How to Give Artists the Credit They Deserve


We all know there are thousands of free printable coloring pages out there on the “interwebz.” And who doesn’t like free stuff? But have you ever thought about the artists who created those great designs?

Source: faithiecannoise via license

When someone creates something – such as a drawing, a painting, a photograph, a poem, a blog post, or a book – they legally own it. This ownership is called “copyright.” The owner of the copyright decides who, when and how their work can be used by others, if at all. Anyone who uses or shares someone else’s work without their approval is breaking copyright law. With a few exceptions (see below), if you share a printable online (or download, color and then share it online) without the copyright owner’s permission, you are breaking copyright law. Yup, you are committing a crime.

Source: geom via license

Just as important, you may be hurting an artist’s business. I know a few artists, and their profession is tough. They spend days creating art that especially highlights their talent. They post it online, hoping that someone will “like” it, pay them to use it, buy it, or even commission them to create something else. It is great when fans find their art and share it all over Facebook, Pinterest, and other websites. However, wouldn’t you be peeved if people share your art without giving you any credit?

Yes, sharing is free advertising, and it can lead to future business for an artist, but only if they are recognized as the creator. Artists want and need recognition for their hard work as it is their livelihood. Giving a creator credit for their work is called “attribution,” which is usually providing their name and a link to where they shared the drawing (usually their website or image sharing site such as Flickr, DeviantArt and Pixabay) .

How do you know if you can use or share a drawing?

If you find an image online that does not give attribution, at some point in the internet sharing chain someone has probably broken copyright laws. Technically, that piece of art has been stolen.

So, look for clear attribution.  Here are some great examples:

Source: Amy Sue via Pinterest.
Source: Adultcolouringworldwide
Source: Pixabay

Top to Bottom: Provides permissions granted & link to artist’s DeviantArt page; Provides full description of permissions and name of artist; Provides name of artist, link to artist’s Pixabay account, and describes rights.

Regardless of what the permissions are, I think that sharing an artist’s work online without appropriate attribution is disrespectful.

My policy now is that if I find a great printable coloring page but can’t identify the artist and provide attribution, haven’t been given permission by the artist, or if it doesn’t fall into one of the exception categories, I won’t use it. I won’t put it on this website, in any of my emails, or on any of my social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or G+.

I know this seems quite limiting. However, there are plenty of social media accounts and websites that do provide proper attribution, and lots of artists who share printables on their personal websites, websites like Flickr, Pixabay, and DeviantArt, and on their social media accounts.

Will you join me in supporting artists by only using attributed images for your coloring?

Want to learn more about attribution standards and copyright? Try these:


1) Public Domain: If the creator has marked the work with “all rights granted” and/or with “CC0,” he or she is saying that anyone can use the work in any way they want without attribution. As well, for most Western countries, copyright expires 50-70 years after the artist dies and then anyone can use it in any way. 2) Fair Use: If the image is used in a review, for reporting news, or for teaching, you don’t need permission from the copyright owner. For example, if I post a sample page of a coloring book in one of my reviews, I do not need permission from the artist or the book’s publisher as long as it doesn’t harm, and possibly helps, the owner.


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