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Art Blogging Etiquette 101: General Rules for Linking and Using Images

Last week I received several questions from an artist who was new to blogging and wanted to know the proper way to link and use other artists’ images in his blog posts.

After replying, I realized that this information might be helpful to other artists as well, so today I’m reposting my answers (with a few revisions and additions) below:

With regards to linking:

1. Do I need permission before linking to another artist’s website?

No—as a blogger you can link to any other art blog or website without asking. No one has the right to tell you where you can or cannot link to, and 99.9% of the time the person you’re linking to will really appreciate it.

If someone asks you to remove a link, which is very very rare, it’s still your choice—it’s your website, after all—but I’d probably just delete the link and move on with my life.

2. Should I inform the artist that I’ve linked to them?

You can if you’d like, but it’s not required. If you’ve written something nice about them, and want to make sure they see it, then you should probably email them. If you don’t, they might never find out.

3. Am I required to link back if someone links to me?

If you appreciate that they linked to you, then why not? Links are a great way to say “thank you” and they don’t cost a thing.

It’s never expected or required to link to someone, but that’s exactly why it’s so nice to find out someone linked to you. :)

With regards to other artists’ images:

1. Can I display another artist’s work on my blog without asking?

In most cases, yes, you can copy one or two images from another website and display them on your blog without asking. For example, if you’re reviewing or critiquing the artwork, or showing an example of a certain style or medium, it’s considered fair use and within your rights.

Naturally, you need to respect the artist’s rights, too. Make sure to credit the artist as the creator of the work, and never use an excessive number of images.

You should also try to include the title of the artwork, and place at least one link to the website where you found the images so that your readers can go see the rest of the artist’s work for themselves.

2. If they ask me to take their images down, do I have to?

Legally it might be within your rights to ignore that request; I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know. But if another artist asks that you remove one of their images, the simplest and most courteous thing to do is to comply.

You can probably avoid this situation by just looking around the artist’s website for a few minutes. If there’s a very prominent statement indicating that the artist doesn’t want anyone using their images without asking, then just ask first.

3. Is it OK to crop, color-correct, or modify the images before using them?

I’d recommend against it. Even with good intentions you’re likely to change something about the artwork that shouldn’t be changed. Since the image isn’t yours, the utmost respect should be taken to preserve it and display it as the artist intended.

Re-sizing the image smaller is usually OK, but enlarging it should be avoided since that can add pixelization and other visual artifacts to the image.

Remember, if you wouldn’t like someone else doing it to YOUR art, then it’s probably safe to assume they won’t like you doing it to theirs.

Most of the time people love being talked about, and love to see their artwork recognized. If you say positive things, treat their art with respect, and link back to them, you shouldn’t have any problems.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

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