I plan to gradually upload my graphic design and illustrative work to Instagram, Behance, etc. in the near future and I can’t get over the thought that people will secretly steal my work and I’ll never know about it. I’m fully prepared legally on what to do if I actually see someone stealing my work but I just can’t shake the thought that there will be instances where it will happen and I’ll never see or know about it. How do I get over this fear?
I don’t think you ever do. It’s not like your fear is an imaginary tale. It’s a real concern. However, it’s important to get your portfolio up and out there to attract clients if you want to be a freelancer.
I’ve seen my work used many times over the years and it sucks. I have friends who will tag me if they see someone else using my work without attribution. I’m positive there are instances I haven’t caught.
Personally, I’ve stopped using Behance because there are more creatives on there than clients. It’s not that I’m scared of others copying me, I just didn’t find it worthwhile keeping it up to date of the majority of people looking at my work are not clients.
Instagram can be hit or miss but I get a good amount of new clients via Instagram. I don’t even post about my design work that often on there but I have DESIGN has part of my name and my job is in my bio. Photographers seem to have better luck getting work via Instagram. I do styling and photography as a side hustle and over half my clients have come from Instagram.
If you are not looking to be a freelancer, you can keep your portfolio private and only give it out to potential employers. That wouldn’t work for me but if you’re super paranoid, maybe that’s the way to go.
If you’re posting it online it’s public, and it’s worldwide. No amount of legal notices or copyrighting will stop people from using it. Watermarks detract from the design and can be cloned out. Files can be locked but there are ways round this. I’ve seen people taking screendumps to get a picture where quality is perhaps not the priority.
If you’re posting to Instagram or any of the others it’s a good showcase, but the work you put up there can only be an example of your proficiency. If you go from there with a client you will have to be creating new work for them.
Or you can think of it this way.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Maybe you’ll start a trend…
I have concerns with posting work online, too. Maybe I’m old school – or just plain old. My own website is very minimal – maybe just half a dozen work samples. I have had people steal my work before. In addition to avoiding that, I don’t like advertising who I’m working for. Fortunately, my marketing plan doesn’t hinge on me having a big online presence.
The people who steal low-resolution copies of your work are not harming you financially. It’s not as though they would have ever purchased it from you. It’s just part of the realities of modern life.
Yes, there are legal actions you can pursue, but honestly, most of the time they’re not worth it since the problem will reside in other states and countries and involve attorneys and the whole thing turns into a money, time and anxiety pit.
When it happens to me, yeah, it’s a bit upsetting, but it’s also something of a compliment that someone liked my work enough to break the law and steal it. That’s not much consolation, but it’s a practical way to look at things that you really can’t control any longer.
What I do is put a giant 3% white layer right on top of the image with my name, studio, and contact info.
You can barely see it online, but you know what a pain it can be to get rid of it if a cheater pulls an image from your online portfolio. This helps deter but is not a fix. So you’re really just trying to make it tough to directly steal it. You can’t do a thing about someone recreating your art from scratch unless it’s fine arts based (has intrinsic value vs design as communicative = legal grey line).
People steal good ideas. Get over it. Your work is a job that was created for a specific client at a specific time. If someone on Behance is looking for last year’s look for their client, just remember they’re probably not demanding the highest rates. Let people have your leftovers and keep moving forward.
Kind of a jerk statement there. Not sayin, just sayin.
I honestly didn’t know this was a fear people had.
Are you afraid of people taking your ideas? Or just fear someone saving a pic of your work to claim they did it themselves?