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Documentating Artwork

July 9, 2012

Documenting Artworks

When you have decided your work is “done”, then the artwork needs to be documented.  I first will allow all parts of the painting to thoroughly dry, about a week.

Then, if it is 8.5 inches by 11 inches or smaller, it is scanned.  If larger, I set up my lamps at each side so that they are a 45 degree angle to the work.  I frame up the work visually in the lens of my camera.  When I had used my SLR camera and film, there were several frames taken with differing f-stops.

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The digital camera has made my life easier.  I use the auto-mode and it will give the precise lighting necessary.  Each shoot is labeled with the artwork’s title and date.

The photography goes into a photo program to be enhanced, cropped and deleted if not accurate. They are saved in a .jpg or .gif file (I prefer .jpg).

I make folders with the year, within it is another folder with the name of the artwork.  If a part of a series, it is subtitled with the series name first then a dash, then the work’s name. I always make a back-up and print a small “hard copy” of the work.

one view of a set of earrings

These photos are the basis for portfolios, whether physical or digital. The photographs are taken in a large format, and generally left as large as possible once enhanced and cropped.  Of course this will mean that the photographs will use a lot of memory, but well worth the effort!

The photos are also used in my shop online, for power points, and for making other forms of art. This may mean the photographs are resized several times.  The originals are always left untouched, and duplicated for any changes made to the original.  I label them all accordingly.

It saves time to keep the original, and make duplicates of those originals for different sized images. I keep in mind the phrase “time is money”.  Most people do not realize that documentation, developing additional products, and portfolio creation all take time! This cost for time used is calculated into the final pricing of the artwork, as is the paper and ink used for printing-out photos, greeting cards, small images for jewelry, business cards, brochures, and labels.

Finally, an excel document lists the artworks with descriptions for my records.  It would have the size, type of support, medium, short description of the work.  I have also made a column for pricing wholesale and retail, along with “provenance” of the work.  If the work is sold or gifted, the new owner’s name and information is in the provenance column of the spread-sheet with the date.

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