Reposting Etiquette: A Guide For Instagram

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of chatter about businesses reposting work with and without credit, and I wanted to touch on this. I’ve seen artists post requesting that you always credit them, and while this is great, there is a huge grey area when it comes to businesses using our art as advertising.

**Disclaimer: These are my views and I can only speak for myself in this circumstance, but I think more than a few people will agree with this.**

To start off, I LOVE when you love what I create. I create art that, on the surface level, I want to use to make people happy. I don’t generally draw things that are deep, I tend to lean towards feel good things. So if someone gets those same vibes from me, then I’ve done my job.

However, when you repost my stuff without credit, then you’re hurting me as an artist. Like I said, I love it when you love my work, but I love it even more when you credit me, tag me, and don’t crop out my watermark and/or signature. Crediting allows for anyone who sees the work in your feed to know who made it. Tagging lets me see where my art is being shared, and I can shoot a little thank you to you as just putting my @ in the comments gets lost very quickly. And finally, though I’m repeating myself here, this goes for ANYONE reposting an artists’ work: DO NOT CROP OUT THEIR SIGNATURE OR REMOVE THEIR WATERMARK. I think it’s important to note as well that some artists do not want their work reposted. Respect that. They generally will write on their profile and on their posts that they don’t want the work reposted. Just respect it.

However, what about when you repost images with the intent of promoting your brand or product?

This falls into a really weird grey area, as many businesses look at this like “We are giving you exposure and you created this for fun, so why should we pay you?” or “We just wanted to share your pretty art”. But oftentimes the biggest tip off is in the description where the brand will write “go to the link in our profile for whatever we are selling or directing you to.” This in the simplest form is advertising. When you use an artists’ work to advertise your business or a product you may be selling, simply crediting the artist is NOT enough. You are essentially making money by using someone else’s work for free. This is not ok. Regardless of whether you are a huge brand or a small shop, you need to compensate the artist if you are going to use their work to gain customers.

Ideally, you would compensate, credit, and ask permission to use the work before you do anything else. If you want to use an artists’ work for this purpose, you need to contact them first. If the work you want to use was created for another client, you cannot use it. Respect the artist if they say no for any reason (they don’t need to give you a reason either). If the artist says yes to your usage of their artwork, be ready and willing to pay a licensing fee to use the art.

As the use of social media becomes even more prevalent for creating a successful business, it’s important to realize that not everything on the internet is there for you to use for free. Just finding an image on google doesn’t mean it wasn’t created by someone. If you don’t know who created the image, go to images.google.com or tineye.com, upload the image and search for where it originated from, and then reach out to that artist using the steps I’ve outlined. It’s a simple 5–10 minute addition to your posting time that may make a world of difference for that artist. Not only will the artist be appreciative that you went the extra mile to find them and reach out, you will also be seen as a business person with integrity as you are showing respect for content. If for some reason you cannot find the original creator of the image, you still cannot use the image because it is not your intellectual property or copyright.

At the end of the day, social media is how many of us get work, and how we share our work, so show us that you love it by showing us that you respect our time and craft, and that same courtesy will be extended to you as well.

If you’re sitting here and still unsure if you need to do all of this, I created a handy website for you: canirepostthis.com.

P.S. If you want to license my art for your brand, I have a page you can use to inquire about specific pieces, visit it here: www.shaunalynn.com/licensing.