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Grey Cross Studios
1920 4th St, New Orleans , LA 70113
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Friday, July 15, 2016

The Art of Displaying Art Part 1 - Live Displays (Updated 07-15-16)

Properly displaying your art for others to see is an art form all by itself. We often rush to show our work not considering the way its seen for the first time. That crucial first impression makes all the difference. 

If a client is coming into the studio to pick up work, I make sure all pieces are first cleaned and dusted, touched up and that certificates of authenticity are printed for each. Then as the final step I moved the art into a display area with proper lighting so that when a customer comes to pick them up, there is a first impression made.

Part of that impression involves the art, part involves the artist. I could have easily boxed each piece and handed it to the client that way. But I truly believe that the first impression not only reflects the quality and craftsmanship of the art but also reflects on the artists ability to look and function professionally and make an overall good impression.

This extends far past just art in the studio. Quality means that a piece of art is clean, displayed well, lit well and embellishments added as needed wherever it is seen. Small touches like appropriate background music allows the art work to transcend and make the atmosphere around the piece also become part of the art. Even a subtle waft of odor is helpful. I often light some incense first and then blow it out before the client arrives so that the scent lingers and is not too overwhelming.

The fundamental rules of displaying art should always strive to include:

  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Background
  • Information

Budget and space do not always allow for big or fancy displays. I use nothing high quality or expensive.Its all in the presentation. Even an old piece of cloth can make an effective presentation. Most of my lights are $7.00 hood lamps used for automotive work and bought at the local hardware store. I only use daybright bulbs to get the purest white light possible. On rare occasions I will use a colored bulb if I think its appropriate. I use simple shelving units from my local hardware store for pedestals covered with black cloth. These shelves allow me to adjust the height of the presentation without any hassles.

Consider also that other art in your space should be given attention also. You want the client to look at other pieces besides what they are purchasing. This should also apply to visitors coming to your work space for other reasons. Keep your work prominent as often as possible.

And don't forget that even the effective presentation of your art supplies can make an impression. Your studio may be a bloody mess when your working alone, but a quick clean up before arrival can make an impression. I often use candlelight effectively. It doesn't mean I don't use high wattage bulbs also, but a little ambient light can't hurt.

Your overall goal should always be to impress the customer when they first see the work. Cover the work with a cloth to make an added flourish of unveiling if you wish. Consider that you want the person to come back and see more later. 

If you keep the basics rules of displaying in mind your art will look better and your viewer will respond to it positively and never be aware that you may have had to use simple cheap items to create the effects. Be as creative as you can be and you that first impression will not be forgotten the moment the viewer steps away from the art.

Always remember: DON'T LET THEM FORGET YOU!

Here are some additional photos of various displays over the years.

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