One of the main concerns I hear from artists when they talk about putting their images online is copyright. They are concerned that once their images are online, they will be vulnerable to infringement by unscrupulous image thieves.
It’s not an unreasonable concern, because once they are online, you can’t prevent your images from getting away from you. In some ways, once you put your images online, you want them to get away from you – so they can promote your brand, and generate new fans, clients, or customers. However, you don’t want all your hard work to end up promoting someone else. Resizing your images before you post them is one way to make sure your online images work for you – and no one else.
Resizing images protects your art:
Larger size and resolution images are more versatile: they are more useful for print or for use in graphic design. Thus, if you make original scans or photograph sizes available by uploading them, they could be used by anyone in any way you can imagine: on posters, business cards, websites, t-shirts, mugs, and in someone else’s portfolio. This is true even if you upload a larger image to your website and allow the site to resize it for you: if your image has been uploaded online, it could be found by an image search engine, such as Google Images.
Creating smaller images at a lower resolution limits the use of your images because they cannot be enlarged without reducing the quality of the image. Images for print use a higher resolution (300dpi or more), so your lower resolution image will print much smaller. The low resolution image will not expand for graphic design either: it will become pixelated or blurry.
Smaller is better for your fans:
Websites are usually approximately 900 pixels wide to fit the current viewing ability and habits of most internet users. Websites, including your own artist page and social sites like Facebook, usually have a sidebar region and a main content region, so the largest images should be sized to fit the appropriate part of the page.
If you are using a gallery with a lightbox feature (which expands the image for viewing), you should still keep the image to 600 pixels on the largest side. Your fans do not need to view larger images online: larger images can be slow to load and difficult to view, and they take up space on your site unnecessarily (if you are paying for hosting). Viewers using smaller screens will see a smaller version of your image automatically resized to fit their phone or tablet.
The ideal size:
You will have to decide your ideal size based on your own website and needs, but I recommend starting with 600 pixels on the largest side, and 72dpi.
Resize your artwork, and feel confident posting photos of your work online!