The purpose of this article is to summarize what I found did and didn’t work when setting up an online art gallery. I’ve been working on this for about two years now, and wanted to share what I’ve found. The first part of this will be about getting organized.
My first suggestion when approaching any endeavour is to create a set of directories in a folder that break down like Research, Inventory, Website, Raw Images, Processed Images, Other Websites, plus whatever else makes sense. Then prefix them like 10 – Research, 20 – Inventory, etc. This way you can control the sort order by filename. Then as you gather and create files you have, in an organized structure to store them while creating subfolders where applicable. This is a common practice at work on network shares, so try and develop a discipline in organizing your files logically. Solution files such as for Visual Studio can be kept in a default location as long as you have a “Things To Remember” document that records where your project folder is stored.
It is important to document and produce a set of images in various sizes. One set with borders added to simulate the matte of a frame, others with a drop-shadow to have the image stand out on the page. It’s important to know how to do several basic things with an image editor. I use Paint Shop Pro, but you can do this with Microsoft Paint in many cases.
You don’t need a high-end product like PhotoShop to do simple resizing and effects. You should understand about setting one of the layers as transparent, and if your program allows you to paste transparent selection. Since I hadn’t gotten familiar with the various images immediately – I also set up a product number based on the image file my CyberShot digital camera.
You will want at least four images of each work in jpg format. Use ratios of 1:2 or 3:4 and maybe 75 pixels wide for tiny, 150 wide for small, 300-400 for a medium image and 750 pixels wide for a large image. This is an art gallery, so it will be handy to have those four photos for use in various pages of the site. I named the files like 01843s.jpg (where the s means small,) followed by 01843m.jpg, 01843t.jpg, and 01843h.jpg – for medium, tiny, and huge. To do a drop-shadow effect, you’ll need to create a transparent layer in the image, so while you do that, it will have to be a gif file format.
I used Microsoft Access to create a small database to track the paintings. After you design a basic table, create a form for entry (there’s a wizard that walks you through this.) A useful technique I found, was to add a label to the form whose image source is the small or medium jpg file and stretch it out big. Every time I navigate to a new record in the inventory form, the photo of the work comes up right up. I haven’t yet needed to write many reports, but by having it in a spreadsheet or database makes it much easier to query. Additional things being tracked in the database are the artwork title, dimensions, brief sales verbiage, price, shipping, and a set of checkbox fields for whether it was listed in various online art showcases. To be honest, you can do this same thing just in excel or a just a text file, the important thing is to have a system you’re comfortable with.
Business cards, brochures, envelopes, and stationary are all useful to get. You may end up spending a dollar or more per printed page for a nice setup, but you can print on demand whatever batch size you need. VistaPrint and other online printers provide a pretty good value. We may get a printed vinyl banner for a booth and other signage that would be useful at an event. Chose a few key images to adapt into a logo, have the artist’s name visible along with a website, phone number and exercise your skills with your favorite image editor so you can collect a set of decent illustrations. Be careful to submit your images to an online printing company in the sizes and dimensions they specify. You can use these images inserted to Word (if using ver 2003 insert a text box and insert an image in to that, in Word 2007 just insert the image. If you want to print to a PDF file and don’t have Adobe Writer installed, use freeware PrimoPDF – It’s convenient to be able to print a Word document to PDF format – also an easy way to make an online brochure. Most people won’t download a Word doc online, and nor should they have to. A PDF file is considered safer.
Since I’m not a copy-writer, I figured I would wing it and set up a directory just for raw source text in writing up sales-sounding sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes rambling sentences can be reworked into flowing prose if polished enough. In promoting art, you’re going to have to come up with a bunch of this including: artist statement, biography, contact information, write-ups on each of the works, blog entries, etc. Even this article was organized into an e-zines folder and edited. So if you think my writing is lacking, you should have seen how it started! The point is you’re going to need this stuff later when setting up online galleries later. Any help you can get from your sisters is also something to be greatly appreciated!