How much art should you show on your website? Should you protect some of it online, or email images upon request? These are questions that are swirling around the minds of many artists in or considering art licensing… (Yes @cindyannganaden and @sparkyfirepants – I’m finally doing the blog post you’ve been waiting for! Sorry for the delay.)

Let me begin by saying that having a Password Protected Portfolio isn’t a requirement when you are starting out.

Personally, I don’t think I had one until I’d been licensing my art for 3-4 years. However, I believe there is great value in having it now – so once you are committed to licensing, I would put it on your definite to-do list.

Artists who sell their work online, need to show everything they have to offer. It will be hard for someone to buy your amazing, original oil painting if they have no idea it exists. Art licensing is a little different. Manufacturers don’t expect unlimited access to every santa, candle or scarecrow you’ve ever painted… and there is a risk in putting huge volumes of available art online for all the world to see. Here are four reasons to consider a password protected portfolio on your art licensing website.

  1. Safety. While an artist who sells originals can put art online then take it down when it sells, artists who license their work can license it to multiple manufacturers.  So instead of art that rotates in and out based on availability, our portfolios grow and grow.  There is a risk of being copied – either by manufacturers who blatantly use your work without compensating you or other artists who might be a little too inspired by your work.  It is safer to show enough of your art on the open pages of your website to give manufacturers an idea of what you have, and then password protect the vast majority of work so only those who need to see it, do.

  2. Speed. There are times when a manufacturer needs art in a hurry.  They may call and tell you what they are looking for.  When that happens, I always send them things I think might work, but also invite them to log-on and look through my online portfolio as well.  Very often they stumble across something they are interested in, that doesn’t fit what they requested.  Without the work being online, they wouldn’t have known it was available.

  3. Expectation. Art licensing is a fast-paced business and more and more manufacturers expect to be able to go online and see what art is available.  When I asked some manufacturers if they saw an up or downside to working with agents, (for the eBook, How to Find an Art Licensing Agent ) one responded by saying:  For us, some agencies are more likely to have easily accessible portfolios – either online or printed, that allows us to see what art is available quickly. So if they are expecting easily accessible portfolios from agents, why not be the artist who delivers as well and exceeds expectations?

  4. Ease. The easier you are to work with, the more likely you are to get licensing deals.  There is a lot of great art out there.  Competition is tough.  So what makes you quick and easy to work with?  Maybe it’s the way your clients can keep up with what you have any time, day or night.  That can be done with an online portfolio.

Here’s to your creative – and secure – success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  If you use WordPress for your website, the WishList Membership Plugin* is a great way to create a password protected area.  You can learn more about it if you get the free audio with Kim Beasley from the “Ask About WordPress for Artists” call in June 2010.  Go to www.AskAboutWordPressForArtists.com to get your copy today.

* FTC disclosure: The WishList Membership Plugin links are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  This helps me keep blogging and sharing and paying my bi