There’s been a disturbing trend I’ve noticed lately, and it’s art theft. Prominently, YouTuber Simply_Kenna had taken credit for art that wasn’t hers, for which she has now publicly admitted to this and apologized for it. There have also been many companies who will steal art and mass-produce shirts, mugs, journals, etc. with the stolen work displayed on them to gain a profit. I have a very big problem with this, because it’s outright plagiarism, and taking severe advantage of someone’s hard work.
I’ll be the first to admit I am not a great artist. I can’t draw very well, and never really had the patience for it. I am more skilled with the written word and can manage to make a nice craft or collage, but I myself can’t really paint or sketch with a good level of skill.
I remember in high school when a good friend of mine would create absolute masterpieces for our art class and how much I’d admire her hard work and raw talent. I would be personally enraged if I’d ever found out somebody else was posing her artwork as their own because I would see her process and effort with every piece of art she made.
I would like to take this chance to tell all the artists out there who work hard to make original content that you are all amazing! I appreciate you, and the work you contribute to society. Whether you are only ever showing people online, or end up in a gallery, you are a part of what will influence art in the future. The concept that you’re able to help make such an impact, is beyond awesome! You can create such beautiful images and spread them with the world, and I am saddened for any of you who have ever faced your art being outright stolen. You don’t deserve it, and I urge you to please take action and report whoever stole your artwork! You deserve proper credit for your work, and the ability to profit from these images yourself. There are opportunities like on Etsy or through local art fairs that allow you to pursue some income from your art, if it is your choice to sell any of it.
Here are a few tips to hopefully help you all protect your hard work. I would suggest all artists to copyright their work (if they aren’t already.) Keep track of copyright laws, as well! Keep a close eye out for anyone who may have stolen your artwork, especially online stores! Make sure to save the images you find of them stealing your work, and depending on the level of damages, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer. A lawyer could help you create and send cease & desist letters, or if you have enough evidence for a solid lawsuit, could pursue compensation for your work being stolen.
In the meantime, I wish all the artists out there the best of luck, and to keep your head high! Don’t let art thieves keep you from doing what you all do best: create. You all deserve the freedom to keep making and sharing your art as you see fit, and I am one of the many people who will continue to support you and your hard work. To anyone else who would like to support your local artists, reach out to them, get their permission, share their art and properly credit them! Also, if they have some kind of online store where you can afford to buy their art from them, do so!