Artists want and need to protect the integrity of their art pieces and image files online. Adding a watermark is one way to do that. So, when you see art on a website, an online marketplace such as Etsy, or on social media, it is perfectly natural and acceptable and expected (in my opinion) for that art image to have a watermark.
What is a watermark, you ask? Personally, mine is my website link, simple as that. Some artists use their full name with the copyright symbol © (alt+0169). Watermarks are sometimes near the bottom of the image, and sometimes large and overlapping the whole image.
Here is an example of how www.BigStockPhoto.com protects their images: their name and a big “X” right across the image.
Here is how I protect my images: my web address typed right across the image. And sometimes additional information about the piece, like this image for A Silent Story.
We like to think that putting a watermark on our image files works to prevent our artwork being downloaded from the web and used without our permission. This does not always work, unfortunately, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
HOWEVER, an actual art print that you purchase from an artist’s store or shop should NEVER have a watermark! The piece should be shipped to you for you to hang for enjoyment, with or without framing, your choice. The art you purchase should NEVER have a watermark!
Here is one of my prints printed and ready to ship, no watermark on the actual art:
The art print may contain the artists signature that was painted on the original painting that was photographed to make your print, and perhaps a small pencil-signed signature at the bottom right or left (if the artist offers their art prints signed, like I do), but NEVER a watermark written across the image.
If the print you received from an artist is blurry, washed out, or feels like part of it is cut off or appears to have a mushy or blurry spot where something might have been digitally removed, like a signature or watermark, then you might rightly suspect that you have received a counterfeit product.
Do a reverse image search on Google. Here’s how: click on “images” under the search box on the google home page and click the little camera icon in the search field. Upload an image of the piece you purchased and see what you get online. Reach out directly to the artist with your concerns.
Want some advice on framing your art prints? Read THIS post