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Protect Your Art Online

protect your work

Just because we’re not famous artists or writers (yet) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect our creations from being used without our permission. I was reminded of that fact just recently.

I ran a Facebook ad for the Creative Fire Cafe, getting the word out to other creatives about this safe space where we share our experiences, a few laughs and interesting conversations about the creative life.

Surprise!

The image I use on the group’s banner was created by a Cafe member and good friend of mine. My friend showed the original to me a few years back and I never forgot it because it’s such a wonderful image. It’s a piece I particularly love because of its ‘creative fire’. I asked for and (importantly) received permission to use the image for the Cafe.

Join The Café

So imagine my surprise when I got a nasty comment on the ad post from someone using the exact same image as her business logo. She claimed a friend created it just for her and she had paid for the image. She ordered me to remove it because it was hers.

I immediately got in touch with my artist friend, who attempted to contact the person who posted. As the artist, my friend has valid proof of ownership and wanted to share that, along with a request to desist using the pirated image.

My friend never got a response but I suspect that other woman’s friend has “some ‘splainin’ to do.”

The conundrum

This is every creative person’s worry and conundrum – how do we protect our original pieces?

We need to be out on social media but once your work is out there, you run the risk of a scenario like the one I described. It happens all to often. Someone passes off your work as theirs while profiting from it.

How to protect your work

So I did some research and here are a few things we can do to protect ourselves from having our work stolen:

ARTISTS:

1. Take a photo of your image as soon as you complete it and before you post it. Photos have metadata attached, including the date and time the picture was taken. If someone copies your work, that metadata proves your work predated their use of it. (Luckily, my friend has photos of her original piece.)

2. Before putting your work online, protect it with a visible watermark using editing software. Make it part of the image itself. If you simply add it to the edge or a blank space, it can be trimmed off or edited out.

If most of your images are on your phone you can use an app like Iwatermark. If you work from your desktop, almost any photo editing software can be used. Simply add your name, a copyright symbol and the year in an interesting part of your image and reduce the text opacity to about 40-60%.

3. Don’t post high resolution images to social media or your website. Take high resolution photos for reproductions of course but save a copy in low resolution (72 dpi).

A word of warning: When you save your lo-res copy, be sure to give it a unique name. If you save it over the top of your hi-res image there’s no going back.

WRITERS:

1. Like images, your documents have metadata with creation dates as well as the last edit date. That metadata proves your work preexisted any unauthorized use of it and protects it from plagiarism.

2. For manuscripts, print a complete copy of the work and send it to yourself via registered mail. When you receive your mail, sign for it but don’t open the envelope. Tuck it away someplace safe. If you ever need to prove your work pre-existed another’s, you now have the postal service on your side. That envelope will be valid evidence in court.

For all creatives, be sure people know how to contact you so they can purchase your work or get permission to quote you.

What about you?

If you have other suggestions to add these lists, please share them in the comments. This is a problem all creatives face so let’s support each other!

 

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Meet My Creative Friend: Victoria Lynn Hall

I believe in the power of art partly because of my creative friend, Victoria Lynn Hall.  She is a truly multi-talented, multi-passionate Renaissance Soul. As an artist, blogger and musician, I’m in awe of how creativity permeates everything she does.

I’m sure she’ll inspire you as much as she does me.

What does “being creative” mean to you?

Being creative means a lot of things to me. It means focusing on possibilities rather than limitations. It means problem solving and trying to make order out of chaos. And it means recognizing beauty and doing something to bring that beauty into the light for others to see. 

When did you first realize that you absolutely had to lead a creative life?

I think I’ve always led a creative life, I just didn’t always value it. I spent way too much of my early life wishing I was more normal and yet all the people I admired were extremely creative in one way or another. 

It was reading and practicing the tenets of “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron in my twenties that finally made me take myself more seriously as an artist and see myself as in the same league as the people I idolized. It started me on a path of healing the wounds that told me my creative and imaginative talents were something frivolous so that I could see them and utilize them as the incredible gifts that they really are.

It’s a path I’m still walking.

What inspires you?Creative art by Victoria Lynn Hall

Color, pattern, form. Music, art, nature. Questions, mysteries, possibilities.

Almost anything can spark my imagination and once a vision is formed there of something that could be created or transformed, it’s impossible for me not to pursue it.

What do you want your art to communicate?

I see making art as a communication between myself and my higher self (and perhaps even something beyond that).

I don’t seek to control that conversation but rather focus on expressing my thoughts, feelings, hopes and visions as honestly as possible through whatever medium I am using and trusting the response I get back from that. However, almost always what comes out of that collaboration conveys a story of hope, beauty and transformation.

Creative art by Victoria Lynn HallDescribe your creative process. What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

My most faithful creative routine is journaling.

It is how I check in with myself and it helps me prioritize my creative passions. Writing down what I am thinking, feeling and envisioning for my life shows me where my imagination is engaged and everything flows from there.

What is the most challenging part of the creative process for you and how do you meet that challenge?

The most challenging part of the creative process, for me, is just getting started on something. Usually, I meet that challenge by getting started on or finishing something else.

Having many different types of creative projects going on at once makes me a “productive procrastinator”. I focus on the task that I have the least resistance to and accomplishing that gives me the energy and confidence to take on the next task (or inspires a completely new one).

What’s the best advice you were ever given about how to be more creative?Creative art by Victoria Lynn Hall

This is a tough one for me because I’m not sure I need advice on how to be more creative.

There are actually some days when I would prefer to be less creative, at least long enough to get my laundry put away. But I will tell you one of the mottos I live by, which is engraved in gold letters on a little journal I keep close to me at all times: Trust Your Crazy Ideas.

Is there anything you’d like to add that I didn’t ask?

I would just like to say that I believe in the magic of kindness, especially when it comes to artists encouraging, inspiring and supporting each other.

Thank you Aprille, for being that magic for me and for inviting me to explore these questions.

Here’s how you can connect with Victoria:

You can find my blog at http://www.ibelieveinart.com/

For creative inspiration and encouragement like my I Believe In Art Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/IBelieveInArtBlog/

You can also connect with me through my I Believe In Art account on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ibelieveinartblog/

And find fun and creative products to inspire your creative soul at http://www.ibelieveinartshop.com/

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Wee Art

Demos

I’m very excited to be part of an exhibition of Wee Art at Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal during December 2017.

The criteria was to work no larger than 6″x6″ in any medium we chose. Of course, I chose watercolours and decided to use what I found on our shoreline to explore the idea of transformation.

The first is the slow transformation of rock to sand. Then I found an empty shell on the beach and felt that was also a transformation.

Finally, I chose the universal symbol of transformation – butterflies.  However, I was stuck after that and almost decided to be satisfied with just three paintings.

Then the dog and I went for a walk by the lighthouse.  On the cliffs, I discovered a pile of feathers being blown about by the wind. I gathered a few and brought them back to my studio. When I set them on my table, I realized I had my fourth painting – the final transformation we all experience one day. Last flight.

I’ve never worked this small before and found it very gratifying because I completed all four paintings in a relatively short period of time. Even more gratifying, all four were accepted for the show.

If you have an opportunity to stop in to Round Hill Studio. Tell them I sent you.

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Whale art: Create to make a difference

whale mandala

The news reports this past summer about the plight of the right whale touched my heart.

The gist of the story is, they have been dying in large numbers relative to a population size of less than 500.  These are magnificent, intelligent creatures and I want to do something to help. I hate to think of a world without them in it.

A little soul

Stand up and show your soulI could probably write a post about using our gifts as artists and being generous with our talents but I hate being preached to and I’ll bet you do, too. I get it that what touches me, doesn’t necessarily move you as an artist or a viewer of art. Also, what we get up to should fall under the heading of “Want To” rather than “Have To.” (There’s enough of those already in my life.)

That’s when I found the quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and that proverbial light bulb went off.  What I wanted to do was to show you my soul.

Why the whale?

The plight of the whales touched me because I care deeply about animals. I’ve learned to be careful about reading news articles about abused pets and such because their stories haunt me. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed but it also breaks my heart and, as they say, once you know a thing, you can’t un-know it.

I believe whales to be sentient creatures who are as curious about us as we are about them. When we encounter them in the open ocean they are usually quite gentle. The declining numbers, however, are due to humanity’s less-than-gentle interactions with them.

I asked “How can my art help?”whale mandala

I did a few sketches but nothing seemed quite right until I combined one of those sketches with a mandala, something I played a lot with this past summer.

“Mandala” is a sanskrit word that means “circle” or “center”. I understand it to be sacred space because it represents the circle of life. So when I drew a mandala around my sketch of a whale diving, I knew I had it.

This is my art wish for the whale signifying safe space, a prayer for sacred protection and practical help to maintain their place in the circle of life

I’m offering prints in my Etsy shop for $35 plus shipping. For each print sold, I will donate $10 to the Canadian Whale Institute to help them continue their work. Part of the important work they do at the Institute is untangling the whales from fishing gear.

In addition, the 9×12 pen and ink original is still available. If you’re interested in purchasing it, contact me. I will donate 25% of the proceeds to the Institute as well.