The International Society of Scratchboard Artists just happens to be having their 3rd Annual Juried Exhibition in the town where I live—Cary, North Carolina. The show starts Friday, June 27, and runs through the middle of August. It should be fun. I’m looking forward to meeting the other artists and admiring their work.
This is another post that isn’t specifically about scratchboard, but it does have relevance to artists. It’s about creating art and getting noticed.
A while back I listened to this podcast and I’m finally getting around to posting it. Will Terry is a very good friend of mine and he knows his stuff when it comes to the illustration business – the craft, the marketing – all of it. It’s over an hour of casual conversation as Will talks about work ethic and ways to get people to notice your work. It’s well worth the listen for anyone interested in marketing their creations.
This post isn’t necessarily about scratchboard, but it relates to thoughts I’ve had while searching for cool scratchboard work to share and talk about. I often run across sites that attempt to keep people from stealing their artwork. The zeal to keep artwork safe can drive people like me away because I’m not interested in looking at tiny thumbnails or images with massive watermarks. I think in the long run it is counter productive to try to keep someone from taking a copy of your image.
Here are the methods I see people using to protect their work, and the reasons I think they do more harm than good:
Posting small images
If you make images so small they aren’t attractive to someone who would steal them, they are also not attractive to someone who might be interested in admiring your work, or buying it. If you want your work to be seen and appreciated, you must post it large enough to give someone an idea of what it really looks like. Security through obscurity is an especially bad tactic when it comes to artwork.
Putting a big watermark over the image
The watermark is supposed to keep people from using your artwork. It probably accomplishes the goal, but it also makes your image unsightly. Looking at artwork with large watermarks is about as fun as looking at classic cars with parking boots on them – very distracting. There is nothing wrong with a signature or small watermark that identifies you and your site. But, it should be in a corner, not splashed across the image.
Making the image so you can’t right-click it
Once you put an image online, there is no way to keep someone from downloading it. One of the simplest is to take a screenshot of it. There are others. If someone wants your image, they can get it.
Using a viewer so only a portion of the image can be seen at a time
With multiple screenshots and Photoshop the large image can be recreated. Nice try, but it doesn’t work if someone really wants your image.
The fact is, you can post relatively large images, and they still won’t have enough resolution for someone to make a quality print. If you couldn’t tell already, I am a strong advocate for posting images that are large enough to be appreciated. Yes, there is a chance someone might take an image and use it without our authorization. There is a much greater chance that someone will see the quality of the work and become a paying customer.
My good friend put together an interesting video post that deals with the same topic:
Another “just for fun” piece. This is based on a sketch I did a long time ago. It’s more of a conceptual still life than a story—an exercise in composition, light, and value. The rendering is pretty loose so it took me about 3 hours once my sketch was transferred to the 5×7 Ampersand board. I used a #16 X-acto blade for all the scratch work.
My work schedule has been brutal, but I finally found time to finish this piece. My opportunities to do illustration are few these days and this project is one I did for fun. The church is loosely based on one I saw and sketched. The location is plucked from my imagination. The board is 5×7 Ampersand. I used an Olfa 9153US AK-1/5B Standard Art Knife for the scratching. Once the image was transferred to the board it took approximately 4 hours to complete.
With this sketch I took some inspiration from the architecture of a catholic church I passed while on a family outing. The church is tall, yet simple. My drawing doesn’t look much like the church, but it was what got me thinking about it.
The sketch is rendered in blue Papermate ballpoint, my favorite sketching medium. I tend to sketch on lined paper – something I’ve been scolded for. It’s a habit from school and a psychological crutch. I have proper sketchbooks, but generally do better work in lined notebooks because I don’t worry about the outcome.
The snake is not symbolic. It was already on the page when i started the church. The church sketch kept growing until the two ran together. When I pulled the image into Photoshop I erased the snake and cropped the image to a ratio of 5×7.
The bottom of the composition seemed too plain, and I thought it would be nice to have something in the foreground. With a new Photoshop layer and my Wacom tablet I added an agave plant, and played around with the clouds.
This image has a simple charm that really appeals to me. The detail is kept to a minimum, yet it communicates so well. I like how the complexity at the top pushes my eye down to the fox. Part of what I like is how it reminds of my own back yard.