Sharing Your Gifts: Should you let people take pictures of your artwork?

Should you let people take pictures of your artwork?“Tara, I need to talk to you right away.”

The voice mail was from my dynamite web developer, Kelly, and her tone made me think something was seriously wrong. I checked my website and everything seemed ok. Breathing a sign of relief, I dialed her back.

When Kelly answered, she got straight to the point, “Honey, I hate to tell you this, but someone is stealing your content.”

Frankly, I didn’t think I had anything worth stealing so in a way, I took this news as a compliment.

This incident came to mind for me this weekend while I observed artist’s reactions to people’s picture taking.

One artist had large, ugly signs posted all over his booth that read: NO photos; NO video; DON’T ask. With all of those no’s, don’ts,’ and bad vibes, I didn’t even bother to go into his stinking booth.

Another artist interrupted his conversation with me to leap in front of a visitor, blocking their effort to snap a pic of one of this prints. As the would-be admirer stomped off, totally offended, I wondered if it even occurred to the artist how much bad juju he was creating for himself.

And then there was Kat Dellamater. When I saw the banner for her Rocky Canyon Tileworks Mosaics, I practically ran to her booth. After going gaga over her table tops, table-runner sized trivets, and other mosaic gems, I introduced myself and ask if I could snap a few photos to illustrate this post. “Of course!” Kat replied. “Take as many pictures as you want.” When I photographed this lovely mirror, I was lucky enough to capture a reflection of lovely Kat herself!

I didn’t get any pictures when I visited with Kim Hamblin because Kim and I were having too much yucking it up. Kim’s assemblages—complex cut paper, paint, nails, and wood—are simply delightful. Kim left me feeling like I’d just found a long lost soul-sister.

Gena Ollendieck shared her incredible blend of mosaic, collage, assemblage, and book binding with me. Her work (pictured at left) is haunting, intriguing, and complex.

What these women understood was that by sharing their gifts freely, they increase the likelihood that their gifts will go farther, get more exposure, and bring more fans to their work. And, to the best of my ability, here I am doing my part and telling you about them.

I do understand the fear that an artist might have that someone could copy, plagiarize, or try to fake ownership of the work. But I also know, as I told Kelly when she discovered that someone was copying my posts, I give my gifts freely to the world. I don’t have any control over what happens to my work after it leaves me.

Yes, I like it when people give me credit where credit is due and yes, stealing is wrong. But am I going to try to police readers or scold Pinterest pinners or castigate Instagramers or stalk anyone else who has access to my work? Nope. Maybe something I write will be of value to someone, maybe something I create will be of benefit. I mean, isn’t that what gifts are for: to be given away.

What do you think? As an artist, do you worry about people taking pictures of your artwork?

Feeling Fearful? A Blessing for You

Does it seem to you that the world has lost its mind? It does to me! On a recent visit to the Trappist Abbey, I found a lovely blessing that eased my mind and comforted my heart. I thought you’d enjoy it, too!

With love,

Tara's signature

Reliability: A New Manifesto

In a couple of weeks, I’ll have the pleasure of presenting a workshop at my favorite conference of the year. As I was preparing for my presentation, entitled Reliability: The Human Dimension of Productivity, I penned an all new Manifesto as a handout for the occasion. And here it is! If you’d like your own copy as a pdf, click here. Enjoy!

reliability manifesto


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