Think about this: as a visual artist, the central "thing" that you should be sharing online is images of your artwork.
is a central activity to the online economy. It's the grease that keeps the wheels of the web turning.
Imagine trying to use a search engine like Google if nobody allowed the information on their websites and blogs to be shared. Google wouldn't be able to search the text, and you wouldn't able to find information nearly as easily. Not only do we share our text with Google, we actually want Google to copy and index our content. Whole businesses live and die based on obtaining good Google rankings.
Here's another question: What if people refused to share thoughts and photos with their facebook friends? Wow, that would be a pretty useless experience.
What if an artist refused to share images of his work? Wouldn't that be short-sighted?
What if a collector wanted to recommend that artist to a friend by forwarding an image? Wouldn't be able to.
Or what if we wanted to feature an artist in our sister publication, InformedCollector
? We couldn't. (This has actually happened more than once, guess what? We moved on and featured someone else).
What if another blog wanted to support the artist and include some images in an article? They wouldn't be able to.
Or, how about this scenario? I'm an art collector, and I find a particular artwork online that I really love. So I print out a picture of it and tack it to my bulletin board while I think about it/lust over it/save money to purchase it....ooops, the artist doesn't share images, or allow them to be downloaded and printed, so I can't do that. Too bad, I'll move on to the next artist.
All those scenarios would be bad for the artist in question. Exposure, sales, buzz and referrals...all lost opportunities.
Here's something that might be even worse:
If an artist doesn't share images, Google images wouldn't be able to index them and help the artist find more customers. This is becoming even more important, especially now that Google is beginning to integrate image results right into the main search product. Really, you'd have to agree that sharing images should be central in any art marketing plan.
Yes, it seems clear that artists should strive to share their artwork, of course. And online, that means sharing images. More specifically, it means sharing *JPEG* images.*
So why oh why do we have so many artists worried because "so and so" "stole" their images and used them on another blog? (In nearly every case I've seen of this, the "thief" provided proper links and attribution to the artist and, so, was not violating any copyrights, but correct under "fair use" and was actually helping the artist gain more exposure. And if the other site doesn't provide attribution in links, usually requesting that they add it will solve the issue.).
The funny thing is, this sometimes leads artists to complain about other people who are actually promoting them for free by "stealing" their images and displaying them on other websites. Ironically, artists also complain that Google isn't indexing/showing enough of their images and they want Google to index more of their images. You can't have it both ways people, sharing is sharing.
The more you share, the more you win.
Don't block your images. Don't use right-click disablers. Don't embed your images inside of flash. And don't obscure the images with over-the-top watermarks. (unobtrusive watermarks are OK).
Help the digirati do what they do best - spread your stuff as far and wide as possible, so that when you reach those people who absolutely love what you do.....they'll seek you out and buy your art.
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic
PS - "..how to protect your ideas in a world where ideas spread? Don't. Instead, spread them. Build a reputation as someone who creates great ideas." - Seth Godin (source
(*I'm not suggesting you freely share high-quality camera-ready TIFF images for printing giclees of course, I'm talking about JPG quality images primarily for screen viewing).