Has Your Art Been Stolen Online? 5 Ways To Protect Your Images

Putting your artwork and photographs out into the online world can be exciting and scary. You worked so hard to create those images, and want to be sure to get them in front of other artists, brands, and potential buyers - but you might wonder, what if something bad happens to them? While fear shouldn't ever stand in the way of you successfully building your business online, there are ways to protect your images so they aren't used by others in ways you aren't okay with.

 
Are your photographs and art images at risk of being stolen online? Check out these five strategies for protecting your images on danielleandco.com + a video tutorial on two ways to easily add a watermark to your photos!
 

To be fair, images aren't always stolen by a super shady person. For instance, someone writing a blog post about motherhood might want a great image of a mother and a baby playing with blocks together. So, they google "mother and baby playing with blocks", then click on google images and see a great, high-quality photo that is exactly what they were looking for! So, they just right-click, choose "save image" and add it right into their own blog post graphic, with their title and blog name right on top of it.

Ugh! Didn't they even care that someone else worked really hard to create that great photo, and isn't getting any credit? Honestly, it may have not even crossed their mind - some people think if an image is right there on Google, it must be okay to use, or that it's unlikely they would get caught.

(BTW, if you're looking for a way to find great photos without using another person's work without permission, may I suggest Unsplash? This isn't sponsored, they are just a great resource!)

There are ways to protect your images using both technical and strategic moves, so let's dive into 5 simple things you can do today, to protect your images before you upload that Etsy listing photo or awesome Instagram post!

5 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR IMAGES FROM ONLINE THEFT


Clearly explain what you're okay with

A little clear communication can go a long way! It seems obvious but people often forget about simply stating your expectations. You can add a brief statement on your website or alongside your images, letting viewers know what you're comfortable with in terms of sharing your work. For instance, if you have a portfolio or gallery page you can add a sentence at the top stating how much you hope the viewer enjoys your work, to let you know if they have any questions, and to please not share your images without your written permission.

There is also the matter of commercial use vs. personal use. If you're selling your work online, you want to be really clear about this in your listing language. Let's say you're selling a digital download of a repeating pattern you created. First, you'll need to decide exactly what you're selling - and it's not just the PDF file. Is the buyer purchasing the rights to use this image only for personal use (such as to print out and hang on a wall in their home), or limited commercial use (such as a header image on their website) or for commercial use (such as printing the image on throw pillows and then selling them, without your name anywhere on that pillow).

This is really a personal choice, and you'll need to decide what you're okay with. My suggestion is that if you choose to sell your products for personal use only, you offer another way for others to collaborate with you. For instance, you could offer an extended commercial license where they could pay an additional amount of money to use your design on items for resale, or you could encourage them to contact you to discuss options for working together. Here is some sample language you can use (feel free to copy & paste the paragraph and/or edit it into your own listings!):

You are purchasing a digital file that you download and print out yourself. No physical item is shipped. You cannot alter/resell/share, or claim it as your own. You can use this artwork for personal use only. You cannot use it for commercial purposes. Since this listing is delivered via instant download, no refund can be issued. All sales are final.

If you would like to use this artwork for commercial use (such as a logo, branding, or printing on an item for resale) please contact me and I will provide options. I would love to work with you!

Have a visible copyright notice

You don't technically need to provide a written copyright notice with your work. When you create an image or artwork, it automatically is copyrighted to it's creator. However, it's a great reminder to others and helps clearly communicate your intentions about use of your work. It's a quick, simple thing to add if you haven't already - mine is right in the footer of my website, and at the bottom of every sales listing I create.

You may also want to consider adding a free DMCA button to your website. You can find more information on the DMCA website, but essentially they provide free assistance in the form of buttons and "take-down notices" to help you protect your work online. I've never had to utilize their services, but I've heard they are a great resource!

Watermark Your Images

This is an important one! You don't need to watermark every single image you put on the internet (for instance, I've never watermarked an Instagram post - that would feel weird), but anytime you are uploading a full-size, clear image of your work you need to make sure you get a watermark on it first.

A watermark is simply a semitransparent layer of text or image that you save on top of your image, that would make it difficult for anyone to save and use it. It is a great deterrent, and something you can easily do while you're already editing your images - it only adds about 30 seconds of work, once you have a method down!

Are your photographs and art images at risk of being stolen online? Check out these five strategies for protecting your images on danielleandco.com + a video tutorial on two ways to easily add a watermark to your photos!
Are your photographs and art images at risk of being stolen online? Check out these five strategies for protecting your images on danielleandco.com + a video tutorial on two ways to easily add a watermark to your photos!

Above, I used a simple text layer to add my website name on top of the images. My goal is to watermark it enough to make it difficult to save and edit the image without permission, but not so intrusive that a potential buyer can't view the details.

For a brief tutorial of two ways I add watermarks to images in Photoshop CC (but can be done in all sorts of photo editing software!) check out my YouTube video below. Consider subscribing to my YouTube channel to stay caught up on future videos, too!

 

If you use Squarespace as your web host, you can also watermark text on top of an image right in Squarespace, using the built-in Adobe Creative Cloud Image Editor.

Reduce your image sizes

The higher-quality and larger the image size, the easier it is for others to print it, enlarge it, and use it in all sorts of ways. While you need to keep a high-quality version of the image for yourself to order prints of your work or sell it as a download, the images you upload to social media or online shops can be much smaller.

A 500kb image that is 1500 pixels wide will still look great as a listing image, on Instagram, etc. but won't be very useful for someone to save and re-use. That is the size Squarespace recommends using for images you upload to the web, and it has always worked for me! If you use the max file size (for many web hosts and online shops that is 20MB), it not only makes it easier for others to steal your images, but might also slow down your website load time. Smaller image sizes is a win-win!

If you're looking for a way to reduce the size of your images without sacrificing quality, I've heard great things about JPEGmini.

Use styled photos and mock-ups

Another strategy that pays off in multiple ways is using styled photos and mock-ups to showcase your work. When your image is used as a part of a larger image, it's going to be challenging for another person to save it and crop out that section, and have it be of a high-enough quality to do anything with. The big bonus is, it also looks great for your viewers! Etsy and other online sellers recommend sharing photos of your products in a variety of ways, including close-ups and mock-ups. It helps potential viewers envision how the work might look framed, above a sofa, as part of a table-scape, etc.

 
 

You can use props and backgrounds to add a sense of warmth to your work, and make it really stand out! Above, you can see examples of where I have styled images to use on social media, as well as used mock-up frames against wood backgrounds for listing images of my work. I have a whole blog post on how to style flatlay images of your artwork, so check that out for more ideas!

Having others use your image is not always a bad thing!

When someone takes an image from your website or social media and uses it without your permission, it can instinctively feel icky. However, there are circumstances where it can actually be beneficial and positive. For instance, a blog using an image of your work in a post such as a "round-up", crediting you, and linking to your website or shop can be awesome! You may not know in advance they are going to do this, and it can be a surprise to stumble on, but if you're being appropriately credited and linked to it can mean your work reaching a whole new audience. It's also super flattering to know your work was appreciated.


Well, that's a wrap!

You might notice that I left out "disable right-clicking" as a strategy, and if you've read other tutorials online you might wonder why. I honestly don't think it is very effective or worth the effort, at this point. Technology has advanced enough that it is so easy for someone to screenshot your image, and anything you do to prevent it can be undone within the viewer's browser. I'd rather spend my time on more effective methods such as adding a watermark.

Overall, don't stress too much about it! The more time you spend worrying your images have been stolen, or searching frantically online to see if anyone else is using them, the less time you're spending on producing more amazing work and content. Take a deep breath, take reasonable precautions, and then turn your focus back on what matters.

Curious what to do after you discover your image has been taken and used without your permission? Check out this post from the Spruce, which I think is really helpful.

Are you utilizing these strategies to protect your images online? Do you have other tips to add? Please chime in, in the comments!

- Dani

Are your photographs and art images at risk of being stolen online? Check out these five strategies for protecting your images on danielleandco.com + a video tutorial on two ways to easily add a watermark to your photos!
 

 

 

My $84 Home Video Set-Up for Artists & Makers

One of my favorite things on Instagram is watching videos other artists share, and getting to see their process as they paint, draw, or create hand lettering and other beautiful things. It helps to see their techniques, how they mix and layer color, and how they move their hands. I've created process videos myself for quite awhile, but over the summer began sharing them more regularly.

There has been one major challenge; the set-up.

I know there are artists with very high quality cameras, dedicated and well-lit studios, and space to leave a video station up all of the time. I am not one of them. While I very much enjoy creating the videos and sharing them, I don't have access to or can't dedicate those resources to it right now. Does that mean I throw in the towel paintbrush and give up? Nope! I tried a bunch of affordable tools and configurations until I found a video set-up that works for me right on my kitchen table, for less than $84.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you purchase an item using one. Thank you for supporting danielle & co.!

 
My set-up process & equipment to create process videos right at my kitchen table, for less than $84!

My set-up process & equipment to create process videos right at my kitchen table, for less than $84!

 

The main tool I use for my videos is my iPhone 7. I'm lucky to have a phone that does so much for me (see this post and this one for tips on my favorite apps) and for my purposes, the video quality is just fine. The video set-up I'm sharing with you today would work with almost any common smart phone, I think; the equipment is not specific to a phone brand. If you have a nice video camera, that is awesome! The below set-up should still work, minus the phone adapter I describe.

So, let's get to it!

 
My affordable, easy to set-up and take-down at-home video set-up! Please ignore the messy house in the background. I do.

My affordable, easy to set-up and take-down at-home video set-up! Please ignore the messy house in the background. I do.

 

My video set-up process typically looks like this:

Setting: I don't have a dedicate studio space, and while I love our little Cape Cod style home, it is better described as cozy than well-lit. I'm always envious of the beautiful, bright and open studio spaces I see posted on Instagram, but I try to use it as motivation to work toward what I want! Our kitchen table is the most logical place for me to work. I do have children, so in order to not have it be too noisy and shaky from them jumping around nearby, I time my videos for when they are in their rooms, out playing, or out of the house.

Equipment:

I begin by prepping my watercolor pan paints, palette, water, brushes, paper, etc. so everything is all ready for me to paint. My tripod then gets set up right behind where I am going to paint (directly across from me). We have an older tripod that works great for me, but if you need to buy one this one on Amazon has good reviews and should do the job!

I found an adapter for my tripod that expands to hold smart phones of various sizes for less than $8, and I go ahead and attach it to the tripod. It's the universal tripod smartphone adapter by Vastar, and it has so many options to adjust the angle, which way the phone is facing, etc. After it's attached, I adjust the tripod so that the connector at the top (that the adapter is screwed onto) faces downward, so the phone will be held horizontally, not upright. I slip my phone into the adapter facing up; I've always found the video quality better with the phone screen facing up and using the camera on the back of the phone, as opposed to having the phone facing down and the video in "selfie mode". See the photo below for a better visual of what I mean.

BTW, links to all of the products on Amazon are at the bottom of the post!

 
The white foam board prevents shadows showing on the paper and bounces light back to my working surface.

The white foam board prevents shadows showing on the paper and bounces light back to my working surface.

 

Next, I use a cheap, white foam-core board (yep, the kind you can get from the dollar store or Walmart for $1 or so!) to prop against the tripod. When my foam board gets too beat up, I'm planning to replace it with a tri-fold display board, as I think that will help prevent even more shadows (like this one on Amazon). This creates a nice clean, white background for light to bounce off of and prevents the legs of the tripod creating shadows on my paper.

 
Lamps on either side of my work keep things bright and even, and a reflector placed opposite the window balances the natural light.

Lamps on either side of my work keep things bright and even, and a reflector placed opposite the window balances the natural light.

 

I then clamp a lamp so that one is shining light down onto my paper, from both sides of where I am sitting. I use LED bulbs in "daylight" to make it as bright and natural looking as possible. I've found that using "soft white" bulbs creates too yellow of lighting. (I use these light bulbs). Personally, I clamp the lamps to the kitchen chairs nearby me; however you could use tripods or anything else you can safely clamp a light onto and still reach an outlet! I don't need to use extension cords this way, but those could help you out if you don't have enough outlets nearby. Be sure to use a wattage of light bulb that is safe inside of your specific lamps. I use some older clamp desk lights from Bed, Bath & Beyond but have seen better deals on Amazon like these.

Next, I set up my silver reflector directly across from the nearby window, so it is bouncing light back onto my paper. I find the reflector handy when I'm taking photos of paintings as well! I purchased this 5-in-1 reflector pack on Amazon, and so far I stick with the silver one but am hoping to experiment with the others soon!

After it's all set-up and ready to go, I pull up whatever app I am going to use on my phone. I make sure to stand above it and look down into the phone, so I can adjust the phone and adapter until my paper shows exactly where I want it and nothing is crooked. The adaptor can be adjusted and tightened until everything is level. When I'm ready to paint, I hit the button to begin recording and I get started!

 
The adapter has various knobs to loosen, tighten, and adjust so I can make sure my video is set on my artwork juuuust right.

The adapter has various knobs to loosen, tighten, and adjust so I can make sure my video is set on my artwork juuuust right.

 

I store all of the equipment in a corner behind where I sit to paint, propped between a bookshelf and the wall. I wish I had more storage space, but for now this works for me.

Often, I use the camera app that comes standard on the iPhone to video record. However, if I know I am going to want it sped-up significantly, I use the Hyperlapse app by Instagram. It works so well, and also reduces the shakiness in the video! If you need to speed up your video but didn't use Hyperlapse (or want to splice out scenes, change the video orientation, etc.) I recommend using iMovie. For more info, check out my blog post on my favorite photo & video editing apps!

Cost Break-Down

Tripod: $23.99 (I use an older one, but this one on Amazon looks great.)

Smartphone adapter: $7.99 (I use this one by Vastar and love it.)

Clamp lamp (x2): $17.98. (I use older ones, but these ones on Amazon look so professional.)

LED daylight lightbulbs (4-pack): $9.75 (I use these ones by Philips, I like the price & quality.)

Collapsible reflector pack: $19.99 (I use this 5-in-1 pack by Neewer. It folds down so small.)

Foam-core display board: $4.20 (less than $5 on Amazon, as an add-on item!)

TOTAL COST: $83.90

Since I already had a decent tripod and clamp lamps, and found a foam board for only $1 so the cost for me was closer to around $48, but if you are starting from scratch I still think $84 is a pretty good cost to be able to make nice, bright videos!

 
I make sure to leave enough elbow room for me to work comfortably, too!

I make sure to leave enough elbow room for me to work comfortably, too!

 

I edited this right before posting to add something new - I've whipped up a couple of DIY photo backdrops, including this marble version shown below! I've mostly used them for photographing finished work, but it could be a great backdrop for videos too. I have a blog post coming soon with more info on how I DIYed wood, marble, and blush pink backdrops affordably and in one afternoon.

 
UsingMarbleDIYBackdrop.jpg
 

Do you create process videos of your work? What equipment or apps do you recommend? Do you take the videos in a unique spot in your home or business? Please share in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

- Dani


recommended equipment


100+ Hashtags for Painters & Calligraphers, Sorted by Category!

It may be small, but it is mighty. On Instagram, a hashtag can be a powerful thing. Hashtags are not only a way for a social media platform to sort posts into specific topics; it's a way for you to meet other people, discover new tools and resources, keep an eye on trends, get inspired, and more. Choosing your hashtags carefully is important. It affects who will see your own posts on Instagram, but also where you will end up networking in the wider Instagram community. For artists & makers, Instagram can be an especially creative & supportive space to share your work and see what others are doing as well. While I updated my own lists for this year, I thought I would share with you what I found! Below, I'm going to share just shy of 200 hashtags useful for painters & calligraphers specifically. First, though, let's talk about how to use their power for good, not evil.

 
Brush up your hashtag lists with 100+ hashtags specific to painters & calligraphers.

Brush up your hashtag lists with 100+ hashtags specific to painters & calligraphers.

 
  1. Don't use all the hashtags at once. Instagram limits you to 30 hashtags total (including both those in your post description and any comments you add), but they can also be pesky for your followers. It's no fun to have to scroll past a zillion hashtags, or have it right in your face. Be choosy of what you're tagging, and make them the most applicable and meaningful to your post.
  2. Balance the general with the specific. I've shared a lot of very general hashtags (like #art. You can't get more basic than that.) but you should combine these with some that are specific. For instance, if you're using a brush to create lettering with your watercolors you might want to use #brushlettering or if you're painting an scene of a street in New Orleans, adding #neworleans so that people specifically interested in those topics see your post.
  3. Keep them on your phone. Below is a screenshot of a Notes app page on my iPhone, where I keep some general watercolor hashtags saved. If you want to include the hashtags but don't want it to be part of the post that everyone sees as they scroll through their feed, you can use a method to add them in a comment. Some people prefer to use an app such as Notes to create 4 periods on different lines, with the hashtags below that. This way, the comment just shows "..." when people scroll past it, and no one sees the hashtags unless they click to view the comments.
  4. Tag businesses and products you support. If you use products by a specific company and they have a presence on Instagram, you can tag them in your posts. This not only helps your followers know what products you use and recommend and easily learn more about them, but if the business sees they may choose to showcase your work which can lead to more exposure. Some examples are Canson papers @cansonpaper, Kuretake Zig watercolors @kuretakezig_usa, Winsor and Newton paints @winsorandnewton, and Princeton brushes @princetonbrush.
  5. Join a challenge or embrace a weekly theme. There are so many challenges on Instagram for artists & designers! In a challenge, you might tag the leaders of it in your photos as you follow along that week, and may have specific topics and materials to use for certain time frames. For instance, if you are interested in calligraphy, @calligrabasics runs weekly challenges (right now it's "pencil week" so you can join in, get a push to be creative and network with other artists too. If you're finding yourself stumped for what to post about on given days, keep a list of weekly themes handy to reference. Some popular examples include #tbt, #throwbackthursday, and #followfriday.

Keep in mind, if you pull this blog post up on your phone, you can go ahead and copy any of the hashtags below and paste them directly into your notes app to save for later! See my example, just below.

 
 

Creativity

#art #artists #artistsofinstagram #artistoninstagram #artistsoninstagram #artistic #artista #artlife #artwork #fineart #artsandcrafts #artspotted #instaartsy #instaartwork #instaartist #artdaily #artshub #creativeprocess #creativeliving #iamcreative #doodle #inspiration #beautiful #makesomething

Color

#color #colors #colorsplash #colorcrush #colormehappy #colorlove #dscolor #livecolorfully #colorventures

Painting

#paint #painting #paintings #painter #paintsketch #watercolor #watercolour #watercolorpainting #watercolorart #inspiring_watercolors #lovewatercolor #aquarelle #sketchbook #sketch #drawing #landscape #portrait #abstract #abstractpainting #illustration #painteveryday #dailypainting #loosepainting

Pattern & Surface Design

#surfacedesign #pattern #patterns #patterndesign #seamlesspattern #floralpattern #designinspo, #designporn, #designlovers, #designblogger, #designoftheday #designbyme #designyourlife #designinspiration #designyourmind #designed #designoftheday

Floral

#dsfloral #blooooms #rsblooms #floralart #floweraddict #floral #watercolorflowers #botanical #flowery #floralwatercolor

Business & Studio Scenes

#studio #studioscenes #studiolife #studiolove #studiogrind #artlicensing #sneakpeek #wip #entrepreneur #hustle #workhard #smallbiz #mycreativebiz #mycreativelife #onmydesk #whereiwork #creativeentrepeneur #girlboss #smallbusiness

Video

#video #votd #instavideo #watercolorvideo #videoart #tutorial #instavid #instagramvideo #processvideo

Networking

(These hashtags are usually related to a blog or website, and are used for followers to tag and follow along. Below are some of the more popular ones; you can search on Instagram for them and see if they fit your particular style.)

#doitfortheprocess #abmlifeisbeautiful #flashesofdelight #thehappynow #pursuepretty #darlingmovement #wemakecollective #makersgonnamake #cylcollective #makersmovement #makersbiz #creativelifehappylife #abmlifeiscolorful #creativityfound #calledtobecreative #theeverygirl #craftsposure #creativehappylife #creativityfound #artcollective #livethelittlethings #seekthesimplicity #sodomino #acolorstory (if you use the app)

Etsy Seller Networking

(These are useful to connect & network with other sellers and influencers, but not necessarily customers. If you're looking to connect with potential buyers, I would get specific with hashtags, such as #giftideas, #whales or #custompetportrait - whatever your work is about.)

#etsy #etsyseller #etsyshop #etsysuccess #etsylove #etsyart #handmade #handmadegift #shophandmade #shopsmallbusiness #supportsmallbusiness #etsygift #etsyfinds #EtsyStore #shopetsy #buyetsy #etsyhunter #etsyusa #etsysellers #EtsyShopOwner #etsyforall#EtsySale #printshop #gifts #custom #customgift

Blogging

(Make sure to add specific hashtags related to whatever the blog post topic is!)

#blog #blogging #waterblog #ontheblog #linkinprofile #designblogger, #designblog

Calligraphy & Hand Lettering

#handlettering #typography #calligraphy #caligraphy #moderncalligraphy #modernscript #dippen #script #formalcalligraphy #pointedpen #penmanship #penandink #calligrapher #lettering #brushcalligraphy #brushlettering #handlettered #handdrawn #freelancer #freelancediaries #chalkboardart #artoftype #handwrittenfont #font #brushlettered #calligraphyvideo #letteringvideo #dippencalligraphy #calligraphypractice #calligraphypen #learncalligraphy #pointedpencalligraphy #surelysimplelettering

If you're interested in more information on what apps I recommend, check out the 10 business & art apps on my phone right now and my 8 favorite photo and video editing apps.

Well, that's a wrap! I hope these lists have been helpful, and I would love to keep the list growing! What hashtags do you use and recommend? Please share in the comments!

- Dani