Yesterday I took a quiet day at home, apart from a quick trip out to do a little shopping for vittles. I lost myself in drawing and this image is the result.
It took me around 10 hours to complete, using a Sakura Pigma Sensei 0.4 pen along with a couple of 0.1 and 0.2 Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.
The drawing harks back in time where my love of Romanesque and Gothic arches and architecture showed in amongst entangled, rambling organic motifs.
However, I think the passage of time, increase in skill and/or refining of technique shows through. Perhaps even a bit more polish to the design.
Although drawn in black and white, I’ve added a background colour gradient and texture digitally (along with the rather over the top watermarks).
Talking of watermarks…
I had a response from Teespring.com concerning my copyright infringement complaint against ‘Dragonfly Lovers’ on facebook.
The agreed with me and have removed the offending listing.
I am most grateful for their speed and professionalism in dealing with this.
It may be a drop in the ocean, but if we all took care of just one drop at a time we’d definitely reduce the number of copyright infringements out there.
My mental and emotional wellbeing
It’s been over a week since my last EMDR session. In the UK we’ve had a bank holiday weekend, so no therapy this week.
Last weeks session was really draining emotionally. I expected it’s effects to linger long beyond Monday. However, although I was still a bit tired on Tuesday I’ve mostly been quite content with that gentle smile both on my lips and in my heart.
That doesn’t mean to say I’ve not had my moments, ‘cos I have.
However, the drama of stolen artwork didn’t affect me as much as it would’ve in the past. I did what I could about it. I spoke up rather than letting it slide. It also has given me a little bit of a mission as I go forward – to raise awareness of how to spot an ethical company that supports artists by properly licencing work and properly crediting the artists they work with. Compare this with an unethical company that doesn’t support artists, doesn’t even mention who the artists are, and is only in it to make money for themselves.
Copyright infringement is rife. The myth that things on the internet are copyright free and in the public domain has to be dispelled.
Back to the point. I’m doing ok in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing.
Still got a few bees in my bonnet about copyright infringement, can you tell?
Feel free to share, with proper credit, and help to spread the word!
I used a soft Tombow Fudenosuke pen to draw the design and noticed there was a space that would be perfect to put a few words there.
So I did.
I’m getting a bit heavy handed with my watermarks. I think I’ve been spooked just a little. I make no apologies for the heavy handed watermarking. I can’t do anything about my previous work I’ve shared, with all rights reserved. But I can do something about future work, can’t I?
Coloured background and texture added using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Studio.
I recommend the article. It’s simple and clear and the quote above makes it very plain and clear that just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean it has no copyright. That includes Pinterest.
The only things that have no copyright are things that are in the public domain and/or declared copyright free.
Public domain is NOT the same as the internet. Public domain is another way of saying the images or content are without copyright or the originators of the images or content have waived their right to copyright.
Reputable websites, companies, people will give the source of an image, credit the artist/creator with it and won’t remove any signatures, copyright statements, watermarks or change the website address.
Reputable companies and people are proud to name the artists/creatives whose work they are placing on product or showcasing. They approach the owners of the work for permission to use the work, seeking a license and are willing to pay for this.
Disreputable companies make no effort to find out who the original creator was, even though it’s easy to drag and drop an image into the search bar of google images to find websites where the artwork has been shown. Yes, it might take a little effort to find the artist/creative, but not as much effort and time as it’s taken the artist/creative to create their work.
Disreputable companies and people usually remove any references to the original artist/creative and make no mention of who they are. They don’t sing their praises.
Disreputable companies and people make no effort to contact the original artist/creative in order to gain permission to use the work.
Now, we artists and creatives are more than happy for our work to be shared with proper credit being given and links back to the original source of the work. It’s always nice when people share our work as it shows it’s liked and appreciated and we’ve made someone happy for a while. It’s even nicer when someone leaves a comment; that always lifts the heart. Of course, it’s even nicer when someone wants to purchase our work.
It doesn’t take much to see if companies are proud of their artists or hiding that information. If they hide that information or don’t bother to find it then you can bet your bottom dollar (or any other currency of choice) that they aren’t working with the artist who created the work.
Many artists have their own shops online where you can buy original artwork, prints or products with their art on. I have anEtsy shop (though it’s been very much neglected lately) and a shop at RedBubble.
It is through these official outlets that you can purchase high quality products with really good resolution artwork prints on at affordable prices, and by doing so you can be sure the artist themselves is getting some monetary return for their efforts.
Of course, it can be hard to do this if you don’t know the name of the artist and you’ve seen their art on a facebook shop or similar. But use the drag and drop trick into google images to do what you can to find who they are. It takes a short amount of time for sure.
If we all did this these companies that use copyrighted work without permission (a licence) would soon have no one buying from them and they’d not profit from someone else’s hard work and creativity without even mentioning the original artist/creative.
It would be lovely if this blog post was shared far and wide (properly credited of course) to try to get people to understand what copyright and the internet is all about and how important it is to creatives who make their living through their creativity.
I’m going to make the black and white version of this artwork available as a coloring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. It’s free to join, and I try to add one template for members to colour each month. Some months, like this one, I add more.
It would be lovely if people would colour the template and share, properly credited, to try to get the message out.
About my illustration of the day
I must admit I didn’t handletter this quote, I used Microsoft Publisher to set the quote on the page and then printed it out on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.
I then set about adding some artwork around the quote using a soft Tombow Fudenosuke pen. This has resulted in much bolder pen lines as well as variable width lines in my drawing. The motifs are also a little bigger than I’d usually draw.
I like the more graphic nature of my penwork; it gives it a bit of the feel of being linocut. It also adds plenty of depth and dimension to the artwork.
I will be colouring this one myself. Not quite sure if I’ll do it digitally or whether I’ll use my Chameleon markers. I need a break for some tea first.
It’s been an *interesting* couple of days to say the least, and the root cause of the *interesting times* was the discovery of my dragonfly drawing entitled ‘Fly Away’ from back in 2012 (which you can see in my deviantART account).
I re-imagined it digitally, using my Microsoft Surface Studio and Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. It’s obviously hand drawn – I left lots of little imperfections in the drawing, including wobbly lines in places. I wanted it to have the human touch, not the slick perfection that can result from digital art. It took me around 12 hours or so to re-draw. That’s more than one day’s work.
Complaints, complaints and a heartwarming tale
I sent a message to the owners of the ‘Dragonfly Lovers’ facebook page explaining that they were using my artwork without my permission, effectively stealing my work for their own profit. Surprisingly I’ve not had a reply. My messages on their page have been deleted and I’ve been blocked too.
I have also submitted an official complaint of infringement of copyright/intellectual property to teespring.com, which is the website where they are selling merchandise with my dragonfly art on.
In the midst of this, with family and friends seeing what was going on and getting a good sense of righteous indignation, a woman from Texas sent me a message saying she’d seen the comments on the facebook page mentioned above and she’d decided to approach me directly. She was going to buy the dragonfly art from that page for her daughter’s birthday party. Instead, she asked if I would sell her a print so she’s supporting the artist who created the art.
I was touched. When people approach me I always try to help. Sometimes I waive my fees, such as when someone wants permission to use a design of mine to cover up a mastectomy scar.
Anyways, back to the tale. I told the texas lady that I’d have to re-draw the image as the original had been sold years ago via Etsy and I didn’t have a high resolution image of it.
More about the drawing
So, I got to drawing it again. The image above is the result of some 12 hours work.
I used a low resolution image of the original artwork as a guide and I worked digitally. I was quite keen to do this. I wanted to try out my new skills with brushes that change width with pressure, as well as showcase how my skills have developed in the 7 years since the original was drawn.
The drawing is NOT an exact copy at all. The dragonfly itself is pretty much similar, but the flowers are different as are the spirally branches in the background. I also added tiny seed pods and flourishes to add interest.
I let the varying line weight add depth and dimension to the elements of the image. Overall, I think it’s a more balanced design. Some of the branches look a little ‘flat’ and maybe would benefit from some grey shadows. But it’s good enough I think.
Did something good come from this debacle?
The intellectual property thieves did something good – they spurred me into action in terms of reworking an old image, using my new skills, the way my art has developed.
I also now have a very high resolution image which will print beautifully on many products – it’s up in my RedBubble Shop!
They’ve also made me realise that if my art is good enough for them to steal and use to profit from then my art must be good enough for me to sell.
My problem is promoting myself and getting word out there that I have stuff available to buy with my art on it, officially! I’ve given myself permission to put my artwork on products to sell.
A never ending battle…
I know I’m never going to stop the thieves. There are always unscrupulous people out there, willing to use anything or anyone for their own profit. But when I find them I will challenge them. What they are doing is wrong – WRONG I tell you!
The only way to defeat them in some ways is not to join them, it’s not to let it all slide, but it’s to offer my art with really good quality images on good quality products at a reasonable price.
It’s also getting the word out that this kind of thing is unacceptable, and to challenge the myth that just because an image is on the internet it’s free for anyone to use, even to make money for themselves.
So, from now on, I will be adding more prominent watermarks to my art and making sure it’s at a low resolution that will not print well. I’ll do what I can to make it more difficult for them to steal, to remove my signature or symbol and watermarks and so on.
I also have a plan to add a notice to my art warning people that it is copyrighted and it’s use without permission is illegal. Well, not quite those words, but that kind of meaning.
The easiest way to stop the unscrupulous out there would be to stop sharing my art. However, there’s been people saying they hope it doesn’t stop me as they like to see what I’m up to…so I’m going to have to learn how to protect my images, my art more and more. And if I find someone using my artwork for their own gain without my permission then I will do what I can to stop them.
A trio of cute bunnies along with their stash of chocolate eggs looking all happy and also a little bit smug with themselves. A really cute and whimsical dangle design for you to use as inspiration for your own designs. I kept the dangle to just one strand to let the bunnies be the stars of this design.
The ‘with love’ sentiment was hand lettered. Yes, on the paper that is the screen of my Surface Studio using my Surface pen with a brush in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro that I’ve set up to mimic a brush pen, such as the Tombow Fudenosuke pens I’ve been using lately to draw with.
I’ve chosen soft, pastel colours, which are quite fitting for spring time I think. The textured background paper dulls and darkens them a little. However, I think that gives a bit of a vintagey, aged feeling to the design.
I did sketch the design out on Rhodia Dot Grid paper before scanning in and inking and colouring the design digitally.
My book ‘A Dangle A Day’ takes you step by step through drawing dangle designs, with plenty of helpful advice and encouragement throughout.
One of my dragonfly designs, which incidentally has been sold to a private collector, has been used on products that someone is selling to make profit, without even bothering to search out who the artist was (me in this case) and approach them (me).
I mean, it’s not a difficult task these days. Drag and drop the image into the search bar of Google images!
I’ve emailed the company. They have a week to reply. I’m not going to hold my breath though.
How did I find out about this particular theft? The product appeared on my facebook news feed as an advert!
I left a comment on the facebook advert saying the artwork had been stolen and I was the artist who created it too. And shared the advert on facebook on my timeline and my facebook page and on my twitter account too.
Not that it’ll shame the shameless intellectual property thieves who perpetrate copyright infringement for their own financial gain.
Not that it’ll shame the company (companies) that allow this to happen.
It’s really annoying though.
It really makes me very sad, disheartened, and absolutely worthless too. The people who do this shameless theft don’t care about the effect it has on the owners of the artwork, or other intellectual property.
Yes, that’s right I feel worthless as a person, that my art is good enough for you to steal but not good enough for you to give me credit for it, to contact me about being able to use it, or to pay me for the use of it.
I’d never, ever do that to anyone. Never.
It also makes me wonder how much of my artwork that I’ve shared via deviantART, facebook, instagram, Pinterest, twitter and so on has been stolen and used without permission from myself. There’s no way I can actually tell.
Yes, it’s flattering that people like my art enough to do this. But it’s annoying that they don’t even have the decency to either state who created it and how to contact them ( that’s me in both cases here) and don’t even have the decency to contact myself about licensing the artwork, as that is the honorable, decent, law abiding thing to do, isn’t it?
I don’t have the time to go through the interwebs and find all my artwork and either delete it, complain about it being stolen, or add very distinctive watermarks and copyright notices to older work.
I will keep adding watermarks and copyright notices to all the artwork I share on the interwebs for the foreseeable future in the hope it will deter some people.
The last thing I’d want to do is to stop sharing my creations with people who just like it to look at, for a bit of ‘eye candy’, for something that makes them smile, and fascinates them, particularly with my more intricate works.
I bet even then there’ll be unscrupulous people out there who won’t give a damn anyway, but I will do my best to make it as difficult as possible for them to make a product from my art that is of good enough quality for them to make any money from. Watermarks. Background textures. Low resolution images.
Perhaps I shouldn’t let it get to me.
No, I should. If someone stole my car, my bank cards, my money, my home I’d be upset.
I make my living through my artwork.
You who steal my artwork are stealing from me as if you were reaching into my bank account with your grubby, sticky, unscrupulous, thieving fingers. How would you like it if I did that to YOU?????? Ah, that’s right. I wouldn’t happen to you as you don’t have the skills, talent to create artwork like mine do you, but the only skills you have are to steal.
It makes me a little mad to find that artwork of mine, and other artists, that we share online for others to enjoy is just taken by unscrupulous, unethical, uncaring people for their own end or profit.
Someone via Etsy asked if I could make my ‘Fly Away’ dragonfly design available so they could purchase it and used it for some needle felting.
So, I looked for it via Google as I wasn’t sure which dragonfly design it is, or even if I still have it as I have sold some of these pieces of art in the past.
What I found was a link to it on Pinterest. It was my design, but it had been mirrored. Now, when people do this they think they’re changing it enough to avoid copyright infringement laws – they most definitely are NOT! So I followed that image link to this :
Sadly, http://www.askideas.com doesn’t seem to let images from their website appear on other websites. That figures.
Here’s a link to the artwork on my deviantART page:
I have ranted about copyright infringements before.
It’s nice people like my work. However, I own the copyright and the only polite thing to do is to get in touch and ask for permission to use the image.
In this case, I don’t have this image for sale on Etsy as a coloring template or a digital download to use for other artistic activities, such as needle felting the design or embroidering it. If I did, it wouldn’t cost very much, maybe a couple of dollars. Sometimes, when people approach me nicely, I may give permission for an old piece of art to be used in this way, so long as it’s a one off use, not to be sold on, for personal use and pleasure. If it’s to be sold, then there’s a fee involved.
I put a lot of time and effort into my art, I’ve put a lot of time and effort over the last 20 or so years in refining, honing, developing, exploring my artistic skills. Yes, they are skills. I wasn’t born with them, I’ve had to work hard to develop those skills, just as everyone else has to who is good in their field, and I am fairly good, but I work at being the best I can be at any one particular time.
I do this full time as my career now. I’m lucky enough to enjoy my career, my job so that sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind myself I do have a job, I am working, especially when I’m walking around, taking photos, drinking tea, writing, sketching on a trip out mid-week when everyone else is in work. My job really overlaps hugely with my pleasure.
That doesn’t mean my work is free. I have bills to pay too. Everytime someone steals my art someone steals the potential for me to earn, whether they are stealing it directly from my websites or whether they’re using it from a website where the stolen art has been used.
It would be like me going up to your boss and demanding that they pay me some of your salary just because I saw you working and liked what you did.
Would that be fair, ethical, right?
But that is exactly what people are doing when they steal art from artists, and others use that without checking the provenance of the image and whether it’s ok to use or whether they have to seek permission to use it.
Sharing art to say ‘look at this I like this one by (artist’s name and/or a link to their website)’ is one thing, and that in itself is not bad at all. In fact artists appreciate it greatly.
Sharing art to say ‘here download this and I get paid by the adverts on my site you view, or the money I ask you pay for the image use’ is wrong unless you have permission, an agreement with the artist.
Telling someone that they’ve done a good job and you appreciate them is different to telling them that then taking some of their wages from them for telling them that they’ve done a good job.
Art is my love, but it’s also my career. I rarely create art ‘for free’ – there has to be a really, really, really exceptional reason why I do this.
The only regular ‘art for free’ I do is for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group with the monthly coloring template, and there are some very clear terms and conditions on the use of those templates.
Now I’m not naive enough to think that everyone in the group follows those guidelines, nor do I have enough hours in a day to chase down all copyright infringements. These happen because I, foolishly perhaps, share my artwork on the interwebs.
However, when I do find a copyright infringement, I do chase it up, if it’s possible to do so. And I leave a comment that the artwork has been stolen, hoping that people will take notice and not use it.
In the same way, I’m not expecting a response from this website. I just have to let this go, but that rankles greatly too.
I’ve learned how to watermark my art to show the copyright is mine along with my name and website. I rarely ever post just black and white drawings, unless I’ve watermarked over them or coloured the background in in some way. I don’t know what else I can do to protect my intellectual property rights and my income.