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No one is copying you
On beginner (or even pro) artists and their fear of putting their work out there
☕ This is an article from the Flygohr’s Ramblings. Here I help digital artists and creative people with productivity, growth, and inspiration. Tips, guides, links, and articles come every few days.
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No one is copying your art! And even if they are, I may have some tips for you 👇🏻
This is something I don't see people talking about online, but mostly in real life. I talk with young, inexperienced artists that are asking questions about copyright, trademark registrations, and how to protect their art from theft.
That's because most of the 'hardcore worried' aren't even putting themselves online.
Reality check 😬
Let's start by breaking some truths to you.
There are no original ideas in this world, especially in the arts. Every single idea has been drawn in every possible sauce already. What 'new ideas' are is a mix-and-match of previously existing concepts.
The sooner you understand this, the fastest you'll be able to advance and make progress with your artistic career.
Most ideas, archetypes, poses, camera angles, and shot types are just universal, everybody is using them. I think there's some misplaced hubris in thinking that your art - that you are unconsciously sourcing from materials you consume anyways - is so unique and detached from the world of ideas existing already.
Do you copy? 🥷🏻
Then, let's proceed with some self-evaluation. Are you copying from other artists? If not, you are doing the whole thing wrong. Especially as a beginner, you NEED to do art studies, compare your results with pros and understand where and how to improve.
I'm not talking about sobbing over the skill gaps. That's not healthy and won't get you anywhere. Once you'll have mastered how to do things, you'll be able to break them down, mix and match them, and make your own "original" ideas. That's how it's done
Just.. don't steal and pretend the stuff is yours. Credit artists, reference images, and other sources of inspiration in your posts.
Creating proof 📜
But let's be real. Thieves exist, and they'll start coming for you as soon as your art improves. Apart from taking it as a compliment and as a signal that you are on the right track, what you can do to protect yourself?
At least in the 'artists circle' of my high school years, it was common to hear the advice of 'mail yourself copies of your sketches and let them sit closed with the postal stamp on them. Their date can act as proof one day'. That's just unsustainable.
Let's start by saying that putting your work online can serve as proof since it's all dated and everything. Duh. Telegram also has a 'saved messages' feature for you to send stuff to yourself. But if you are chatting with mutuals about your WIPs, you are 99% good
The only thing that can 100% protect you is registering copyright. Each country has its offices tho, and its costs. This will also give you extra ground when filing lawsuits for copyright infringement. But it's just overkill IMHO. Most countries will respect your IPs
The real thieves 🏃🏻♂️
The main enemy of artists is NOT other artists. "Copying" is different from "stealing". It's very rare to see other artists "steal" and pretend the art is theirs - that's just one giant house of cards that's getting them NOTHING, don't worry about that.
Even if they are copying you, don't blast them and publicly shame them - not immediately, at least. Reach out to them first, try to talk with them, and 99.99% of them will apologize and back down. No harm done, no profits stolen.
Those who actually "steal" are usually AliExpress, Wish, Shein, or even Amazon shady sellers. And it's automated most of the time. Sadly, there's almost nothing you can do about it, especially for the China-based companies that just don't care about copyright laws
It happens all the time to the big shots I'm following online. They find their unlicensed art on mouse mats, mugs, and pillows. The only thing you can do is make the public aware of the scam, and try to reach the seller using some DMCA form somewhere. Results are not guaranteed.
But don't let that stop you. Put a watermark over your work if you are worried, but don't make it too invasive. They might get some money off your art by selling that mug, but no Disney or Pixar will come after your work and pretend it’s theirs.
The main takeaway here is that you need to start putting yourself out there. The world is full of injustices, but you can't let that stop you and even in the rare occurrence that you incur into shady people, you'll have the strength to persevere and keep doing your thing.
I can guarantee that directing even a fraction of the energy you are using to worry, toward your art progress will make you happier, more skilled, and more successful down the line.
If you enjoyed this article, I'd really appreciate it if you could forward it to a friend, or colleague who you think might like it too. If they are a creative type, they’ll surely find value in what I have to offer.
You can also help me by sharing this on your social networks. That’s always a big boost for me!
All the best,