How Important is Presentation ?

MonkeyLek · March 17, 2003 9:18 am

Sometimes presentation is forgotten about in the creative process. This was brought home to me during the past holiday season when I went to a number of art show and sales. These were shows at art galleries. Even though the art work was not juried, the people submitting them were, theoretically, "artists." Some of what I saw appalled me. When I first started showing my art work, one never could put anything up that wasn't framed, even in a holiday show and sale at an art gallery. I always followed the motto that only framed pieces go up on a wall. I saw digital prints, not even well printed covered by loose shrink wrap on a wall. These should have been in a bin with the other non-framed prints. I saw canvases without any frame at all stuck on a wall. And I saw digital prints that were strictly poor non retouched photographs selling for $100. These were, obviously, still there when the show closed. A good digital print starts with a technically good piece of work. I am not speaking about artistic quality. I always love the statement "Garbage in, garbage out." Before you frame it, make sure you have printed it well. Look at it under a combination of lights. Make sure that the shadow details show as well as the details in the highlights if they showed on the monitor. Sometimes because of the difference in types of light, the monitor image will appear differently from that of the printer. I am not really discussing calibration but qualities of light. Sometimes the monitor light will wash out highlight shadows or expose shadow details in the shadows that do not appear in the print. If you mat it, make sure that mat is well cut with square corner edges unless you are using ovals, etc. It is interesting to do this experiment with a friend. Show a friend a piece of work that you like. Then put a mat around it, and then put it in a simple frame. Do these three steps close together, and I think you will be amazed at the difference it makes. Also, try using only white, black, or off white mat board. I used to use colored mat board until a watercolor artist who showed a lot (this was 10 years ago and he was not speaking about digital art) told me that shows only accepted white or off white mats. I started using them, and I have found that I prefer them over colored mats even when the color picks up a predominant color in the image. I still do use colored mats, but, then, I have developed the image, mat, and frame together. The next area in presentation we, as artists, have little control over is how our work is submitted to shows. I will discuss this in my next column. Anyway these are some of my thoughts. I'd like to hear thoughts from you, out there, on the topic of presentation.
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Article Comments


yomah ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 18 March 2003

Excellent information. I am in agreement with your points made. Sometimes we wonder why others works sell as ours sit on the wall. Thank you for the tip on the color of mat, I will try this on more pieces. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom, Yo

Imaginationart ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 19 March 2003

I think that we get caught up in the process to deliver and do not analize our efforts strong enough to admit they are below standard. Sometimes after consideration which should kill our own babies. Thanks for the advice. Simple is better is what I read here.

Phoenyx ( posted at 12:00AM Sat, 22 March 2003

Now, I don't know about gallery shows, the area where I've dealt with has been convention and, though a friend's experience, kiosk sales (you know, those things in the mall a couple of times a year?). But from that direction, the black, white, or off-white mats are more likely to hurt sales than help. But as I said, those areas are different than a gallery setting. Galleries, from what I have gleaned here and there, have a different mindset than other venues. Galleries wish a mat to frame a picture, and in their viewpoint, color "detracts". As always, your mileage may vary. If you do choose a color mat, choosing the right color is the trickiest part. My husband has done matting and framing professionally and he -still- groans over selections sometimes. In the end, he sticks to two basic rules: 1. The picture should be the first thing noticed, not the mat. 2. Though unobtrusive (see Rule 1), the mat should draw the eye into the picture. As for other points listed, I agree, people should take a little more time in presentation. Digital art is taking a beating in its bid for acceptance in the world, and we certainly aren't going to get very far if we don't take the time to make sure that a piece we worked hard on looks as good on a wall as it did on our monitor.

brainmuffin ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 24 March 2003

Check with your local print shop. You can get very high res prints at reasonable rates. Ask if they can print a jpeg for you, what kind of printer they have, (inkjet, laser, etc) and the printer res. If nothing elsen though, they should be able to make a glossy color enlargement, which will look better, and should hold up better than a computer print. Don't enlarge too big though. I usually go from 8.5x11 to 12x16.


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