You should be.
I’m not talking about a large central ugly one across the middle of a painting. Nor am I suggesting what I’ve seen some artists do by covering their imagery with their name a web site repeated ad nauseum on the artwork. I talking about something that identifies your art as yours, lets people know where to find you and is tasteful without detracting from the art.
Because the art is what you are selling. Isn’t it? You can’t sell it if no one can see, nor can you sell it if no one can find you.
It’s a fine balancing act for the artist. Because you need to have your work on the web. Professional artists without a web presence are shooting themselves in the foot. Nearly all art director I am aware of want to see an artist’s work on a web site. You can utilize one of those group web site if you’d rather not host your own. Some artist also manage fine with just a blogger account. But you are still placing your art on-line.
I’ve heard some art directors advise against placing a watermark on your illustrations, but even they want to be able to download and share your art if it strikes them. What happens if the art accidentally ends up in another artist’s folder on the A.D.’s hard-drive when they are reviewing your portfolio? What about when that Ad sends it to another AD or an author? Will the receiver know who created it? Will they know where to see more of your art?
Some artist suggest putting your name in the file name. File names can be changed. When any image is uploaded to a social media site like Facebook or Flicker, it happens automatically. Some software will let you put information into the file. But how many people actually know how to access such information? Or will actually go to the effort?
I’d like to believe that most people looking at my art are honorable and have no intention of stealing it. But as more and more people get online and share art they like, the distance between you, the creator, and the viewer gets more and more diluted.
You worked hard on that image. Do you want to take the chance it will become lost far from home.
You may say, it’s just a doodle. Not a big deal. What’s the worst that could happen?
If you place your art online and don’t identify yourself as the creator, what happened to friend and fellow artist, Kelly Light, could happen to you. One of her doodles, a piece she created of, and for her daughter, was shared by a well-know public figure in a meme. Without crediting Kelly. The image went viral. All without credit to Kelly. None at all. It was devastating and hurtful to her. And there was nothing she could do to minimize the damage. Her special art was shared over 40,000 times. And hardly any of those shares led back to her. The public figure did credit her after Kelly contacted her, but by then the damage had been done. She blogged about it here.
Most of my artist friends, myself included, put our heart and soul into the images we create. These bits of art, from small doodles to a months-long, full-blown illustration are born out of our souls. They are a part of us. Akin to being our children. When one of our images is taken, even for as innocent a use as sharing with a friend, a part of the creator is taken along for the ride. We want to know where our art travels, we want to know you like it. But most of all WE WANT TO BE CREDITED for its creation.
If you care about your art, if you want to be credited with its creation, but most of all, if you want people to be able to find you if they like your art and want more of it, you should be placing a watermark on your illustrations. A small and tasteful one will do. Your name, your website, and maybe an email or phone number. Don’t let your art get lost.