hello everyone! i hope you can all forgive me for the clickbaity title, but this is something that, as an artist, i feel isn't addressed enough. i'm also sorry in advance if this is too long, i just have a lot to say!

Temporarily removed
a ceiling mural from the palace of versailles

intro

the "problem" i believe WHI has is related to art--in particular, uncredited and potentially stolen art. everything described in this article can also be applied to photography and writing that is uncredited or stolen, but from here on out i'll be using "art" as a blanket term. i decided to write this article when i was adding images to my "art to credit" collection so i could find who made them in the future, and i realized that the sheer amount of art that's reposted here without credit would make crediting all of them an arduous task.

bear in mind that this issue isn't exclusive to weheartit--it's something i've noticed on just about every social media platform you can name. therefore, some of the things i'll be describing may in fact be quite rare on WHI; this article is to serve more as a PSA to help you spot it here and everywhere, not a callout meant to rag on WHI specifically.

having that said, let's begin!

sunflower, van gogh, and art image
sunflowers - vincent van gogh

uncredited vs. stolen: what's the difference?

this is a very good question, since there is some overlap between the two for reasons i'll explain soon. some people, particularly in art communities, believe any art that isn't credited automatically qualifies as stolen art. however, i personally disagree. uncredited art is art that is reposted with no mention of the original artist to be found anywhere on the post, but to truly "steal" artwork, one has to profit off of someone else's reposted art in some way and/or claim it's theirs...when it isn't. the primary difference between these two is that the former is most often done unintentionally, because the poster might not think it's a big deal or might be unable to find or remember the original artist. meanwhile, the latter is always done intentionally, with a rather insidious purpose: to gain attention or profit by piggybacking off of someone else's hard work. you don't just "accidentally" steal something online.

uncredited and stolen art can somewhat overlap, in my opinion, because if you find art posted on someone's profile with no name in the tags, description, or the piece itself, you're likely to assume it's theirs and that they made it themselves. it's a lot like how you'll usually assume that someone's profile picture is them if it's a real person, and not a recognizable figure like a celebrity. even saying "i don't know who made this, but it's not mine" in the description of art you're reposting is better than nothing, but it still isn't enough. don't repost art if you don't have the artist's permission.

some people will go out of their way to remove signatures or watermarks from artwork, whether it be for the purpose of theft or because, for whatever reason, they simply don't want them there. i find this to be a particularly inconsiderate thing to do; even if you find a watermark or signature unsightly, there is no good reason for removing it. if you wouldn't do it to a real work of art, like the kind you might purchase from a gallery, then you shouldn't be doing it to digital art unless given explicit permission from the artist--and most reasonable artists will NEVER just allow you to erase what makes their art, well, theirs.

i have also been notified by a member of the WHI community that weheartit will watermark images on their site that have been downloaded a certain amount of times. in my opinion, this absolutely qualifies as theft; the images that get so popular do not belong to weheartit, but in watermarking them, the company claims that they do. there is no excuse for this, and i believe it's something that WHI needs to stop doing.

dog, art, and greyhound image
bound - whyn lewis

why is it important to give credit to the artist?

art is something that can take hours, days, weeks, even years of hard work. though it might seem easy, and in the case of digital art, people often assume it is, that couldn't be farther from the truth. artists of all stripes pour their hearts, their souls, and their time into making things that are important to them, and they deserve to be acknowledged for their work. art might not be considered "productive", but it has the power to be timeless, to inspire countless others, and to incite societal change. it provides immensely valuable insight into eras past and can, in some cases, be the defining feature of a time period. most artists are doing what they do because they love it, not because they feel an obligation to, and that deserves respect.

sappy diatribe aside, giving credit to artists not only helps them grow their platforms, but it also helps the people who encounter their art. i can't be the only one who has encountered an art piece and wanted to see more like it, only to realize that i can't find the artist's name anywhere on the post and will thus never find their portfolio unless by random chance. it can be frustrating for an artist to realize that their work is being passed around by people who have no idea who they are, and it can be frustrating for hearters to find art they like and have no idea who made it or where they can see more. therefore, mentioning the artist's name, or at the very least reposting artwork that already has a watermark or legible signature, helps both parties.

art, da vinci, and lady image
lady with an ermine - leonardo da vinci

how can we give artists credit?

when reposting art that you're already familiar with, or that has a watermark or signature, this has a simple solution: just write the name of the artist, and possibly the name of the piece, too, in the tags and/or description. if you would like to repost a work of art but don't know who made it, you can look up keywords on the internet that accurately describe it; if that fails, you can download the image before reposting it to WHI, then use google images to reverse-search it until you find the original artist. on your PC, if you've hearted an image, you can add the name of the artist and their work in the tags. if you've already reposted uncredited art, please don't fret! you're not a bad person, and you didn't intend to make that mistake. it's not a horrendous crime to repost art without credit, but it can certainly be an inconvenience for both artists and viewers. please remember to properly credit artists when you reupload their work!

i know there are much bigger problems on the internet than uncredited art, but this is something that i had a lot of thoughts on, and i felt like putting them here so people know about this issue. in addition, i know this is something that will probably never be eradicated in its entirety, but i hope that by spreading awareness, we can at least put a dent in it! thanks for reading, everyone!

here's my "art to credit" collection. if any of you recognize any of these pieces or are able to identify who made them, please feel free to put their name in the tags of these images or DM me! we can make this a community effort. thank y'all!

-bee💛