Protecting Your Rights And Intellectual Knowledge
The art forum and social media platforms have become common tools for almost all independent artists. In fact for professional artists it is almost a requirement to have.
With their use comes danger and an artist must work to protect their rights and intellectual knowledge.
Most artists cannot afford to have lawyers at hand to defend them. Those who are professional also would find this difficult. Often young artist struggle just knowing where to sell art.
With this comes an important question. Should artists use social media to the degree that is employed?
This article will detail the reasons why I minimize my footprint on social media to where I am comfortable.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself and still participate within those communities. Yet it will require one to begin rethinking how they use the tools.
The Art Forum
Make no mistake that the art forums which we have access to have been a great benefit to many artists. They have in many ways replaced a component of community which one would obtain from guilds.
There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained and friendships to be made within them.
An art forum is different from social media. In these forums people focus more on art and its discussion, or what surrounds it.
It’s primary function from the inception of this idea was for education and community rather than art marketing. This core concept remains today.
Yet with this education can come slips down some slopes that should not be shared. Never should your process or trade secrets be exchanged for gaining views for selling your work on Etsy.
It is unfortunate that many authors promote using forums to “steal” traffic or use it for self promotion. These bad art marketing habits will not help you.
Social Media Platforms
In recent history social media is notorious for promoting fan art in an effort to gain popularity. Friendships can be made but the atmosphere is more competitive rather than the relaxed feel of a forum.
There are many issues which surround how this is used. Most do not understand the proper function social media is to serve in public relations and branding.
This is where social media excels rather than providing sales impact.
Another issue with this platform is that it requires constant new content and activity in order to have or retain growth. It becomes a second job, and at times a first job for the artist.
The nature of this media dictates a limited life and exposure for the content that is made. The older the content becomes the less effective it is.
While these are issues they are not big problems. A big problem arises when this platform is used improperly allowing for intellectual rights to be stolen.
Let’s look at how an artist can do all they can up front to protect themselves and copyrights. Preventative practices go a long way without resorting to art law and courts.
How You Give Away Your Rights
I have told parts of this story before. Some time ago I had been in communication with an artist and was asked why I had so little social media presence.
It was pointed out that I had no “how to” information on making my art. Apparently I was not connecting with people letting them see behind the scenes.
This was thrown at me in a way to point out all I was doing wrong. I smiled at the email and then just moved on.
They will learn in time. There was an age when things were private, and privacy was considered normal.
Protecting trade secrets was and still is imperative.
With forums and social media today people surrender everything. Young artists who do not know better cross the line easily for the conditioning of that world that they have grown up in.
If they gain a measure of success they then wonder how so many others have copied what they do and want justice.
The problem is found in how they use their platforms.
The moment you begin to offer your trade secrets making “how to” posts in exchange for follows or views, then you have surrendered your skills and knowledge.
Is the trade off really worth it?
Help But Remain A Professional Artist
Within art forums it is common to help and be helped by others. There is nothing wrong with helping anyone. That is as long as it doesn’t harm you.
Every artist will eventually pour a lifetime into their craft gaining the skills and knowledge that they have. This should not be free to others.
Guiding someone to get started or solve some problems along their path still allows them to make mistakes and learn.
Offering them a blueprint to your life is a mistake. It can be a mistake that you may not survive.
On this site you will find a lot within the artist education portion. Yet within that area I have given no critical answers as to how I have done all that I do.
I leave enough pointers on the path so that someone can go and try, experience, fail, then try again to succeed. I offer help with tools as well but often limit insight into how I use them.
If I offer information in a detailed way it is not unique to my wood art or my self promotion.
It may be a general woodworking principle that can be obtained from other places, but I have my own application. No one sees a video or manual describing how I build a concept for art nor how I make it.
Once You Surrender It Is Gone Forever
Coke would never surrender their formulas for their drinks. There are secrets Toyota has for their cars no one will know but their people.
You as an artist should do the same in keeping your secrets. Once you sacrifice that knowledge for the sake of follows or views it is gone forever.
If you allow your process to go into the public that you wish to be yours alone, there is nothing you can do to reverse this.
Art law itself would struggle to protect you for it is you who decided to make what you possessed public. A process to achieve a product can be under copyright, but art can be more challenging depending on the situation.
Even if you were to manage to stop some from using your process, it still may as well be considered public domain.
There are horror stories about great ideas being stolen by those in other countries. The author of that original idea could only sit and watch as they saw their idea imported for sale.
The best way to protect yourself is to limit access to what you possess. If you are in doubt as to whether it should be shared, then do not do it.
Protecting yourself in this way is proactive rather than reactive. There will be enough issues down the road which come naturally without the need to create any voluntarily.
The Struggle For Social Content Drives It All
As an artist begins to grow the first primary tool they use is social media. Most often this can be Instagram and Pinterest.
Some use Twitter as I do but we are fewer in number. As of the moment of this writing I believe I have fewer than 100 followers on Instagram.
Twitter is my personal favorite and from this site I promote that as one way to contact me. That is its primary function. It serves me rather than me serving Twitter.
I do not worry about generating content for the platform.
It takes time for artists to learn this. Most end up in a cycle of continual content creation for posts that will die in mere hours.
They can generate a lot of traffic for a moment then it is gone. It is then time for more content.
At some point the need for new material becomes a strain. One begins to share things that at the beginning they would not.
It is an attempt to continue getting the attention they need to promote themselves. In short it becomes like a drug addiction chasing vain metrics.
It is only later that some artists finally learn that online art galleries provide persistent presence that does not die.
A post from last year is simple to update and is just as relevant and accessible as it was the day it was published online. The key problem for many artists is that this method does not provide instant gratification.
Yet with a blog or website an artist can escape the persistent need for daily content creation. Additionally their work in self promotion suddenly lasts for years rather than mere minutes.
This is true if they are patient and build rather than get hooked on the social media drug.
Artists Loss Of Control In Content
How many have seen a social media account get banned? It happens daily.
Have you ever wanted to post something but refrained because you feared it could impact you negatively?
Here I do not have that fear. I have ripped into institutional thinking in many articles showing the failures that artists today face.
I most likely could not get away with some of that in social media. Here I do not even think about it as a concern.
Within forums you also will find moderation standards which you must adhere to. You are limited in what can be done or said.
Networking can only go so far. Issues that arise are difficult to resolve. You only have so much control of your content within these platforms.
Not only do we risk sharing too much information, but many fear the loss of their outlet for their work. To lose that following which they worked hard to gain can be devastating.
You have no real rights to the content you post in those places for it can be removed at the whim of any moderation by those organizations. Third party art websites can give some protection but still lack in many ways.
Additionally they will often not go to bat for you within a crisis. Having a web platform such as an online gallery is an altogether different story.
There are tools that can be used to block out and remove those who would attack or abuse someone.
An Artist Must Control Their World
In order for an artist to be noticed, and get their artwork seen by the world, requires that you control your world. First this is done through what information that you share.
With this comes the responsibility to not share what should be kept to you alone.
Secondly the platforms which you use must be owned by you not another organization. You cannot borrow space with a free social account and expect real growth while living in fear of losing what you worked to gain.
Of all these principles, the most important is to value yourself and your work knowing that you are worthy of standing out from the rest. Then take the proper measures to make that happen the right way.
It requires patience, work, education, and cultivation through life. There is no shortcut to success.
The Truth Of Social Media
All of the social platforms exist to give everyone a voice, as long as you obey their rules. It is true that artists generate some revenue via fan art or selling art prints.
Yet it is also everyone screaming what they wish to say all at the same time. This leaves very few people that are listening or searching for you.
I will give some insight here, and another sign pointing in the right direction for selling art online. Trust me, to build a web presence is no cake walk so this will not harm me at all.
If you want to eventually stand head and shoulders above the rest begin cultivating a real web platform.
I and others I know have explored the social media world from a art marketing perspective. In the end I will let you do your own research, but I will say this.
It is great for public relations and brand cultivation. It is typically horrible for marketing and returns on your investment.
The one exception to this is unless you have a strong and broadly recognized brand name. Let’s face it, if you are here reading this then you do not.
Very few of us are names like Walmart. Those who have seen success in social media must maintain it through extraordinary work in their media.
Patience and hard work always wins the day. Building on a solid foundation that will persist from day to day, week to week, and even year to year will beat other attempts.
Indeed it takes time. Yet you surrender too much to the social media gods by trusting in them.
They ultimately own and control all you give them for they have the power to do with it as they wish. Take a portion of that power back and own it yourself while you use them rather than depend upon them.
This is why I have built what I do in the way that I have and I have no regrets.