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Share Your Gift, Share Your Art, Share Your Images

by Clint Watson on 12/16/2009 3:35:25 PM

This article is by Clint Watson,  former art gallery owner/director/salesperson and founder of FineArtViews. You should follow Clint on Twitter here.

A couple of days ago I suggested that you ask, "What can I Share?"

Think about this:  as a visual artist, the central "thing" that you should be sharing online is images of your artwork.

Sharing 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.


Clint Watson
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

PS - " 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).

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Backstory: About Clint. Email EditorTwitter. Republish. ]

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Monte Wilson
Clint- That has actually happened to me. A person liked a particular work but wanted to ponder over it. He downloaded an image of from my site and placed it on his desk. He looked at it sitting there for three weeks before he decided he'd rather have the original on the wall. I do the same with art I like and might be interested in purchasing.

P.S. You can download images of my paintings all you want. LOL

Clint Watson
via with facebook
Monte - that idea occurred to me for this article, because I had a client in my gallery days who used to print images off the gallery website and think about them, sometimes for months. Often, she put a painting on layaway and enjoyed the print-out while paying off the painting....she bought *a lot* of art from me over the years.

Monte Wilson
Layaway is great. In fact, that's pretty much the way I buy. The same holds true for commissioned works once they're completed. I always send an image of the completed painting to the buyer so they can print it while they are waiting for the work to dry. You would be surprised how much they show it around and thus bring business back to you...

Thanks Clint. I put off posting photos for several years, afraid of being ripped off, until someone said, "so what?" It would be such a compliment to be ripped off! And, it feels good to share. Your commentary is so relevant to the way the world is working these days.

Wendy Edsall-Kerwin
I've run into the problem of wanting to feature an artist on my Artist of the Month page of my blog, and when I try to gather images of their work, I can't. Then I move onto the next artist on my list. I understand that you don't want people to steal your work, but I seriously just want to help other people gain exposure. I think that the pros far outweigh the cons in this area. It's the best and easiest way to promote yourself.

Monte Wilson
Wendy- I do the same thing with my email newsletter but I always contact the artist I'm featuring and ask to use their image(s) and if they would like to add a brief statement about their work. Have not had one turn me down yet...

Mark Yearwood
It's funny this article came up. Just this morning a patron sent an email asking about a piece from my FASO site. Attached was the jpeg of the painting in question. The sale wasn't made today because the one she wanted was sold, but it's good to know she was serious enough to copy it to the computer for reference.

Share it.

Bob Matheson
I agree 100 percent with you! I want people to see my work.Sure I paint for the love of it,[and it is an obsession}and I am happy to sell it but I want to share my view of the world so others can see it through my eyes and hopefully like what they see. After all when you are below the sod is not that a little late to have people see your work? Think of Monet and Sargent and all the other great painters,Hardly any one saw their work unless they were living there or privy to them.Now if they were alive they would be able to share their unique views of life with anyone who cared to look.I believe it is almost a duty to get your work out where people can see it,perhaps if enough of us did it we could foster a renewed appreciation for paintings over photos. thanks for an interesting topic Clint.

Diane Tasselmyer
I always thought blocking images was kind of lame. Thank you for more confirmation on that.
We can use all the blog publicity.

On another note..were those artists blocking images afraid their images would be copied and used for prints etc. by some illicit marketer?
A lot of those artists don't realize the jpg size limits that from being possible. (they would get a lousy print).

Lorraine Khachatourians
When I put up images on my web site I have been making them 72 dpi based on a suggestion by someone (can't remember who now) some time ago. The image is fine on screen and could be printed in a small format. Does this sound like a reasonable thing to do or is it really a waste of time, and I should just put up a medium sized image, i.e. not a huge file sized one?

Maria Brophy
I write a blog for artists, and often I will write a post about a question that an artist sent me. I like to use their art images on my blog post, along with a link to their website. It's very frustrating when I can't "grab" an image from the artist's site because it's protected. So like you said, I move on and use something else.

I'm so glad you wrote this article. It's important, particularly for the older generation, to realize that sharing is vital to marketing.

Of course, I draw the line at someone taking an image and selling it - but that's a different topic.

Sharon Weaver
It is somewhat interesting that this is the topic today since I have been having difficulty making comments from the FASO newsletter, trouble sharing. I know several people who will not participate in the social network because of all the information that can be grabbed by varies people. I respect their need for privacy but also understand the importance of having your images and information out there. It is a tough call to balance both the need for privacy and the need for exposure.

Carole Rodrigue
Well said Clint! I also have shaken my head in wonder when hearing artists complaining about somebody having posted their art, while respecting the artist's credit for the art. I'd be honored if people would start posting and writing about my art.

People need to realize that without sharing, nothing is gained. Sharing will bring one more in the long run than complaining. If by sharing something, someone was made happier that day, then great. I say, honor the golden rule.

Leslie Saeta
Thanks for the article Clint! I know artists are threatened about their art being "stolen" but even if they "right protect" their images there are still ways to copy the images. I think your advice is wonderful and we shouldn't waste our time worrying about things we really can't control.
I use and one day I got a good laugh. There was someone from India that literally downloaded every single painting that had ever been featured on my blog (about 175 total). As much as I was sure that he/she was probably going to use my artwork for something ... I was still a bit flattered!

Barbara Hartsook
Oh dear -- you have taken me to task.

I have not posted my art work on FaceBook, not because I don't want people to have it, but because I'm having a hard time trusting FB. Oops... hope that's all right to say. The security isn't very good there. I was hacked last Fall, and just last week it put a nasty wormy thing in my computer's start-up memory.

But my paintings are in a PBase gallery, and I know they've been downloaded and printed. (I've been told so.) I'm not really concerned... for the reasons you gave.

But you do have me thinking -- how many people SEE my work in PBase? I have some blog traffic, which points to my galleries, but I could do a lot more.

Hmmm... Yes indeedy -- you have smacked my hand, and I thank you for it.


Teddy Jackson
Thank you so much for this timely and informative article. I am extremely proud of my FASO site and feel it effectively displays my work.

Several people have warned my about posting images of my paintings on Facebook. They believe that Facebook has the right to use and reproduce the images. Do you know if that is true?

At this point, I have only referred people to my website and have not posted images of completed artwork on Facebook.
Thank you,

I've always said - there are a million more ideas where that came from just waiting to come out of my head?

Judy Mudd
I, too have been having problems being able to post comments from the FAV newsletter, having to ignore the link. Anyway, I totally agree about being able to see the photos and print them. I just make sure I have them reduced in size enough so that they can't be a high-quality print.

Leslie Saeta
Clint - just so you know the link to post a comment wasn't working for me either. It said there were too many "redirects".

Marian Fortunati
Another interesting and "right on" post, Clint!

I actually enjoy sharing the images and find that some people enjoy looking at them... often seeing them posted on my blog or on the website then buying them.

I'm reading a book called "GOOGLED" by Ken Auletta which talks about how the internet (and the "birth" and growth of Google) have changed our world in ways that many never imagined. It's hard to imagine that Google is only about 15 years old. Although the book DOES make you wonder whether the Google people will continue to "do no evil" as I read the book, I realize how much of my life is involved with all that is internet... and all that Google measures...
Clint... YOU started me on the pleasurable journey of sharing my art through blogging... but Google has helped connect me to other artists and bloggers... and yes... even some clients to my other pleasure.... art!

Kay Hale
I finally started reading this newsletter and I am amazed at the information. Now I need to set up my website, figure out pricing for my first open studio experience and not be nervous about posting my images online..Thanks Clint I am reading and learning . Kay Hale

Sue Martin
I've seen heated debates on this issue elsewhere online and I have wondered how much I should put out there. But I've come around to Keith's point of view. I think the key is to use images sized for the web, which are too small to do much with in print.

Sue Martin
Ooops...I meant "Clint," not Keith!

Georgeann Waggaman
You only left one thing out of your article. How can one be sure their work is not blocked. I have a website with you and sent all images in according to your directions. Does that mean it is unblocked? I certainly don't want it blocked, I agree with you. If artists were concerned there would be no magazines like Southwest Art because no artists would let their work be shown. i learn from the images in there and, I hope, share what I learn in the way my work reflects, but doesn't copy, all that I learn.

Clint Watson
via with facebook
Georgeann - FASO sites are not blocked.

Diane Donicht Vestin
In response to Lori's comment on how to relate to your collectors, it always goes back to who are the collectors(gallery owners, friends, any contact where I can sell my art). I just don't know of anybody. How can an artist like me get in touch with a body of collectors (someone who likes my work), someone who will pay what I'm asking, the list goes on and on. I feel like I'm stuck in the mud up to my thights, maybe higher, but we won't go there when it comes to finding someone, anyone to buy my work. I think FAV has a great website for artists and for me, reaches far more people than my own personnal website. I plan to add quite a few more paintings on FAV and my own website because I've been painting up a storm and getting better and better with using acrylics. But, until then, I'm drowning in stacks and stacks of finished artwork just waiting to be sold. Boo!Hoo! and Blah,Blah,Blah,.
Diane Donicht Vestin

Carole Rodrigue
Diane, I can certainly relate to your frustration. For most artists, it's a slow process and I'm learning that those who keep throwing mud on the walls will eventually have some of it stick. But it won't stick unless you get out there. I started by selling to family, then a little on Ebay. I didn't like Ebay so I quit selling there. From then, for me, it's been entering competitions, and selling there to collectors. That becomes exciting!

I'm far from being where I want to be in regards to selling my art, but I'm working on it. I try to never miss an opportunity when it presents itself. I've even donated art. I support a local horse club, and have donated a very large piece to a charity's annual art auction. I didn't make any money, but my piece was one of the highest priced items, and it sold. Now somebody has this huge piece in their house to talk about when company comes over. I'm also thinking of starting home shows later, and joining a local co-op gallery. I've just joined a local art club which has a couple of yearly shows. These attract a lot of people. There are many venues, the deal is to get out there and do it.

Good luck to you Diane. But most importantly, have fun doing it! :-D

Diane Donicht Vestin
Hi Carole!
Thanks for the comforting words. I will sure try some of your ideas a try. Thothing gained, nothing lost, or something like that. When I was doing my colored pencil art, I entered many competitions and won many awards including the prestigeous Grumbacher Gold Medal. I don't have the money now to fram my pieces, but when I do, hopefullly, I will certainly enter contests. Thanks again for the inspiration!
Diane Donicht Vestin

Tina Swindell
I'm inspired! Going to go and post one right now!

Phyllis O'Shields
Thank you for the fine services, hosting my site etc.
I find that these articles all apply to my experiences and somehow touch my past and present challenges. Sharing is a very broad and common topic which I find comes back with positive results in direct proportion to how much of ourselves we share in our art and make easy for people to access. Phyllis O'Shields


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