High quality, high resolution digital images of your work are critical to your success as a professional artist. They are a visual record of your work (very important) and once you have them prepared you'll save time, money and aggravation in the future when you need to use them in various ways, like in print catalogs and on the web.
Get quality high-resolution images
Get your work photographed or scanned by a pro, as soon as you finish the piece and before it leaves your hands. No, snapping a photo with your digital camera is not good enough. Your livelihood depends on the images of your work. DIY? There are lots of articles on the web about how to photograph artwork, but be warned, it's not something you can learn in a day. It takes skill.
Copyright your work
Do it right away, don't wait. This can be done individually or as a group. It's not expensive or difficult. You will need to gather info about each image to document it. If you've got your artist inventory set up and current, it's a piece of cake.
Get your images ready for print and web use
Again, if you're not skilled at it, have a pro do it. Making images ready to use is an art, and how they are made ready depends on their final use. To DIY: You'll need image-editing software, use something low-cost and easier to use than Photoshop, like Photoshop Elements or software that allows you to color-correct, rotate, crop, watermark and save in various formats.
Security: To watermark or not to watermark? There are several schools of thought on this. Watermarking your image with the copyright symbol and your name can appear bold or subtle and will help slow thieves down, but it also interferes with viewing the image. For web use, if your image is sized properly it will be a small, low-resolution file that thieves can't do much with. If you're sending someone a high-resolution image, it's probably large enough to be of value to thieves, and it may be a good idea to watermark it. Digital watermarking (the process of embedding information into a digital signal which may be used to verify its authenticity or the identity of its owners) is another option.
Protect Your Rights to Your Work
In addition to copyrighting your work, ask people who use your images (both for print and on the web) to properly credit you every time they use it. For example, under each image (or on the side of the image) require that people add the image name and a copyright symbol followed by your name. If you want viewers of your website to have permission to use your images on their website if they properly credit you, say so on your website, show them how you want to be identified, and state that you reserve the right to have them removed it if you feel their content is questionable. Also, a clever file name can help you find your images on the web (using your name in the file name).
Backup your digital files
Oh my oh my, the stories I can tell about artists who didn't back up their files and lost it all. There are many ways to backup your stuff. I use two (for a redundant system): Mozy for online backup, and a large capacity external hard drive with Time Machine (I'm on a Mac) for hourly backups. There are other online backup companies, and here is info for PC's and for Macs.
If you would, please, help us all learn and grow by sharing any ideas/comments you have on this topic by leaving a comment on the blog.
All my best to you and yours,
P.S. If you're like me and love to have great resources around, I suggest you get on the email list for Aletta de Wal's new book "My Real Job Is Being An Artist: What You Should Know Before You Quit Your Day Job (Or Get One)." It will help you get really clear about where you are and what YOUR most effective next steps are. Email me to get on the notification list, and get special goodies too!
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