Support the Artist, not the Curator

Support the artists



As Internet grew and social media platforms developed, a new popular “job” emerged online: Internet Curators.

Curators in the past were essential in the Art industry. They searched for artists, worked with them and put up exhibitions to showcase their work. They were often passionate people holding higher academic degrees in Art with good knowledge in their fields.

But nowadays, with the access of thousands of images online, many people have hijacked the job and invented the “Internet Curator“, which is basically described as a person who browses Internet for images and shares them on their own social media feeds.

The big difference is that, most of the time, those curators use photos without prior permission from the artists, sometimes not even crediting the work. And while Art curators were passionate and knowledgeable professionals, Internet curators usually have no background or any knowledge in art, and often just grab whatever beautiful photos they find to share and gain more followers.

I call this taking advantage of someone’s work to increase your own popularity. And it hurts the artist.

You have probably come across curators, or even follow some on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ or even Twitter. They have thousands of followers and post gorgeous daily images. Sometimes they credit the original artist, sometimes they don’t.
And while they go on sharing images and gathering a cult following, the original artists work hard to produce these images and get nothing in return.

I’ve had one of my images shared by a curator on Facebook, it had over a thousand “likes”, was shared more than 300 times and had over 50 comments. The same image on my own feed had about 30 “likes”,  was shared twice and had no comments. I also didn’t have any extra followers, because the person mentioned my name but did not link to me (and let’s be honest, who goes and searches for an artist’s name?). That curator has over 100k followers.

It’s a sad world when the curator is much more popular than the artist who creates the work.

So please, in order to support and help artists creating their work, don’t ignore them. Here’s what you can do:

– If you follow a curator, click through the links and give your support to the original artist too. Follow them, share their work and credit them.

– If you enjoyed the art, don’t comment on the curator’s page. They often don’t read you anyway. Go to the artist’s page and show your support by commenting on their work.

– If you are going to share the work of an artist, share it from their own page/website. Don’t re-share the curator’s post. Eventually links get lost and the work is left uncredited.

– Speaking of credits, if the original author is not mentioned, DON’T SUPPORT the curator. This is usually against copyright laws, and even Creative Commons rules. Finding the original author isn’t difficult with Google, just do a reverse search with the image and you’ll find the answer.

– Finally, if you really want to show your support, purchase the art. Give your time and money to the artists and help them create more work.

Nobody wants to have other people benefit from their own hard work. So, please, show your support to the artist, and not just the curator.


“When you buy from an independent artist you are buying more than just a painting or a novel or a song. You are buying hundreds of hours of experimentation and thousands of failures. You are buying days, weeks, months, years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are buying nights of worry about paying the rent, having enough money to eat, having enough money to feed the children, the birds…, the dog. You aren’t just buying a thing — you are buying a piece of heart, part of a soul, a private moment in someone’s life. Most importantly, you are buying that artist more time to do something they are truly passionate about; something that makes all of the above worth the fear and doubt; something that puts the life into living.” 
(Rebekah Joy Plett)

  • Well said, Dan! I’ve seen a few ‘curators’ on fb and it drives me nuts when they share a photo and don’t credit or link back to me. Grrr

  • Thanks for posting this. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Great message – supporting the artists as directly as possible is the way to go and you may even develop a friendship you hadn’t planned.

  • Courtney

    Well stated. This hasn’t happened to me yet (that I know of), but it really irks me to see it done to anyone. The second I realize someone is posting photos without giving credit, they get an immediate un-follow. Unfortunately, many people still don’t understand what re-post is even if it is credited, showering the curator instead of the creator with compliments. :( That has happened to me a few times, and it’s an awkward position to be in. I want to write: “Thanks for the compliments – if you like my photo as posted here, please check out my account”, but that just feels desperate. Advice like yours is much needed, and I’ll be sharing myself on social media!

  • Lennie Appelquist

    Why not be super proactive and leverage the reach of the curator with 100,000 followers who gets way more heat on social media than you do?

    Reach out to them, offer an affiliate deal or just ask them to share your content in the way you’d like them to, so that you get the credit and links to your site/images. I wouldn’t be excited with my two shares. I’d use the curators (and a lot of them) to get my images out in front of as many people as possible. If you don’t see how you can introduce more people to your photography (which is awesome!) by being a smart marketer and turning these curators into an army of referrers, no one can help you…

    |This makes much more sense to me than hating on the curator.

    I will also add, that I totally agree that the sharing without credit is terrible, but it is largely ignorance, not maliciousness, I’d argue. Educate them, and leverage them, instead of just crying foul…

    To Courtney – If the original post gets shared, so does the credit and a link to the source. If people come into a gallery with several artists, often they will compliment the gallery (for their curation). A few will buy. The web is not different. To “curate” buyers, use any opportunity to get eyes on your work –> with a way to get those eyes to your site.

    • Thanks for your input Lennie.
      Curators have always played a big role in Art. I’m definitely not trying to hate on them, but just pointing out what is happening nowadays with the emergence of social media. I do think that reaching out for real curators to expand your market is a good idea, but unfortunately, it doesn’t happen as easily, mainly because the curators are just sharing to increase their own numbers instead of helping out a photographer.

      Just have a look at their feed. Most of them don’t even interact with the commenters or reply to questions. I’ve reached out to a few to ask them to credit me, and never have I gotten a response.

      Again, I’m talking about a specific type of “curators” that are popping around everywhere on Social Media. The type that would ask you to “LIKE if you agree”, just to get more exposure.

  • Catapano Photography

    Wish the culture was going in the other direction. Hate the mindless sharing, but it seems to be all encompassing. I’ve had one of mine shared unaccredited on Facebook and was able to add my link into the comments.

  • Great article Daniel!!! Recently one of my Cappadocia photos was “featured” by a popular FB fanpage without any credit whatsoever and they never responded to my message about linking to my own page.

    I have learned the lhard esson and now I contact the curators directly and give them the image with the link to my page. It’s good business ;)

  • Very well said. I spent ages once trying to get a blogger to either remove my images or give me credit but to no avail.

  • I can’t agree more. I get so frustrated when people share photos they clearly didn’t take and they either didn’t credit the photographer, or are clearly benefiting a lot more from the photographer’s work with increasing their own traffic. I also see so many folks on Twitter too who upload images that aren’t theirs simply to get more attention. I personally feel that if you didn’t take the image yourself, you need to ask first to use it….sigh. Great post.

    • Thank you Stephanie!
      Yes, it’s very frustrating to see other people using an artist’s image, not really to share beautiful art, but more to gain followers.

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