Photograph with Consent: What is it?


I’ve decided to halt my ‘Angry Artist Alley’ series because I am not tabling until April 2015 and when I come back my work will be transformed into something very different (hopefully). I hope I have written enough articles to prepare everyone of almost every problem someone might face once in their lifetime at artist alley, and if you ever have any more questions, feel free to email me at jackieloart[at]’


I am quite aware that there are many artists who are completely open to others photographing without permission. I do respect that you are okay with photos, but I myself and just trying to support the other side. Please don’t start an argument with me, or pick an argument with someone who has a sign on their table. In the end, it is up to the artist’s choice, not you or me, to make that final decision. 

Now, back to topic.

I have always been told that ‘no photos’ signs are completely useless, that people shouldn’t even try it, and artists just straight out tell others ‘they’re going to steal the art and sell it themselves, why bother?’ Some artists and customers find it to be some sort of dick move for another artist to do that and refuse to buy from them. It leaves a sour impression, and I know some people are completely okay, but that doesn’t mean they should start trying to convince people that they shouldn’t do it in the first place.

Very few people try putting up the signs. When I wrote this article, it was the very first time i saw a sign so bold on a table–the sign was an entire sheet of paper. I may have seen an obscure tiny piece of paper before that says ‘no photos’….I can see how that isn’t effective. But I mean…they tried, right?

If conventions won’t enforce consent from artists to take photos or the like, then the artist themselves should try an enforce it. Many have given up, but I decided not to lose hope. I will make signs available for conventions, or go to conventions myself, or even mail signs to the conventions and pass it out to everyone who wants one, and then take a photo of their booth WITH CONSENT OF THE ARTIST and make an online gallery. That’s pretty much it. I just want to make a statement that says ‘hey, why don’t you have a friendly conversation with the artist before snapping a photo and walking away?’ or ‘hey, you shouldn’t rub your fingers on stuff without permission’ I actually have absolutely no idea the statistics of who likes or doesn’t like this, but I still believe that something should be done about it nonetheless!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve actually worked on this project since last year, but obviously if you haven’t heard of it until now, it’s because it’s been a failure almost every time. But I didn’t lose hope. Recently in Fanime 2015 it was my first success! But will it stay that way? Only time will tell.


6 thoughts on “Photograph with Consent: What is it?

  1. Hello Jackie, I am in an illustration business, so sadly I will be leaving an alias of mine in my comment due to company rules. I was informed of the Artist Alley Initiative by a fellow Artist Alley table owner whom is a very good friend of mine. She and I are very, very much involved in the promotion of artists, the protection against plagiarism, and the discovery of hidden talents across the world (or really the web at this point). When I read your article, I was left confused.

    While I understand the concern about people snapping photos instead of communicating with the booth/table owner, I think you are forgetting the power behind that photo. Photos are one of the fastest ways to share information in this massively connected civilization. Photos are free publicity, ways of connecting yourself with an artist you maybe admire and want to keep a memory of the occasion. I can say from my personal experience at the Artist Alley in San Jose’ Fanime I was able to take a picture with one of my inspirations – Mr WenM. I remember snapping a picture of his work, sending it to my friend, who ran over from the other side of the con to catch a copy of one of his sketches.

    Additionally I can completely understand the worry that people are not communicating with the artists or are touching merchandise, I have to be a bit blunt with you — you are taking quite a lot upon your shoulders. If you are worried about people touching other artist’ merchandise, I remind you, that such concerns should be considered by the artist his/herself. Policing the Artist Alley will only create a divide in the possible relationship between con goers and artists. And no artist can live without their fans. I can tell you from solo-exhibiting that selling yourself, organizing your work to appeal to customers is a learning process and artists must do on their own.

    So I ask, kindly, and with great earnest, that you do not push this initiative in such a way. I re commend talking with convention organizers who handle registration and or the artist alley, to offer suggestions to registering artists. However, by handing out papers that almost “guard” artists from convention attendees is just sad. So sad.

    Thank you so much, best wishes!


    • I’m only visiting about two or three conventions to pass out the signs, because I know a lot of the staff and artists, so I can trust their opinions and judgement, both negative and positive. Also I have to keep saying this, but the sign says ‘no photos WITHOUT ASKING THE ARTIST FIRST’ signs, not just straight ‘no photos’ signs.

      And yes, I am contacting staff at artist alley at other further conventions, and asking whether or not they want to pass out signs. If they agree, then I give them the template for them to print and pass out, or I mail a big stack to the convention. It would be ridiculous to go out to every other convention and do this every single time. Honestly, I really see no harm in a piece of paper, where artists can pick up at artist alley registration and use. I’m not even telling them to use it, I just offer it.

      • I think Princess Poodle is trying to say here, is that it may feel unwelcoming to the customers. Most artists would find the yellow paper very helpful, so they’ll stick it on their table. The last convention I went to, felt like every table had it, I’m usually too shy in real life to ask and I didn’t take any pictures at all, which means it worked, but it made the artist alley intimidating.

        Princess Poodle is saying to let the artists handle the issue themselves. You don’t have to go as far as making the signs for them. If they feel like picture taking is a big enough issue for them, they will make their own signs.

        She is saying that these signs make people feel defensive about their work and in turn alienate the customers, and there lies the harm.

        The sign says ‘no photos WITHOUT ASKING THE ARTIST FIRST’ but personally, I would appreciate a sign that says, “Reminder! Please ask before taking any pictures of my work. Thank you!” It sets a very different tone and sends a different kind of message to the customers. The papers should not “guard” the artists but rather “encourage” customers to speak with the artists first.

        • But! Not to say you can’t go around passing out signs. I think what you are doing is truly honest and trying to be helpful. Don’t think of your past attempts as failures. You have done a lot of good things to let people know that they shouldn’t take pictures without permission and that is a good thing. The signs may be a bit hit and miss, but I hope you continue looking for ways to spread the message and also try to look at things from the point of view of the customer.

          • I listened to Princess Poodle’s suggestion about not passing out signs and letting conventions handle the matter. I just suggest it to artist alley and leave the matter to them. So far, it’s been going well.
            I’m not making any artist have it on their table. It’s not up to me or you if they want a sign, so if they feel more secure putting it up, that’s fine. They can take it down any time they want, and I left a custom template on my site so they can tweak and change whatever they want on it if anything bothers them.
            If you really want to take on the task, then you can design a happier more passive one and I’ll put it on this site, with full credits to you, for other people to use.

  2. Pingback: Artist Alley Initiative: How it all began/progress | Jackie Lo Art

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