As a licensing artist, I have an online gallery of illustrations which I protect with a password. I only share that password with potential customers with serious inquiries about my work. I publicly display only some of my illustrations, a few pieces that I think get my artistic style across, so buyers have an idea of what my collections look like.
Two of my clients at least ended up working with me only after I showed them my full gallery. They hadn’t thought of asking me to see it, and had only showed some mild interest in my public illustrations. Being proactive helped me in that situation, but I can’t help but wonder about all the missed opportunities. After all, I can’t keep track of visitors to my site if they don’t contact me.
I consider what I have publicly displayed on my website to be a summary, an introduction, a preview, of the entire compilation of art. I try my best to select representative pieces from my collections. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to imagine or visualize what my collections look like as a whole, without actually seeing them, and customers can’t like what they can’t see.
The question is, should I unveil my whole collection?
I was trying to weigh the pros and cons of actually displaying every drawing I create, for everyone in the world to see. Here is what I came up with:
The pros of making my entire portfolio public
1– A potential customer will be able to view all the art that I have available, without having to go through the ‘process’ of contacting me and asking for a password. A ‘process’ that takes a couple of minutes if I am available right when they request access. But people are turned off when they have to wait for anything nowadays, and I understand.
2– If they can see the entire gallery, there is a chance that one, just one drawing catches their eye particularly, and seals a deal! A drawing that might have been among the ones I’d chosen to hide.
3– My website would be more active, hence more appealing or ‘alive’ if I publicly added new illustrations to my gallery every now and then, instead of doing it behind the scenes.
1– Yes, stealing. I obviously register every drawing at the Copyright offices before I publish anything, publicly or not, but I still cannot protect my art from being stolen. We’ve heard many stories of manufacturers or publishers just using images commercially without compensating the artist. Seeing my art on some product I don’t know about and having to go through court and all this is really not my cup of tea so I’d rather just hide my hard work from online thieves.
2– Artists steal too! I don’t mind inspiring artists; I myself find inspiration in other artists work. But getting inspired, and copying the drawing (or the collection idea) are two separate things that unfortunately not all artists discern.
But, then again, what are the chances of someone stealing my work? And what are the chances of someone giving me work because of a piece or two they’ve seen, that could have been inaccessible to them?
I am still undecided. The pros and cons I’ve listed are equally important, which doesn’t really help me make up my mind. It is natural for an artist to protect their art, especially when they make a living from it. But what if it’s not the right thing to do? What if showing everything is a good thing that gives the artist more exposure and more business?
Tara Reed just wrote about this today too. Check out her post: Four Reasons to Consider a Password Protected Portfolio on Your Art Licensing Website. She suggests that an artist just starting out in Art Licensing might want to publish all their work in the beginning to get themselves known, and set a password once they are well established in the industry.
This is definitely something to think about… It is a bit scary to just put all your work out there, all the precious illustrations you spent so much time and energy (and emotion?) on for everyone to see. It almost feels like they lose some of their value, doesn’t it?
What do you think? Should I make my entire portfolio public, or should I not?☮