Want to take a picture of someone’s art? Just ask first

April Baird is happy that people like her creations enough to want to take pictures of them.

She’s less happy when they just snap photos without asking.

Baird, who’s been selling illustrations, charms and stickers as a vendor for the past nine years at Hal-Con, the annual sci-fi, fantasy and gaming convention that begins Friday in Halifax, said she’s always wondered why people take pictures of artwork without permission from the artists.

“What’s your intent of taking a photo of my drawing that I put a couple of hours into?” she said. “Are you just going to show a friend, or are you making a list, or are you going to try to make a print of it for yourself and sell it?”

Baird said other Hal-Con vendors and fellow artists outside of the convention have voiced similar concerns.

The 34-year-old artist said she doesn’t mind when people want to take pictures of her art, but she said people need to ask first so she knows what’s happening with her images.

Some Hal-Con vendors say it’s disrespectful to take pictures of someone’s art without their permission. (Scott Neily/Hal-Con)

While it hasn’t happened to her personally, Baird said she knows of other artists who have found their art being sold online, either as prints or as images printed on T-shirts and other items.

“That’s art theft,” she said. “They’re taking something that’s not theirs and making a profit off it.”

This year’s Hal-Con event will run from this Friday until Sunday at the Halifax Convention Centre.

‘Blatantly rude’

Illustrators may have to deal with people wanting to make their own prints from their artwork, but 3D artists are also wary of people snapping pictures of their art.

Amy Sullivan, a New-Brunswick based potter who’s been selling her wares at Hal-Con for the past six years, said people sometimes take pictures of her art with the intention of going back home and finding a cheaper item online.

“Or, ‘Hey, I think I could make this on my own, I’m going to snap a picture of it and then go home and copy it,'” said Sullivan, who won’t be at Hal-Con this year but plans to return in the future.

“[We] can’t really stop people from doing that. It’s just really in our faces, pretty blatantly rude.”

Sullivan, who’s been selling her work for about 17 years, said she’s noticed the problem getting worse over time.

Sullivan says people sometimes take pictures of her art with the intention of going back home and finding a cheaper item online. (Amy Sullivan/The Clayspace)

Hal-Con has always placed emphasis on asking people to not take pictures of others — like cosplayers, who dress up to represent characters from shows, movies, books, and video games — without permission. But Sullivan said not a lot of people understand why they shouldn’t take pictures of art either.

“It just kind of seems like common sense is getting missed in a generation of people with cameras in their pockets and they’re just used to taking pictures of everything all day,” she said.

Hal-Con taking action

Christopher Currie, chair and director of vendors for Hal-Con, said the convention is taking action this year.

“The current plan … is to make sure that we have signage up, and that our attendees are going to be aware that whenever they take pictures — be it if they’re taking pictures of people or of other objects, or offerings, artwork — that they should be seeking permission from the person that owns it,” he said.

Hal-Con will have 200 vendors this year, including artists, sponsors and societies.

Currie said organizers are also looking at ways to handle complaints from vendors to ensure “nobody jumps on somebody for not being aware.”

He said it’s important to raise awareness of this issue because some attendees might not know that it’s disrespectful to take pictures of art without asking.

“I don’t think they always make the connection that that’s taking that artwork, and what they do with it from there, it sort of prevents the artist from getting compensated for their effort,” he said. 

“You could say it almost goes to the point of stealing.”

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