Digital Art in the Digital Age- An Opportunity or a Threat?

Social media has created a museum of digital art. It has allowed artists, content creators, and art-loving individuals to express their love of art. The internet and social media have created many opportunities for artists to share their art with people around the world. However, it has also created a threat for artists because it has become almost impossible to be protected from intellectual property laws. Artists are faced with situations where their art is repost or downloaded without payment or permission.


We got the chance to sit down and chat with our digital art teacher; Patricia Claro to describe her own experience in dealing with intellectual property issues around her digital art. She also shared some tips with us and gave our young artists some advice!


I draw both fan art and original art, and it is usually my fan art that gets reposted online without my consent. I found out about re-posters stealing my art and taking credit through Instagram since my friend, who is a fellow artist and an advocate for anti-art theft, mentioned it to me and showed me a screenshot. My artist friends and I have reported many reposting Instagram accounts and managed to have Instagram take them down, but they keep popping up like daisies. It is honestly annoying and discouraging because most of the time, viewers don’t even care enough to do a reverse image search to find the source. Then the re-posters get a lot of likes and views compared to my original post, which is extremely disheartening. This is the main reason why I will fight for my right of property and keep reporting these art thieves online. I will only allow people to repost my art if and only if they include the following in the caption: a disclaimer mentioning “Posted with permission. Do not remove this body of text. Do not crop or edit this image,” followed by my art blog name and a link to my website. It is not that hard to ask artists for permission it is common sense and proper decorum, lest they want to have their Instagram or other social media accounts banned and blacklisted for art thievery.


Art has always consisted of themes and ideas that are recycled but reinterpreted according to how the individual artist depicts it, so, the impact of someone stealing an idea depends on how it would impact the career of that artist. If it is for experimentation and exploration, recreating someone’s idea in mind is not necessarily bad, but when it is taken for personal gain and profit, that is where the lines are drawn.


I am very particular with my ideas and only trust a handful of people know them. I am extremely fortunate to not have had my ideas stolen or recreated, and hopefully never will be. Recently, there is a popular art challenge called “Draw this in Your Art Style,” which takes an idea from an artist and recreating it in one’s art style, that is an excellent way of sharing ideas, but fellow artists should still give credit to whom it is due.


Digital artists should feel safe when they are posting their art online, not only do people steal them to recreate memes (whether it’s tasteful or twisting the original content). 


Art is a form of freedom of speech, but that does not mean people can just pluck them off the internet. There are certainly a lot of entitled individuals out there that take artists’ work just because the contents are posted online, or they found it on Google. DeviantArt, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Tumblr have laws protecting digital artists’ property and ban art thieves, but other sites need to step up their game and follow suit.


When a young artist posts their art online, it is great to keep in mind that people have different preferences. Some people will appreciate your work and others may not. There are a lot of internet trolls out there that will attempt to discourage young artists. It is best to ignore, report, or block them. On the other hand, young artists should also keep in mind that the art community offers help to those in need. There is a reason it is called a community; many individuals started small but reached out to others for feedback, as others have before and others will after, creating a supportive and uplifting space. Despite all the internet trolls, there is a sense of family in the art community where people will always continue to encourage each other.


Recreating art from mainstream media like tv shows, movies, anime and the like in your art style guarantees a lot of views and followers since a lot of people know it and can relate to it. But others only draw and share original content. Usually when it comes to this, artists should expand their artistic vernacular. Artists should reach out to others, promote their work, and experiment but keeping consistency of their art style in mind. Promoting artwork in platforms such as Reddit, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook are a sure way to put your name out there to the public.


Posting artwork online and making money off it is a tricky game since most of the time it is email-based contact, and unfortunately there are people out there who scam artists. The best way to protect oneself from scammers is to always keep in mind, never undersell yourself. If you prefer to get paid by the hour, think about the minimum wage in your area and use that as a basis. You can up your prices once you have had a certain amount of commissions or after a year of doing commissions. Give your client an option of having them pay in full or partial. While the former gives artists a sense of financial security the latter is preferable to clients to build a sense of trust. Keep in mind to never send the finished product without receiving the last installment from your client. If they refuse to provide full payment, you let the client know that they will not receive the final product without it This might be difficult or feel wrong, but being firm about receiving payments will save you a lot of trouble in the future. In every commission, keep records of the invoices, PayPal is best for organizing invoices, you can just download a copy of the invoice and store it for when you need to file taxes each year. Other than that, ask clients to give you testimonials about the commission done to show future clients that you are reliable with the job. 


Be sure to check out Patricia’s website for awesome fan and original artwork. 


If you are interested in taking classes with teacher Patricia, click the link below for her teaching schedule!


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