I had an interaction on Instagram yesterday that has required me to write this post. I was alerted by a friend to the fact that someone was using one of my paintings as their avatar. AWESOME! :) They like my image enough to use it to represent themselves online. Using an artist art as an avatar happens all the time and is common on the internet. I went and checked out this person's Instagram account and was troubled when I recognize one of their images as my own AND it had been modified by a filter, which in my opinion made it a lot worse. I checked out the image and was shocked to see this piece credited with…
I will point this out specifically…"Amazing Viserion fan art from @go_sloe"
I see a lot peoples names linked to this image... except mine.
@go_sloe does not give me credit either and they seem to be the originator of the uncredited posting of my work. I responded to this with a straight forward correction of ownership and creative control…
@christopherburdett: "This is not fan art from @go_sloe this is my officially licensed art that I was hired to make for the AGoT card game put out by Fantasy Flight Games. It has just had a filter put on it that makes it look worse."My comment brought the following two replies…
@go_sloe: "@christopherburdett I obviously didn't create that, I just thought it was awesome enough to share on here never took credit for any of the art I post,,, I just appreciate good art when I see it. People don't get paid on Instagram so instead of getting pissed at @westerosian you should be happy people are enjoying your work."
@westerosian: "@christopherburdett hey now we never took credit at all, I reposted it from his account and I'm giving his account a shoutout. We do not claim credit on any if the fan art here. And I am a massive fan art supported, and I tag every single fucking artist that I see because I want to credit them (you'd see that on the majority of my posts.) and there are times where we don't know who the artist is."
Okay, let me break down how this is incorrect and how they are uniformed about their actions, the effect they are having, and how they are stealing from me.
1) Just to be clear, I was not "pissed" at anyone at the time I posted the original comment. It was a straight forward statement of ownership. Maybe they assume anger on my end because they realize they have done something inappropriate?
2) They claim to not have taken credit. Let us take a look at the repost credit…
"Amazing Viserion fan art from @go_sloe"
"go check out his awesome #gameofthronesfanart account for more pictures like this one".If they are not claiming credit they have completely muddied the water on who this image belongs to. By not crediting me they separate me from my art and by giving no credit, credit is given to them by others who don't know any better. They have created a wall between the viewer and myself as the creator. How "obvious" it may or may not be that they are not the originator is questionable and now that a second party has claimed, "Amazing Viserion fan art from @go_sloe", it is now linked to go_sloe by future viewers.
3) Then there was this statement, "People don't get paid on Instagram". Not getting paid has NEVER been a valid excuse for theft. By separating me from my work they HAVE effected me financially. I have a web store where you can buy prints of this piece. As a hired artist for Fantasy Flight Games I am allowed to sell prints of this piece. By not crediting me, the viewer can not go to my website or blog where links to my web store can be found and where my prints can be purchased. This uncredited posting of my image received hundreds more 'likes' then when I posted it and was seen by who knows how many more. Even if just one of these people had been interested in buying a print, now they can't. By posting my work without credit they have stolen the opportunity for me to sell my work, which helps me to continue working in this industry. People who download music, books, or movies without paying for them for personal use are not "getting paid" either, and this is still very much stealing from the content creator. By taking my work and reposting it without credit you are stealing my work from me and are using it for your own personal gain.
4) "you should be happy people are enjoying your work" … HILARIOUS! If I tell the power company I am enjoying the electricity they send to my house or the bank that I am enjoying all the money they loaned me to buy my house but I am not going to pay them… well, you don't have to use your imagination to know what the outcome will be. I can not pay my bills and live as an artist with my income consisting of people enjoying my work. Sadly, this is the real world and goods and services need to be exchanged for money to purchase other goods and services. I am passionate about the art that I make, but it is WORK and I was hired to make it. When someone takes my work and severs my ownership from it, it does not matter how many people like or don't like it. I would rather my art not be seen then seen without proper credit.
The dragon in question...
5) "I tag every single fucking artist that I see because I want to credit them (you'd see that on the majority of my posts.) and there are times where we don't know who the artist is." Way to up the conversation by dropping the F bomb. Anyway… I commend you on giving credit, …but giving credit to the WRONG person is still a problem. If you don't know who the artist is, DO NOT POST THE ART. PERIOD. It is theft. PERIOD. Google has some amazing easy to use image search features that allow you to quickly track images down. Also, my name and two of my URLs are ON THE IMAGE. There was no work to do… my info was on the image. You could have used either to track me down and get any and all of my links to give me credit. It was right there in front of you and you ignored it. …of course that great filter that was added to the image makes it a lot harder to read.
6) You took MY image. This image was not from the FFG website. This image was not a scan of the card from the game. This was MY image which came from my blog, website, Facebook, Deviant Art page, etc and it has my name and URLs on it. You came to me, took it, MODIFIED IT, reposted it, and then did not give me credit. Even if you were just google searching and came across the image it links back to my sites and as mentioned above, it has my links on the image. Effort was made to NOT credit me.
7) I have been working in the game industry for over 9 years and I have been working as a professional artist for over 15 years. I have spent decades of my art and skill set. I have sacrificed a lot to be where I am today to make the work I have the opportunity to make. You disrespect me and the time and effort I have put into being the artist I am by taking my work. I have worked on movies, television shows, music videos, and all types of games. If I can not support myself and family with my art then I will have to stop and do something else. By stealing art from those that create it you undermine the very thing you claim to be a fan of. Stealing artist's work contributes to them leaving the industry for work that pays better and offers more security. My job is to make art of the things you are a fan of… your job is NOT being a fan.
8) Ignorance is not and has never been an excuse.
A little comparison.
I hope this educates you. If this makes me the big bad mean artist, then so be it. The theft of art is rampant, but it can be stopped and controlled. Give credit where credit is due… ALL THE TIME. Being too hard or difficult is no excuse. "Sorry officer, I stole that car because it was just too hard to buy one…"
That is all for an unexpected Sunday post, see you back here on Monday for new Star Wars work! Until then...
For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com