Crediting your artwork

Listen up!

Whether you post your images on a blog, a website, or on a social media site like Facebook, you need to give yourself credit for your artwork.

If your name is not prominent on the page with the artwork, you need to add your name below the image. That means that if the image is on a blog and I’ve scrolled down so that I can no longer see your name in the header, you need to add your name. Consider how quickly you scroll and scan through websites. Now think about someone doing this on your site. If they get to a certain point, is your name lost? Do they even know whose art they’re looking at?

Get in the habit of crediting all of your images with the necessary information.

I've always appreciated the way Brian Kliewer has credited his images on his blog.

I’ve always appreciated the way Brian Kliewer has credited his images on his blog. Click on the photo to see more.

In addition to your name, add the title, media, and dimensions with each work. These last two items are even more important than the title. They give clues to the texture and the impact the work will have within a certain space. In other words, they help your readers to better envision the artworks in their homes and offices.

Here’s a suggested format that is similar to what you would see on a museum wall (without the © symbol).

©2009 Alyson B. Stanfield
WINTER LANDSCAPE
Pastel on paper, 16 x 20 inches

This shows the © information in the correct order–> ©date, name. It would be incorrect to put your name directly after the © symbol and before the date.

You could also use this version, which is more like the one I use–with an italicized title.

Alyson B. Stanfield, Winter Landscape. Pastel on paper, 16 x 20 inches. ©2009.

Because I use a lot of images on this blog that are undated on artists’ sites, I rarely use dates in my credit lines for artists.

Get in the habit of adding this whenever and wherever you post an image. It’s professional and a courtesy to your fans. Developing a standard format will make it easier for you in the future.

Always H x W x D

Don’t forget that artwork is always listed as height by width by depth in inches or centimeters. Because your artwork is online, your audience is international. You should specify the measurement system you’re using.

Uber-Correct Format

When I was writing my book, I struggled with the spacing and format of using HxWxD within text. If you really want to be especially correct, this is what I learned.

  • If you run the dimensions without spaces between them, such as 16×20, you add the abbreviated symbol to each measurement: 16”x20” without spaces.
  • If you like the spaces, you only need one abbreviated symbol at the end: 16 x 20”. It seems kind of backwards to me, but that’s what my source said. Of course, I can’t remember the source, but I spent a lot of time figuring it out! [Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., section 9.18] Example: The standard size of a business card is 2”x3.5”. (page 85 of I’d Rather Be in the Studio!)
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55 comments to Crediting your artwork

  • thanks!! that’s a very helpful post! i will definitely be implementing it on all my work going forward.

  • Thank you for some clarity on the nitty-gritty details that are often overlooked. AND, for answering that eternal question: To space or not to space between dimensions?

    I had an art piece printed in the newspaper recently promoting a group show. The opp came up quickly, so I submitted an image without any additional info. There was no mention of my name, title or contact info and I was kicking myself for the missed opp to inform readers and direct them back to my site. Next time!

    Thanks for the great reminder, Alyson.

  • Excellent information! Didn’t know there was a standard for dimension spacing! Love having good examples!

  • In your example of the correct order for © info you put date after name. (ie. ©2009 Alyson B. Stanfield)

    Is the date necessary or mandatory? Is the date the reflection of when you first published the piece or when you first registered your copyright with the government?

    I have found that by posting the date I make less sales on reproductions my older works than if don’t post the date. This is why I leave the © date off my work even though I always clearly post the fact that they’re copyrighted. It is about sales after all.

    Any thoughts or legal advice?

  • Mary, I believe I’ve read that it is not proper notice without the year. However, works are supposedly protected without notice posted now.

    It seems prudent to post notice, however, simply because there are so many people who might see your work who do not know anything about copyright law. There seems to be quite a lot of erroneous assumption from people the world over who mistakenly believe that work online is up for grabs. This hurts artists who should benefit from their work by licensing agreements rather than theft of their images.

    I’m no lawyer, so perhaps you’ll want to read for yourself. If you go to the Library of Congress’ website, you’ll find more info on copyright notice and law.

  • I’m curious — whose rule is this? I’ve never heard of it. I’m a book editor, and even when I worked in an art museum I never heard this rule about spacing when listing dimensions. You may be right, but attribution would be helpful to clarify whether this is an art-world-wide convention, or just the preferred style of one gallery or publisher. Thanks.

  • Mary: No, I’m not going to give you legal advice, but I can only imagine that if you claim copyright, it helps to document it by date. You could throw a copyright symbol on anything, but I’m sure it helps to show that you have been reproducing it with the year in which it was created. See http://copyright.gov.

    Lainie: I knew I’d get busted on that. I thought it was in my Chicago Manual of Style, but couldn’t find it there. I got lazy and decided to post as is. I do know it was a legitimate style book. I’ll research it and make the corrections when I get a breather. Mea culpa.

  • Lainie: Found it! It is the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (not the latest one, I’m sure). Section 9.18. I’m going to correct the above post to reflect that.

  • Thanks Alyson for the helpful post! I implemented some of your suggestions today.

  • Thanks Alyson, very useful post, which as an artist helps to clarify some key points on crediting my work.

    On my art blog, and other social networking sites, I always add full credit. Too many people just assume they can use an image for their own purposes.

    Thankyou for sharing.

  • Wow, one of the blindingly-obvious-when-you-think-about-it things that I don’t do! Thanks Alyson. :)

    As for measurements, I do agree with you about inches (“) but with centimeters (which the rest of the world uses! *grin*) it’s more legible the opposite way. So if you use the abbreviation after both numbers then use spaces: 10cm x 12cm. If you only put cm at the end use no spaces: 10x12cm.

  • What a meaty post. Thanks!

  • So often I have encountered images of art works with imprecise credits, both online and in print. A pet peeve and I’m glad to know others agree that it can be confusing to encounter such…
    A good habit to get into–posting full details for each painting on my blog.

  • I have a question with respect to “Crediting Your Art”:

    I’m a fine art photographer with a number of older (1998) images, which show the copyright date and my name on the “click to enlarge” links on my web site.

    Does this older date “date” my work (make it seem out of touch, less contemporary, less noteworthy to purchase)?

    Someone once remarked that where all of my images are concerned, I should just simply place the copyright image along with my name beside it and forget the date.

    What’s your expert opinion?

    (FYI, all of my images are formally registered with the US Copyright Office.)

    Thanks!

    PS: If anyone wants to follow me, I’m at
    http://www.twitter.com/hummingbirdlady
    http://www.facebook.com/hummingbirdlady.

    Mention that you subscribe to Alyson’s info and I’ll recip follow.

    (You can also check out my Google Profile at
    http://www.google.com/profiles/phylwalker)

    I like my Google Profiles Page! It’s FUN!

  • Forgive a perhaps naive question, but where does the copyright symbol appear? I don’t see it on my keyboard.
    Thanks

    • Hi Alyson,
      I hope it isn’t too late to ask a question. I read through the comments but didn’t find the answer. If I already have my images on my hard drive without any copyright information, how do I add that? I have a Mac with photoshop. I am building a Facebook fan page, but have not published it because I can’t figure out how to get the information onto the images. Thanks in advance for any information you could provide!
      -Simonne

  • Does the “height first” rule apply when used to describe the dimensions on a work of art photographs? My impression with photos has been that the smaller dimension gets listed first , as in 8×10 or 11×14 regardless of orientation, but this might just be “common usage” rather than “correct usage”. I’d appreciate knowing if anyone has the answer.

  • Oh my gosh, I am always forgetting to credit my own work. Does this apply for my art jewelry as well as my paintings and drawings, though? I would imagine so.

    I noticed you use Chicago style as your referencing format. In my other life as an astronomer, I use(d) MLA style while a lot of other fields use APA. So now I’m curious to go look up at least the MLA handbook’s suggested citation format for art.

    :)

  • What does MLA and APA stand for?
    Not all Abbreviations are internationally understood BTW.

  • Angelita, you have to use either an “alt” code or, if using a PC run the character map (charmap.exe) in the command window and scroll through the table of characters. Then click on the symbol you want and it appears in a little box below the table. The rest will be obvious. © also has keystrokes hold down alt key and type 0169 on the keypad at the right side of your keyboard. Its unicode is U+00A9.

    Judy, I seems to recall unofficially photographs being designated differently as well. But is it possible it gets changed back to painting standard when referring to it in the art sense?

  • Marie, sorry. MLA is Modern Language Association (yay!) and APA is American Psychological Association. I was brought up on MLA so you are not imagining a bias. LOL

  • Judy: Art photography is the same. It’s confusing because in the good old days, photographic paper was listed w x h. But in the fine-art photography world, this rule applies: H x W x D.

    Patricia: It applies only if you want credit for it! There may be different copyright rules for jewelry. I know there is for functional art and some crafts materials.

    Marie: Another popular style book is the AP. In grad school, people used either Chicago or AP (Associated Press). I think it was my advisor who got me to using Chicago Manual of Style–or perhaps it was a department rule. I would have had no idea what MLA or APA were.
    http://www.apstylebook.com/

    Tina: The rule only applies if you use the ” character in place of letters or words. I don’t know what happens if you use inches! But I’m fairly certain that you’d only use it once at the end regardless of the spacing you use.

    I do hope you noticed that I mentioned centimeters under the HxWxD heading. Very well aware that we’re the last to evolve.

    Angelita: To get the © on a Mac, click on Option+g. Voila!

  • Oh yes, I forgot about AP. I’ve noticed that some academic geared sites have utilities that will properly format citation for their site if one wants to cite their page on their Works Cited page. The utility usually gives an option for either MLA or APA (see above definitions) as those are the most popular in the sciences. I am an adjunct for the University of Maryland University College and I know they have links on their Library web pages for several citation formats.

  • JD

    I’m going to put this into practice, especially with the Social Network site. I had been doing the title and year for some time in my porto.

  • Jo B

    US copyright doesn’t specify the symbol/date/name order, it says “accompanied by the year of first publication and the name of the copyright proprietor”, so you can do symbol/date/name.
    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl100.html

  • Jo B: That page states “A UCC notice should consist of the symbol © (C in a circle) accompanied by the year of first publication and the name of the copyright proprietor (example: © 2006 John Doe).” It gave the example in that order and everything I’ve come across says to write it in that order: symbol, date, name–as you wrote.

  • Interesting post, I do agree that crediting work is important, thanks again for sharing.

  • […] Amateur photographers might snap unflattering images and, perhaps worst of all, fail to provide proper credit along with the […]

  • I got into this discussion late, but it has been very informative. I have a question about the copyright symbol. I don’t have a MAC, I have a PC. I would like to know how to get the symbol on my computer.

  • Becky: Have you tried an online search for an answer?

  • Becky, if you are referring to writing the copyright symbol, then which operating system you are using is not relevant. What matters is your writing program. This is what used to be called a typesetting utility and includes programs such as OpenOffice.org (my favorite), WORD, Word Perfect, as well as notepad-like editors such as TypePad, and so on. Or your graphics program if you are trying to use type font in a graphics program. On a PC there is an internal utility called the character map from where it is relatively easy to find the ANSI code or the symbol itself to copy over into whatever document you are creating. I would expect something equivalent exists on the Mac. Or else you could just use an escape and the ANSI code if your program accepts that.

    So maybe find a Mac users forum and ask about the presence of a character map.

    Good luck.

  • Are there different rules for digital photographs? I understand the format –Title © 2010 Bo Mackison.

    But the prints can be different sizes. Maybe I should only state the limited print series which is always done in 11″x15″ making note that is is a limited print?

  • Bo Mackison

    One more question. Do I put in “digital photograph” as one would put in “oil on canvas”? If I am seriously upgrading the paper or finishing method would that be included too, as in “digital photography on rag paper” or “Giclee?”

    Sorry if this is too technical? I have wondered about this for a long time and I’ve had trouble finding sources…

  • Bo: If you have a limited edition on your photos, you may want to number them. As for the label, I would just say “Photograph.” I don’t think “digital” is necessary these days.

  • Excellent post, Alyson! I’ll use these tiups going forward, and I’ll also update my images with my credit line.

  • […] Add a credit line to every image you post on your blog or website. If you don’t have your name, date, and image […]

  • […] An artist said I could use her images with proper credit, but she doesn’t even have size, medium, © on her own site. Remember to treat your artwork as you want others to treat it. […]

  • […] this reason, it’s critical to have a complete credit line below each image. Enter this information in the caption for every piece of artwork you post on […]

  • Great information. I can see now the importance of the credit line with my images. Thanks

  • This is so helpful! While researching other artists’ Facebook Fan Pages, I found such a diversity in just about everything regarding titling work online. This post is as close as I can find to an online AP Style Handbook for websites and Facebook Artist Fan Pages. Thanks Alyson!

  • Makes sense! I always thought that the image was the ONLY important info to include but now I’m a believer!

  • […] Add a credit line next to each artwork. (I hope you’re paying attention to this!) If you want other people to […]

  • […] this for reference: Crediting your artwork. Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 12:51 am Sculpture Feed Comments […]

  • I didn’t have my copyright info on my images on Facebook… now I do! Thank you.

  • […] They’re HUGE! They are full color, with a representative work from each artist underneath the artist’s name in large, legible […]

  • This was very helpful thank you for posting it.

  • I just wanted to mention that the dimension format is reversed for commercial printing.

    I’ve been an advertising creative director for 13 years and in my profession we never list height first…. ever. For us the international standard is always WxH and we don’t ever have a depth.

    When a format is longer vertically, it is called Portrait – otherwise it is called Landscape. Letter size paper is usually portrait and listed as 8.5×11 and business cards are primarily Landscape and listed as 3.5×2. If you list differently, then the printer will automatically assume you are rotating the artwork.

    It taken me years to finally be barely comfortable with listing my wife’s fine art pieces HxW – but it’s still viscerally difficult for me. I can’t even read them that way without squinting. :D

    Just sharing.

    • Lazarus: Absolutely! Photo paper was always h x w also (8.5 x 11 inches, for example). Then you print it and have to change the way you list the size.

      It’s something we have to get used to, which is why I need to remind artists every now and then.

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Thanks so much for your teaching !
    I have followed your advice and enjoy learn from you.

  • […] been on my soapbox for years about this and many of my artist-readers still aren’t doing […]

  • I think I’m just oblivious, but how do you actually put in the written info onto your jpeg images? Thanks.