Yay you came here for free art. I’m glad that caught your attention.
The internet is a valuable tool for artists. It provides a means to get our work in front of many eyes. Whether it is a personal website or social media. It is good practice to post to social media on a regular basis. Not posting means that we no longer exist. As an artist you can get forgotten about very quickly.
The unfortunate side of the internet is thievery. Many feel that if they find an image on the internet it is automatically free. Free to use anyhow they please. Download it, right click on it, save it to their hard drive. It is very easy to do. For this reason many artists put gaudy watermarks on their images to help “protect” themselves. I do not watermark. I find them to be highly intrusive. I shouldn’t have to work hard creating an aesthetically pleasing image just to plaster it with what people should already know. It’s my image, I created it, I own the rights to it forever. So instead of watermarking let’s educate. Taking an image from the internet without some form of consent is stealing.
Let me step back a little. I have had many of my images used commercially without my knowledge and/or I found them by searching or by just pure coincidence. When I confront the entities they immediately get defensive. They even go as far as ridiculing me and the image. It makes me laugh. If the image sucked, then why are you wanting to make yourself look bad? The truth is they used the image because they liked it. It spoke for them. It represented them. They tried to get something for free. My work, my time, my equipment. Nobody wants to work for free. Most people working for a corporation would not need to write a blog on this subject. Why? Because most people get compensated in a timely manner for their performance.
Another common response is, “You put it on the internet, it’s public, the whole world sees it.” Yep, it is very public. So are the city streets. This logic says that if I park my nice car on a public street it is free for the taking. It could be taken, but there are consequences. There are consequences to stealing images. There are laws against it that stand up in court just as heavily as stealing a car monetarily. Therefore regardless of justification, the law says you cannot do it. All images are protected whether there is a watermark, copyright symbol, fine print, etc. or not.
Most people wouldn’t walk into a grocery store and steal a banana. A banana seems harmless, what damage would come to the store for stealing one banana? Most people don’t think about it and wouldn’t steal period. That same logic needs to be applied to art and artists.
Artists need your support. Which means don’t take an image without consent. Don’t ask an artist for free work, yes, this applies to family and friends. Free art means someone is working hard and not getting paid. Don’t ask an artist for a discount. The art is already cheap. Not really a proud bragging right. ” I got this at a killer discount.” Insert sad face. You are investing in that artist. Every time you buy a piece of real art from an artist the value of that art and artist goes up. You can’t get that value from Ikea, Bed Bath and Beyond, or Target. There is zero value in purchasing “wall coverings” from these types of places. When you buy real art, original art, you are buying value and something that is one of a kind. Be original, buy original. Be proud you paid asking price, brag on that. Say no to free art.
Buy local. San Diego is a great art city. Start going to the many shows and open receptions. You will be amazed and pleased. If you don’t know much about art, you don’t need to. Go to a show, just look. What catches your eye? Why does it catch your eye? How does it speak to you? Art speaks, it doesn’t need to match your sofa, it needs to match you. A great place to start looking for shows is at ArtGuideSD.
I did not post any photos to this blog for fear they would be stolen.
Paul W. Koester is a San Diego based artist specializing in urban and landscape photography.