Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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06/28/2004: "Artists Beware! ebay con-artist may be stealing your images!!!"

I debated long and hard about posting my paintings online, particularly the higher resolution versions you can see when you click on a thumb nail, because I worried about people copying my ideas, style, or outright stealing an image and passing it off as their own. However, I feel that as artists, we need to trust each other and try to foster a supportive community built on trust and trying to help our fellow creative types to get ahead. I guess I'd rather risk having someone steal my work than to keep it offline where very few people would ever get to see it. That doesn't mean the fear of theft is not still present.

I've been reading this San Fransico artist's journal for many months and a couple days ago she first reported about finding out that someone was selling low quality duplicates of her artwork on ebay!
The artist who had her work stolen is Anna Conti (entry from June 28, 2004). And you can check out an updated version of her post there that she just put up this afternoon.

She also sent the following email to me and wants it passed on:
Anna Conti wrote:
"A con-artist in Texas is plagiarizing our work and selling it one
ebay. As best I can tell, s/he has made at least $16,000 from this
scheme so far. S/he was in the process of selling a coopy of one of
my fire hydrant paintings when I made email contact and the item was
pulled.But many of the images of sale past are still on the ebay site.
The brushwork and colors are a messy and incompetent echo of the
original paintings, but the underlying structure of the images is an
exact duplicate, at 50% scale. My guess: s/he downloaded a copy of the
image from my/your website, printed it on canvas, and did a quick
paint-by-numbers kind of thing over the surface. This is not only
illegal and unethical, it's pitiful. Any legitimate artist can come up
with their own images - only a fraud needs to steal images.

Check out this link below and click on the item numbers in the column
on the right - you'll see images of all the paintings this con-artist
has sold. I recognized three of mine, one by Dale Erickson, and there
were others that looked familiar to me, but I couldn't pinpoint who
they belonged to:

Go to and look for user mikek30 and select items=25.

If you see one of your images on this con-artist's page, please let me
know. And if you want to join my lawsuit, please contact me.

Please broadcast this message to every artist you know."

Read the feedback this *artist* has been getting. It makes me sooooo &*%&^+ mad! For some reason I wasn't able to view the links for past items, ebay may have pulled them, I'm not sure. I googled her and the thief's studio is called "SILVER MOON STUDIO". I find it interesting that the majority of image links on her site are now broken???

Anyway, the point is, we all need to watch out for each other. I'm in ebay a lot and I look up artwork on ebay fairly often. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled from now on for work that I recognize as being from someone other than the person doing the selling. I'd ask that everyone do the same!

Replies: 9 Comments

on Tuesday, June 29th, Sammy said

I have a friend who refuses to put her work online because she's afraid someone will steal her ideas. I'm not naming any names...but she REALLY needn't worry. (oh, did that sound catty?)

Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

on Tuesday, June 29th,">Elise said

Well Sammy, *imitation* may be the highest form of flattery but this person was basically printing the paintings out and then painting over them like a paint by numbers kit. Doing a piss poor job or it too, then sold them off for aroud 40-60 bucks a piece where as Anna's original pieces can sell for up to several thousand dollars. It's hard enough to make make a living as an artist without bums like that out there stealing your work.

I guess I, like your friend, don't need to worry about having my works stolen? Maybe there are some advantages to doing work that only a handful of people really appreciate. No mass market commercial viability.

on Tuesday, June 29th,">Steve said

Oh now, I wouldn't say that. Someone could want to steal your art just as much as anyone else's. Don't sell yourself short.

on Tuesday, June 29th,">Elise said

HA HA! Good one Steve.

I just re-read my response to sammy and I realize that it didn't come across the way I'd intended. I wasn't trying to be sarcastic...honest.

I just think that the librarian in me gets super sensitive about issues that involve intelectual property and copyrights. It's a *huge* issue these days because with everything online and accessible to the entire globe, it's much more dificult to secure rights and prosecute when rights are violated. However, no matter which way you look at it, passing off someone else's images as your own is *fraud*.

on Wednesday, June 30th, Howard said

I've seen this and it's really sad. It'd would be one thing is this so called artist started painting firehidrants on her own, annoying but what can you do. However, this "artist" made an exact copy of an existing painting. It's
just theft, no way around it.

on Wednesday, June 30th, holly said

I got no farther than "A con-artist in Texas" and thought, "Well, there ya go..."

Sometimes people are just incredibly stupid, lazy idiots. I enjoy your work, Elise. I hope you don't take it all down.

on Wednesday, June 30th,">Elise said

Thanks Holly, I wasn't planning on taking anything down. It may sound sad but this website is really important to me. I can't stress enough how much I get back from it...constructive criticism that seriously helps me when I lose focus, encouragement, emails from people all over the world wanting to talk about various things I've mentioned in my blog, commissions, sales, and sometimes little gifts from total strangers!

I had an uncle who had invented a telescoping ladder and had a patent on it. There were all of these businesses who were interested in paying him huge amounts of money for the patent but he was so obsessed with fear of getting screwed over that he kept holding on to it, doing nothing.

Years and years went by until finally, those companies weren't interested anymore because there was only a year or so left on the patent. He ended up with nothing.

Now, that is the story he tells and it may or may not be true, but the lesson I learned from it is that if you live your life worrying that everyone is out to do you wrong, then more than likely you will end up with a diminished life. I don't ever want to live that way.

Of course, if someone did screw me over, I would definately fight back! No turning the other cheek for this chick.

Anna isn't rolling over either. She has started a new eBay Art Fraud page with many helpful links and cautionary tales.

on Saturday, July 3rd, John said

I'm a paranoid f*ck. Every image I post online includes:
Copyright 200X John Kramer
and I put it smack dab on top of the image. Yes it interferes with a person's enjoyment of the image, however if I don't put that on their, then I have less legal options available fi someone steals my work (not that I'm too worrdied about that) I also put a copyright notice on the back of every painting. Now, being a bit of an anti-capitalist, there is a caveat, I don't care one way or the other what someone does with my IP as long as it's for personal use, you want to copy it to try and learn a technique, go for it, you want to put a low quality printout on your wall, because it brings you joy, cool. You want to make money off of it in any way, that's where I draw the line, that's my livelyhood, stay off. BTW, if you don't know how to make the copyright symbol, on windows machines at least, it's:
that means hold alt, and type 0169 on the numeric keypad (not the numbers that run across the top)

on Saturday, July 3rd,">Elise said

I put copyright notices on all of my images that I did of Cillian Murphy because that gallery gets more hits than all of my others combined. Weird eh?

And, we do have legal copyright in the US just by fixing an image in a tangible medium. Registering the image with the copyright office or marking with a copyright symbol helps, but we do own the copyright just by creating the work. But remember, that is US copyright, and people may be accessing your images from god only knows. Anyway, it gives one pause.

I agree with you that I'm cool with people using my images for any purpose except to make money. that's just wrong damn it.