Saturday, May 07, 2011

On second thought...

When facebook first came out with their download option for pictures, fueled by fellow artist friends posting their outrage by what this would mean for visual artists (aka free art downloads), I joined in the "fight" by deleting all of my images from my fan page. This protest was big time stuff, I'm surprised CNN never covered it. I mean, along with the hundreds of images I had online already that could be easily right clicked and saved online, now there was a handy dandy "download" button which made it that much easier or at least more obvious to those who didn't know the right click trick. This meant that the numbers of people (surely in the billions) maniacally saving and reprinting my right clicked photos for their own fortune would be doubled and that was obviously a huge problem. (If you can't tell that I'm speaking sarcastically already, then get with the program my friend).

Ok. Scratch that. Back to reality.

A. Are people printing out my art on their home printers really a threat to my business? No.

B. What can anyone really do with photographs of artwork that are intended to be a visual example of the much-better-in-person-real-thing art I am trying to sell? Not much. Any sound business wants super high res pictures and that's not what you're going to get on my facebook fan page or anywhere else.

C. When people download my art and print it out or save it as a screensaver are they disrespecting me as an artist? No! They are showing their appreciation for what I do and want to see my creations in their day to day. Is that an insult? Heck no! It's a great compliment!

I guess it all comes down to the big picture really. I got weird for a second about being super protective about my images and who uses them and whatnot. I found someone on twitter that had one of my paintings as their avatar and I was thinking "who are you!?" knowing it wasn't a buyer or anyone I was familiar with. But really, what does it matter? It's kind of like, in the big picture of things, shouldn't it be a compliment? That's what I've come to. If I see someone blatantly profiting from my art, that would be one thing, but for someone to see and appreciate my work all on its own and to use it as an avatar or a screensaver or to even print it out on cheap printer paper and frame it - who cares? It's spreading the word!

SO... I want to know other artists perspectives. How do you feel about people having access to your art online? How do you feel about the whole right click, download, easy peasy world of sharing images? Is it a compliment to you when someone could print and frame your image for free (save for the framing, I worked in that industry for many years and it's definitely not free!). The ultimate question is this - are you okay with people taking advantage of the free aspects of sharing your art online? Share your thoughts in the comments. Oh, and while you're at it, "like" my art page on facebook where I will be sharing my art again available for downloading and all that jazz here -


Liz-Anna said...

Great topic! They shouldn't be using it without the artist's permission but, unless they are taking an image and reproducing it to sell (on greeting cards for example), it probably won't have a signficant impact. But then if we expect to be protected by copyright we should probably speak out for it. It's kind of like being flattered because someone stole your handmade whatever at a sale instead of someone else's.

Jessica Torrant said...

Liz-Anna thanks so much for your comment! That's really why I wrote this post - to hear other artist's opinions. I suppose my attitude regarding the whole facebook thing is this... I'm on there (with my fan page at least) to share my artwork and hopefully entice new buyers/fans. If they don't see any art on my page, will they take the time to click to my shop or blog? If a few people download my images for free I guess it is worth it to me considering that a few other people could end up being buyers/collectors. Also, I know I could watermark my images but that really takes away from their visual impact and I think that thieves that are intent on reselling images all know ways around that too. Once again, thanks for your input! :)

Patrick Miller said...

Just put a clear gif over you images and make sure they are low quality. If that's the case, really what can be done with them?
I still think Facebook should have an "artists page" setup to forbid the download of images so easily and blatantly. The internet has its risks, but I think the potential benefits outweigh them.
I really don't care if someone has one of my paintings as a desktop wallpaper. as long as it isn't Trump or Rupert Murdoch.

Susie Tenzer said...

lots of food for thought...I go back & forth as to whether or not I should watermark my online images. I haven't yet. they're low res, so I'm not too worried. I'd be upset, tho, if I saw someone's avatar w/my artwork, you're more open minded than I am - I wouldn't feel like it's a compliment.

Jessica Torrant said...

Thanks Pat and Susie for weighing in here. Susie, I didn't react very well to the avatar at first and I wrote to them about it politely inquiring how they discovered me (they ended up taking it down/replacing it). If it was a fan and they gave me credit, that would be one thing but it seemed like they just found my image somewhere online, liked it, and used it. It is a tough call for sure. I just couldn't help but think about another person that requested permission to use one of my images in their brand and paid me for it. THAT is the right way to go about things but not everyone is that honorable or maybe that's not the right word... some people just don't even think about it. It's so easy to pull images from the online world it seems like it's just the way things are done now. Again, it's a tough position we're put in as artists representing ourselves online.

Cheryl said...

I don't watermark my images and I also have my blog dumping down directly to FB and Twitter. I'm not even managing the sizes, sigh. I was of the understanding that my images are copyrighted regardless of watermark. Am I wrong on that?

This topic is as hard to get a handle on as "pricing your art". Are you going to tackle that subject again Jessica? I hope so!!!

Martha Marshall said...

I don't worry about it. Mine are low-res images and therefore there's not much that can be done with them.

Now that facebook has changed the photo viewer, the right click function is disabled. I know because I've tried! I wanted to show a family member a picture of a cute baby bird picture that my neighbor took and had to do a screenshot instead.

Jessica Torrant said...

I hear ya Martha about the low res. I didn't know the right click was disabled but have you seen the "download" button on the left? If you want to share something with someone now, they can just click on download and get it themselves.

Jessica Doyle said...

I only draw the line when someone uses my art to make money.

Jessica, you may want to take a look at Creative Commons Licenses. They allow for sharing and tweeting and personal use of images, writing and music online but you can forbid commercial use in the license you choose.

I've been using the Canadian one on my blog for well over five years now. It's located further down in my sidebar. CC for short. And they do hold up in court. there is a choose license feature. Check mine out and read it. Many many modern creatives use them.

In this day and age people love to share things with their friends and use things that they admire. I find the more I let go the more people respect what I do and more importantly buy from me too.