Writers: How to Credit Illustrators

I love the writing community — I have felt more at home within this community than any other. You guys get me. I could kiss you, but I won’t. Not today. Today, I’d like to get a little more serious about a problem I’ve noticed in both professional writers and amateurs. Something that, as a previously professional illustrator, absolutely disgusts me.

Crediting the artist.
I know this is cliche to say but, wouldn’t you feel pretty shitty if someone quoted one of the best lines you’ve ever written, without crediting your name? I know I would.

I see it a lot on Twitter. Writers, excited to share information about their new WIP, create image boards for their new characters. They put together beautiful collections of images, chock full of paintings, then share them publicly without a single credit given. Many times, I see work painted by illustrators I know and consider friends. A lot of these illustrators are suffering financially, and hurting to find work in the illustration industry. Many illustrators never get paid over $30 a day — and every time you post work without crediting an artist, you inspire disrespect in a community that is already very much disrespected.

I know it hurts to hear… we have ALL done it. Maybe you feel like an asshole — maybe you think I’m the asshole, because I’m overreacting. But the truth is, I’m not overreacting, and you’re not an asshole for getting it wrong. We just need to work together to make this right, correct our errors, and respect our fellow artists — ones who might paint our book covers someday!

Get to the point, Darren. What’s the best way to go about doing this?

It’s simple, and there are many different ways to credit artists without having to gunk up your tweets and blog posts with a ton of acknowledgments.

The most obvious of these ways is to simply link to the piece on an outside website where the artist is present.

Artwork by Tanya Strow. Tweet @BrandSanderson

You don’t always have to add a name to the image if that’s not the aesthetic you want. Here, fantasy author Brandon Sanderson credits Tanya Strow by dropping her name and adding a link to an outside website. This is completely acceptable.

You don’t have to have a signature on the piece if the information is still in the post somewhere.

What if there’s more than one image? 

I can’t fit all those names into one tweet!
No, unfortunately you can’t, and this happens a lot with image boards. It becomes overwhelming, and there’s just no easy way to do it. But paintings aren’t easy to paint — my paintings take about 35-50 hours to finish. The easier ones take 10.

EXHIBIT A: Pinterest, Image boards, and places where art goes to die.

(Credits to artists via Twitter handles. Top Mid: @SassyParrot // TopR: @BelaOrdas //
MidL: @SimulDraws // Mid: @ChrisRahnArt // MidR: @MSpencerDraws
Other Credit: BottomL: Pieter Claesz // BottomR: Wayne Reynolds)

Wow. That was a mess of credit, right? Yeah, it’s a mess, but if you’re going to use someone’s art, you should figure out a way to credit them. It’s their right. Here’s some more ways you can do it.

Left: Put names of Twitter handles and other on the images themselves.
Right: Kind of a cop out, but if you’re looking for aesthetics, bringing out the bottom of an image and lightly adding the names is not ideal, but better than nothing.
This is what I think is most ideal, if you’d still like the image board to be free of clutter.
Simply upload a second image in the same Twitter post with the information.

That’s all well and good but–

Issue #1

I don’t know where the image came from. I found it without credit.

This is the unfortunate reason that people need to start crediting. The internet as it is, is a viral place. If one person does it, the next will too, and the originals get lost in the nether.

Google has made this simple with the reverse image search. Although it might take a little research on your end, as a writer, you should love research anyway.

Google.com found it for me, easy.
Now, that’s not to say it’s this easy all the time. Mark Zug is fairly well known in the art community, and is simple to find. Sometimes, you have to follow a few links and do a little bit more digging to find who is truly responsible, but such acts are fairly simple. As far as writer’s research, researching illustrator names is probably way easier than researching some of the weird facts we need to write a manuscript…

Issue #2

Darren, you have photos on your image board that aren’t credited. Photographers need credit too!

My answer? Sometimes that’s true. But I get all of my photographs from websites where photographers give explicit rights to use photos for free and without credit, you just have to find them. Some good ones are Pixabay, Shutterstock and GettyImages.

But all rights can be different, so make sure to look for this if you don’t want to give credit:

Anyway, I hope that helps.

Unfortunately, this isn’t everything you need to know, and I can’t write it all down because I have to save some words for writing my books. But this is a good place to start, and that’s better than nothing.

What’s important to know is that there are options available to you so that you can give illustrators the credit they deserve, and you should do your best to do so before posting artwork. It helps the artist… truly. They have it just as hard as we writers do, and it’s important to respect that as a member of the creative community.

Research, research, research.

Illustration Uncategorized Writing

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Great and solid advice. It worries me when I see so many aesthetics created and shared widely, sometimes with GORGEOUS images that must have taken aeons to create. The artists must get credit for their work, just like writers expect of their own creations.


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