Online Life: People Stealing Your Creative Work – Really?

I like to visit and stroll through the annual San Diego ArtWalk or the Laguna Arts Festival. I don’t go there to buy 4000 dollar paintings, but as an artist, I go to see what other artists are doing, and most of all, to get inspired.

I am always surprised when I see “No Photographs” signs in their booths. Are they afraid that I will steal their painting with my poorly lit and blurry iPhone photo? What do they think I will do? Publish it for bootleg prints on Red Bubble or Etsy? Or worse, use their idea to make my own masterpiece of their painting?

I find the same thing with online artists and photographers. Photographers usually watermark their work before they publish it online. Painters often do the same. The “copyright” notices abound on their websites. Most legitimate users end up being put off by those messages, and the real thieves find ways around the measures anyway.

Perhaps I am naïve. Perhaps I haven’t been ripped off online and I have not felt violated before. But I must say that the “No Photographs” signs on the booths, right by the Visa and MasterCard logos, do nothing but give me a sour feeling about the artist.

If I were displaying my paintings in a booth, I’d invite people to take pictures of my work. What better way to spread the word than somebody taking a picture and posting it online, showing it off. I’d make sure they’d get my card with the picture, or better, my face in it next to the painting.

I am a painter because I want people to see my stuff – primarily. I will not get rich off my work. I have never sold a piece, and probably never will. But I enjoy it immensely when people like my work, enough to take pictures of it. And the greatest honor would be if they liked it enough to use it as a template for their own work!

It may be a little trickier online. But even there, if somebody were to steal a famous photographer’s picture and claim it as their own, passing it off as their work, would that really result in commercial success? Would they sell more than this one work? Would they get hired from that one photograph?

I have my doubts. As an artist, if somebody wants copies of my stuff, they are welcome to it. I would be honored. That’s why I am doing it.

You are allowed to reblog this post, or copy it and claim it as your own. 🙂


One thought on “Online Life: People Stealing Your Creative Work – Really?

  1. This summer I showed at an art festival for the first time. If people took photos of my work, it was very welcome (but surprising.) We where so many (wanna-be) artists showing, naturally remembering all you’ve seen would be impossible. I imagined they took photos for a “might buy, but I’ll think about it first”.

    As I’ve posted my art online, for everyone to view, I don’t see how a photo would be a problem. I am sure some artists never post their work online, but I, like you, want my attempts viewed by the public.

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