Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tuesday Tips & Tricks: "The All-Important First Mark"

Posting and sharing your latest sketches is fun and exciting. You feel good when other people "like" and make positive comments about your efforts. But what if someone, whose name you do not recognize through your regular groups, shares or reposts your work? You can only hope that their intentions are good but you really have very little control over it...or do you?

Do yourself a favor. Somewhere on your sketch write this simple text line: "© [current date or year] by [your name]." According to the Copyright Basics circular from the U. S. Copyright Office <<>>, adding this copyright signature is really not necessary because you are granted copyright protection from the moment you create your original sketch, painting, sculpture, etc. Social media, however, has a way of separating and detaching artwork from its original creator. People tend to post verbatim what they find that is interesting and pay little attention to whom should get credit (if any). Also, the person posting or reposting an image is not necessarily the original artist on the piece and that can be misleading.

In my examples, I make it a habit to always write “© 2014 Wesley E. Douglas” along the edge of my sketches. The reason I am suggesting this is because it is not the responsibility of anyone who views, shares, repins, retweets, or reposts your image to make sure you are properly credited. That responsibility falls on your shoulders. And by writing this simple line directly on your artwork it will be less likely to get separated from the sketch than adding it to the comments box.

This simple line of text will actually solve a few common issues with posting images online:
1. Your sketch will always remind people that you are its rightful owner. Regardless of how strongly you feel about whether your sketch deserves to have your signature attached to it, 
this is not the time to be shy.

2. When a media outlet wants to use your image for an article they are working on, having some kind of identification on your artwork will make it easier for them to contact you for permission to use your image.  

3. When you are staring at a blank page in your sketchbook, adding this simple signature makes the perfect first mark on your page.


  1. Great post, Wes! It's a good reminder to protect our work and to be mindful of crediting the work of others.

  2. Hi Wes -

    I hope this wasn't directed at me. I reposted your original Tips and Tricks to the NYC Urban Sketchers site. I stated that you were the author and that it came from the Chicago site. I also contacted Alex Zonis before posting to ask for your permission, which she said you had given. I thought your piece on adding people was very relevant and would be appreciated.

    If I've insulted you or done something wrong, that was not my intention and wanted to publicly apologize.

    - Mark Leibowitz, Regional Admin, NYC Urban Sketchers

  3. Good Morning Mark. Thank you for you concern but in no way was I directing my comments towards you. You definitely have my permission to repost as Alex had instructed you (yes, she did ask me which was very nice of you) well as this one if you so desire.. My post is merely cautionary advice for my fellow artists as I have noticed a precedence of repins and shares in places such as Pinterest where the original artist is lost in the mix. No signature, no credit line, and sometimes reposted with an incorrect name. In our group we talk about taking the extra time to find the name of the original artist, if possible, before we repost a sketch. I hope ths clears your concerns up Mark. I am honored that you want to share my posts. If you still have questions, please feel free to ask.

  4. That's great Wes. Thanks for getting back quickly. Glad to hear it was received in the intended spirit.

    Your latest post was equally good. It's a very interesting feature you guys have created. Knowing the we're all-good, I hope to repost your latest as well.


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