NOTE: This article is about refusing photos without permission. If you let them take a photo of your work, then go ahead. Also, YES I did get permission from everyone here and even gave them a slip of paper with my contact and blog in case they’re pissed about it.
“Hell no, you cannot take a picture of my work and shove it on instagram with your stupid ass meme or whatever” No. NO.
If you’re one of these people, please dunk your head in some ice water and think about what you just did:
I don’t care if you’re a fellow artist, public media, or whatever shit. Please ask the artist behind the table before zooming in and taking a pic of the artwork. If my reputation behind artist alley table didn’t matter, I’d seriously get up and take that person’s cellphone and throw it against the wall. Of course, that won’t happen, because well….my reputation would go down the drain. So as fellow artists, LET’S STAND UP FOR OURSELVES!
Photographing someone’s artwork in artist alley is very impolite. The artist has spent so much time creating artwork to sell for cash to make up for the table and expenses, and the person with the camera takes the photo for free without even asking. I started hearing stories about people photographing artwork, and with such high resolution cameras and phones, they used those photos to re-print and sell. Copyright infringement, artist exploitation, sometimes internet harassment/cyber bullying is built from these things. When you take a photo and keep it for your own viewing or post it online, you’re exploiting the artist’s hard work and effort making it. So please support an artist by buying something that is worth the picture itself.
There’s no 100% definite way to fix this. Actually at conventions, they often have a note in their booklets or websites that already say ‘please do not take photos of artists and their property without permission from the artist themselves’ SO UH, WHO ACTUALLY READ AND KNEW THAT? Almost no one, since that’s usually an obscure sentence hidden in the ‘artist alley’ section of the booklets or website, where only artists really actually read. SO, here’s some ways to help you, us, and everyone in artist alley. It only works if we all work together on this, okay?
Things to understand about these people with cameras
- They are usually using phone cameras, which usually also leads to things like instagram, which means an instant photo of your work posted on facebook while the convention is going on.
- You need to understand that when they do that, they usually will never buy anything from your table. I mean, they have a photo they can look at and post and show off online, why do they need another picture?
- After taking a photo, they usually walk off. Usually no conversation whatsoever.
- Along with no-conversation, this means that after taking the photo they won’t know who you are, what you look like, or where the art came from, because they got the picture. I mean hey, if they have a free picture, why the hell should they care who made it? (sarcasm)
- Taking photos, posting them online without knowing the artist, that’s not going to give you publicity–no one will know who made it :T
- Their excuse would likely be ignorance. “I didn’t know!” Well, informing people is just the first step. Artist alley is not just a show of your artwork, it’s getting enough cash to pay back for your table and more in the first place and get exposure for your work.
- No payment required. Just *click* and you got a picture of it.
So, how should we artists stand up for ourselves?
- When they whip out the camera and point it at your work, quickly cover it with your hands and politely say ‘please, no pictures unless you’re buying, okay?’
- Have an obvious sign that says ‘NO CAMERAS without permission of artist’
- Straight out tell them ‘Excuse me, but why are you pointing your camera at my artwork?’ and then explain your situation to them.
- If they ever EVER want to, make sure they take a photo of you and your sign/name. When you have a sign or name on your table, people can at least find your screenname or site from it. For example, my sign would be ‘Pineapple Pocky Productions’. Someone finds that phrase online, whips it to my website. This can be both good or bad, so be cautious on this too.
How do the customers feel?
- Usually, they get really giddy about the picture. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen this reaction a few times somewhere. “Oh my god check this out!”
- Taking a photo of the picture WITH themselves in it makes it into proof that they didn’t just clip it online.
- They like the picture
- When you refuse, they’re angry and think you’re an ass for not letting them ‘show’ your artwork
- Your reputation will go down because of that.
- They walk away not buying anything
- They don’t understand your situation.
If they don’t understand how you feel or your situation,
would you think they’d be an actual customer in the first place?
I was once ignorant and used to take pics of tables (and cosplayers, I’m so sorry). So yes, I’m guilty, and when people started doing it to my own artwork, I began to understand too. Not that I’ve ever posted a photo of these things online, but I would do it anyhow. The only time I remembered doing it was to post something about art theft. I’d like to apologize to anyone here in my earlier years with a camera that I had no idea how you felt. Hopefully other people who were once ignorant about this situation is not anymore now.
WAIT! BUT I’M TOTALLY OKAY WITH PEOPLE TAKING PHOTOS!
- If you’re in this category, it’s highly likely that you’re one of those *ahem* successful-talented-artists-that-actually-make-a-good-profit-at-cons and people know you and you actually sell pretty well at cons. Honestly, you’re in the safe zone. For everyone else, which is like the 99%, when people take photos, they do NOT know the artist, they do NOT credit the artist, and they do NOT know their art site or will ever tag their art site.
- Also, if you’re in this category, I’m surprised you read through this whole article.
OH AND ONE LAST THING: NOT ALL ARTISTS LIKE PHOTOS OF THEMSELVES.
I noticed this when I was asking for photos at Fanime for people to hold up their signs. Not every artist was compliant with photos (no I didn’t take photos of those people), but many said they’d only get their picture taken if they covered their face (you’ll notice some in the gallery). So some artists are seriously camera shy, and DO NOT want photos of themselves. Maybe they’re cool with people taking photos of their work, but not of themselves. Or maybe they want to put a prop on their head before any photo is taken of them. Just another thing to consider. Just ask first, yknow?