My friend Kim Geiser had one of those experiences most of us have had and remember all too clearly in which someone else takes credit for some of our work. Kim, being Kim, is working to make the best of it and wants to share what she’s learned in the hope it will help other artists avoid it entirely. Here’s Kim:
Tough Lessons Learned about Art Copyrights
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. I am not sure who they are because I can tell you that when your image is being used without permission it is about as far from flattering as you can get. The short version of my story is through a series of pins and repins on Pinterest my name and any association with one of my illustration pieces was lost. This led to a seller using my art on one of those sites that sells your work on their products …. Rhymes with dazzle but is not deserving of that rhyme. It was all very eye opening. You can read the full story here on my blog.
So what did I learn from this experience? A LOT. I do not want anyone else to feel like I did so here are a few tips both for artists and followers of artists. I really think it will always happen, the copying thing, but these are a few things we can all do to help deter it.
- Sign your work. I am so guilty of this! Even after this all happened I rushed to put a piece I had just created on facebook without signing it! As artists many of us really enjoy sharing, we are a giving group, but forgetting to sign our work makes it so easy for others to claim it as theirs. I need to work on this.
- If you are uploading images on any public forum make sure in addition to a signature you use a watermark. My image was on Flickr, Facebook and my blog. It is now on all sorts of websites, blogs and pinned so many times it makes my head spin. Had I had a watermark on it people would know it was mine. Instead it is now just a piece that is showing up all over and perceived as an art free for all. Sigh.
- Keep your public images really small in file size. If the resolution is not so great they can’t upload it and use it for financial gain.
- Document your work when you are finished creating it. We all own our work through art copyright laws the second we create it. If you are ripped off it is much easier to file a complaint if you have the original documentation of your work. Take a picture of the original maybe a piece of paper next to it with the date. You can file a copyright but it can get costly. This is a simple way that may help you in the future.
- Stop pinning things without a source. This is probably the most eye opening part about this for me. I was so guilty of this. I see something I admire and Pin it without checking the link. See what happens is every time someone pins it after you there is a bigger and bigger gap from the original artist. I went through all of my past pins and had to delete some because I didn’t know who the artist was. It was painful but I don’t always have the time to research and I do not ever want another artist to go through what I did.
I think if we all try to remember this and you hopefully learn a little from my experience it was all worth my week of ickiness. While I could press this further I instead have tried to use it as an uplifting reminder that my work is worthy of theft which I guess is where the old cliché about flattery comes from. All I can do is keep on keeping on and share my watermarked work with the world.
Kim Geiser is a mixed media art and jewelry artist living in beautiful Wisconsin. You can read more about her colorful life on her blog at www.persimmonsart.com
For more insight from artists about what the art world is like, check out The Pulse of Mixed Media by Seth Apter.
Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS