Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A toast to Google image search!

I'm a bit obsessed with Google image search. It all started about a year ago when I received an email from a graphic designer in NYC. He had a client—a very small Napa Valley winery called Gofessel Vineyards—that was looking for an illustration of a magnolia to use on a wine label. They'd done an online image search, found my magnolia drawing, and wanted to know if I'd be interested in licensing it. I was thrilled, of course! We worked out the details, and I emailed the file off to him. I was beginning to appreciate the benefits of online image searching.

Months later, I realized that I hadn't heard anything further. I checked in with the designer and learned that the wine was actually bottled, labelled and available for sale. It was great fun to order a case of these babies for Christmas gifts.

Well, my love affair with Google image search continued when I read that it's a great way to check and see if anyone has used one of your images without permission. Really?! You just go to the Google search site, click on "images" and there's a little camera icon that appears in the search box. Clicking on it allows you to upload any of your images, and then it'll find matches on the internet. I tried my magnolia drawing as a test case, and lo and behold, it immediately found my blog and the aforementioned winery website!

But the really fun part—if you're as easily amused as I am—is that it will show you  images that it considers "visually similar" to yours. For instance, here's what popped up when I entered my red onion drawing (seen below as the first image):

or how about when I entered my purple beans?:

Isn't that a hoot?

But all silliness aside, Google does seem to provide an amazingly in-depth image search. I did find that a small non-profit used my drawing of a Starbucks cup on a one-time online invitation to a coffee hour meeting. Of course, I'd never care about something like that, but if your images are being used commercially and/or extensively in ways for which you should be compensated, shouldn't you know about it?

So if you have some time, do a little sleuthing via Google images...but I warn you, it's addicting!


  1. Oh that's so cool how you came to license your magnolia image! Your comments about Google images are SPOT ON (heh heh, I've always wanted to use that phrase). Google images is often a faster way to get information than ordinary googling. I haven't yet purposefully searched for unauthorized use of my artwork, but sometimes I accidentally stumble onto my images where they aren't attributed to me. ;(

  2. What a fascinating blog post!!
    Super congrats on getting your image on a wine bottle. That is so cool!!

    and thanks so much for the tips on Google Image Search. I've been wondering about some of that...

  3. Fabulous, Sarah!! Congratulations on such a beautiful wine label project! Very interesting re: google image search..! Listening to the rain right now..it's fabulous to see it finally here, isn't it? Hope you are well!!

  4. Your blog is always so great! Thanks for sharing the Google Images search tip; I'm going to try it out. And congratulations on the use of your beautiful drawing on the wine bottle label!

  5. Hi, Sarah, thank you for directing me to Google Search Images. I did hear about it, but your instructions helped me to run a few searches. Yes, the visual similar are great fun!
    Mm...I'm off, running another few searches.
    Have a lovely weekend,

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  7. Thanks for sharing this wonderful Magnolia experience Sarah...congratulations!

  8. Such a beautiful magnolia! I'm so glad to hear a happy story about someone actually doing the right thing by contacting you before using it. It makes a lovely wine bottle.

  9. Your work looks fantastic on the wine label! I'm always interested in what people search for and I do appreciate being asked first before they use them.

  10. I guess the search criteria involves COLOR. What a great post, Sarah. The wine label is gorgeous, btw. :)

  11. Congratulations on licensing your magnolia illustration, looks great as a wine label.

  12. Congrats on the wine label.... well done!