Many artists have an unhealthy fear of having their images stolen and used improperly. This fear can cause you to fall behind in your race to the top. These artists hunker down and do so much to “protect” their images that they discourage legitimate people from helping them promote their work.
Last week I told yet another artist that I’d love to feature her work on the Art Biz Blog, but that I have a policy against using images with a watermark through the center—as hers had. I don’t mind an inconspicuous mark at the bottom or side, but I do mind a big © that stretches the width of an image. There is no way that art can be fully appreciated with that kind of interruption across its surface.
Sure, artists could send me clean images sans watermark to use on my blog, but I refuse to link to a site where images are covered with watermarks. I won’t waste my readers’ time by encouraging them to click through to those sites. They’d only be disappointed in the end.
Protect yourself as best you can by registering and posting your copyright and by documenting your progress. But, if you’re going to put your art online, do it because you want to show it off. Don’t hide it behind virtual lock and key where no one can see it at its best.
How do you encourage people to talk about you and your art and protect your images (as best you can) at the same time?
Here are two beginning steps to take.
1. Add a credit line to every image you post on your blog or website. If you don’t have your name, date, and image details with every picture, how do you expect others to treat them? Yes, EVERY image of your art should have this information! You wouldn’t install your art in a gallery without a label next to it, so why do it online? See how it's done.
2. Add a media room for bloggers. I wrote about this on my blog last week when I encouraged museums to do this in conjunction with their No Photography policies. You can adapt this idea for your own use, but it only works if it’s easy to find the media room!
Update: One brave artist took me up on my challenge! See Tina Mammoser's Media Room.
As I was writing this newsletter, Michele Renée Ledoux sent me an email. I featured her work last week in this newsletter and on the blog. On that day, her website traffic nearly tripled! She wrote:
Now, I realize some artists might respond by saying, “But, how many sales resulted in this upsurge of hits?” My answer is that it doesn't matter. Exposure is exposure. Statistically, I have more of a chance of selling my work if I expose my work to more people.
Michele gets it! She got nearly 3x the visitors that day because I showed off her work.
FINAL WORD: Do what you can to protect your images properly, but don’t be so fearful that you miss out on opportunities for others to promote your art for you. Make it easy to be talked about!