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5 tips to protect your artwork from being stolen

After spending hours on a piece of art, there’s no worse feeling than discovering your work has been stolen. Unfortunately, it’s not a rare occurrence.

Artists and creative practitioners have always had to contend with art theft, from counterfeit sculptures in Ancient Rome to fraudulent NFTs throughout NFT marketplaces. Art theft is wrong, but it’s also difficult to control. Here are five tips to protect your art from theft and infringement.

✏️ This article was written & sponsored by our friends at DeviantArt—the world’s largest online art gallery and community dedicated to creators and art collectors.

Simple ways to deter thieves

The best way to stop art theft is to keep it from happening in the first place.

Not all art thieves act with malice. Some may not realize that having access to your art is not the same as permission. Adding your copyright can be enough to stop someone.

đź’§ Watermarks and signatures

Presenting your artwork clearly as your own keeps it from being useful to would-be art thieves. This can be as simple as adding a watermark over your work or a digital signature.

🖼️ Upload a lower-resolution file

Lower-resolution files still look beautiful when viewed online, but they don’t translate well enough for most commercial uses. This makes it difficult for would-be art thieves to repurpose your work or claim it as their own.


Tips for shutting down infringement

Just as burglaries still occur with alarm systems in place, digital art theft can still happen even when taking preventative measures. But if you catch an art thief, you can keep them from profiting off of your work. Here are a few ways to help detect art infringement.

🤝 Build a community

You don’t need to have a large following in order to have a network of people who are willing to look out for you. Whether they’re fans or fellow artists (or both!), people who feel like they belong to the community you’re in are more likely to give you a head’s up if they see something suspicious.

đź”’ Protect your art

Use services that can help you safeguard your art. For example, with DeviantArt Protect, you can upload your art to a secure account. When potential infringement is detected, you’ll receive an alert with a DMCA takedown link. Find out if your work is being sold as NFTs and protect your art from thieves.


How to approach NFT theft

When you discover that someone has taken your art and minted it as an NFT, what’s your next step?

It can depend on the NFT marketplace in question, but typically you’ll want to file a detailed report or even go as far as sending them an email that proves your artwork has been infringed upon.

In the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows copyright holders to file takedown notices of work that has been used without permission. DeviantArt Protect sends you directly to the marketplace, prompting you to take quick action to remove the offending content.

Take action today

There has never been more opportunity for digital artists than today, but art theft can sully those opportunities. When the art community has each others’ backs by coming together to hold thieves accountable for their actions, such theft becomes unprofitable. In the meantime, we hope these tips will help creatives like you protect your artwork online. ■

About DeviantArt: DeviantArt was created to entertain, inspire, and empower the artist and art lover in all of us. Founded in August 2000, DeviantArt is home to over 70 million registered members worldwide and hosts over 500 million pieces of art on the platform. DeviantArt’s end-to-end platform for both creators and art collectors is used to publish, promote, discover, and acquire artworks and other members for a peer community.

As the largest aggregator of creative talent on the Internet, fueled by tens of thousands of daily submissions and reaching over 100 million monthly unique visitors, DeviantArt is one of the world’s largest websites enabling participation in the arts at a scale never imagined in the traditional art world.

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