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Grey Cross Studios
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Monday, July 18, 2016

The Art of Displaying Art Part 2 - Online Presentation

I wrote an article awhile back on the Art of Displaying Art. The premise of the article was that how your art is seen in public is as important as the art itself. Taking time to curate the piece first and display it artfully for your customers will make people return to buy more.

The same thing applies online. The appearance of your art to others who may see it on the internet is equally if not more important because you are reaching a far larger audience. 

I take a lot of time in the preparation of art to be seen online. The photo at the top of the article is an example. This digital art could have been displayed alone, which In fact is how most art is shown online.

We are bad about presentation. We put up photos that are blurry, faded and extremely uncomplimentary to our work. We suffer from the illusion that any photo is better than none at all. On the contrary, bad presentation leaves us looking like bad artists. Where great presentation makes our art look great and makes us look professional. 

I have a rule that I NEVER post a photo online unless I've taken at least 2 minutes to make it look presentable. This is one of the main arguments I have against Instagram. I can't and won't post a photo just taken of anything I do. Instagram is a photo sharing program but the photos must be on your phone to upload. 

So the process of professional presentation begins with the quality of the photo taken of the art. Some do this fairly well others horribly.

Lets look at an example. This photo was submitted by an artist for a recent show (and I am not picking on the artist, only the quality of the photo). Note that it is washed out. The colors are not crisp but faded and there is a distinct fish eye effect occurring that makes the photo look rounded. While the composition of the art is good, the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. But I chose this image because it is very typical of many images I see posted online.

So before the photo was posted before the show, I did some very basic cleanup work on it for the artist. This was after a 30 second cleanup. 

There are still problems with the image because the lighting was not uniform when it was taken. But you can see how some basic cleanup changed it and made it a much stronger presentation.

You may say that you don't have the skills or the programs to clean up your work. Learn it! You have the basic software that comes on any Windows or Mac computer that will help you do a basic transformation of a raw image. Its there, but you have to take the time to learn it. In the end it will pay off. A great piece of art deserves that attention to detail. 

Once the photo is cleaned up then you can focus on the formatting around that photo. This is the area where 75% of all artists fail online. They put the title of the piece only (if even that). What do I mean by formatting? I am talking about the information and presentation around the photo of your art. 

Lets dissect the piece at the top of this article. 

First note that it has a border.borders are essential. It makes your art stand out and is perhaps the simplest thing you can do to improve your work. Putting a border on anything frames the art and creates the illusion of being on a wall. 

Second note the series logo. This logo contains a sub heading beneath it also. Not everyone works in series, so of course this is optional. But it does work effectively to tell the viewer where the artists mind set is when creating the piece. 

I use two other logos as well. One is my studio logo, the other is the same but with my email address. A person can't buy your work if they have no way to contact you. If you put no other information with your photo, at least add this. Consider that a well liked photo of your work may be liked and re-liked dozens of times until the person viewing it may have no idea who you are. That simple addition of an email address links you directly back to them. 

Now lets look at the same basic format but for a sculpture versus a piece of digital art.

Note that the formatting I use is basically the same as for the digital art. This saves me time and energy trying to remember how I formatted something. The difference is that I have included some basic information about the piece also. In sculpture, dimensions are crucial because a photo often can't give the viewer any clue about the size of the object. The basic materials (if they are unusual) are also great information to have with the piece. You'll notice that I've removed my email logo and replaced it with a price logo instead and placed the email address in the info area instead. 

Every piece will be slightly different, so don't try to make it so uniform that you can't put other information with it. For example this sculpture has two graphics. The first is the basic info.

You'll note that the information is displayed slightly differently, but the same basic info is always present. But this piece has a story behind it also, so I've included an additional graphic to go with it.

Why go to the trouble of creating an additional graphic when that info is already on my website? Because statistically if a person views your art online, there is only a 10% chance they will click on the website link to find out more. If I can get them interested in the piece through this graphic, I improve my chances of getting them to click through to the website also. It is also easier for me to upload a graphic than to retype crucial information onto whatever social network I am placing it. On a site like Twitter where the number of characters is controlled, then a graphic can speak for me when typing can't. I also guarantee that every time I put an image up, the same exact information goes with it. 

I know I may go a bit hyper on this. For me presentation is as much of an art form as the art itself. If I am going to spend months creating a piece of art, why on earth would I not want to take a day or so to make sure its presented in the best light? And the higher the price tag the more effort I will put into it. A piece of digital art that I am selling as a print for $10.00 may not receive the kind of attention that a sculpture worth $2,5000 would get. But each is worth a little time to make it look the best it possible can. 

If you keep no other rule of thumb in mind, remember this. Every time you show your work is an opportunity to gain a fan. If your presentation is poor, potential fans will ignore you. If your presentation is good, it will help build your audience. 

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