If you've seen artist Olly Moss' work, then you've gone out and learned his name. Over the last few years, Moss has won a loyal following with his impressively designed homages to geekdom's sacred texts, as well as cinematic classics.
His posters for The Dark Knight Rises, Source Code, Moon and Rocky create visual puns and motifs that boil down what's great about those works into a singularly striking iconography. He's done work based on video games, too, with prints based on Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. And Moss turned in striking cover art—maybe the best of 2011—for Resistance 3 last year.
But a piece of art in the Borderlands 2 box—which looks a whole lot like Moss' signature silhouette style—isn't by him. And Moss is bummed out by it.
In a series of tweets this morning, Moss reacted to an image inside the Borderlands 2 manual, which riffs heavily off of his own work on posters for the Star Wars movies. In particular, the zig-zagged clouds in the Borderland 2 image appear a direct copy from art Moss did for an Empire Strikes Back poster. But Moss also claims that he's a big fan of development studio Gearbox and would have loved to contribute to Borderlands 2. Moss goes on to state that he knows this isn't outright theft and that his own work is done in reference to things that others have created. He's just really bummed, is all.
Kotaku has reached out to 2K, Gearbox and Moss for comment and will update this story if we hear back.
Update: Olly Moss has responded to Kotaku with the following:
I really don't want this to turn into a whole thing. Obviously there's a lot of give and take in this business. As a homage it's totally fine - the only reason I was originally disappointed is that I'd have loved to have done it myself! Then someone pointed out to me that the clouds in the background were directly lifted from my Empire strikes back poster - which strikes me more as laziness than anything else.
I'm sure it's probably the work of a well-meaning internal designer who didn't know any better.
No hard feelings.
The game is great. I bought two copies.
Update 2: Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford and Olly Moss are talking on Twitter, with acknowledgement from Pitchford that "the bit that was lifted is uncool".