TL;DR I’m looking for ideas as to what to do with a large collection of over 1,000 similarly sized and shaped raster graphics.

I've been very interested in image processing and graphic design for about seven years now. This isn't my career, just something that I do in my spare time with the occasional paid commission.

Back in 2013, I started a small collection of abstract graphics, and I've been building it ever since. I use the term abstract lightly, and would like to clarify that my collection isn't composed solely of abominable colors splashed onto a page with no worldly analogue. I certainly wouldn't call it clipart either. There is some thought put into every image. The layer mask used for each graphic is the same, meaning their shape and size are all similar. Each image is 1000x1000px.

My work has greatly improved in the past five years. I'm sure you've heard the metaphor from the book "Art & Fear," which suggests that quantity leads to quality. I have over 1,000 pieces in this collection, and I've invested several thousand hours in the craft in general. I don't deem every graphic in my collection to be "museum" ready, but I hold onto every file just to keep track of my progress and for resources in case there is an element in any of my older works that I'd like to use. Some of the works are of great quality though, and this is what makes the collection valuable to me.

Ultimately, I'm looking for suggestions as to what to do with this collection. Even knowing what other individuals have done with a collection of graphics that have no definitive use would be extremely helpful.

I'm not trying to seem lazy, I just felt it necessary to ask an experienced community for advice. It would be a shame to have all this work sit on a hard drive and then be formatted when I die, so I came to the community for a bit of brainstorming. I think that the main goals for this collection are tangibility, profitability and visibility. Here or some ideas that I've come up with:

Rescale the collection: My collection began in 2013 with each image being 232x222px. Sometime in 2016, I rescaled a portion of the collection to 1000x1000px. This process was extremely time consuming because it wasn’t as simple as batch resizing. I had to employ a number of blurring and sharpening techniques as well as individual touch-up to preserve lines and details and eliminate nasty aliasing/artifacts due to the scaling. I’ve seen technology grow so much recently, and with new 4k and even 8k displays, I’ve been wondering if graphics at 1000x1000px are going to be enough in this day-and-age. Also, with how AI is advancing in the field of generative graphics, man-made artwork may become obsolete in a few years.

Sell the collection on a stock photo website: I’m opposed to selling my collection one at a time with a license on these websites. It’s just not the path I want to go for such a large collection of artistically oriented graphics. It seems demeaning, and I think that there must be a better course of action. I’d rather sell the collection as a whole, and hand copyright over to the buyer with a legal document if I were going to take that route. But then comes the complication of how to sell such a bundle of graphics, how to price said bundle, and determining how significant the market is for such a thing. I’m guessing the market wouldn’t be very large. Even if I went as far as to price the entire collection at something ridiculously low, like $100, it’s highly unlikely that an individual would want to buy. The collection would likely be seen as a group of random graphics. Being the artist, I have reservations about splitting the collection up, and giving partial ownership to a large group of people. I’d rather either own it myself, or sell it in its entirety to someone (or some group) who can use it. Being paid small royalties by an over flooded stock photo website is not appealing.

Print the collection: I would entertain this idea, but there are many different routes to pursue. I’ve considered everything from making prints and selling them at the “local artists gallery shop” at the mall, or even displaying them in the art gallery at my college. I’ve even thought about printing some graphics and sealing them against a clear cabochon with resin, maybe to create necklaces or collectable display pieces.

Display the collection online: This is a great idea for some artists, but I have to admit that I haven’t tried it. Blogs aren't just fun to host, they can also help an artist to gain exposure, build a portfolio, drive in some ad revenue, and even build a small fan base. However, the collection I’ve made only has value in itself, I don’t plan to use it as a portfolio or on a resume. This also defeats the idea of ad revenue, as that probably won’t be enough to pay for the domain name for a blog. Also, I think posting all the graphics online, even just the best ones, would take away from the profitability of the work. Some profitability comes from the fact that the work is exclusive and has no definite use. The moment I post those images online, they lose a little bit of originality. Sure, I can create more works, and to be a great artist means that your artwork isn’t just a fluke. But at the same time, I know that with some works I can’t just recreate them, because there’s really nothing like them.

Create a book displaying the collection: Recently, I’ve been thinking about printing a one-off gallery book displaying some of my best and most monuments graphics from the collection. In the side panel, I could talk about said graphic, what went into making it, what tools and methods I used, my inspiration behind it, and what the graphic means to me. I could design each page in pdf form and then have an online printing service print the book for as low as $20.00 (or so they advertise.) This would be pretty nice because I’d have something tangible and memorable. I could present this book to a gallery in hopes of having larger pieces on display or for sale. Also, these graphics wouldn’t necessarily lose their exclusivity like they would when embedded on some random web page.

Other ideas: Implement the collection as web assets, video game assets, app assets, board game assets, or in collectable game.

(P.S. Stack Exchange Arts and Crafts isn’t quite as pertinent to this topic, and Quora doesn’t allow long winded questions, that’s why I’m asking here.)

  • 3
    It seems you have shot down almost all suggestions I could think of in the question itself.
    – Scott
    Mar 14, 2018 at 19:02
  • "with how AI is advancing in the field of generative graphics, " It's not that simple. They have to feed it a bunch of pictures of birds with descriptions. It only knows to do things based on what it's trained to do. It's not going to be able to produce a car, only birds. And photorealism is something that takes a lot of processing power and 3D applications if you want a high resolution image and will still require human intervention to tweak it. Ai will make our jobs easier not take them away. Mar 14, 2018 at 19:48
  • "as that probably won’t be enough to pay for the domain name for a blog" Remember, everything online is free if you try hard enough. There are a lot of website that will let you host for free until the traffic increases. Then when traffic increases you have to pay for the domain and a real domain name. At which point you can profit from ad revenue. Mar 14, 2018 at 20:20
  • "I could present this book to a gallery in hopes of having larger pieces on display or for sale." This isn't the 1900s that doesn't work anymore. I'd argue that a random web page could make you more immortal. Especially when archive services like archive.org pick up your random webpage. Now you're in a real museum that 1,000s of generations later can access. Mar 14, 2018 at 20:25
  • 1
    Hopefully that'll be useful with Google Glass :) Just because Google pursues something doesn't mean it's going to be fruitful.
    – Scott
    Mar 14, 2018 at 20:32

2 Answers 2


I have decades of art taking up GB of hard drive space and it all goes unused 97% of the time.....

Sure I sell some. I give some away. I repurpose some. I've done "collections".

If you are at all in interested in actually some form of distribution, you are going to have to make some compromises with yourself. The question states a method then proceeds to detail why that method is unsatisfactory.

No one is going to come along and magically offer you something you feel is fantastic. You're too close to the artwork and are harboring it as if it actually means something to anyone other than you. The sad fact is, there may be a handful of people that like your art.... and an even smaller handful of those willing to pay for it. It's the nature of an artist to generally create things that ultimately have no use or value to anyone else.

The value is in the creation, not the distribution..

Let the files sit and never be used.... what possible harm could that do? You (rationally) know that there's little to no value in selling things. The question seems to infer you are looking for some sort of method to gain either a windfall or some notoriety from your files. That's probably not going to happen.

This is why many of The Masters died unknown and penniless. Art isn't intrinsically valuable to anyone other than the artist.

  • You're right about me being overly sentimental about this work. For someone pursuing a career in this field, they may derive value from the experience or the portfolio, but it seems such value isn't equal as a hobbyist. I'm not opposed to every option I listed off, I was just demonstrating that I've dedicated a few months thought to this question before blindly posting. I'll take into consideration the fact that the work was made for me on my own whims, and it's unlikely that someone else will pay money for a product of my own whims. Also, I should be more compromising if seeking value.
    – Durge
    Mar 14, 2018 at 20:09
  • 1
    +1 These are all the reasons I think you should release it with an open license. It has absolutely no value unless you give it away for free. Then it can benefit you and others in multiple ways. Especially if you ask for attribution. Mar 14, 2018 at 20:14

The best advertisement you can make for yourself is releasing it all with an open license.

Sounds like they are useless to you and useless to anyone else because nobody knows you and nobody is going to purchase your collection because you're an unknown artist.

To me the best usage would be to make a website and release it all for the world. Consider this as advertising. This gives you a lot of traffic which you can then use to:

  1. Make yourself a more well known artist.
  2. Sell new high quality artwork
  3. Sell yourself as a service to create new artwork for clients.

Want a permanent FREE place in a real museum/archive? Upload your images here: https://archive.org/details/image

  • Tons of people will go "hey, free stuff!" and grab it and misuse it as much as they can (for example, upload it under their name to Deviantart, or put it on their own web site, surrounded by clickbait adverts). But some people will use it responsible, and add correct attribution – and that's the audience that you want to reach here.
    – Jongware
    Mar 14, 2018 at 21:23
  • 1
    @usr2564301 Same could be said about anything from a image stock website, news article, screenshot from a YouTube video etc... It's a human ethical problem that can't be solved by simply changing the host. Simply marking it as "commercial only you have to buy it for the HD non watermarked version" does not even slightly help prevent piracy. Mar 14, 2018 at 21:34
  • Of course you're right. But to catch those good mentions, you have to cast a wide net nowadays. As I understand it, currently those images do nothing at all for the OP.
    – Jongware
    Mar 15, 2018 at 0:45
  • @usr2564301 If you release your artwork with an open license, when people search google images for royalty free images your images will appear instead of getty images. It actually makes your works more easily available to an even broader range of people. I always use royalty free images when I can and that's how I find lots of independent artists with google image search. Mar 15, 2018 at 13:20

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