Ahhh… the internet. I usually love it but recently I’ve had a brush with the dark side.
I love that I can connect with people who work in similar ways that I do, I can discover new artists, new clients and be inspired all without leaving my apartment (or getting up from my chair). My work is online so that art directors can view my portfolio and I haven’t had to use a printed portfolio in years. I also had most of my work on Flickr so I could share it with the world.
But then a few weeks ago I got an email from a very kind person in Brazil (let’s call her ‘kind new friend’) who took the time to let me know she had discovered an “artist” (let’s call him ‘Thief’) who had my images in his online portfolio. ‘Kind new friend’ sent me the link so I could see for myself and I was horrified! There were all of my sculpted illustrations and my cake toppers in Thief’s online gallery, under his name. He had even changed the name of the brides and grooms on my cake toppers!
At first I wanted to believe that Thief had my work up there because he liked it. But sadly it became clear that was not the case. His online portfolio is part of an interactive site where people can leave comments on his images and with the help of google translate, I could see that Thief was taking praise for creating my work. Nowhere on his site did he ever credit me for my work. Instead, he took the credit for making my work.
Then to my horror, I saw that he had other artists’ work in his galleries too! There were sculptures by my friend and constant source of inspiration, David O’Keefe. Thief had even taken Dave’s sculptures and used them in his profile/contact information pic, seen below. I have blurred out Thief’s name and contact info to save him the shame. All the sculptures on the left behind the large distorted face are Dave’s. But Dave’s name does not appear anywhere. Just Thief’s name, phone and email… leading anyone with half a brain to assume that Thief is the creator of these works.
With the translation help from ‘kind new friend’, I sent Thief a request asking him to please remove my images from his gallery. I told him if he liked them and wanted to show them, all he needed to do was ask me and credit me. But apparently it wasn’t just a case of admiring my work. It was stealing.
I asked that he please remove David O’keefe’s work too, and any other artist’s work from his gallery that wasn’t his… or at least that he wasn’t crediting. Thief wrote back with a very angry message. He said I had an ego problem.
He took down mine and Dave’s work.. but to this day Thief is still taking credit for the work of at least one other artist, the incredible sculptor Bob Causey. I have finally been able to contact him to let him know.
I am sharing this story in the hopes that it will serve as a warning to all you artists, photographers designers etc that share your work on the internet. Please be careful. From now on, all my portfolio images will be watermarked. It may not look as nice, but it’ll certainly be harder for someone else to claim credit when my name is stamped through the middle of an image.
Thank you again to my ‘kind new friend’!