Do you worry about your art being stolen? Some creative types worry about this incessantly.
The progressive, successful ones don’t.
THE OLD WAY OF THINKING: The old way was to fiercely guard your images from any possible unauthorized use, even if it meant not letting many people see them.
I had an older gentleman tell me that he was afraid to put his paintings on the internet, for fear of someone stealing his ideas!
I told him that was the least of his worries; he should be more worried about the fact that no one is seeing his paintings.
A NEW WAY OF THINKING: You can hang onto your copyrights and control your artwork while at the same time being generous.
You can do this by easing up a little.
She uses the Creative Commons “Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative” License to hold onto her copyrights and have control over her art, but at the same time allow others to use it for non-commercial use. (That’s how I was able to legally “grab” her image for this blog post)
THE JPG THEIVES (ILLEGAL FRAME GRABS): A concern from the old way of thinking was that if you post images on the internet, people will “grab” those images and use them for themselves.
I say, welcome the frame grabs!
ALLOWING JPG GRABS: Over a decade ago, our www.drewbrophy.com web-guy suggested that we set up Drew’s art images so that they cannot be “illegally” grabbed and printed out.
Drew said, “Let them do it. I want fans all over the world to be able to print out my art.” And this generosity has worked to build Drew’s fan base.
Just recently a new art collector came to pick up a rather large, expensive Drew Brophy painting. He was excited to meet Drew in person. He confessed that when he was just 15 years old, he had grabbed images off of drewbrophy.com and taped them to his bedroom wall. He spent his teenage years looking at those images. Now he’s all grown up and can afford the real thing. He’ll be a collector for life.
THE TATTOO GENERATION: There’s no greater, lasting branding platform than having your art tattooed on someone’s back.
This is another form of “thievery” that Drew and I approve of. Hundreds of people are walking around in the world with Drew’s art tattooed on their bodies, without his consent.
They are walking billboards. And we see the value in that.
STYLE THIEVES: Sometimes I get bummed out when I see Drew’s paintings being copied. I especially get stung when I see that someone has chosen to paint entirely in his style – and the reason this bothers me is that I don’t want anyone getting that persons art confused with Drew’s.
But Drew, being the wise sage that he is, has no problem with this.
Drew claims that the more people that copy his style, the more it’s apparent that he’s made an impact on the art world. And this is an idea I can buy. Reluctantly.
WHAT ABOUT A COMPANY MAKING MONEY OFF OF ART THEY’VE STOLEN: We’ve had many infringements over the years from companies, and here’s how I handle it:
- First, I contact the company and make sure they know that it’s an infringement. Sometimes companies will hire other people for art, not knowing that the images are stolen. I do my best to work it out amicably with the company, and we’ll work out a payment after the fact.
- If I don’t get anywhere with the company directly, then I put my attorney on it. A simple “cease and desist” letter usually does the trick.
IF YOU’RE GOOD, INFRINGEMENT WILL HAPPEN: People will steal your art, if it’s making an impact. Accept that.
Go after the companies that steal it and are making money off of it.
But for everyone else, see it as a way to share your art and ideas with the world. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons you’re an artist?
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