Art Thieves: Stop Stealing Digital Content

*This rant has been brought to you by too much coffee, and the desire to yell at someone on the internet. I don’t actually expect art thieves to read this and suddenly change their behaviors, but it sure does feel good to vent.

To Artists,

Sometimes the content we produce to promote our art and our businesses gets stolen and posted online without permission or credit to us. Any artist knows, it’s hard to carve out a place in the art world. The internet has made it easier to connect directly to our audience, but it has also brought our work closer to thieves.

It’s really frickin’ annoying when you see your content online without credit to you. I could write a post about how to safeguard yourself against art theft (ugh, watermarks), but I’m getting a little tired of the practice of only teaching victims how to protect themselves rather than teaching other people not to be a**holes.

So this is for the a**holes.

To the turd who stole my digital content,

You stole my art. Not cool.

But, I get it. The internet is fast paced, and maybe you don’t actually have any skill of your own to share. Any online presence you’re trying to build is likely going to take a butt-ton of content that you can’t produce on your own. What do you do? You turn to other creators and snipe their videos and photos.

It’s just an image, right? Or a video here and there. No biggy. Followers start coming in. You get compliments. Everything is great.

Who’s going to notice you are lying?

I promise. People will notice.

The art world is small.

Just this morning, I got a message from one of my followers with a link to one of my videos that was stolen. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a message like this and it won’t be the last. See, as an artist grows, it’s harder and harder to get away with taking their content.

Sure, if you can steal from the little guys you can get away with it for a while, but that’s a dick move. Never step on the little guys to boost yourself up. Have some class.

Your lack of skill is showing.

Let’s say someone was really interested in purchasing the piece pictured in the photo you stole. They message you. What do you say?

Or, maybe you aren’t aware that artists develop a distinct style over time and you post all sorts of different content. Any actual artist will be able to look at your content and see the disconnect.

Annnd then you get called out.

Let’s not forget what you’re doing is illegal.

I would like to live in a world where we don’t have to involve lawyers to protect our creative property, but because of people like you I can’t get my way.

There is a little something called “Copyright Law”. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but in the United States it’s kind of a big deal. Artists have ownership of what they create. Including the photographs and videos they make.

The stolen content you posted can be flagged, reported, taken down, etc.. Your accounts can even be deactivated. If you continue to be an a**hole and piss off an artist who has a good lawyer, legal action can be taken.

Maybe just don’t steal stuff, k?

What’s the point of Stealing?

Money and attention without working for it, right? Cool. Good for you. Enjoy inflating your ego and profiting off of the work of others. But, also enjoy being universally hated by all creative professionals.

Again, I get it. Stealing stuff is a hustle just like creating art. We are all just trying to make it in this world. Some of us just have a little more integrity and aren’t too lazy to put in the work.

What you could do instead:

Here’s a wild idea. How about you just credit the artists? There are many successful online brands and accounts that profit off of actually helping other artists instead of just stealing their content.

As an artist, I can say I love when other people share my work. If you repost one of my videos on Instagram and include @messyeverafter in the caption, you are my best friend. You get to build your profile with entertaining content AND you helped give an artist more exposure.

Everyone is happy. No Copyright laws have been broken. Everyone wins. Whoa, right?

What have we learned today?
  1. Don’t steal.
  2. People will eventually catch you.
  3. Share artwork. Don’t steal it.
  4. Credit your artists. Always.
  5. Don’t be an a**hole.

kthxbye.

-Kelly

***

P.S. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers!

Further Reading:

How to be a Better Professional in the Art World

8 Things You’ll Hear as an Artist

 

5 Ways to Combat Creative Burnout

Creative Burnout is real.

Your passion can exhaust you

I started the new year by making goals for myself as an artist for 2019. I accomplished way more than I thought I would in 2018, so it was time to sit down and get ready to hustle for another 365 days. I woke up on January 1st with a plan. I had goals to reach for. I had tasks outlined to get me there. I had a dream. I also had a brand new box of paints and canvases from Dick Blick. Everything is perfect, puppy dogs and rainbows.

Carpe Diem, right?

Well not so much. In the spirit of being a fully transparent artist on the internet, I have this to say:

F*ck seizing the day. I hate art right now.

Welcome to Creative Burnout

Every artist will experience creative burnout. This isn’t my first time and it will not be my last. I’m being dramatic of course. I don’t actually hate art. I just don’t want to see it, think about it, touch it, or push myself to create.

I’ve been ignoring everything on my to-do list except for the high priority items. My brain wants to run from anything and everything art related.

When you create professionally, there is a tightrope like balance between optimizing your creativity for a business and preserving your love for what you do. A lot of artists don’t want to put a burden on their creativity to make it produce an income. This was why I avoided the thought of being an artist when I was in high school (that and the fact that I graduated during the 2008 recession). Pursuing a creative career will always introduce a pressure to create that is mostly absent in the hobbyists experience.

Sometimes that pressure can be beneficial. Sometimes that pressure can be paralyzing. It depends on who you are, and how diligent you are with recharging your creative battery. For me at the moment, that pressure apparently manifested into a desire to do anything else besides art. Anything.

Burnout is not procrastination or laziness

Now of course there is a difference between procrastination/laziness and creative burnout. This isn’t the same as trying to go to the gym when you just don’t feel like moving from the couch. This is like trying to go to the gym, but the thought of even stepping on a treadmill makes you want to scream while you cut up all of your sports bras and then cry in a corner.

When you’re lazy or procrastinating, you need to push harder to access the energy you already have to give.

Burnout is not laziness.

Don’t make me create. I will snap that paint brush and light it on fire.

Creative burnout is when you do not have the energy to give to your craft no matter how much you push or try to focus. Everything you touch sucks. Your inner critic is set to “ruthless”. Your creative tank is empty. You have nothing left to give.

It’s a really unpleasant feeling. It would be nice if we could be productive and creative all the time, but it just doesn’t work that way.  Though, since I still have an obsessive need to be productive, I’ve come up with some tips and advice for treating and preventing creative burnout.

Hopefully you won’t need this list…

1. Don’t force it.

Walk away from your creative tasks and do something else.

Want to know what I did yesterday? I willingly and enthusiastically chose to shave my dog’s matted butt hair, trim his crazy long toe tufts, and then take a trip to the nearest self-serve dog washing station to give him a thorough scrubbing with blueberry scented shampoo. I woke up and thought I can work on the three paintings I started in the studio OR I can get covered from head to toe in dog hair and soapy water.

I’d rather be covered in dog hair right now.

When you try to force the creative process, it can make the burnout even worse. Walk away and do something menial. Spend time with friends. Call your Mom. Shave your dog’s butt dreads off. Organize your underwear drawer. Clean the whole house. Fold all of the towels in the bathroom like sushi rolls.

Menial tasks help to shift your attention to recharge.

2. Feed your brain a variety of information.

In order to create, you need to take in stimuli from the outside world. You need input for output. If you spend too much time creating, and not enough time feeding your brain, you’re going to run out of steam.

When you have exhausted your creativity, focus your attention in a different area. Consume outside information. Read a new book. Watch YouTube videos. Cook a new recipe. Go to a museum. Learn a new hobby. Take a community education class.

Your brain needs more fuel in order to create a creative product. Feed it. Why do you think I write blog posts and nerd out on spreadsheets to track my social media growth? It’s a different way to stimulate my brain.

3. Stay aligned with your passion and purpose.

I made a mistake by starting my year thinking about the income I could make.  I should have instead started my year thinking about the art I want to make. I immediately put more pressure on my work by telling myself it needed to be financially productive.

Yes, I need to make money from this, but if I just wanted money I would be working for someone else. That’s a whole lot easier than being a professional artist. If you are a creative person, passion should come first.  Creativity is often fragile. The more you force it, the further away it gets.

Creativity + pressure to make money + real world burdens + bills to pay = “Why am I doing this? My work sucks. I’m going to fail. Oh sh*t.” 

If you want to make art, then think about making art. Priority number one. Make art to make art. Don’t make art to make money.

4. Say no.

If you are experiencing burnout, prune your to-do list and learn how to say ‘no’ to new things until you have the energy to give again. Focus on your high priority tasks and let the rest get put on the back burner for a bit.

You have a choice in everything in your life. I don’t have to write a new blog post. I don’t have to post on Instagram. I don’t have to create a new painting. I want to. These are all choices that I make. Which means, I can take a break and focus on my mental regeneration when I need to.

Giving yourself the power to say ‘no’ and to prioritize what really matters in life will help you overcome and avoid creative burnout.

5. Carve out creative downtime in your schedule.

You can’t be productive all the time. You just can’t. All creative people go through cycles that involve doing nothing, consuming outside information, idea incubation, and actually creating. You have to see it as a process and work this into your life.

If you try to force yourself to be productive and create all the time, this will almost always lead to burnout. (Hello, my name is Kelly and I’m apparently terrible at taking my own advice.)

Build your life around your creative cycles. Expect and plan for the downtime you need to keep you from burning out. Whether that means planning a few large projects a year, or only scheduling creative tasks a month in advance. Do what works for you.

Your creative self will thank you.

***

Instead of starting my New Year with a bang, it has come in with a fizzle and a whole bunch of Netflix. But, you know what? That’s okay. I’ve planned for moments like this. Even though I ignored my own advice at first and found myself in this burned out state, I can feel my energy begin to return. Maybe, just maybe you’ll find me in the studio today.

How about you? Have you experienced creative burnout? What did you do to get over it? I’d love to hear from you. You can leave a comment below while commenting is open, or reach out to me directly through email or Instagram.

Thanks for reading and make sure to checkout all my other posts!

-Kelly

P.S. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers!

Further Reading: 

How to Make Art a Habit and Stop Waiting for Inspiration to Create

8 Thoughts You’ll Have as an Artist

Are You Forcing Yourself into an Art Business Before You’re Ready?

 

Stop Wasting Your Money on Instagram Paid Promotions

I have strong feelings about this one as an artist.

If you read my last post about wasting money on big art sharing accounts, you know I’m a proponent of organic growth on Instagram. Paying for sponsored ads through Instagram can seem like a good idea to grow your following, but it can also just be a colossal waste of limited funds as a newbie artist.

I spend a lot of time on Instagram, (way too much time…) and through my scrolling I get quite a few promotions pop up from budding art accounts. I’m a curious person, so I poke around their profiles to see what they are working with. Most of the time, these accounts shouldn’t be paying for ads, because if you are trying to sell your art and your ad pops up in MY feed you are definitely marketing to the wrong people. Your money is wasted. Not because I don’t love your art, but because it’s like Starbucks advertising to Caribou employees.

Since I don’t want to be that dick that offers unsolicited advice to the artists paying for promotions, I chose to write this blog instead. Basically, promotions can get you new eyes on your art, but it’s important to be strategic and plan your ads with a call to action in mind.

I’m not saying never pay for a promotion

Running a business requires advertising. You have to get your name and your art out into the community in order to sell your work. That’s obvious. What I’m saying is to be smart about your promos and make them worth the money.

If you are going to pay for Instagram promotions to grow your following or make sales, check out these tips.

1. Make sure your profile is attractive and branded.

If your profile is ugly, it doesn’t matter how many new people see it. They aren’t going to want what you’re selling. Your art may be out of this world, but bad photos and a cluttered profile will repel your audience.

Your profile needs to make a good first impression. When viewed as a whole, it should look clean, cohesive, and inviting. I have another blog with tips for that! (Here)

2. Choose a post to promote that is exemplifies your brand as an artist.

Don’t just pick one piece of art that you want to sell and promote it like a product listing in your store. Choose a photo that starts a conversation and introduces your potential new follower to your life as an artist.

Not every post is promotion material.

On the surface, the video or photo you promote needs to be attractive and eye catching. Once you dig a little deeper into the image, it should also tell a story. I know that’s vague, but you are the one that knows your brand so it’s up to you to figure out that story. BUT if you want one on one help I can do that too.

3. Have a call to action.

Do you just want new followers? Are you promoting a sale? Do you want to introduce yourself? Do you want to start a conversation around a particular message?

It’s not enough to just put a picture of your art in front of people. If you are paying for a promotion, you must have a call to action. Whether you ask people to share their thoughts in the comments, or want them to check out your store, make sure your caption urges viewers to act.

4. Use your unique voice. 

When you meet someone new, what’s your plan? Do you want to say something funny and make them laugh? I know I’m not the only introverted weirdo that plans ahead for social interactions. Your promoted posts should be given the same care. Your caption shouldn’t just read “Hi, I’m an artist. Check out my profile and follow me for more.”

Your post needs to pull someone in. Your photo/video will do the bulk of the work by drawing in the eyes. Then, your caption takes over to give more context. Naturally, your caption should complement the photo/video.

Spend some time brain storming and write down as many ideas for meaningful stories you can share. What do you think people want to talk about? How can you create a long lasting impression? How do you want your audience to feel?

You’re putting yourself and your work in front of strangers. Give them a reason to remember you and want to get to know you more.

5. Know your audience. 

Your audience is not anyone who likes art. That’s too broad.  I suggest really getting to know the types of people that respond well to your art. If I’m the one seeing your promotions and you’re trying to get art sales, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. Now, if you are an artist trying to sell an online class for your new art techniques, then it’s appropriate to advertise to artists.

When you choose your audience on Instagram promotions they allow you to build your own, or go with their suggested audience. When you allow Instagram to target your audience, they look at your current followers and those who interact with your posts. That means, if I already follow you I may see your promotions. Seems like a waste if you’re trying to get new followers, right?

Get to know your target audience and take control of your promotions.

When you are thinking about your audience, imagine their daily lives. How do they decorate their home? What do they watch for entertainment? What do they spend their time doing? What do they wear? What inspires them? Why are they drawn to your art?

When you are interacting with customers at events, ask them about their interests. Do some research. Even think about making a survey for customers to answer a few questions so you can gather data.

Just remember, not everyone who likes art is your customer. I LOVE art, but I’m not your target audience. You don’t have to advertise to a huge group of people. Get specific and target those who will really respond to your brand.

In Summary

  • Promotions with a proper planning are good.
  • Promotions without proper planning are bad.

You have a product to sell. Whether it’s your art, your blog, your lifestyle, or your personality, you have to make your audience want it. The content that you choose for your promotion should make people want to be closer to what you are offering.

So, stop wasting your money and start planning.

***

As always, thanks so much for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email.

Oh, and I offer Instagram Assessments to other creators to help give your social media presence a boost. Check out my services here.

-Kelly

P.S. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers and discounts through my store.

Further Reading:

Stop Wasting Your Money on Instagram Art Sharing Accounts

12 Ways to Make Money as an Artist