Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Street artists and street art photographers alike will be counting down the days to the annual graffiti festival that takes place in Leicester: Bring The Paint.
First established in 2017, Bring The Paint - which is an international street art festival - is now one of Leicester biggest festivals.
Created by Graffwerk, the event brings together artists from all over the world to participate in painting the city and hosts an array of activities every year.
Scheduled to run between August 23 to August 29 this year, Bring The Paint promises an "enhanced programme of activities to showcase a diverse and thriving arts scene."
Am I Stealing Someone's Artwork?
As creative artists, getting credit for your work is important, so what are the rules behind street art photography?
Karen Seiger, a street art photographer from the United States loves to share the graffiti that she sees around her and admires.
Nevertheless, she understands that the laws clearly state that graffiti belongs to the artist and it is not for commercial purposes or in the public domain.
“If I want to use photography of any artwork for commercial purposes that benefits myself or a company or organisation, then I must get an artist’s release and maybe pay them an honorarium.”
Of course, some graffiti artists are unidentifiable or don’t want to be identified.
In this case, Karen says that “we can legally take a photo of the environment and not specifically of the artwork.”
However, things are a little different in the United Kingdom.
Graphic designer from London, Luke Freeman says: “Although there are no laws protecting street artists, they do have the right to take legal action if the artists feel their work has been infringed. Research if the artist is copyrighting their work through social media.”
In some cases, street artists don't mind street art photographers capturing their work and sharing it, some even found that it helped them to get noticed on social media, including Sophy Robson, who is a graffiti artist in London.
Graffiti Artist from London, Sophy Robson, who participated in Bring The Paint in 2017, says she doesn’t mind street art photographers posting about her work.
“If you choose to go out and paint something in a public space, you’re submitting it into the public domain by default.”
Sophy also says that in her experience, street art photographers have helped her gain traction on social media and get her work out there.
If she finds a photo of her work on social media through her hashtag or being tagged, she will use it to promote her art.
However, it isn’t always the case that graffiti artists are happy with photographers posting their work online, especially without permission or credit. Of course, graffiti can be too beautiful not to photograph, so it's important to remember the difference between photographing graffiti and photographing the street.
A good way of photographing street art is to make sure it's not the main focus of the photo or takes up less than half of the photo - but never use a photo including graffiti or street art for commercial purposes without direct permission.
So, if you’re as excited for Bring The Paint as we are - or just love to photograph street art - make sure you get permission from the artist to use the photo online. Just because you took that photo, doesn't mean you have the copyright of the image.