How to Email your Artwork

The days of lugging a large portfolio are all but gone. Though some meetings might still require a physical portfolio, much art world business including image presentation is initiated over email. The reasons are obvious: it’s non-cumbersome, convenient, and free. Artists email their artwork to introduce work to a prospective gallery, to send a price list and / or available works to a client, or even to show their work to a curator or writer. Though not many galleries would take on an artist without a studio visit, people do often purchase work through images online. In any of these instances and others, email is used to begin a dialogue. Therefore, it is important to send a clear, professional, and properly-sized email of your artwork. Below we get into more detail about how to email your artwork. 

(Are you emailing your art to sell? Save time and send clients a professional sales package, templates here.) 

Image format and image sizing

Whether you are emailing your artwork to a gallery or to a client, you should always keep the size of your images to a minimum. This is because emails with large-sized files attached can be blocked by servers, plus you don’t want your recipient to grow impatient waiting for images to load. In rare cases, if you send a high-resolution or print quality file of your artwork, someone could print it out themselves and essentially steal your art! Luckily, you can send small-sized files with little or no image quality loss by emailing images of your artwork in JPEG format. JPEGs are the art world’s standard for emailing images and can easily be compressed into small, manageable sizes.  

When you re-size images, you have two parameters to decide on: the physical dimensions of the file in inches or centimeters, and the compression quality of the file. For physical size, you should have your images large enough to view properly, but small enough so that they are fully viewable all at once (no scrolling) on almost any computer monitor. 8-10 inches high is a rough guideline. In terms of compression, “web quality” or “email quality” JPEG files are generally formatted at 72 pixels per inch, “PPI”, which many programs call “DPI” or dots per inch. If you want to read more about DPI and PPI, there is a nice article here.

Resizing your images for email

Generally, re-sizing your images is quite straight forward, although there are many different programs you can use to re-size. If you use a Mac, you can use the standard “Preview” program to resize. There is a nice how-to video here. If you have Photoshop, you can check out this article here

Once you have your images re-sized, you’ll need to save them for sending. To avoid confusion, it is best to label your images in numeric order and with titles. Example:



Formatting guidelines for emailing artwork

Though some email programs allow you to insert images directly into the body of an email (which enables you to format images and text in a visually presentable way), depending on how the recipient opens the email it could look like a messy jumble of information or could change the images to attachments, therefore ruining your careful formatting. The most straight-forward way to ensure that the work appears logically to your recipient is to format like this:

Title all your files as noted above, and provide a list of works in the body of your email. You can also attach your list as a word file, but entering it in the body of the email ensures that your recipient will be able to view the information regardless of the computer they are using or what programs they have. Formatted this way, your recipient will view the file title when they open the attachment and easily be able to match it to your list. For the file title examples above, you could have on your list something like this:

01. Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889
Oil on canvas, 29 x 36.5 inches

02. Vincent van Gogh, Cypresses, 1889
Oil on canvas, 36.75 x 29.125 inches

Professionally emailing your artwork

When sending an email of your artwork to galleries, clients, writers, curators, or anyone, you should maintain a professional demeanour. Although email seems like a more relaxed medium for communication, you will represent yourself much better if you maintain the standards of business correspondence. Compose your email with the same care you would a business letter, spellcheck, and keep your message concise and polite.

Emailing Images of Artwork to Clients

When emailing work to clients, you can format your information as above, but depending on how you operate, you can include prices as well. If you do decide to include prices, make sure to cover any stipulations regarding your prices, for example:

  1. Prices quoted are valid for __ days
  2. Prices include frames
  3. Prices do not include shipping

Emailing Images of Artwork to Galleries

When using the above method for emailing your artwork to galleries, it is good to:

  1. Let them know that higher resolution images are available upon request
  2. Mention that studio visits or meetings are welcomed
  3. Include a link to your online portfolio or website for further viewing
Have you found success with emailing your artwork to clients or galleries? What did or didn’t work for you? 


Responses to “How to Email your Artwork”

  1. Brennen McElhaney

    In name of your image file, I recommend including the name of the artwork and your NAME, so that if for some reason, the image is saved separate from your correspondence, it could be traced back to you. (instead of “image_08.jpg”)

    For example:

    Field at Pinchot Forest
    © 2011 Brennen McElhaney
    Acrylic on Canvas – 11 x 14 in.


    Also I use images that are 450 pixels max dimension. That seems to be a good size.

    Sometimes PNG (another “standard” image format) retains true color better than JPG. File size can be somewhat larger.

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  10. Artist Grant Applications: 9 Essential Tips | The Practical Art World

    […] Your grant application may specify what size your artwork images should be. Usually, if you’re submitting through email or uploading online, they do not have to be massive, print-size files. If there are no guidelines, use the rough guideline of 8-10 inches high with a web-quality resolution of 72 DPI. It could be that the application requests “high res” images. In this case, use the same size but 300 DPI. If you’re not familiar with DPI or resizing artwork, there is useful information in the article How to Email Your Artwork. […]

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