Saturday, April 25, 2015

Results Are In: Google Image/Solipsist Searching

Dovetailing with an earlier essay on online art thievery, I remember working for years at a local copy shop and covertly on occasion seeing random folks making photocopies of my cartoons, presumably to mail to friends & family, stick up on doors, cubicles, outhouses etc. I always thought that was the coolest, and exactly akin to sharing images on-line via re-posting on Facebook etc.


That said, if someone would have brought in one of my books and begin methodically copying them in their entirety, I would have had a major problem. But this? This is pretty spiffy... thanks for sharing.

Original serigraph (left) and Google Image Search result (right)

Hence my bemusement at uncovering many, many examples of innocent swiping of my work on miscellaneous message boards and blogs.  I tend to take it as a compliment, and as an always useful reminder to never, ever let anything go out without some sort of identifying mark and track-back: best-case scenario is to always include a web address along with the © + full name + date fine-print/tag-line.

Original poster designs (left) and Google Image Search results (right)

Will this deter a determined image thief from stealing the work? Nope. I personally am loath to slap a watermark across my art as it effectively ruins the aesthetics (defeating the point of sharing it), which opens up the possibility of it getting repurposed. There is a practical limit to that threat though, since it's a low-resolution image "saved for web," and will look like crap if it's scaled up.

Original figure drawing (top) and Google Image Search result (bottom)

Then again, not only are art thieves generally stupid to begin with, they - and whoever they are marketing to - by definition also have the aesthetic sensibilities of someone who scratches commentary on the walls of bathroom stalls. So they simply just don't care who they rip off, or how it looks either.

Original figure drawing (left) and Google Image Search result (right)

Most of the posted images here are of a piece done by me, paired with a resulting "match" when used in a Google Image Search. This is one of the most powerful tools available to artists to help track down on-line usage of your work. But as one can see from these samples, results may vary.

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