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, the 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 the 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 the 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 the presentation has on 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 a 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 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 - Expert Advice Here: and
  • 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 accouterments. Put another way, let your audience imagine how your artwork would look into their world by showing them how it looks at 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.

Practical advice

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 experiences 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.

The definition of the word competition is “the act of competing; rivalry for supremacy, a prize, etc”.  Every month Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery receives hundreds of entries for our online art competitions. After five years, we still receive a large number of sloppy or incomplete entries from artists.  If that happens to us, it is also happening to viewers and the potential buyers of that artist’s work!

Think of the presentation of your art as a competition against every other artist out there.  This is true whether the art is online, in person or in print.  Who will win this competition?  The winning artist will be the one with the best artistic skills and also the artist with the best presentation of their art.

I cannot say why some artists do not present their art professionally.  It may be that some artists do not care or they do not want to compete or they think that their art will sell itself.  Every artist should understand the challenges in showing their art well, attracting enough attention to get people to look at their work and finally motivating someone to actually buy their art. 

Every time your art is shown in person, in print, online or in social media, that is your one opportunity to make a great impression and to present your art as well, if not better than, any other artist.  Think of this presentation in terms of an art competition.  A mediocre and careless presentation of your work will not cut it and you surely will not win!

Here are some ways to improve your presentation when entering art competitions or showing your art online, in person or in print.

  1. Label your entries precisely and consistently (At least your last name and title of your artwork).
  2. Before you frame your art, have it photographed or scanned (No iPhone images).
  3. Color correct and crop your images (There is no excuse for not doing this.   There are free programs on the web that you can use).
  4. Do not show backgrounds, floors or easel stands (See above).
  5. Have a well-written artist’s biography that has been spell checked and has good sentence structure.  (A list of art shows, events and awards is not a biography).
  6. Have an artist’s statement. This tells the viewer what your art is about and what your motivation is for creating your art (In other words give the viewer a thoughtful meaning of your artwork).
  7. Display a consistent body of artwork, which shows you are serious about your art. (Art galleries, art representatives, designers and art buyers want to be sure you are a serious and committed artist).

Remember that you are competing with all of the other serious artists who want the same thing as you, the recognition and ultimately the sale of their artworks.  To successfully make this happen, your presentation should be better than every other artist’s.

Make Better EntriesSometimes a poorly presented art entry may be the cause of one’s art not getting into an art exhibition, rather than the quality of the art that was entered.  How can that be, after all, isn’t this an art competition?  This article will discuss how a poorly presented submission or entry and not the quality of the art may be the reason for not being accepted into an art exhibition.

Every month Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery receives wonderful art for our competitions.  Some of the art that we receive may have been very good but because of the artist’s entry, we were unable to properly judge the art.  This is usually caused by the overall quality of the image(s) as being too poor to be able to be placed in the art exhibition.  The art that was submitted may have been excellent but because the artist did not take care, used poor equipment or their technique for recording the art was not as good as it should or could have been. 

Recently, Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery began accepting 3D art and we have received some wonderful works.  We have also received some work that was so poorly presented that we could not judge the art on the same level as the other entries.  Because of this, we could not place this art in the exhibition too.  Artists should realize that their presentation/entry is just as important as their art when it comes to entering an art competition.

If artists have not been getting into as many exhibitions as they would like, versus the number of competitions that they have been entering, those artists should take a fresh and objective look at how they are recording and submitting their art.

Our website has several articles on the proper techniques to record and present art.  The internet has many other helpful articles that will help the serious artist to improve their art submissions.

Artists should look to improve their submissions by studying the basic techniques of recording their artworks and by spending more time on this process prior to submitting their art.  Remember, this is a competition and besides the quality of the art received, the artist’s submission presentation can either help or hurt them.

Please read our related post titled "But I Thought That My Art Was Pretty Good...." 


By John Feustel, Guest Blogger - Want to attract buyers and set yourself apart as a serious artist? Professionalism is crucial if you want to stand out. And while important, it goes beyond polite and prompt communication. Buyers are more likely to trust and purchase from an artist who runs a professional business. Whether it’s providing a polished invoice or handing out compelling and effective business cards, it’s critical to channel reliability and expertise in all aspects of your career.

Here are five ways you can convey your professionalism:

1. Organize and Track Your Work Online

The more successful you become, the more hectic your art business can get. There are consigned pieces, competition works, exhibition loans, and much more to keep tabs on. Whether you’re an established artist or an emerging one, it’s critical to have an organizational system in place. Galleries and buyers expect artists to have all the right information at the click of a button. We suggest a cloud-based inventory management system like Artwork Archive. You’ll have all your artwork along with the title, medium, dimensions, price/sales value, creation date, associated contacts, and location all easily accessible online. You’ll have all the information you need wherever, whenever!

2. Add an Engaging and Informative Email Signature

An email signature is a very simple way to provide key contact information for your connections. It makes it easy for buyers, galleries, and other contacts to see more of your artwork. We suggest including your full name, profession (e.g. abstract painter), contact information (i.e. business phone, email address, mailing address, and website) and a small, high-quality image of your work. What’s more, it takes less than five minutes to set up and will automatically appear on every email you send. Want to know how to set one up on Gmail? Find out here

3. Create Polished Reports

Galleries and buyers require reports such as consignment reports, inventory reports, and invoices. And while a sheet of notebook paper does the job, it’s better to provide an invoice that leaves a lasting positive impression. A polished, organized report conveys professionalism and credibility. You can quickly create and print reports with a business and inventory management system like Artwork Archive, so you can impress buyers and galleries.

4. Create Memorable and Effective Business Cards

A business card represents your art business, so make sure you have all the right components. Websites like and allow you to create beautiful cards that help you stand out from the pack. Be sure to include your full name, art type, contact details, website, and high-quality images of your art. Stay away from overcrowded, flimsy, generic business cards. The more distinct and informative your business card is, the more professional and serious you seem to buyers.

5. Keep Your Website Up-to-Date

Your website is the storefront of your art business, so be sure to keep it current. Buyers will want to see your newest work and latest collections and hear about your upcoming shows. Old information and unmarked, unavailable works only confuse and mislead buyers. The same goes for pricing. If you have prices on your website, keep them updated and in line with your galleries. Consider using an online portfolio that updates when you update your inventory, like Artwork Archive’s Public Profile Page. A current website or online portfolio speaks volumes about your professionalism. Buyers will take note!

About John Feustel - is the founder and developer of Artwork Archive: the number one online tool that helps you organize your work, grow your business and share your art with the world. From inventory and contact management to sales and location tracking, Artwork Archive gives you everything you need to manage your art business so you can spend more time in the studio doing what you love. Create the art business you want today at


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