Those of you who are on tumblr or using the internet in basically any form have probably (hopefully) heard the term “crediting”. Crediting has become a huge issue of the 21st century, because it is so easy to steal someone’s artwork over the internet. So what does it mean? And when should you do it? I’m here to try and help you unmask the obvious obscurity of crediting. This article is super long, because crediting is SO important and people are so confused by this, but if you’re in a rush, I’ve bolded the most important points for you.
So, what does crediting mean?
This means, if you have taken someone else’s work, and post it on your own site (or anywhere public*), you have to give their name and/or a link to their original post or place they posted it.
*Allow me to point out that the Internet is public. If you’re posting it on the internet, CREDIT
Bridgette has experienced people taking her photo on tumblr and changing the source to their own blog. Listen to her experience:
M: How did you feel when you saw it had so many notes connected to something that was not you? Even though it was your work, did it upset you to see it credited to someone else?
Yes, I was sad. Because lots of notes generally mean a gain in followers and thus recognition, I was really hurt. With the update, my original source link no longer belongs to me. Such a problem, and very upsetting.
M: Why did it make you feel this way?
B: Because of the popularity of the image the people who are attached to the source link gain what I wanted because of my work. Even just advertising on my photo gives them followers that I could have had.
M: Why do you think correct crediting is important?
Crediting is important because it’s so hard to make it as an artist, or really as any passionate and creative person. By taking away our work, you’re taking away so much more than that.
Here’s Essine discussing the problematic nature of Tumblr self promos and deleting captions:
I have had multiple art pieces that I noticed were getting a lot of self promos on. I clicked on one, seeing that there was a long list of promotions, including “indie/bambie”, “bubblegum here” and “enter my pink world”. My source and caption were removed, but it was being spread around, and most people had no clue I was the artist. I’ve had people erase my url on the captions to put theirs in, as though they made it. One of my biggest problems was a photo I took of a pin that I had made out of my artwork, which was taken, edited, and posted by a popular make-up brand without credit to me. People repeatedly asked where the item was from, asking to buy it, etc., but the brand never gave out my name. The item has thousand of notes on my Tumblr– but since the source is gone, many people don’t know where they could buy it or find it.
Captions commonly add context to an artwork. Sources give artists credit for hard earned work. Neither of these things take up much space, or will look bad on a blog. If you use someone else’s work to make yourself more popular, that’s just cruel to the person who made it. Consider these things before you erase, copy, or discredit an artist.
For those of you who are visual learners (like me!), this is what this could look like:
There is no caption here giving credit to the artist. The assumption is that the post-er made it.
(This is a generated image, there is no “ihatecrediting” username who I am calling out, also it is my drawing. See more here.)
Additionally, if you look at someone else’s artwork and copy it exactly, you also have to give credit. This way you are acknowledging them as “a participant in the production”. It is their creativity and their ideas behind what you copied, so it is never okay to claim it as your own. You wouldn’t copy a piece of Van Gogh’s or Mattisse’s and pretend it was your own, so don’t do that to less famous artists over the internet. Additionally, a major difference between you copying Van Gogh and you copying tumblr user mayagoo (that’s me) is, if you were to copy Van Gogh’s work, it is likely that people would know it was his without you having to credit. However, with a fellow tumblr artist’s, not everyone will know, and they will assume if you post a piece without a credit, it is your own. This is really uncool for the artist who put so much work into their art, only to have you copy it.
Listen to Eryn’s account of how it feels to have your work copied:
I’ve had a couple experiences with people directly copying my art and passing it off as their own, which makes me feel robbed. That may sound dramatic, but in this world it seems ideas are constantly undervalued, and ideas are what I feel I have to offer, so seeing them stripped from me is very uncomfortable. Of course, there are a lot of instances where my art will be viewed without the context of my identity, but seeing them posed as someone else’s – quite frankly, it hurts.
Here is an example where I directly copied one of Eryn’s drawings:
Left is my copy, right is Eryn’s oringal drawing (seen here.)
This is a case in which you may not post this piece. It is perfectly alright for you to copy an artists work for your own personal practice, but to post it as if you came up with the idea is simply STEALING. If you absolutely MUST post it (which I would not advise) you MUST say that it is a copy of another artists work. Here are correct examples of how to credit this:
[You could link to either her website or her art piece (crediting to the actual piece is much better, but if you can’t find it at least credit to the artist’s website.) Best of course is if you credit both, as shown above.]
To see more of Eryn’s work, click here.
Thirdly, and most difficult to define, (but in my opinion just as important): credit someone else’s style. Below are some examples (which I drew, to show what I would consider copying someone else’s style). This is a thin line between inspiration and something necessary to credit, but because an artist usually cultivates a certain style, it can still be hurtful to that artist who spent time and energy manifesting the style they’ve grown into. It’s totally okay if you’re experimenting with different styles, but if you are copying someone else’s identifiable style, it’s probably best to add “inspired by:___” in your caption.
Here’s an example I created of me copying Essine’s style of art:
Left most is my copy of Essines style and the middle and right most are Essine’s drawings. As you can see, I didn’t directly copy either, but it is clear that I am copying Essine’s style. This is too close to be posted as my own work. In fact, I would argue this is so close you really should not post it at all, but if you really want to, here are some correct examples of crediting:
Credit option 1: This piece is done in the style of Essine‘s artwork (Essine’s name is a link to her blog.)
Credit option 2: Inspired by Essine (Essine’s name is a link to her blog.)
To see more of Essine’s work, visit her art tumblr here.
But, Why is crediting so important?
Well, besides the moral aspect of stealing someone’s artwork (as you can learn about from the various interviews with artists who have experienced this), it is also illegal to post someone’s work and claim it as your own. This is called PLAGIARISM.
“As a teenage artist trying to work towards a career in the arts, it can be a challenge to protect my work. The internet is a powerful tool, but also a very scary place. Putting your art out into the world via the inter webs is a good exercise for budding artists. It’s scary enough posting art on public websites where anyone can see it without having to worry about it being copied or reposted without credit.It’s hard to articulate why it’s so frustrating to see your work uncredited. Most of the time, our drawings/paintings/writing/collages/whathaveyou are very personal. Seeing someone take credit for something you created, something personal, something emotional, something that started as an idea in your head and came to be through hands — is an uncomfortable, helpless feeling. Additionally, a career in the arts is challenging and unreliable, and it’s painfully frustrating when someone else does not credit you for what you are trying to offer the world in order to make a living.Not to mention, copying someone else directly isn’t doing yourself any favours. While it’s of course it’s natural to subconsciously channel the people who inspire you, I can’t imagine it feels right to take credit for someone else’s idea. It’s important to trust that you have it in you to produce your own ideas. I think Rupi Kaur put it best:‘if you are taking other’s work and claiming it as your own. if you are wearing a style that does not smell taste or look like you. or not giving credit where credit is due. you are cheating yourself. you are cheating the art that is waiting to be birthed but can’t cause you are too busy replicating. and as an artist there is nothing more destructive. nothing more toxic you can do to destroy your creative being.'”
How many times have you seen a picture captioned with a blog promo, with no artist’s name to be found, or not even a source? I have seen them too many times to count, including on my own art. While it’s fun to post art on blogging websites like Tumblr, it’s commonly a struggle between enjoying how others like my work, and the blatant disregard many have for the fact I made it. Making art takes time. It takes supplies. Many artists sell their work for extra money, or as their only income source. So, when people delete our credit, plagiarize our style and delete our source (or re-post the art all together, without permission) they remove regard for our work and us as people, as well as the (generally much needed) income it may bring an artist. It’s like writing an incredible paper that you are super proud of, has really original ideas, and that you want to show the world– then someone else stamps their name on it, claims it, and says all the ideas in it are theirs for the taking.
SO, Now that you know why it’s important, how can you credit better?
It’s totally okay if you’re still learning about crediting, here are some helpful tips!
The first and easiest way to find to find the source of something on tumblr is to use the source link. In the righthand corner of every tumblr post, there is a gray link that says “source:”. Click that link, and it should take you to the publisher of the post. Of course, next you should make sure this work is actually owned by the tumblr user (look at the caption or tags, does it say “my art” or “face” or something along those lines that allows you to assume this is their work?)
Often, the artist puts a caption on their work, either describing it, adding the title, etc. This way, you can just click the url title above the caption. (See below image.)
Additionally, sometimes when a person posts a photo, they also post a link to the source underneath, to make it easier for you, the creditor, and being a good person and they themselves properly crediting.
(Link for this hat here)
3. Use google image search. If you have an image saved on your computer, and you don’t remember where you got it from, you can use google image search to find the original source. Sometimes this can take a little while, but eventually I always find it and it never takes me longer than 10 or so minutes.
PRO TIP!: google image goes off of the caption of the image as well as the contents of the image, so if you dragged it off of tumblr, it will just give you people’s tumblr pages who reblogged the same image. For this, a screenshot will work better for finding the actual, original source.
(Link to the blog pictured above here)
Examples of correct crediting:
Credit Option 1: Maya Gulassa, 2014
Credit Option 2: (Source) (links to the original tumblr post)
Credit Option 3: Some variation of the above
TL;DR: When in doubt, credit.
Many people helped me with this article. Essine, Bridgette, and Eryn are all amazing ladies who helped me immensely in writing this by adding their own experiences, and in Eryn’s case, helping me with editing.
Find Bridgette’s TPZ articles Here