently objected to anything protesters have expressed concern over.  

Members who objected to the protesters have made tireless efforts, I am assuming, to maintain the community as it once was, prior to people learning of pro Nazi materials and Adult Only content on baby wear being sold on the site.  

The integrity of the site was compromised by management's decisions to sell these materials, not by concerned members who felt the materials were harmful and inappropriate and expressed as such.  The community would not have been so driven apart had management taken responsible action from the start. 

After doing a quick search in Redbubble, I discovered a number of serial killer images that were being sold as baby wear.  
Images ranging from Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, serial killer and cannibal - Albert Fish, Hitler, Osama bin Laden to Ivan Milet and more. 

After discovering all of this, I wrote a farewell journal to my friends on the art site I had once loved dearly.. as I had firmly decided it was time for me to go.  Within five minutes of my posting my explanation of why I was leaving, my journal was removed and my account suspended.  I was told by RedBubble administration a few lines I had written breached their guidelines.  It was unclear to me how they had, as I had not "named and shamed" anyone (which is against their 'Play Nice Policy').  

A reply was not sent to me, after I had enquired as to how I had breached their guidelines, and as to which guideline I had broken.  

It appears that more "Freedom of Speech" is granted for those who have harmful and disruptive materials, no matter how offensive and inappropriate the materials are, than to those who object to those offensive items.  The guidelines are designed in a way that favor objectionable materials vs that of anyone who might speak against them.  As a good friend of mine has said, "We are all equal here on RedBubble, some a bit more equal than others".

I finally made the decision to contact child protection and news agencies regarding what I had discovered, as Redbubble had already stated they were not going to employ an opt in (or optional rather than default) setting for the baby wear.  

They announced they were going to keep the default setting and only make the NSFW (not safe for work place viewing) items unavailable as child wear.  This did not address or solve this issue.  As more than likely there were 1000's of adult only materials, that were not listed as NSFW on the site. 

Within 24 hrs of sending my letter, in which I compiled a list of approximately 50 baby jumpers with serial killers faces on them, I was contacted by Susie O'Brien of the Herald Sun Melbourne.  Susie asked if she could quote me on my email to her, and if I could forward her the letter I had sent to the Australian Family Association

I agreed and consequently she published the following article based on the information I provided her: 

I sent Susie the following message thanking her for publishing the article:

Hi Susie, 
I wanted to thank you for publishing such an informative and important article on the baby wear.  I have read some of your replies to your readers in the article which has also reaffirmed for me that I sent my letter to the right person, as I see you have expressed very similar sentiments to that of my own, in regards to seeing serial killers faces on baby wear.

There had been numerous reports of inappropriate content on baby wear which were also extremely disturbing, but the tipping point for me was seeing Charles Manson's face on a baby jumper.  Just to tell you personally, it left me feeling rattled inside... I was deeply saddened and extremely upset.  It was a horrible day for me quite honestly.  It was also the day I decided to leave Redbubble permanently, but upon speaking out in my farewell journal, explaining to my peers why I had to leave, Redbubble censored my journal, deleted it, and suspended my account for 7 days.
So I was forced to wait another week before I could close my account on their site. 

I am really grateful you brought this issue to people's attention, as Redbubble management only seem to respond or make appropriate changes to their site when investigated by larger organizations. 

I am hoping I can find a hard copy of the article today, I'm not sure if your newspaper can be purchased here in Vancouver, but I will search for it today. 

Many grateful thanks for writing on this important issue, 

Kind Regards, 

Tatum Wulff 


Susie was kind enough to reply:

glad you saw the article, thanks for the tip-off

All the best to you!



The story then proceeded to go viral as her article gathered momentum across the web, appearing in a number of sites from various parts of Australia, to the UK, India and Fiji.  Friends informed me there were a couple of brief mentions of it on the news as well.  

Additionally, Susie's article was printed in hard copy on the front page of the Herald Sun Melbourne. 

The intention in forwarding my letter to various news agencies and child protection services, was to get the right organizations involved to intervene and do something about this issue, as Redbubble were dragging their heels and appeared to not realize or acknowledge the harm they were causing by not taking a pro active and ethical stance on the issue.  

Had they taken responsibility from the start, none of this would have occurred. 

Finally, after all the media attention, on June 13th, 2011, I was sent an e-mail from Redbubble stating that they had at last created an opt in function for designs uploaded to the site, what we had been requesting for them to do all this time.  

It's a shame Redbubble had to be pressured into taking action - action that should have been initiated prior to the launching of the baby wear.  I am elated it was finally done, but I cannot offer praise to Redbubble, as they did not make this decision willingly. Therefore, it's a bitter-sweet "win".   

A win, nonetheless, of which I am extremely pleased with, but it came at the cost of a lot of pain for myself and several others.  

Members protesting the Adult Only content on baby wear (ranging not only from serial killers faces, but from sexual content to all types of violence) (and those whom also protested the "Hipster Hitler" line of shirts) were censored and numerous accounts suspended, not to mention the incessant harassing and dissent from those trying their best to protect Redbubble from anyone whom expressed any objections to management's decisions.  

These members relentless harassment and ridicule of the protesters created a tremendous amount of pain and difficulty for those in protest, not to mention other members of the community who remained silent.  

Regardless of the fact, The Anti Defamation Commission and various Jewish organizations pressured Redbubble to remove the Hipster Hitler shirts that sport neo Nazi slogans mocking victims of the holocaust, (as the ADC and Jewish groups' opinions were shared by those in protest), and the opt in function for the baby wear was implemented (as many had pleaded Redbubble to employ), there have been no direct apologies by Redbubble management nor from those who burdened protesters by incessant badgering.  

There has only been further dissent and criticism toward those whom protested.

Most of Redbubble's greatest artists either left, or were removed from the site. 

It is truly a shame, as Redbubble was once a great source of inspiration with a very encouraging and supportive community. Sadly, that special Redbubble spark has left the building for me.

I would like to express my gratitude to those who began protesting and making people aware of various issues as far back as eight months ago in December, 2010.  You have my complete respect for your diligence, integrity and sound judgement, especially for having to withstand such unjust persecution and criticism.

To all those who contributed, even by leaving silently, as a way of protest and objection, you have my respect and understanding.  

For the members who remain on Redbubble, I also respect your decision and I genuinely hope that the community will be restored to a harmonious and inspiring source for you now that some appropriate changes have been implemented. 

The battle was won, I feel, for the betterment of all involved. Why I and other like minded protesters were attacked for trying to do what I believe the majority of ethically sound people would agree on, I will not hold any grudges over, but use as an avenue of studying human behavior.  

This entire experience from start to finish has proven to be an incredible learning experience for me.  I walk away from it with a lot of wounds and battle scars, but it was well worth the fight. 

Tatum Wulff 

June 13th, 2011 

“Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.” -Albert Schweitzer 

Links to news agencies and blogs featuring Susie O'Brien's article:
Hitler, bin Laden and Milat baby clothes on sale in Melbourne | Herald Sun
Sick clothing for kids dressed to kill | Adelaide Now
Sick little clothes - when baby faces are dressed to kill |
Serial killer baby onesies spark outrage | Courier Mail
Hitler, bin Laden and Ivan Milat baby clothes on sale in Melbourne |
'Serial killer' baby clothes spark outrage - Yahoo!7
Baby clothes outrage - World - NZ Herald News
Serial killer baby onesies spark outrage « News Feed « Brisbane News
Outrage over baby clothes with serial killer pictures | Otago Daily Times Online News Keep Up to Date Local, National New Zealand & International News
Baby clothes with serial killer pictures
Baby clothes with killer pictures | Odd Spot | BigPond News
Killers on baby clothes - national |
Hitler, bin Laden and Ivan Milat baby clothes on sale in Melbourne | Perth Now
Oz shop sells baby clothes featuring Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Ivan Milat | TruthDive
Baby clothes featuring Hitler, Milat on sale | Sharezilla
Hitler, Milat's baby clothes on sale (The India Times) 
Oz firm criticized over baby clothes with pictures of Hitler, bin Laden & serial killers - What's On Dalian (A site from Liaoning)
Oz shop sells baby clothes featuring Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Ivan Milat - Online News # 5216 (News site in Kerela)
Baby clothes with serial killer - One News Page [Aus] Asia-Pac.
Work That Matters: F'd Ad Fridays: Dead OBL as infantwear brand
Hitler, bin Laden and Milat baby clothes on sale in Melbourne – Herald Sun |
Hitler, Milat's baby clothes on sale - Silobreaker
The word Tasteless doesn't describe this crap! - SUBSIM Radio Room Forums
ORDER OF THE CRITICAL BELIEVERS - 'Serial killer' baby clothes spark outrage 
'Serial killer' baby clothes spark outrage - In the news - Mother and Baby
Baby clothes with serial killers faces on them..... - Bub Hub Pregnancy & Parenting Forum
Serial killers feature on baby clothes |
njus$8 » Serial killers feature on baby clothes –
Serial killers feature on baby clothes | - Digg
Baby clothes outrage - New Zealand Herald
NZ Australian firm criticised over baby clothes from NZCity
Serial killers feature on art website’s baby range | Kiwi247 New Zealand News, Business, Travel, Lifestyle, entertainment, NZ Dollar, flights, Sport, companies | KIWI 24x7
Outrage over baby clothes with serial killer pictures | Otago Daily Times Online News Keep Up to Date Local, National New Zealand & International News
Baby Clothes | Baby Clothes With Killer Pictures
Sick clothing for kids dressed to kill | Australia Campervans
Briefly - Fiji Times Online (Fiji Times)
LexisNexis News - Latest News from over 4,000 sources, including newspapers, tv transcripts, wire services, magazines, journals.
Baby clothes outrage - New Zealand Herald | My Nucleus
Baby clothes outrage – New Zealand Herald by Car Truck Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
William, Harry mark shoes to avoid a mix-up | Protest Watch
Oz shop sells baby clothes - Road Runner
Serial killers feature on baby clothes | McBlog
Serial killers feature on art website's baby range | Safe Kids Go Green
Serial killers feature on baby clothes – | Andrew and Karla's Place
Serial killers feature on art website's baby range | Clipmarks
Serial Killers Feature On Baby Clothes - Congoo products attract ire | IR News | Inside Retailing
First, Hitler. Next, serial killer t-shirts… | Extranet Evolution


  1. Hi Tatum,

    This is a well written and thorough account of recent events surrounding the tee shirt scandals on RedBubble.

  2. Nice one, Tatum - good on you for taking the time to document this...

  3. Brava Tatum! A succinct and fairly objective testimonial of recent events...( I wait still for the abuse of power and the censorship of whistle-blowers to be acknowledged...and for an apology to all those groups that have been hurt, the victims in the "misguided humor"...and to the members that have been betrayed. I know many who have remained at rb are still hurt..they write to me.)

    Tatum, you have been so courageous in your public stand, and I applaud you & thank-you, and know that you took your hits along the way

  4. well done Tatum - it is rare to find people with the courage of their convictions. You should be very proud of yourself.

  5. This well written account is an invaluable source of information for anyone who is unaware or unsure of the unfolding events on Redbubble.

    Thank you for sharing your perceptions and experiences and ultimately, the way you responded.

    Well done for writing this and for being true to your convictions.

  6. Thanks Tatum for writing such a detailed account of what has transpired on Redbubble over the last 9 - 10 months. It was a tough time for all the people involved, and especially for those people making the protest, as they were effectively gagged from speaking in the one place where it should have been contained. Who knows, if it had been contained, the press articles may never have materialised. But what if's are not much use to anyone now. For me, Redbubble died a long time ago, at the onset of the Racist t-shirt saga and the unfair treatment of those who protested at that time. I am glad the issues have been resolved, and wish all RB's artists the very best in their artistic journeys. Alas, for me, it will be a very long time before I can look at Redbubble with the same eyes that I once did.

  7. Tatum you stand by your words and those if the protesters and for that you should be proud of yourself

    as for the protesters who were silenced through comment deletion, suspension and banning those people should applaud you for posting this, you adopted your stance and did not waiver, you took the flak and still did not waiver

    I salute you

    Love 'N' Laughter Kriss

  8. Hi T

    Well done!! So glad we have documented what happened! Good for all who stood up against this.

  9. Nice work. You should be very proud of yourself!!! The world needs more people like you.

  10. Great Article Tatum!

    Here is another link to add to your list:

    [url=]The Age[/url]

    and here is the url:

    I have removed all of my work from my Blubble.smuck account, and am only keeping the account open in the hope that one day, I click on the link... and find the message;
    "That website no longer exists"!

    Thanks Tatum,

    Love Trish xxx

  11. I will not hold any grudges over, but use as an avenue of studying human

    This says so much about you and your character Tatum. Thank you for persisting with the fight for what is right and ethical. I am so proud to call you my friend :)


  12. Thank you for your supportive comments everyone. It's an honor for me to be in your company.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Please let me know if you have any problems adding your comments here, as a few people have told me they were unable to add their comment.

    I think it's fixed now, but if not, please contact me. I will add your comment for you if you would like.

    Kind Regards,

    Tatum Wulff

  13. A big hearty thank you for taking the stand that you did. It was so obvious the work in question was highly offensive and I bow down to you and the others that joined in the stand that finally saw these articles removed. It takes courage to stand by your convictions and I offer you (and the others) my deepest respect. There was a plus side to this fiasco and that was that people showed their true colours. I've parted ways with some now because of my misguided respect for them but I have also gained some truly wonderful relationships that I hope will blossom over the years. Thank you again for your stand.

  14. Fascinating read. Amazing links.
    You have proved The Power of One and made your own Hurricane which not just got the products removed but forced him to resign from Aconex too.

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