Thursday, 5 April 2012


In the unlikely event that you didn't know about it already, there's a very handy new[ish] function on Google's image search where you can search using images rather than words. There's loads of great applications for this tool - perhaps you see a painting or sculpture somewhere with no attribution and you want to discover who the artist was... simply snap a photo of it with your phone, and it's pretty likely that you'll be able to find out. One of the other major handy uses for the function is for artists themselves. It means you can drag any of your images into the search box and see where your image is being used online... if anyone has perhaps featured your work in a blog post or is using it without permission on their own website.

After testing it out by searching a few of my images the other week and finding nothing new or surprising, I came across this:

Photos courtesy of ;)

Well.... colour me surprised. That looks a bit familiar, doesn't it? In fact, you could go as far as to say that it's pretty much identical to my origami crane design from Society6. Now, I'm constantly seeing other illustrators tweeting or blogging about having their designs ripped off and often feel quite annoyed about it: how dare they make money from that person's hard work? Why do they think they can get away with what is essentially stealing? But upon seeing this I can't say that I really felt annoyed or outraged at all. It was just very surreal and I generally felt a bit peculiar about it... slightly miffed, very mildly flattered in the weirdest way possible, and just resigned to the fact that I was helpless to do anything. A bit like coming home to find an acquaintance sitting on your sofa drinking your tea, because they think your house is fantastic. (I was never very good at analogies, but try to stay with me here...)

Unfortunately, there's not really anything we can do about this kind of copyright infringement when the perpetrator isn't UK based. Short of sending a cease and desist notice (which I have done, to no effect), we're pretty much powerless to stop other people from profiting from our work when they're based in a different country. Quite sad, but presumably inevitable in this age of sharing our work on the internet.

What are your thoughts on it all? Have you ever had your work copied? Am I an emotionless husk for feeling so apathetic about it? And if you do fancy a t-shirt with my origami crane design on it, please head over to Society6 to grab one - it might be more expensive than the knock-off, but the quality will be worth it and you'll make an illustrator very happy!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I never knew you could search google like that! After reading this post I searched nearly all of my artwork and with one image I found 2 different people have used it! Neither of them were to make money though but I just find it disgusting that neither asked for my permission!

    I cant believe someone is actually trying to make profit from your imagery, that is disgusting! I hope they realise how immoral it is and take it down :( If not I hope karma comes and bites them in the butt!