I wrote this, then wasn’t going to post it, then found the fourth site this week selling my artwork illegally, so… If you’re buying something with artwork on it (t-shirt, quilt, mug, shower curtain, whatever), and you want to support the artist whose work the item features, and you’re not sure the artist in question knows about this use of their work, ask the seller: “Where did you get this artwork, if I may ask?” • If there is no clear way to directly contact the seller: STOP. There is VERY little chance that you’re buying a legit product on a site where the seller gets to be anonymous. Full stop. • If the seller doesn’t respond: There’s your answer. Full stop. • If the seller responds with anything close to “I found it on Pinterest”. Full stop.
If the artwork has been properly licensed, the seller should have no problem saying so. Might they lie? Sure. But at least you asked, and gave the thief one more chance to do the right thing. From there it’s a judgement call.
With the proliferation of these fly-by-night specialty sites like ViralStyle, art piracy is a HUGE problem. Every illegal sale of an artist’s work negatively affects the artist, and not just financially.
Best approach? Check to see if the artists you like have their own web stores - buy direct and be sure!