By Jacob Smith, Guest Blogger – Interior design teaches us that every room is more than just individual furniture, colors, and light. As a whole, rooms are an expression. Components — chairs, tables, drapes — work together, in concert. For interior designers, that combination, not any one piece, makes a room engaging and beautiful.
By focusing exclusively on their artwork, many artists forget that each piece lives in context. Whether a gallery, studio, or ever-expanding page of Pinterest boxes, context has a huge influence on how customers perceive your artwork.
Wonder why this matters? Admittedly, fine arts differ quite a bit from interior design. Perhaps interior design’s approach is too broad. Indeed an artwork’s individuality, in many cases, creates value. Yet thinking like an interior designer endows you with power to price your art, create sales, and build your reputation.
Below, we will discuss art imagery, the basics of presenting your artwork well, and the influence that presentation has over your customers. To finish, we’ll look at real world examples.
The term ‘in situ’ describes furniture or artwork photographed in a natural environment, like a living room or gallery. You will see ‘in situ’ compared with ‘cropped’ or white background, which are other ways of presenting artwork. (Cropped is just the artwork itself and white background is the artwork image overlaid on a pure white background.)
If you sell through an online art aggregator — a company that sells many pieces from many artists — then you know about cropping and pasting onto a white background. Online aggregators present as much content as possible in order to maximize views, browsing time, and sales. Customers flip through hundreds (if not thousands) of these sterile, formatted images at a time. For artists, your art is reduced to a small square plastered on a white background.
Put another way, the cropped style is the most economical and universal way to present artwork. As a result, cropped images or white backgrounds serve as standard, from personal artist websites to large art aggregators.
Consider the alternative, photographing artwork in a vibrant, stylish interior requires a professional camera, styling, and in many cases transportation. For most working artists, these barriers make any attempt at interesting imagery cost prohibitive.
Unfortunately, this reality relegates most artwork photography to a mundane existence. In addition to being boring, sterile presentation makes customers less likely to buy. Consider this review published by Etsy www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/article/top-10-marketing-tips-from-full-time/22797743196. This article, like many others published, credits product photography as the #1 way to increase sales.
Alternatively, presenting your artwork ’in situ’ provides customers with a feeling of how your art could be a part of their lives. Below are simple (and inexpensive) rules to move your portfolio from bleak to beautiful.
- First, guide your audience’s eye to a specific spot in your image by following the rule of thirds (https://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds/).
- Second, employ props to show your artwork’s size. Using a desk, chair, or other device provides the viewer with scale, showing whether your painting is 24” or 60” wide.
- Third, use natural light, illuminating from the left or right. Positioning your work with a large window just out of the camera frame works well.
- Fourth, when editing your photos, leave no horizontal or vertical line is askew. Slightly uneven lines confuse the viewer and look unappealing to the eye.
Choosing a Setting
Consider where you ultimately want your artwork to live. Signal the ‘feel’ of your ideal environment by adding furniture and accoutrements. Put another way, let your audience imagine how your artwork would look in their world by showing them how it looks in something very close to their world. Giving your artwork this accompaniment breathes life into each piece. Customers no longer see a plain flat image, but a world surrounding the artwork.
The best investment you can make if you plan to shot your own photos is to invest in a dslr camera and tripod. Quality of camera has a large impact on the quality of finished photos and a tripod will make each image similar in frame and proportion.
Your job as an artist is to communicate your vision. Remember, all who view your work are impacted by their surroundings, mood, and whatever else is present in that moment. Curating how your audience experience your artwork through its presentation makes each piece more personal and real. As artists, we often see our work as the center of the universe, just remember that our audience lives in a bigger world
About Jacob Smith
Jacob Smith is a designer and retoucher living in Chicago, Illinois. ProductViz is Jacob’s illustration studio, focusing on digital imagery and branding.
Jacob has developed the Visual Intelligence method of presenting art. Visual Intelligence is the name coined to describe this process: turning a jpg (or other image file or your art) into a professional photograph in the context of a beautiful interior, gallery, or setting. www.productviz.com