Protecting Artists’ Work – can WE help?
When I’m creating a blog post here at Thrones Towers, I like to illustrate it with one or two card images.
Sometimes it’s the image that’s important, rather than the card. For example, if I am blogging about masks, I might search for a Tarot card that shows a mask: I’m not concerned whether it’s the 10 of Swords or The Magician.
Other times, I might be talking about a specific card or even a specific card in a specific deck: Would any Page of Wands card would do? Let’s pick some nice ones! Or maybe I need the Page of Wands from Alexander Daniloff’s Tarot specifically. So, let’s go get him!
What do I do?
I would like to tell you that I go to every artist and ask for their permission to use their cards in my blog posts, but I don’t.
That’s not because I don’t respect the artists that have created this work, but if I asked for permission for everything, I stand the risk of being refused or (worse?!) ignored and then unsure about whether I ought to proceed or not. Should I ask EVERY time I want to use a card from that artist’s deck? Sheesh, Alexander Daniloff is going to get really sick of seeing my name pop up in his inbox!
There has been some discussion on other platforms about what constitutes ‘fair use’ and I regard my blog as ‘fair use’: I am not selling the images. I am not passing them off as my own work. I am commenting on the artwork or I am (I hope!) using the artworks to help with understanding the Court Cards – so they are a sort of learning tool.
On the other hand, if I wanted to create, for example, an e-book, I wouldn’t DREAM of using an artist’s work without their permission and would expect to pay them (and possibly also the publisher) for the privilege of being associated with their artwork.
Yet artists are finding their work popping up in unexpected places. It can be entire copies of their hard-crafted decks, such as happens with sad regularity to the creative powers at +Baba Studios. Will Worthington’s work, for example, has been found on giant-sized poster artworks.
Taking someone’s work, their livelihood and making money from it without paying the genius behind the paintbrush? That’s not on.
There are grey areas though – what about when you sell a reading to someone and want to include a scan of the cards used in the layout? What about if you want to use an artist’s work in the header of your blog? *cough* Or your avatar on facebook? Or pin an image in Pinterest?
I think that both artist and admirer have a role to play in protecting the artist’s work. Artists could create FAQ pages on their websites or blogs which outline what uses of their work they deem acceptable for free use (eg blog headers, avatars, newsletter header images etc) and that for all other uses, admirers should expect to pay a fee (on business cards, in training materials etc) And those FAQ pages would grow as more innovative uses for their artworks are put forward to them (would it be free to use a card’s image as the basis for your new tattoo, for example?!)
We, as admirers of an artist’s work, can play a part in protecting our artists by watermarking every image that we use. And when I say ‘watermark’ I mean any marking directly to the card image with the artist’s name, source and website. Take a look at Nimue, illustrating this blog post. She’s gorgeous, isn’t she? She’s by Will Worthington and anyone using this image will see that.
Marking artworks in this way will:
1 Prevent unauthorised use of YOUR scanned card image by an unscrupulous downloader.
2 Act as an advert for the artist if the image IS used (eg pinned on Pinterest) or shared on another blog
because any viewer will immediately know who the artist is, where the card comes from and the url
for the artist’s site.
Adding a caption beneath the image on your blog is not enough, it’s not protecting that piece of art. It doesn’t travel WITH the artwork to any another site.
We LOVE these artists, let’s do what we can to protect their work 🙂