That seems to be the question doesn't it?
Who'd have thought my Mind would get so spiritual with it.....
Lately, I've been contemplating: should I watermark my name / business logo on my art and my imagery? This is something that most (if not all) independent artists ask themselves on a routine basis, especially in this age of digital imagery and social media over-saturation. From what I'm finding, after asking a number of artists, is that most people generally ride the fence about taking such action with one's work.
All of this stems from randomly finding one of my Instagram photos on someone else's profile last week. So, like I always do, I reached out with a nice message on how it would be great if they could credit at least my name on the photo that they had posted. Hours later and they politely took that image down. Great! Fantastic! As I'm in the process of leaving a message of thanks, another one of my images goes up on their Instagram page.....No photo credit.....again.
Exacerbated, I left another message asking them to again credit a photographer's work if they plan on "reblogging" it, and then I blocked the account. As I type this, my photo still sits in their stream of photos, thankfully with my comment still attached. That was it though, that was the straw for me. So, last week I posted to Instagram the photo here with my first watermark on it and the statement that I plan on watermarking all my photos from now on.
Man it pained me to do that.
Not just because watermarking my photos meant someone(s) "stole" from me. Not even because watermarking my images meant I may be protecting them from repeat offenses on the internet, but because watermarking my photos and my art means that that little bit of faith I had in the ONE social media outlet I use has now been taken away from me....I was officially becoming jaded with the concept of sharing my artwork on social media now that I was having to watermark it.
And that got me thinking.....what is a watermark exactly?
Well a watermark is defined as a logo/symbol/name embedded in an image or paper to show authenticity and ownership.
Ownership......I thought back to the image of mine that had been reblogged. It was one I had taken of the pastoral Sonoma beauty with its vineyards and hills. A voice inside my head whispered "Do you own that view?" Well no, I thought...I don't even own the vineyard I photographed.
"Did you give credit to the vineyard in your photograph?" Ummm...No, I don't even know the vineyard's name.
"Should you have to give credit to the builders of the architectural structures you've photographed, or pinpoint the county park you took your fashion photographs in when you go to sell you work?" Well...one doesn't HAVE to, I thought, but that's not the point! The point is the compensation one gets from putting the time and the energy into creating a piece of art! That's the reason why we photographers wake up at the butt crack of dawn to "get the shot"!
The voice in my head was getting me worked up. I mean, why bother? I continued.
Why care what I put out into the void that is the WorldWideWeb when I'm not even going to get credit for the time and energy it took to create the content. Why care about creating at all if someone is just going to rip it off (and don't give me this "copying is the highest form of flattery"...that's bullshit..copying is the lazy man's out). I've been absent from social media for the past week for this very reason.......why make anything at all if I'm just going to have to watermark it? The voice was quiet for a minute, then:
"So, are you going to stop creating art?"..........Well, no, I thought.
"Once you create that art, what are you going to do with it? Put it in the closet for safe keeping?"........Ha, ha. Point taken. (My Mind likes to think it has a sense of humor)
"Look," the voice in my head said, "It's not like you aren't going to share your work with the world. You're a social creature. You always have been. The over-all good that can happen in your life as a result of you sharing your work, regardless of where it goes in this physical existence, far outweighs the bad. Besides, don't you believe that all things are connected?"
Well, yes.....yes I believe that the energy of the Source courses through every aspect of the universe and as such I am She and She is Me...we are all One.
"Then, who's to say the person using your image wasn't just You helping yourself achieve a higher goal in this physical existence? Be it for money, love, power, fame, acceptance, etc.? And that You just helped yourself out significantly without You evening knowing it?" My Mind held its breath...
You mean to say that maybe the Me who created the image did it in a way to purposely help the aspect of "Me" who took it and used it to further their current path in this life......and that because we are all connected, it was really just Me providing for Myself?
"YES!" my Mind exclaimed. "And the best part is that YOU can make another one.....it's Your gift you creative being you! Create because you love and you will create the Universe......" The voice in my head made my lips smile.
Well played Mind, I thought.