12 Reasons to Document Your Art

Collage of Lisa MacDonald ArtSave On Do It Yourself Documentation

If people have to come to your studio to see your art you may as well never have made it. In a world reproduction is the norm you can save money by doing your own documentation. Photographing your art never does the real thing justice but it should come as close as possible.

The Tools You Need

  • You will need a good digital camera. Your phone will seldom do it well.
  • A tripod is necessary and a well-lit area preferable with a neutral wall behind the painting.
  • A good photo shop type program to crop and make adjustments. Never make the image look better than the painting but sometimes a little tweaking to get it to look as good.
  • Some artists use ambient light but I have found good daylight adequate.
    The image must be taken before adding a finish otherwise you may get glare.

I save my images in the largest size possible in a folder according to year and I have a spreadsheet divided into categories of 1. Drawings 2. Pastel 3. Acrylic 4. Small Art (5×7 or smaller).

How To

Save the images in the largest size so that prints can be made. Resizing to upload to Facebook and other social media means you have to resize the image. When I resize I add the size to the file name (image800.jpg for 800 x 600 pixels) making sure that I never save over the original.

The spreadsheet column headings are thumbnail image, date created, title, size, price, medium (acrylic on mixed media, canvas board, canvas), description, exhibitions (keeping track of where the art was already exhibited) and Sold (You may record where, to whom and for how much)

If I paint over something I don’t like then the original information gets grayed out on the spreadsheet. In this way I have a complete inventory of all my art, what exhibitions it has been in, whether it sold and the date created in case an exhibition requires work done in recent months/years.

Why is Documenting Important?

Reasons to document:

  1. After many paintings you lose track of your inventory so it’s nice to have a record.
  2. The spreadsheet allows you to get access to the size of a piece quickly as well as other details about the work.
  3. Keeping track of the dates the art was created is useful for some exhibitions where the work must be recent.
  4. It tracks which pieces have been in which exhibitions because often you may not send the same painting twice.
  5. It also allows you to track your progress and how your art has evolved over time.
  6. You need to have images to use for promotional items and to submit to exhibition opportunities.
  7. You need images to promote your art on Social Media; recently I had a painting printed on a mug as a gift.
  8. You can create a printout of your work to have on hand when doing exhibitions so you don’t have to carry your entire collection with you.
  9. It can serve as proof that it is your work created a certain date.
  10. It can be proof for insurance purposes.
  11. You may be able to make decisions based on what you see in the spreadsheet as far as which types of art has sold well and what subjects you have already explored.
  12. Sometimes new inspiration arises from looking back.

Are you documenting your art?

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