It’s a very bad idea to try to steal my art and sell it as your own, and for a few devastating reasons.

  • I only share comparatively low resolution images of my work online, which means you have a third-rate version, and I have a hi-rez original to prove authorship.
  • There is always going to be a blog post by me about my art that predates your attempt to sell it as your own.
  • I keep all my art files in their respective programs, and usually have a few different versions showing progress. A photoshop file, for example, will have multiple layers making up the image, and this is impossible to fake. This absolutely proves I am the author

I think some of my pieces get ripped-off on a fairly regular basis. Now and then I Google search my own work to see where it’s cropping up.

Here’s a screenshot of a bunch of different places where my tribute to Vincent Van Gogh, for example, has appeared:

Click on images to see larger versions.

People try to sell prints of my work. This one is on sale from at least a half dozen different venders on Amazon.

This one’s going for $631.86:

Here’s one from Japan:

This one’s asking $573.71

You get the idea.

And then there are smaller venues than Amazon. Here’s one at AliExpress:

And then there’s this dude trying to sell his first NFT, which happens to be my digital painting except for the part where he cut the ear and moved it. Here he’s trying to sell the NFT on OpenSea for $450.12 in crypto.

What he would most likely try to say is that he changed the image, which he did. The photo-editing is pretty sloppy because he couldn’t do the impasto brushwork I used when I created it, so just painted in red when he made the ear cut off, rather than just cut. Now, I wouldn’t mind at all him doing this and sharing it, especially if he credited me with the painting he’s altering, and if he weren’t trying to sell it as completely his own.

In a thread on reddit he gives the impression that he created the image in its entirety:

When someone says, “This is great, is [it] digital or [a] picture of a painting” he replies, “it is a digital re-creation of the original painting”.

That’s not accurate. It’s an original digital painting by yours truly. I didn’t just add the cut ear, before he cut it off entirely. I made up the whole portrait. Up close in the full resolution version, in looks a little something like this:

What he doesn’t mention is that what people are seeing is an original digital painting by a contemporary digital artist, and his part was just to move the ear, in which case he knows he’s trying to take credit for the whole image. He implies that HE digitally recreated an original Van Gogh painting.

Even if he admits to just making that one change, but still argues about appropriation and shifting the context, this is like sampling a song, but you sample the whole song and just add in a few seconds of your own material. People aren’t reacting to his hatchet job, in which the side of the ear that he cut off is mysteriously not bleeding, while the other side is, but to the overall impression of the image itself.

Now, the only art people take of mine are my versions of famous artist’s work. There really is very small risk of anyone taking my work that is entirely my own. People tend to like what they are told to like, what is popular, and what is “iconic” (which just means whatever is crammed down your throat]. My works that can’t be passed off as by big name artists aren’t of interest to people looking to make a quick buck, which is why I only have a handful of pieces that are at risk of being hijacked. If I suddenly gain some notoriety, then I can worry about these things a bit more.

That cat hasn’t gotten a bid on his “drop ear” hacking of my tribute to Van Gogh. I doubt those people on Amazon are selling many prints either, especially at those prices, and for a third rate, low-rez version.

There is the thing where the way a work becomes “iconic” is just that it’s plastered everywhere. In that case I rather like when I see my art reproduced a lot online.

For the record, I haven’t made a penny directly off of the Van Gogh tribute. To learn more about that painting, check out this blog post with lots of details and background [note that it’s from 2016]: https://artofericwayne.com/2016/12/11/van-gogh-self-portrait-with-cut-ear-background-and-details/

I am glad people like this digital painting. Quite obviously nobody has bothered to ask me to use it, though several people who reproduced it in their blogs and other places did credit me. Of course they weren’t making any more money off of it than I was.

Eventually I may try to sell prints and an NFT, but sales are based on popularity, of which I have .. well … let’s just say I make Vincent look popular when he was alive.

~ Ends


And if you like my art or criticism, please consider chipping in so I can keep working until I drop. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). See how it works here.

Or go directly to my account.

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Or you can make a one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).

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17 replies on “People stealing my art and trying to sell it, including an NFT!

  1. That’s unfortunate, that so many people are just willing to do this. Not surprising though. Maybe some of them are desperate, and the rest are just lazy and unethical.

    I wonder if one could use the NFT concept to “claim” their own work prior to releasing a version elsewhere on the Internet? Maybe the NFT mechanism will somebody become mainstream enough that savvy purchasers on *any* platform (not just the NFT-based ones) will first go to a reputable platform to look for the verifiable trail back to the original creator, to ensure what they’re buying is “legit”?

    If somebody just wants a print to hang on their wall, and doesn’t who they paid to produce it, it probably won’t matter.

    Ownership of digital stuff continues to be a difficult thing. The medium is great for sharing, and great for sponsoring others’ work in a decoupled way (where what I get is not lockstep with what I pay for).

    I think your brand might be the digital artist who blogs about how widespread his stolen work becomes. That is definitely also an achievement not many can pull off! 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “I wonder if one could use the NFT concept to ‘claim’ their own work prior to releasing a version elsewhere on the Internet? Maybe the NFT mechanism will somebody become mainstream enough that savvy purchasers on *any* platform (not just the NFT-based ones) will first go to a reputable platform to look for the verifiable trail back to the original creator, to ensure what they’re buying is ‘legit’?”

      I’m pretty sure that is how NFTs are already being used. They do show the provenance of a piece of digital art. The artist “mints” a work, meaning they record it on the blockchain. At that point, they own the work, and offer it for sale on places like OpenSea. If someone buys it, then the buyer is listed as the owner of the work now, who can then re-sell it and so on.

      Like

  2. Yeah, this sucks to read but oh so common in all kinds of industries. I’ve only been part of one legal defense against this kind of piracy and one was enough. After that, you just resolve to keep innovating and learning how to keep the flies off you. Sorry your dealing with this. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nooooo! Bastards..

    Sorry to hear about that man.

    Garett “Kinchasa ” Laugavitz *p 262-490-1286*

    On Wed, Oct 27, 2021 at 5:44 AM Art & Crit by Eric Wayne wrote:

    > Eric Wayne posted: ” It’s a very bad idea to try to steal my art and sell > it as your own, and for a few devastating reasons. I only share > comparatively low resolution images of my work online, which means you have > a third-rate version, and I have a hi-rez original to pro” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s so shameful. I just don’t understand what’s going on in these people’s minds. Obviously, the greed for money is making any moral considerations into the background for more and more people these days.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You are right, this sucks. It has happened to my son-in-law too. Screenshot JPGs of his designs were sold way cheaper than his original silkscreen EPSs. Nothing he could do besides let the art buying community know of this as the criminals were either off the grid or too big to nail.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ali-Express is nothing but a giant rip off operation. They are repeat offenders of the worst kind. I just don’t even want to know if my work is floating around out there somewhere being exploited. It’s just too depressing.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Eric, I know how annoying it can be when somebody jacks your artwork. Personally, I know that we live in a digital world now, and it’s trivial for anyone to copy and distribute a digital image, so I do my best to not let it get to me.

    That said, this line from your essay gives me a whole new way to look at the situation: “There is the thing where the way a work becomes ‘iconic’ is just that it’s plastered everywhere. In that case I rather like when I see my art reproduced a lot online.”

    This is a great take. The art thieves are no longer lowdown scoundrels that have done you dirty, but rather your unpaid marketing and distribution team. It’s much more healthy to think about it this way rather than getting mad about something that’s almost impossible to control. Thanks for the insight!

    Liked by 2 people

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