The days of lugging a large portfolio full of prints around are waning. Through 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.
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.
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 information and details
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
General Notes on Professional Emailing
When sending an email of your artwork to galleries, clients, writers, curators, or anyone, you should maintain a professional demeanor. 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.
Notes on 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:
- Prices quoted are valid for __ days
- Prices include frames
- Prices do not include shipping
When using the above method for emailing your artwork to galleries, it is good to:
- Let them know that higher resolution images are available upon request
- Mention that studio visits or meetings are welcomed
- Include a link to your online portfolio or website for further viewing