I have a question. I like to draw, and recently think of selling my art (commisssion). But I mainly draw fanart (fanart of celebrities, movie characters, etc).

My question is, in Buddhism, is selling our drawing of real life people (celebrities, famous people) considered wrong? As in 'using' their popularity for us to gain profit?

  • Why would you think that? You should read about en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_Eightfold_Path#Right_livelihood The core guidance is don't go against the lay-precepts, or directly contribute to others doing so (eg arms dealing). The supplimentary guidance is try to work towards livelihood that is beneficial and ennobling. Excessive focus on idols may be a problem, but recognising & celebrating people for good reasons, can help champion good behaviours.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 11:36
  • @ruben2020 , This sutta: dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN9_14.html implies that "not take what is not given" is more than just "not steal"
    – Danilo
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 12:05
  • 1
    @Danilo that's a good argument. Then I'll reopen it.
    – ruben2020
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 12:16

3 Answers 3


A case can be made for someone involved with art as maybe being to some extent & on that account 'intoxicated' with living & pleasant forms. As being heedless in regards to developing his good qualities & at that time not focusing on the theme of renunciation, on the unattractive, on the danger & loathsomeness of existent phenomena; and making others heedless & infatuated with living.

A producer of sensual pleasure basically. Trading in sensual pleasure. Sensual pleasures corrupt people.

However it's not like one is selling drugs or weapons. The harm to oneself and others can be relatively trifling for this or that person. I think it's closer to baking cakes.

Household life is problematic in general and one's household trade is best be closest to trading simple crafted goods or attending to good people. The Anagami householders in the texts, as far as i can tell, were either being lay attendents to The Buddha & The Sangha or making clay pots and trading those for essential requisites, not using money.

Their lifestyle too isn't ideal because it falls short of going forth into homelessness. The Anagamis i have in mind did not go forth because of sick parents.


Are you disrespecting the celebrity?

The 18 primary root downfalls of the bodhisattva vows are:[5]

1 . Praising ourselves and/or belittling others

If it's your job and you're good at it you can make use of those skills as a Ngakpa.

If you think it's not fair for the celebrities you can ask them. Is it illegal what you're doing? Does your work benefits anyone even if it's only in terms of income?

There are many jobs and that's your's. If it's social acceptable and moral then it's a normal job.

You can make it as if it's renunciation if you donate part to dharma or if you draw buddhas also/instead. Drawing thangkas after doing mantras and/or study thangka art maybe it seems great for you and fun. It's very good karma.


The art you draw evokes emotion within others. Now there is no profession that is 'correct' according to Buddhism, which is why Buddha advocated homelessness.

Even farming, which is considered harmless; kills insects, scares away animals, destroys habitats etc...

Selling artwork of people won't be considered unethical neither does it fall to the 5 categories of wrong livelihood (Dealing with weapons, poisons, slaves, animals (meat), intoxicants).

You should draw in a way that does not create too many defilements (Eg: Lust) in the viewer. It should be fine if you adopt a moral lifestyle and follow the 8 fold path earnestly.

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