As the owner of an art business, or for that matter just being an artist, I depend upon the selling of my work to make a living. But as I stated last week, that leaves me with a dilemma. In order to sell my art, I want my art seen by as many people as possible. Some artists refer to this as placing “eyes on canvas”. The logic is simple, the more people who see and enjoy my work, the more likely some one will purchase it.
Therefore, the most logical thing for me to do is to place my work in a location where the greatest number of people can see it all day every day. For this purpose there are few places where this goal is reachable other than on the Internet. But just placing a web page up in the Internet cloud is not enough. No one will visit your slice of the net if no one knows you are there. So, you need to go where the people are. The place for this exposure would surely be social media.
But, as we mentioned earlier, uploading to a place like Facebook is fraught with dangers. By uploading my work to their site I’m giving them permission to use my pictures for both data mining purposes and for possible advertisement usage. Now, that would give me plenty of exposure, but it does not place food in my stomach or clothes on my back and trust me, no one wants to see me without clothes.
Why then would I endanger my business by placing a picture on Facebook for the world to see if they can do this to me? The answer lies in the technology I use to make the pictures I place on the web.
I have to make each picture web ready. When I take a picture the size of the actual picture is usually somewhere near the 4272 × 2848 range. This is a good-sized picture and you could format it to be useable in just about any product from a small wallet sized print all the way to a large 30”x30” poster without too much hassle.
I could put this raw file on social media, but then I leave a very tempting target for someone to misuse my picture. So, I want to make a picture that is too difficult for someone to misuse and yet good enough for my potential clients to enjoy, purchase, and brag about.
The first thing I do to a picture is add a watermark. Not a huge lumbering thing across the length of the picture, but something small and out-of-the-way. It simply advertises whom I am, and that the picture is mine. It’s necessary that it does this without distraction, so I always put it in the corner of the picture.
The second thing is that I cut the picture’s physical size to no larger than 1024×1024. This produces a picture that allows you to use it on the web with no major drawbacks. The picture fits nicely on most monitor screens and is big enough to show all the necessary details a customer would ever want to see. But, if a less than honest person tries to increase the size they would quickly run into difficulty with pixilation, thus making the picture unusable.
Third and finally, I severely cut the DPI (Dots Per Inch). DPI is the lifeblood of printing pictures from a computer file. Basically, the larger the number of DPI the bigger and higher quality of print is available. Inversely, quality prints cannot come from files with a low DPI. So, by reducing the dots per inch ratio from the usual standard of 300dpi or more to a mere 72dpi or less I can guarantee that the best anyone at a social media company could print would be at best a 4″x6″ copy of the picture.
Could Facebook or any other social media company still use my work? It’s possible, like any protection, there are weak points that would allow the unwanted use of my art. It’s a risk I must take so I produce the exposure that will guarantee my business’s success. But, by adding a watermark, physically making a copy of the picture smaller, and reducing each picture’s ability to produce any quality prints, I produce a major deterrent of wasted time and resource use for them to want to try in the first place.
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