What Do You Do if Someone Steals Your Art?

A fellow artist asked me: You’ve sent a company your images to see if they’d like to carry your line on their products. How do you know they won’t steal your artwork and put it on their products and sell them without your knowledge?

Energy thrills through my hands as I make art

My first thought was, in that case, either the company will go out of business after getting a rotten reputation for being design thieves, or they are so big it will take Godzilla to get them to stop.

There have been many cases that I’m aware of where artists did, in fact, get art/design stealers to stop. If you feel confident that you can get them to stop, go for it, confront them. I know of one person who has gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars in recompense. (You do have to be set up and prepared – more on that below.)

When it’s a big company, do you have the means to stay the chase and out-lawyer them? If not, let it go.

Personally? I do The Woowoo on my art: I imagine a huge clear pink glass bubble surrounding me and any art I put out into the world, protecting it from any nefarious thievery or usage.

I know, I know – like I said – woowoo. But if I do find someone ripping me off, you can be sure that I will send my copyright lawyers after them like wolves with exceedingly sharp, arm-length teeth.

There are a million details about this, but here are a few essentials that I have found to be helpful.


If you go into an agreement expecting to be ripped off, you will be. Your attitudes and vibes all call for you to have a less-than experience.

So instead of worrying, “What if I’m ripped off?” – change your question to, “What if this can be the best experience for both myself and the company? What do I need to think and do to make it so?”

So don’t even bother about it. If you spend your time worrying about people stealing your art, you’re allowing your weeny-worry-mind to gobble up time and energy you could be using to create your beautiful artwork.


If you go into a conversation with a company and it feels ‘off’ – stop! Say, “Thank you very much,” and leave the conversation. Your gut is telling you to take care – pay attention!


If you enter into a conversation and agree to collaborate, get a freaking contract! Are you in business, or are you just foofing around treating your art like a hobby?

Have a licensing attorney check it over! The small print can and will destroy you if there’s one little phrase like, “The company has the right to all your work ad infinitum!”

Of course most companies don’t do that, but you know the one time you don’t check . . .

it’s way worth your time to go over every detail of your contract to make sure it covers your butt, and prevents them from having too much control over your art and copyrights.

You’re the boss of you and your art. You can set it up so the company only has rights to one image for one type of product for a certain amount of time, at a certain price.

That gives you the leeway to use that image on other things you sell, yourself, or to license it to other companies for other products.


Before you even start to pitch companies to license your work, it’s smart to have your image copyright-registered with the US copyright office for the art you want to sell.

Again: BEFORE you publish, sell or license it.

(This is for the US, only – I don’t know about other countries.)

You can register single pieces of art, as well as groupings. You pay different fees for published and unpublished art.

Be very, very picky-picky-diligent, and read the info carefully, because what you and I think what, say, ‘published’ means, they most likely have a different way of looking at it.

Here’s where to go: copyright.gov/registration/


If you are serious about selling, licensing, wholesaling or getting your art on Print-on-Demand products, I suggest you look up Stacie Bloomfield on Skillshare.com, and take all the classes she has there on design and the business of design. It’s worth the money and time it takes.

Here’s a link to her courses on her own website – if I could, I’d take every one of them! staciebloomfield.com/courses/

Here’s a link to one of her freebies – she has many! A more generous person would be hard to find –

I just took her $2K Leverage Your Art course – I thought I knew stuff – wow. She’s a 7-figure business. I’m not (yet!). So I’m willing to be open to new info from such a great source. Her course is NOT about how-to-make the art, but the BUSINESS of art and design.

She knows so much it’s shocking. It’s the best art course out there. She teaches you the nitty gritty of all that stuff, and more. It was an 8-week course, and I’m still only about halfway through it, because I’m paying attention to every detail.

I was lucky – someone gifted it to me. If you don’t have the money, ask someone to gift it to you. Or set up a GoFundMe. It’s worth way more than the 2K, I guarantee. Just one detail you may not have known could catapult you out of your present financial level quick-as-slick.


The one big bugaboo for me personally in all this is the copyrighting. I have more than 3000 sellable images.

You can register ten at a time.

Oh boy, woop-tee-doo – let’s see, at 35 bucks a pop, that’ll be over ten thousand dollars in fees, not to mention ninety bazillion years’ time arranging and setting it all up.

So I select the ones that I think will be good sellers and just do a few sets at a time. I can send in ‘unpublished’ images at that rate – but if I send in images that have already either been publicly published or that have sold, I pay even more!


If you are truly interested in getting your art/designs printed on fabric and home decor items, look up and use the tutorials on Spoonflower.com

If you want to create pattern designs and sell license or wholesale your images, I suggest you get on over to Skillshare.com and immerse yourself in the classes there. They are excellent. It’s so worth every penny.


Artists in the pattern design biz who teach on Skillshare:
Bärbel Dressler (her work is really beautiful)
Bonnie Christine (she has a course called Immersion)
Maja Faber
Angela Mckay
Elizabeth Olwen
Rebecca Flaherty
Tracey Capone


Learn how to use spoonflower.com, so you can sell your designs on fabric and home decor. Here’s a link to spoonflower video classes: skillshare.com

I hope you’ll be sure to sign up on Skillshare, because there are hundreds and hundreds of great classes on there that will help you improve whatever it is you do. (I probably should, but I have no affiliation with Skillshare.)

And again, here are Stacie’s courses: staciebloomfield.com/courses/


I’m an info freak – I’ve bookmarked a ton of classes I want to take, and watch one a day.

If I watch more than that, my work gets derailed and then I get all depressed and mad at myself. No need for that. I just allow myself one class in the evening, and kick back and watch a video, take notes, allow the info to sink in over that night.

I also watch an uplifting kind of video, too, right before bed. Like, something with Dr. Joe Dispenza, who helps you learn how to expand your brain’s power to create the life you desire. He’s stupendous. He’s on Gaia.com,

Why do I do that? Because I’ve found that if, before bed, I’m on facebook or tiktok, or if I watch reg’lar ole news, I have hideous dreams and wake up exhausted and depressed. Who needs that? I sure don’t.

So be sure to keep learning and taking care of all that grey mooshy stuff in your head.

They say we lose brain synapses as we get older, and to stay alert, to keep learning – well, I may be old, but if you could look inside my head, I bet my synapses are like a five-year-old’s!

Thanks for reading — I appreciate you!!

I hope this has helped you.


What Do You Do if Someone Steals Your Art?
© Angela Treat Lyon 2024


I invite you to check out my latest drawings and lots of other art:

More: LyonArtandDesign.com

Prints of just about all of my drawings and paintings are available — let me know if you’d like one.

And! Coming soon — beautiful scarves and other delicious goodies!

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