Asking Fan Artists for Permission 101


If you are a frequent Tumblr user, you probably already know what reposting is. Despite it being a long-running problem that has been explained by users countless times, it’s 2016 and reposting is somehow still a thing. But the problem gets even worse when it’s fan art that is being stolen and posted elsewhere.

Fan artists work as hard as any other type fan creators, but they are often more vulnerable to getting their work stolen. The general consensus when it  comes to sharing other people’s work on Tumblr seems to be 1) ask for permission, 2) add the source. Number 2 should be a no-brainer and something that every Tumblr user should know how to do, but asking for permission can be confusing and even intimidating for some users. Don’t worry, though, we have done a complete guide on how to ask for permission and things you should know before doing so!

Asking for permission on DeviantArt

DeviantArt is probably the most well-known site for artists to share their work, including fan art. In fact, the majority of fan artists on Tumblr will have a link to their DeviantArt on their blogs. The first thing you should know is that DeviantArt doesn’t own any of the works featured in their website, so if you ever want to use a fan art, you should ask to the artist, not to DeviantArt.

To do so, the first thing you should is check the artist’s profile to see what their policy is when it comes to sharing their work. There will be some artists that don’t want their work being shared anywhere under any circumstances, meaning that your job here is done – you just can’t share that fan art. Most of the time artists will just ask to be notified and asked for permission before you share it. Lastly, there will be some artists who don’t care about being notified because just adding the credit and a link to the original post is fine by them. Take your time to research the artist’s policy before you message them. Something else you should check is the description below the art. Sometimes the artist will have their sharing policy below the art, or perhaps they have already liked to their art on Tumblr themselves, so you can just go and reblog the original post instead of making a new one (which is a bit rude).

You have now done your research and you can share the work, but you just need to ask for permission. Well, there are different ways to do this. Sometimes the artist will leave their personal contact information on their profile like their Twitter or email address. The easiest way, though, is to just send them a personal note on DeviantArt. You need a DeviantArt account to do this, so if you don’t have one, don’t worry, it’s very easy to do. Besides, you will also be able to follow your favourite artists and leave feedback on their works! Didn’t get a reply after 2 weeks? Try a different way, keep waiting or let it go, but don’t just assume that just because the artist didn’t answer it’s OK to post the art!!


Feedback. Fan artist don’t get paid for their work unless it’s a comission, so a nice comment complimenting their art can mean the world to them. There’s a reason why you want to share this fan art, so let them know!
Where you would be sharing: Send them a link to your blog and let them know what you would be adding in the post (credit, a link to their account, tags…) so that they can take it into consideration before agreeing to it (eg: if you run a porn blog, some artists might not want their artwork being shared there! It’s a strange example, but you get my point).
Be flexible with their requirements: Let them know that you’re flexible and you’re willing to follow their instructions if they want something specific to be added in the post. ALSO!! The artist has the right to ask you to take the post down if they were to change their mind!
A final thank you.

Did the artist send you a positive reply? Great! Go ahead and share that artwork with the world! Was it negative or you didn’t get a reply at all? Don’t share it!!

Asking for permission on Pixiv

If you belong in an anime fandom, you have probably heard of Pixiv. In short, Pixiv is like the Japanese DeviantArt, but if artists already hate having their art being stolen, Japanese artists hate it even more. Sadly, there are many Japanese artists who have stopped sharing their work or refuse to post it in the first place out of fear of having it stolen.

I know what you’re thinking: but I don’t speak Japanese, let alone write it! Fortunately, there are a lot of Japanese-speakers on Tumblr who are kind enough to provide some templates for asking for permission. Just like with DeviantArt, you will need to have a Pixiv account in order to send messages to the artists. Don’t worry, though, it’s very easy and quick to set up! Then you will have to go to the artist’s account and check their personal information to see what they have to say about republishing their work. Google Translate can be very useful for this!

Tumblr user raspomme provided the following template for asking for permission. You can read their original post for more instructions on how to complete the template:

Title: イラストを転載許可のお願い



はじめまして、[YOUR NAME]と申します。

___様が描いたイラストは[adjective such as かっこいい/cool or かわいい/cute]と思うので、tumblrと言うブログサイトで紹介したいです。ブログはここです:[tumblr url]

[series/ship name]が好きで、[illust url(s)]をブログで掲載したいです。




[your name]

(For Chinese or Korean, check out this one instead)

After you got a reply, and if Google Translate is not accurate enough, you can check out this reply guideline too. For more detailed information, read this post by Hetalianforever, who gives a great step-by-step guide on asking permission on Pixiv. You can also follow letsrespectpixivartist for more information.

The process might seem a bit intimidating at first, but it’s very quick once you get used to it. Bottom line is: there’s no excuse not to ask for permission!


Untitled-1Want to ask for permission, but you don’t know who the original artist is? You can use TinEye! TinEye is a reverse-image search browser that allows you to upload a photo to find out where else this exact image has been posted, including the original poster.

If this still doesn’t work, then the only solution is… do not post it.

Hopefully this guide is helpful enough if you are a bit unsure or insecure about asking artists for permission. Keep in mind that artists may be awesomely talented, but they’re still regular fans like you. As long as you’re nice and polite, everything will be fine!


About Author

24-year-old TV journalist. I especialize in fangirling over TV shows and anime. Currently fighting for fan studies to be recognized as a valid academic field.

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February 14, 2016 6:08 pm

I love this. I’ve always been hesitant to post any kind of outside art on Tumblr (or elsewhere) because it’s a bit of a grey area. Like, do artists even like having their work spread to a wider audience (with proper sourcing)?