Artist & Internet

I would like to apologise in advance that this post got a little tl;dr. I added section headings so you can skip to the sections you are most interested in. I covered a lot of topics such as Intellectual Property, Copyright, Creative commons, Miss-atttribution and ‘Renders’, Creative Communities and lastly, User Generated Content and Collaboration.

Intellectual Property, Copyright & Creative Commons

Art is a personal process that is often conducted alone in a closed studio. But what happens when you open that process up to a collaborative space? And how can you share your work freely with the world? Don’t worry the internet has got your back. Although, we know that the internet is a massively public space where your every post will live forever even if you delete it. So how can you manage the dangers associated with the loss of control over your own work, created by the nature of the internet?

In order to discuss how we can protect our work, we must first understand what Intellectual property (IP) is. IP is defined by IP Australia as

“a term that describes the application of the mind to develop something new or original. IP can exist in various forms; a new invention, brand, design or artistic creation. “

So how can you protect your IP? For the purposes of this post I will only be discussing Art, literature, music, film, broadcasts and computer programs; All of which are protected under the copyright scheme. Unlike Patents you don’t have to apply for copyright, it is automatically assigned to your original work. This means you own the rights to how your work is shared and used. Something that is important to note is that only “the owner’s original expression of ideas is protected, though not the ideas themselves. The owner has the exclusive right to use, sell or license the copyright work” (IP Australia). This means that you can create a beautiful original character and only that drawing of them will be protected not the character itself.

Understanding copyright is important because it is a very powerful tool at your disposal when it comes to protecting your work. Although if you’re trying to use online publishing methods to get your name and work out there, it can make it more difficult for your work to spread. This is were Creative Commons come into it all.

Creative Commons are a set of licences that help creators outline the rules they wish others to follow if they decide to use creative works. Almost all of the CC licences require a reference of attribution to the original artist (with the exception being content licensed under the Public domain). Other rules include Share alike (requiring the product created using the licensed work, to be shared under the same CC licence); No derivative works (meaning the original work cannot be altered in any way); or Non-commercial (restricting use of the original work in materials used for monetary gain). These rules can be applied in various combinations to allow the artist maximum control over how their work is used.

If you’re interested I found a short video by CommonCraft that explains both copyright and creative commons in very simple terms. (Unfortunately they restrict the embed feature to members, so I couldn’t add the video directly to this post).

Mis-attribution & ‘Renders’

So now that we have a good understanding of how Copyright and Creative Commons work let’s apply it to a real world situation. In the art community there is a common issue with the creation of ‘renders’. A render is traditionally defined by Wikipedia [1] [2] as

“The process of formulating, adding color, shading, and texturing of an image.”


“The process of generating an image from a 2D or 3D model, by means of computer programs.”

Below is an example of a 3D render called Glasses by Gilles Tran Licensed under CC0 Public Domain.



A common problem that has arised is the incorrect definition of a ‘render’, which is circulating art communities. The incorrect definition is as follows

“A closed vector path, or shape, used to cut out a 2D image in image editing software. Anything inside the path will be included after the clipping path is applied; anything outside the path will be omitted from the output.”

Meaning the character or object is ‘cut’ out of the background. This however, is actually the definition of Deep-etching or a Clipping Path. Additionally, these ‘artworks’ are rarely attributed to the original artist.

Knowing what we know about IP, Copyright and Creative Commons, it’s easy to see that this practice does not correctly follow the licensing rules and regulations. Unfortunately, even with the current laws it is difficult to discourage this kind of behaviour and the best sites can do is the remove art and ban users who re-offend.

Creative Communities & User Generated Content

So if you take into account how even with the best efforts of law on our sides there will still be issues of art theft and mis-attribution, why risk online platforms for exposure? Wouldn’t offline methods work better? Not necessarily.

No matter what method of sharing you use there will always be risks involved and you shouldn’t be discouraged so soon. One of the main benefits to consider is that online platforms give you access to a wider audience and a large range of associated benefits. Depending on where you share your work online these may be slightly different, but I’m going to draw from my experience with DeviantArt.

One of the main benefits I have found is access to large community of people who have a shared interest. The community is full of people with varying knowledge and I have found it to be the main contributor to my learning experience. There are lots of great artists who are always so generous with their knowledge and do a great job at answering questions. Additionally, it is inevitable that you will be more experienced in something than someone else. This means you will have an opportunity to experience the opposite end by sharing your knowledge to help others learn. This is a priceless opportunity because, to steal the wise words of Roman philosopher Seneca, “While we teach, we learn” (Additionally, I found an interesting article by Annie Murphy Paul in TIME that explores the phenomenon she calls The Protégé Effect).

Beyond the benefits of online communities there is a unique opportunity for ‘User Generated Content’. In my time on DeviantArt I’ve seen a couple of interesting instances of this. Instances that go beyond users submitting their work to the community and instead incorporate the community into the artworks. One example of this is Collaborations.

Collaborations can be a lot of fun and can incorporate as many people as you want. They involve multiple artists contributing to a single artwork, this can be each artist contributing a character to a scene or one artist drawing the line art and someone else colouring it in. Another example was from an artist I ‘watch’, who called out for their community to submit a one word comment. The artist then took these comments and incorporated them into a single artwork.

It is these unique interactions that would not be possible without the connection between Artists and the Internet. If you have anything interesting you’d like to add or any questions let me know in the comments below. Or let me know your opinion, what you think is the biggest advantage the internet provides the creative community? This can be artists, writers, or makers of any kind. Also let me know what you create and share on the internet? I’d love to know more about what you are all interested in.

And if you read the whole thing, thanks soo much!
Have a good day~

8 thoughts on “Artist & Internet”

  1. Well done on a really comprehensive but incredibly interesting post. I loved how you were able to connect the multiple areas of Creative Commons and Copyright and discuss them in relation to one another. To answer your question, I share my own personal art but I am incredibly bad at updating it Dx and dont have half as much stuff on there like you do. I think the internet provides a way often for people who would not traditionally get noticed to have an audience and to gain a range of fans. That being said, the internet can also be one of the harshest critics for an artist due to the anonymous idea. I still think an artist needs to be smart and take care when interacting and creating things on the internet. If they do not take the right steps, their photo or webpage will fall flat and never be noticed amongst the hundred of others like it. Did you take any steps to promote your artistic practice and if so what were they? Did you struggle in the beginning to get notice?

    1. While I agree that anonymity does provide opportunity for trolls and online bullying (and I have experienced this first hand), I believe that in any context of sharing something so personal you have to be prepared for negative feedback. Whether that be from poorly written constructive criticism “I think you should practice anatomy more, that leg looks broken.” or intentionally rude commenting “This looks terrible why do you even bother sharing this? No-one wants to look at that.” It’s important to find a balance between ignoring things and taking them on board. So while I can ignore the rude comment because obviously they’re looking for attention; it’s important that, no matter how painful, I need to accept even bad criticism as useful (maybe I do need to work on my anatomy).

      You asked how I grew my audience and got noticed. The truth is I signed up to DeviantArt to post my work somewhere and to learn how to be better, I wasn’t looking for an audience. But I found the only way to get noticed on social networks like DeviantArt is to be a contributor to the community. If you put your work up no-one will look at it if you don’t spread your name across the site. I got noticed by commenting on art I liked, or commenting to help others improve. I did collaborations with other artists and I visited livestreams and chatted to people in the community. I send PM (notes) to my watchers and draw art for my community. It’s all about engagement. You need to get people interested in what you’re doing, But it’s also about being a good person. If you’re not nice or you’re not genuine you might have fewer followers. I believe this is because even if my art isn’t great but I’m generous with feedback or fun to talk to, they will hang around until I get better. And then they might even share the word about this cool artist person they know. That’s just from my experience though.

      Where do you share your work online? Do you use DeviantArt or Facebook or is there another platform you prefer?

  2. Hey Melissa!

    I have found it hard to share my work online because of the multitude of copyright infringement stories online, I take photos for clients and in this industry we never hand over an original sized photo, (partly because of how everyone likes to put a filter to any photo they have and ruin the creative work put into it.) only ones that are lower in resolution or printed. I know of the huge advantages that internet gives to creatives, but i never post photos on social media sites unless it is for marketing. It is saddening when you see people attributing your work as theirs and there is nothing much you can do about it other than looking for a lawyer which cost money if they are not willing to take it down. Are you afraid of the things people will do to your work when you have them online?


    1. Yes and No. It’s definitely possible and I would definitely prefer for it to not happen. But I feel like any format of publishing comes with it’s own unique risks. I opt to bet on the risk of posting online.
      I want my work to make people happy and publishing in any other format would not reach a wide audience. In this way online posting has strong benefits to me, as well as the disadvantages. If I decided the pros and cons no longer balanced out, maybe I would reconsider my strategy but at the moment it works for me. Because I’m sticking with this decision I don’t feel the need to worry about the bad things people could be doing with my work, but instead the good things my work is doing for people.

  3. I share my work online through Tumblr and sometimes Facebook, but I tend to use more of the first. This is due to the type of profile I like to keep on Facebook. I have been encouraged to try DeviantArt but I feel my work is not up to a high enough standard. That being said, I have seen the opposite happen to a friend of mine. She does brilliant work and I love her stuff but she struggles to get views. The biggest issue, I have found with her is she does not promote her work enough. She only posts them on her own Facebook account, and does not have a Tumblr or DeviantArt account. She is very hesitant to speak up about her own work even though its of an incredibly high standard. You mentioned how to engage people through DeviantArt and how sometimes having a thick skin is a good idea when it comes to the critics. What would you recommend for my friend? Or should she engage the Facebook community?

    1. In terms of your work, I don’t think that believing you have a poor quality of work is reason enough to avoid these networks. That being said; if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. However, I’ll share an embarrassing picture with you. This was one of the first things I posted to deviantArt and I find it highly cringe worthy now. But it’s a good reminder and representation of what being on that site helped me to achieve. There are plenty of artists who are better and plenty who are worse but the site is about learning and sharing and there will be always be someone who looks up to what you are doing.

      In terms of your friend, (I’d love to see her work ;p) I would recommend to get on an art site (it doesn’t have to be deviantArt) because art sites have an existing art community but that’s just me, there are plenty of other ways to go about it. I can’t talk from much experience about Facebook for art but I’ll try my best.

      If she’s too shy to promote her work then she shouldn’t promote her work. Although, I’m not saying she should stay undiscovered. For example, on deviantArt I don’t say “Hey, I drew a new thing! All you people who don’t know me should look at this and support my account!!” instead you just have to get your name out there. Become and internet human and people will be interested in who you are and click through to your page, If they like what they see they’ll stay. On Facebook this could be achieved by commenting on other artists facebook’s or (if she has an art page separate from her personal account) sharing new page posts on her private account so friends and family can interact with it and spread it. Or maybe create a small community event with her current group of followers like a drawing competition or something so that people will talk about her and do the marketing for her. There are lots of ways to get your name and work out there without advertising and I find the best way is just to create a community and feed it until it grows. I’m not sure about Facebook but I’m sure she’ll figure it out. ^ U ^ Good luck~~~

  4. Great post. I agree, it is always great when you find a community online where people have the same interest as you. For me its Instagram with beauty/makeup/fashion. I have actually made new friends through it and to me that is the best benefit.

    1. Thank you. ^u^ Wow really? that’s so cool. I don’t have an Instagram (I know, everyone else does ;p) so I don’t know a lot about how it works. I usually just post photos to my Facebook. ^^;

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