Angry Artist Alley: Let me photograph your artwork!


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. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artist: Aurelia Toscano. “Nope. Don’t think so.”

“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!


Artist: Scuttlebutt Ink. “Not on my watch!”

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.
  • Memes

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.


Artist: 777Sprites. He knows what’s up. Don’t worry, I ASKED before I took this photo :P

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.


  • 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.


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?

You can now use a printable template that I designed, completely free! Feel free to print it, share it, and whatever. Please read this Angry Artist Alley article to get it



4 thoughts on “Angry Artist Alley: Let me photograph your artwork!

  1. Pingback: Angry Artist Alley! Your Customer should NOT…. » Artwork from Jackie Lo

  2. Pingback: Artist Alley Initiative: What is it? | Jackie Lo Art

  3. I loved this article! I am an artist and do many craft shows a year, as well as a full time job. I had 2 instances where people were photographing my jewelry. I asked the one lady if there was something that I could help her with because I noticed she was taking pictures. Immediately she became angry and said she was shopping for someone and very very snappy said FINE I WILL DELETE IT SEE ITS DELETED! Other people are standing there looking at me! Not her! I couldn’t believe it!! I was wondering how to combat this. Maybe hang a sign that says something maybe cute but to the point!
    Thank you for writing this article!!!! I don’t feel alone!!

    • I recently found one method that sort of works, but it’s a *little* on the aggressive side. I actually have something on my table I want people to photograph, but I want them to credit it, so there’s a sign that says ‘if you decide to post the photo online, please credit the artist as @pennydox (or @jackieloart on facebook). Thank you!’ Most people who saw the display took a photo of it, and I saw my name tagged on instagram a few times from it. Of course, you still need to remind the photographers before they walk away.

      Another thing is to write your credit handle (screenname/website/whatever you want as credit) on a piece of paper. When people take photos, you tell them you want that piece of paper in the photo, so when they take photos, your name will be credited on it. Not the best method because some people would try and photoshop it out or something, but at least they’ll know who made it first.

      And when it comes to making an enemy of yourself at artist alley…well, it’s inevitable. One time someone took a photo and I kinda explained to her about how I didn’t like it, and someone sitting next to me saw it and posted online about my attitude towards the customer. You’re going to head into these bumps eventually. Don’t mind them–if they take photos of your work, it’s highly likely they won’t buy it either :(

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