The Digital Artist: Struggling in a Vast Ocean of Content

Stolen art on AliExpress

Pictured above: A screenshot of my art for sale on AliExpress. I have never given anyone permission to take my art and sell it, especially if I don’t even get a commission. Well, at least they had the decency to leave my watermark in the image, albeit very hard to see (bottom left corner). In this blog I will dive into how to handle art theft as an artist.

Being a digital artist in today’s interconnected world offers boundless opportunities to share your creativity with a vast audience. Social media platforms serve as a gateway to showcase your art and gain recognition.

However, the reality for many talented digital artists, including myself at this point in time, is disheartening. Despite interacting with other users and artists across various social media platforms, my work remains unseen. Unseen meaning: I receive neither the likes nor the views. This is a reality for many artists out there, whether they are on Twitter, DeviantART, Tumblr, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube or elsewhere.

Additionally, the pain of witnessing my art being stolen by random internet users and (Chinese) webshops adds another layer of sadness. In this article, I want to explore the emotional rollercoaster experienced by myself, as well as countless other digital artists out there with low following and limited interaction, while also highlighting the importance of gratitude for those who do appreciate our art.

The Loneliness of Limited Visibility

For a digital artist, creating art is an intensely personal journey. It is a medium through which they express their thoughts, emotions, and unique perspective on the world. Naturally, they yearn for their art to be seen, liked, and appreciated by others. However, the vastness of the digital realm and the sheer volume of talented individuals competing for attention can make it challenging to stand out. Despite engaging with other users and artists, tirelessly sharing their work across social media platforms, the anticipated interaction often remains scarce.

The void left by the lack of recognition can be disheartening and demotivating. A typical digital artwork stands for hours of dedication, skill, and passion. When you proudly post your artwork time after time with little to no engagement on it, it becomes difficult not to question one’s abilities, artistic vision, and self-worth. The unending silence surrounding one’s work leads to doubts and insecurities, leaving the artist wondering why their efforts go unnoticed while others receive the recognition they crave.

The Agony of Art Theft

As if the lack of recognition wasn’t enough, digital artists also face the heart-wrenching reality of their art being stolen. The internet’s vastness provides a breeding ground for anonymous individuals who shamelessly appropriate and exploit the work of others. Witnessing your creation being used without permission, claimed as someone else’s, or worse, sold in (Chinese) webshops, instills a profound sense of sadness and betrayal.

Art theft: stolen art on picmix

Pictured above: My art made available for download on a website I have not given permission for. In the very least, my name (“inspiremari”) is mentioned on this page.

Art theft strikes at the very core of an artist’s identity. It not only robs them of potential income but also undermines their trust in the online art community. The emotional toll inflicted by art theft cannot be measured solely in financial terms. It damages the artist’s sense of security, making them reluctant to share their work freely, fearing it may fall victim to further exploitation.

Coping with the Disheartenment

Amidst the overwhelming challenges, it is essential for digital artists to find ways to cope with the disheartenment and keep their passion for art alive. I would like to share with you some strategies that can help navigate the emotional journey and explain how to handle art theft:

Seek Communities

Connecting with fellow artists who understand the struggles can provide immense emotional support and inspiration. Engaging in art communities allows for collaboration, constructive feedback, and the chance to discover new perspectives.

While social media platforms offer an immense audience, it is essential to explore other avenues to expand your reach. Consider niche platforms tailored specifically to digital artists.

Low views count on DeviantART

Pictured above: A screenshot of my art available for viewing on DeviantART. Notice the low view count and even lower favorites count.

Focus on Personal Growth

Instead of relying solely on external validation, concentrate on personal growth and improvement. Treat the lack of recognition as an opportunity to refine your skills, experiment with new techniques, and explore different art styles. Remember that artistic growth is a continuous process, and it’s crucial to enjoy the journey.

Protect Your Work

Take proactive measures to safeguard your artwork. Use visible watermarks and copyright notices to deter potential thieves. While it may not prevent all instances of art theft, it establishes a clear assertion of ownership and discourages unauthorized use.

Let’s be grateful to our appreciators

Despite the challenges and disappointments, in learning how to handle art theft, it’ is important to acknowledge and appreciate the individuals who do interact with and appreciate your art. They are the ones who recognize the effort, time, and talent invested in each creation. The few likes, retweets, or heartfelt comments hold immense value and serve as a reminder that your art has the power to touch others. This is also something I repeatedly tell myself. I have little engagement, but it’s not zero. The few people that take the time to press the heart icon or even go out of their way to leave a comment always make my day!

Gratitude not only lifts an artist’s spirits but also fosters a sense of connection and community. Each interaction, no matter how small, is a testament to the impact our art can have on someone’s life. By expressing gratitude for these individuals, you strengthen the bond between artist and appreciator, creating a space for mutual growth and support.


Being a digital artist with a low following, limited visibility, and the constant fear of art theft can be disheartening and emotionally draining. It’s crucial to acknowledge the struggles, frustrations, and heartache that come with these challenges. However, it is equally important to cherish the genuine support and appreciation you receive from the select few who interact with and admire your art. By finding solace in supportive communities, focusing on personal growth, and valuing the connections you make, you can navigate the digital art world with resilience and gratitude and learn how to handle art theft. Remember, it is through these meaningful interactions that you can find solace, inspiration, and the motivation to continue sharing your unique artistic voice with the world.

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