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Covert Art Research

It appears I struck a chord with the last two posts on creating physical products. I appreciate all the comments and feedback. In this post, I decided to up-the-ante by sharing a clever research strategy and combine it with another sneaky method for finding high-rez Public Domain images. This approach isn’t being taught anywhere so you’re learning it here first!

Imagine how powerful it would be to have 3.5 million art-buying consumers tell you exactly which Public Domain images they like to purchase. Information like that could revolutionize your “art” business, couldn’t it? Think about it…one of the keys to succeeding in business is to know what your prospects want (or the problem they need solved) and providing them with the answer. So, if we had a way where buying customers, and LOTS of them, would tell us what they like through their consistent purchasing decisions, the results would be a good indicator of what WE should consider selling as well, right?

Good news! That is EXACTLY what I am going to show you in this post! There are two websites online that sell a massive amount of art posters: and Between the two websites, they receive 3.5 million unique visitors per month. That’s HUGE! Plus, with each site offering around 500,000 art choices, it becomes pretty easy to consider that we may be able to identify buying trends. What’s cool is that both sites make our covert research pretty easy! Let’s get into the process. It works the same for both sites.

The first step in the process is to identify what the best-selling images are on each site. Below are screenshots that show you where to click to discover that information for each site. On, you want to click on the circled link, “View more in ‘category’ (Bestsellers)”. On, click the “Bestseller” link in the top navigation bar.

Once you get to the Bestseller section of each website, you will notice that you have several style options. I typically look at the “Fine Art” and “Vintage” bestsellers, since many of those bestsellers are actually from the Public Domain. The screenshot below shows the top-sellers in the Fine Art category on I also want to point out that is SO kind to actually tell us the copyright date for the art that was purchased! How kind of them…grin.

Now we could stop there and, with just a little time, you would gain valuable insight into which images consumers are purchasing the most…valuable info!  But I’m not planning to stop there. It’s great to know WHAT people are buying, but what about finding the actual files for the images so that you can sell the same images (or related ones) yourself? Check this out…let’s pick an image, like the “Great Wave” image in the #3 position and right-mouse click on it. Choose “Copy Image Location.”

Next we are going to open a new tab and visit the site, Once there, we want to “Paste” the URL we just copied at into the “Enter image address” section and click “Search.”

TinEye will search through 1.8 billion images and return results that are identical or similar to the image URL you entered. Once the results are returned, you want to sort the results by “Biggest Image.” You will notice in the result below that our largest result is 4,335 X 2,990 pixels…large enough for us to print a decent 16″ X 20″ print! How cool is that? And, we know that the image is in the Public Domain because listed the copyright date as 1829!

I hope you see the power in this strategy! Now, to be completely transparent, you will NOT find high-resolutions of EVERY image using the method I just showed you. However, it’s likely that you WILL uncover MORE images than you are currently aware of. Now, for the sake of completeness…let me show you another site that you can ALSO use to find similar image results. That site is The process for this site is very similar to that of TinEye, but the results work a little different. Below is a screenshot of my result using the same image URL.

You can see that GazoPa found the same size image as our results turned up using TinEye. I have found in some cases, however, the one site might return results that the other doesn’t, which is why I usually check both!

Okay…that’s it. In just a short period of time, we have not only identified some of the top-selling art images online, but have also discovered a way to connect us with some of those digital files as well so that we can create our OWN versions of those best-selling posters! Go have fun with it!

11 Responses to “Covert Art Research”

  • Cathy:

    Great informative post Tony! Thank You! One little question – can you refresh us on the copyright rule for artwork? How long or what dates can we consider a pretty safe bet they are public domain works?

  • Paul Slater:

    Now that piece of advice is worth the price of admission! Thanks Tony, for sharing these valuable tips about public domain strategies.

  • Tony Somma:

    Thanks for all the great incite of creating physical products from PD content! I am in the process of creating a ‘book’ of which the content is from government web sites. One question, I copied a sentence from one of the paragraphs and Googled it. One result was a link to a book in Google books which has a copyright of 2010. The sentence was part of the same paragraph that I intended to use, can I still use it? The book was not the same as what I’m putting together. Thanks,

  • Incredible article Tony. This one post is the basis of a potentially full-time job, all by itself. They should start calling you “Mr. Value.”


  • Tony Somma, the fact that someone else has reproduced some text from a non-copyrighted source, and then copyrighted their book doesn’t mean the original text is no longer in the public domain. You can freely use the government source.


  • Tony Somma:

    Thanks for answering my question, this was a major concern for me, I didn’t want to be involved in any copyright infrigement. BTW, your link above is not working..

  • Tony, I can’t even begin to express how much you’ve inspired me to get back into designing products again. After reading this post yesterday, I produced my first new design in over two years and realized just how much I miss it. Hope to be joining you in the webinars starting next week. Take care!


  • BD:

    What a great idea. The only problem I have is that when I right click the “copy image location” is not an option on the right click menu. Please advise. Thanks

  • support:

    You can also do a Save As for the image and upload it to the site. That will work too.

  • Lisa R:

    Awesome info, but I can’t find where AllPosters lists the copyright date. Any suggestions??


  • support:

    The date is usually just included in the “Fine Art” section.

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