I am back to my Facebook Lives and blogs which are all about motivation and positivity. This week I received a great question from one of our Hub members and it’s a question that keeps reappearing, so I thought I would take this week to talk through it.

The question was, what should I do if someone copies my work? How do I get over the fear of not wanting to put myself out there as I am so afraid of someone copying my work?

Valid Fear

Now, this is a really valid fear. As an artist, you pour your heart and soul into making your artwork, into learning, into researching, sourcing the materials. It’s so personal and can take a long time to complete a piece, so putting yourself out there can put you in a rather vulnerable situation, and as soon as you put yourself out there, there isn’t really anything stopping anyone from just copying your artwork, and that can be hard to get your head around. 

Years down the line, I still get fear that someone is going to copy what I do, here at United ArtSpace. The lessons I’ve created, the content I’ve learnt over the years. Putting it out there on the internet is a scary thought, but at some point, you have to do it else the fear starts to control you, your career and your success.

Now, the member who asked this question said they weren’t sharing any of their work on Instagram with the fear of someone copying it. This whole step will prevent the growth of you as an artist. So, it’s really important to weigh up if the fear is worth more than the growth of you and your art.

You can’t stop it! 

We can’t stop anyone from copying our work, but we can add steps to safeguard it. You need to think rationally. Art inspires people and whether you know it or not, you’ll have looked at someone’s art on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest and got some inspiration. As humans, we naturally imitate. We use other people’s ideas. Think about it, nothing in life is new. We all get inspired by what others create, and that is okay.

How do you think we all learnt to paint? How do we know how to apply marks? It’s because we’ve looked at other work to know what we like and how to create. There will always be elements of people looking at your artwork and using it as inspiration and replicating it in some way or another.  

Ethically speaking, if you were to use another artist’s work as inspiration for a piece you create, you would credit them or use their ideas within your sketchbook and keep it personal to you. 

I always think that if someone is creating art through copying other artists, their success won’t last as they don’t have the creativity, the why and the drive that you have. 

Moving forward… 

So, to move forward, I think you just have to accept it. I see people using bits of my work, I don’t have a problem with it so much anymore. People finding their voice through your work is always going to happen and take it as a compliment. When you accept it, it’s a release that some of that fear has gone and you begin to put yourself out there some more! 

Having said all that, I do of course believe that you need to safeguard your artwork. Here are few ways to do that:

  • The main way is by using the copyright symbol on your website and add a small little symbol into the corner of your artwork that you are sharing on social media. 
  • You can state the copyright rules on your website so it’s clear for people to find. 
  • You can also trademark your things – I am going to be doing this in the next few weeks.
  • With sharing images on social media and your website, you can make your images 72 DPI (dots per inches). This will stop people taking your artwork from your social media as they can’t do anything with them as the image is too small.

Taking these steps won’t stop someone from replicating your artwork but adding these steps in makes it all a little harder. There is risk with everything we do in life, so we just have to minimise the chance. As we move into a digital world, we can’t worry about things until they happen as there are ways to regain and protect your work. 

In all the years

In all the years that I’ve worked with artists, there are probably 10 that I know of, where someone has copied their work and they’ve had to take steps to do something about it. Things like this happen a lot in the design world with big retailers. For example:

There was an artist, I can’t remember her name, but it was about 2 years ago now. She was well known with a big following, and everyone could recognise her work. She took to social media to name and shame a retailer that copied a piece of her artwork. She was outraged and it ended up going viral. Following this, the retailer then took her artwork down and reimbursed her for it.

Now this story just shows, if anything did happen, there are ways around it to ensure you and your work stay protected. You may just speak to the person directly and it gets resolved. It may end up with some legal aid to help solve the issue and anything in between. But have the peace of mind that it will get sorted and you will always own that copyright of your art. 

Always remember the chances of it happening are really small and that you should never let the fear of the unknown stop you from achieving your dreams and goals in life. Sometimes taking a risk will pay off, and if it did happen you can have peace of mind that there are ways to protect yourself as an artist. 

Much love, 

Michelle xx