Are online art and design blogs a good thing?

Image: Mike Licht. www.flickr.com/photos/9106303@N05/4962075720/
Image: Mike Licht. www.flickr.com/photos/9106303@N05/4962075720/

The internet has become an integral part of daily life. Any business that wants to get itself on the map needs not only a store, but a blog, Facebook and Twitter account, in order to simply be noticed. This has certainly extended to artists and designers, who often use websites like Tumblr and Blogspot to drum up online support for their work in order to sell prints, paintings, sketches, etc, and, in general, make themselves known. But there are some worrying risks when using
this medium and those can be deeply threatening to the safety of that artist or designer’s work.

There are, of course, some clear benefits to using blogs to expand one’s career as an artist, as opposed to the struggle of working as an individual seller, or as a commission artist for larger companies and shops. With a blog, it is somewhat easier, not only to display work to a wide audience, but also to sell work online. Etsy, a site filled with online art and design stores, boast no
membership fees, a mere $0.20 fee to list an item and a 3.5% take on the sale price. There is still, of course, post and packaging charges faced by the artist themselves, and then transferred to the buyer, but this is still likely to be far cheaper than constant booth fees at fairs and exhibitions. The online world demonstrates a new way for smaller creators to not only display what they have made, but also a way to further their career from it.

Furthermore, this use of blogs is not limited to only lesser known individuals. Even huge museums such as the V&A have online blogs in order to give the public “a look at what goes on behind-the-scenes in the world’s greatest museum of art and design”. This proves just how far online blogging is seen as a useful tool in gaining publicity, even on a far larger scale. It also demonstrates the proliferation of the blog as a format in this sense, and, more than anything, how important it is to hold an online presence in the modern world, even if it’s simply to publicise and not display.

However, there are dangers to this blog revolution, and standing tall at the forefront of these are the problems of plagiarism. In an online format, it is far easier to re-post art and leave it uncredited to the artist, or even claim it as your own, and this can be extremely damaging. When speaking to an artist, named Kei (found at www.room-c.tumblr.com), who displays and sells her art nearly
entirely online, she emphasised to me the importance of being credited for her work. “Re-posting art can have an effect on an artist’s chance of getting picked up for a job. If someone finds the art and wants to hire the artist, but there’s no source for the work, that artist has just lost possible long-term employment.” Having personal experience of having her art copied and stolen, she noted that it was “the most discouraging thing there is for most artists.”

Whilst the dangers of the online blog to the artist are clear, it is very difficult to say they outweigh the benefits. It is true that, in any form of creativity, the concept of ownership is a complicated one, and while online work is easy to steal, it is equally easy to credit or praise. The economic and creative gains from using an online blog to display, publicise or sell art or designs are hugely beneficial, and with the internet appearing to be such lifeblood in most of us, what better way for creators to make themselves known?

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