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November 2010

Sharing Quality Images for Critical Writing and Discussion

Foundation WallArtists and Makers are the foundation of the arts and crafts community. Whether for personal benefit or for community support, the images of your work provide a crucial mode of communication.


Consuming Conversation © 2004
"Never Let Your Ideas Deceive You FromThe Real Truth"
Post-consumer recycled tin cans,
bronze handle,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

From a range of perspectives, several speakers at SOFA Chicago (including Susan Cummins, Garth Clark, Bruce Metcalf, and Janet Koplos) emphasized that critical writing and dialogs are vital to raising the consciousness of craft media and that visual communication with quality photographic images is an essential component.

41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_ The importance of great photographic images for your art or craft along with adequate documentation was stressed by Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos, authors of the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. When starting the book they thought they would be overwhelmed by the number of images and the task of deciding which photos to use in their very important book Makers.

However, it turned out that the images in the book were often chosen from which images were available and acceptable, rather than from an excess of images.  How can it be that an artist's or maker's entire body of work, a lifetime of artistic exploration, is represented solely by which image can be found?  @%!#!!!!

During the same day of lectures, Garth Clark raised the problem of some artists not allowing images of their work to be used in print or lectures out of concern that such use might negatively affect their branding or identity as an artist. I recommend you read the previous two posts:

Pandora's Box or Toolbox - COPYRIGHT of Photographic Images

Photo Permission & Copyright Issues - Is this hampering a dialog?

OscarWILDE I believe that it should be a shared responsibility for artists and makers to support growth and "the free exchange of ideas in a visual culture"* by allowing images of our work to be used for critical writing and lectures (without requesting monetary compensation).  By far most critiques are net positives.  But if not, Oscar Wilde said it best, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

So always have great photos ready. The quality of photographic images of your work often reflects the quality of the work itself.

To obtain the maximum mutual benefits,  support the arts community by freely sharing your great images for inclusion in writing, dissertations, lectures, books, and magazines. Let's help make valuable contributions to the community with the very best photographic images of our work.


*quote from an email conversation with Bruce Metcalf, author of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft.

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.

Giving Thanks Artfully

THANKSGiving Wall says THANKS in twigs. I love Thanksgiving.  No presents, no guilt, no religion -- just food, friends, and family (my children home from school). It all begins by selecting the freshest produce, buying the turkey and trimmings. Then baking the pies, or in my case, a special birthday cake every year for my daughter.

The turkey goes in early Thanksgiving morning and people begin arriving early afternoon while the fragrant cooking smells permeate the house.
Thanksgiving 2010 by Harriete Estel Berman  
My favorite tradition is creating a theme for the Thanksgiving table.  It's kind of a temporary and fleeting artwork. This year it is green, offset with grey, black, silver, and white.

Place settingTo see pictures of my Thanksgiving table for 2010, be my friend on Facebook.  I've posted the new photos for this year in the Thanksgiving 2010 album. Look for other albums of other Thanksgiving themes from the past few years.

This is the one day that I truly feel grateful for my family and friends and give thanks for being able to work as an artist. 

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!


This post was updated on January 22, 2022.


Pandora's Box or Toolbox - COPYRIGHT of Photographic Images

On November 18th I wrote to Garth Clark via email to thank him for his comments about the previous post on ASK Harriete. We were discussing the issues surrounding the importance of photographic images in creating a dialog and critical discourse within the arts and crafts community. 

Many issues surround the use of photographic images.  So in an effort to bring this discussion into a more public forum, Garth Clark agreed to a post of our email conversation.

Garth Clark is a noted author and lecturer who has lectured across the U.S. I have listed a few of his many books on the right column of this blog as affiliate links for your convenience.

HARRIETE email text is in black.
GARTH Clark's email text is in steel blue.


Critics Choice is a series of three pencil sharpeners as a commentary on art criticism.
Critic’s Choice © 1986
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Thanks for your comment [on the previous post on ASK Harriete]. I am glad to hear your point of view directly rather than filtered by my notes and memory.
Trying to be organized here …. It seems that there are three issues:
Issue#1. Hampering versus encouraging ”legitimate scholarly or critical usage.” Publishing books and articles including images for “legitimate scholarly or critical usage” should definitely be encouraged.  This is the reason I wrote the previous post about this topic. The arts and crafts will grow and develop by expanding such discourse.  I would like to encourage authors, publishers, artists, and makers to all cooperate in this endeavor.  We all benefit.

Encouragement is not enough. See comments below. It has to be a legal option for the writer.

CRITIC's Choice  Metalgramatic pencil sharpener is made from lead by Harriete Estel Berman
Critic’s Choice © 1986
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Issue #2.  Copyright protection and artists’ rights to control images of their work.
I could never endorse that artists abdicate their rights of ownership of the work they created.  If they don’t see a benefit to themselves or their community for participating in someone's “usage” it is a loss for them.  That is their right, whether anyone else agrees with them or not.  Yet, I hope that it is clear that in the vast majority of situations, I firmly believe that the artists benefit by granting permission (even without direct payment) and being included in a publication.

I agree but with an exemption. My free speech as a critic should enable me to voice my opinion and illustrate the object of my criticism with or without the artist's permission so long as it does not constitute commercial usage. It cannot be "by permission only" because my experience in real life is that artists are into free speech for themselves but not when someone wants to question their work. So to think that they will just cooperate is naïve.


Critics Choice pencil sharpener titled Didactic is constructed by Harriete Estel Berman  as a commentary about art criticism.
Critic’s Choice © 1986
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Issue #3.  Use of images for commercial enterprise.
While the premise of books and articles may be “legitimate scholarly or critical usage,” my understanding is that someone is selling those publications.  Whether or not anyone makes a profit, such use is a commercial enterprise.  For example, book publishers sell educational textbooks but are still required to obtain permission to publish copyright images. Even if profit is not the primary motivation, the author or publisher is still benefiting from the use of artists' images in the publication.

This defeats the whole purpose. The craft world is so concerned that someone might be slipped a buck or two and they will not. How can criticism be disseminated without someone being paid, a publisher, a critic, a photographer? The point is whether one was making a critical statement about the art or trying to exploit it for profit.

Do you know what a reviewer gets paid by a daily newspaper for a review? $130. In many cases what the writer gets for writing a piece is less than what the artist receives for copyright fees. Current fair usage already mandates limited use of the imagery. If I were to write an entire book on an artist, pro or con, that would be a violation. But if in a text with 200 images I needed to reproduce two photographs that were essential to the critical argument, that is fair usage.

And that does not give wholesale permission for anyone else to use the image thereafter. No primary right has been lost. And it's not that artists use this to control the copyright in a fair and open manner but often to control content (i.e. smother dissent with threats of lawsuits). I find that anti-democratic and an affront to the supposed open exchange of the aesthetic experience for which the art world purports to stand.

What this has resulted in is that independent book publishing is on its way out.  Over 90% of the books you see on artists today are artist-sanctioned volumes (often with fees waived because it's to their benefit) that are paid for upfront and in full by their gallery, a sponsor, collector, or their estate. Publishers are too scared to cross this line, so all we get now is coffee table PR. Don’t you think something has been lost?

I would warn younger artists in trying this ploy. Publishers simply exchange images for which a fee is requested with those of artists who make no charge. So unless you are crucial to the document, you could find yourself edited out by the accounting department.

But before you get your crafters smock in a twist, bear in mind this applies ONLY to LEGITIMATE critical writings. And there are already some guidelines. Books such as Lark are not critical studies and would not be exempt. I am arguing for a very narrow exemption on the correct side of free speech.

Critics  Choice says, "RESONANT with Social Implications" by Harriete Estel Berman
Critic’s Choice © 1986
"Resonant with oblique social
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

So an exchange of benefits seems like an opportunity.  Let the two parties negotiate.  Hopefully, both sides see the mutual benefits of working together (with or without cash compensation), but if they don't agree, both must walk away empty-handed.  I think it would be heavy-handed to "amend the law" to assure that one side always wins.

And as so often happens in the arts with “enlightened” legislation to protect the artists such as a 5% resale fee to artists, 99% of the benefit goes to the superstars. If you are going to pay for photographs, the bulk of that budget is kept for the Koon's and Hirsch’s of the world because they have the greater bargaining power. (Although Koons was very gracious in allowing me to include his work in my recent Metalsmith piece without cost.)

And it gets worse because in some cases one has to pay the museum that owns the piece, the photographer who shot it, and the artist. Three charges! That bill can come to over $1500 per image! Bear in mind that almost nobody makes big money off art books. So while it may fit into your commercial use bracket, neither the publisher nor the author earns enough for a week in Monaco. And what books do in developing an audience for artists is immense. Copyright fees are now strangling the independent book publisher. Major artists will not feel any pain because they self-publish. Lesser artists (financially speaking) will become invisible.

Thanks for giving this subject some air.

HARRIETE to the readers: This discussion is just beginning.

  • Do you have any comments or questions that you would like to add?
  • Does this issue impact only the rarefied artist or the entire community?
  • If you are paid for using images of your work, is your photographer going to expect additional compensation?  
  • I personally wonder who decides what author or document fits into the category of "LEGITIMATE critical writings." 
  • Are we opening Pandora's box with this discussion or can we arrive at a broad consensus?

Related Articles:

The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY in the Age in the Internet

Copyright Ownership vs. Owning the DVD

REFERENCES to Keynote Lecture Synergy 3: The Good, BAD and the UGLY in the Age of the Internet

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.


Pandora's Tool Box titled Make Me Over, Over, Over by Harriete Estel Berman Pandora's Box Make Me Over, Over, Over  © 1984
brass, copper, steel, painted, plated,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

Photo Permission & Copyright Issues - Is this hampering a dialog?

Hotbutton The previous post discussed the lecture by Garth Clark at SOFA Chicago and his tour of Metalsmith Exhibition in Print: Neo-Palatial (published by SNAG).  Clark concluded his talk by commenting on a hot button topic.  He suggested that images of art and craft should be made available copyright-free for the purpose of supporting and expanding critical writing and discourse. Copyright_symbol2

A rather radical idea.  But as I understand it, artists sometimes deny the use of their photos to writers.  Such artists commonly rationalize this behavior for two reasons:

Some artists don’t want photos of their work used in a non-approved context. In other words, they want to control how their work is seen, who is writing about their work, what is written about their work, which publications the article will be in, etc. The artists want complete and absolute control over their identity (or "brand") as an artist or maker.  I have heard that this is a small, but growing problem.

Bar Code Identity Necklace

Bar Code Identity Necklace © 2008
Plastic, vintage beads, recycled tin,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Some artists want to be paid for the use of photos. However, writers rarely have much of a budget for an article or book, much less extra money to pay for the use of an image.  Yet some artists are asking upwards of $1,000 per image -- and consequently, end up with no deal at all.

This problem was described by Garth Clark as hampering writers, authors, and lecturers to generate dialog and critical thinking within the art and craft media. I see his point and agree with his intent.  However, I don't see a need to stop using the fundamental copyright law that protects artists' work.

Close up view for seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman How Is This Night Different From All Other Nights? It would be much better for the arts and crafts community to share images of our work with our permission and free of charge.  We collectively have much more to gain by fostering greater awareness within and beyond our community.   It is unproductive to worry about the minuscule possibility that your reputation might be impacted by one writer's point of view. You may be surprised, but normally, both you and the community generally benefit from free-flowing dialog. Open the door to the possibilities.

How IsThis Night  Different From All Other Nights
How Is This Night Different From AllOther Nights © 2001   (full view)
Seder Plate constructed from post
consumer recycled tin cans,
Vintage steel dollhouses.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

There have been plenty of times when I've been surprised by the comments of an author.  It may or may not have been negative comments or critical evaluation.  Misrepresentation of my work with an incorrect interpretation or description is a common problem.

Get over it!  Anytime your work goes out into the public forum, this is a risk. It may be annoying, but it is not fatal.  It is more valuable to have people see and hear your name and the discussion. They wouldn't remember slight errors or recognize mistakes. So I suggest that you be bold, brave, and ready for an adventure.

Next week: The importance of quality images and documentation of your work to expand the critical dialog.


P.S. Do you have anything to add? Please leave a comment?

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.

Creating an experience - Peering Over the Palace Wall - by Garth Clark at SOFA

SNAG Exhibition in PrintGarth Clark spoke early on Friday morning at SOFA Chicago 2010 presenting an audiovisual excursion into his recent curatorial tour de force Metalsmith Exhibition in Print: Neo-Palatial. The lecture was titled, "Peering Over the Palace Wall: The Neo-Palatial Aesthetic in Contemporary Art."

If you aren't familiar with Exhibition in Print it is a special annual issue of SNAG's Metalsmith Magazine that is supposed to be a virtual exhibition. I have always loved the idea of this annual issue.  Considering the effort and cost of sponsoring a physical exhibition (e.g. staff, storage, insurance, shipping, and installation), Exhibition in Print is a fabulous alternative. 

Exhibition in Print can present a "no holds barred" theme with minimal risk and travel anywhere with no limits. Sometimes it's great, especially when it takes a risk.  Other times it is boring if it follows the status quo.  It has been a little bit of everything over the past fourteen years.

The most recent Exhibition in Print was a remarkable issue.  As guest curator, Garth Clark actually structured the magazine text and images like a tour of an exhibition.  Through his words and images, you can find yourself immersed in a virtual palace.

 Cygne Noir   Emiko Oye © 2009
 Repurposed LEGO, rubber cord, s.silver
 24" x 5" x 3 1/2"
 Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

 This issue of the magazine is packed with multi-leveled symbolism and provocative content. It is to be enjoyed at every level. 

But, beyond looking at the images on the magazine pages and reading between the lines in the text, every artist and maker can learn an important insight.  Garth Clark approached the complete layout, text, and content as a bold, inventive adventure.  All previous issues of Exhibition in Print were simply catalogs of work.  In contrast, Clark shaped an entire experience. He had an idea and he brought it to fruition without precedent.  Nothing selected in this issue was average or ordinary.


20 Pulleys Necklace © 2009
Sterling Silver, copper, brass, gold leaf,
deer antler, silk string,
Artist: Elliot Gaskin

And THAT is just the point. So much around us is ordinary, average, mere reiterations of other people's ideas, following the status quo. To really stand out and create excellence, we need to create something never seen before, something that breaks the bonds of self-imposed limits.  You must step out of your comfort zone. A really simple idea, so much harder to BE, yet so liberating once achieved.

At the end of his lecture, Clark said that it was now going to be an actual exhibition. Wow! Maybe even a book! Garth Clark creates magic one more time.

Garth Clark raised one more issue...a real hot button topic about copyright of images.
Stay tuned for Thursday's post.....


Were you at the lecture?
Did you read the Metalsmith Exhibition in Print: NeoPalatial?
Please feel welcome to leave your comments.

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.

In the effort of full disclosure, Emiko Oye has worked for me as a studio assistant for 13 years, and Elliot Gaskin was a summer intern in 2009.

An Exciting PowerPoint Can Make Your Work More Memorable


Adam Grinovich © 2010

The first lecture event at SOFA is almost always the SNAG Emerging Artists Series. It is worth getting up early, before the regular SOFA show opens, to see this series of three short lectures. Most likely the names and work will be unfamiliar, literally, an "introduction" to three emerging artists new to the art jewelry scene, just like the title says.

Andrea Janosik© 2009

This year's series introduced Adam Grinovich, Andrea Janosik, and Eun Yeong Jeong.

My biggest "takeaway" from these three lectures is the importance and lasting impact of an innovative Powerpoint. 

Eun Yeong Jung  © 2010

The works of all three clearly deserve recognition, but, Adam Grinovich gave a fabulous PowerPoint!!!!  This was 15 minutes that flew right by. Grinovich asked provocative questions about the role of jewelry and did not toss out pat answers.  He defended his question after question format because "answers are premature so early" in his career.

Questions were asked one word at a time, overlayed on top of images. This was a very stylized technique, but I appreciated his unique and fast-paced approach. This was NOT death by PowerPoint, but a great WAKE UP for the morning. 

Questions included:
"Who the F#@% are we?"
"Who is wearing Jewelry?"
"What difference do we make?"
"How do we use jewelry to express a feeling?"

I loved, loved, loved that Grinovich was bold enough to give his lecture with such a unique appearance and style. His voiceover was crisp and rapid-fire. You HAD to pay attention! You WANTED to pay attention! 

The other presenters showed very interesting work but in the standard PowerPoint artist monologue.  

Image #1 [... I like ... blah, blah, blah]
Image #2 [. . .then I  . . .chatter, chatter]
next  [ . . . so then I . . . prattle, prattle]

Their work was interesting and I even took notes on their commentary, but the contrast in styles struck me as an important lesson.  These other lecture-performances were not as memorable and (right or wrong) this impacts how I remember their work. Why?

Fathermakingshoes A picture is worth 1,000 words. So don't just tell us, show us. For example, if your inspiration or influence came from your grandfather who made us a picture. This picture on the right was found on  A picture of your grandfather (or someone like your grandfather) making shoes would be so much more memorable, emotional, connected.

Pick up the pace, bring visuals that reinforce your statements, and share your passion.

Be Unique!  Separate yourself from the podium and step into the limelight with an exciting lecture as memorable as your work.


This post was updated on January 22, 2022, to provide current links.

SOFA Chicago - Expensive mall or the best in Sculpture, Objects, & Functional Art

SofaCHICAGOlogo SOFA Chicago was last week (Nov. 5-7).  SOFA stands for Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art.  From the preview opening on Thursday night through closing on Saturday, I tortured myself walking (on concrete) through the enormous hall looking at a vast quantity of items.

SOFA on Steroids If you've never experienced SOFA, the premise is that galleries bring their best (or most sellable) work for review by a huge audience including students, artists, collectors, and the general public.

The reality of SOFA is that the major agenda is to sell, sell, sell. This is a art/craft show on "steroids."

Dollar sign with green background In a typical museum or exhibition,  the value of the work is how each piece contributes to the concept of the show.  At SOFA, the value of the object is strictly in the price.  Most items have a price listed with the title. A few objects have no price, as in "if you have to ask, you can't afford it." Oh well, is a real experience.

Hot button The best part of SOFA this year was the lectures on Friday.  A spectrum of topics that were not to be missed! Too much to handle in one post.  So, in the next few posts, I'm going to digest a few of the pressing issues and "hot button topics" in the art/craft world. 


IMAGE FILE NAMES can be your code for managing photographs.

Harriete Estel Berman teaching a WORKSHOP on Professional Development for artists and makers I have 1,000's of images . . . and more keep coming.  Managing my digital images can be a chore, but I've found one method that has saved the day over and over ... the file name to each image is my code that helps keep them organized and lets me find the right image quickly.

You can create your own code, but here are a few suggestions and examples of my method.

When creating a code for your image file names, "think" like a computer.  For any group of photos that you want to keep together put them in a folder. Then the first few words should be exactly the same so that the computer's search and sort functions can help you.  Toward the end of the file name, add your special codes that distinguish one photo from another within the group. 

I will be using sculptures from the 1980s as an example in this post. More information about this series of work can be found on my website.

Crock Pot by Harriete Estel BermanAll my Crock Pot images start with the characters "crockpot" in the file names.   

Images with a shadow for my website include "sh" at the end of the title.  The image file name is:  Crockpot-2sh.jpg.


Idols of Generations, Illusions to Prophecy domestic iron sculpture by Harriete Estel Berman Animated images (usually for my website) include "_a" in the image file name:   Crockpot_a.gif 










Crock Pot closed view  says Consume, Consumate, Consumed. All close up images have a "cu" for "close up" in the file name: 





Crock Pot front view is an appliance by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from brass, sterling silver, painted and plated. Images that are sized for uploading to social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, and Etsy are  72 dpi by 1,000 pixels include "72" in the file name.   This image file name: crockpot-FRONT-72.jpg.



NOTE TO everyone:  Before you upload images to a dropbox, or email to another person be sure to CHANGE THE TITLE from your file name to the actual title of the work for better search engine optimization. Don't forget to add, keywords, tags, and a description.

These are just a few of my examples for managing file names for digital images.   As I said, invent your own code for your image file names and send your images out into the world at the speed of light.

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.

Best sizes for images and what format?

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman  is constructed from recycled materials.

You can approach your art career as "ready for action" or as a wishful thinker. 
Being prepared enables you to take advantage of every opportunity. Last Tuesday's post offered a couple of examples of how being prepared with quality photographic images can mean extra visibility in lectures, online or print publications.

So what image sizes and formats should be "ready to go?"

In my experience of thirty years, standards come and go, but for the last few years, the following is my standard for being prepared with my photographic images:

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace is a close-up view constructed from recycled tin cans.
 - a full-size TIFF
 - a large JPG
 - a website JPG.

Let's go into more detail on each.

Full-size TIFF
Your full-size Tiff is your master image.  It should be 300 dpi  (dots per inch) and 15-32MB file size.  This master image is your largest, highest resolution image ready for print media.

I rarely keep the full-size TIFF on my computer. It takes up too much room.  So most of my TIFF images are stored on CDs or external drives.

If you need to create a specially sized image for uploading to an online application, start with your original TIFF and convert it to the required size and format.


Black and White Identity Earrings. by Harriete ESTel Berman
Black and White Identity Earrings
Post-consumer, recycled Tin Cans,
s.silver posts, jump rings, and rivets.
© 2009 Harriete Estel Berman

Large JPG
JPG's are compressed images.  The fact that JPGs are compressed (reduced file size) means that you can email and store large images. The downside is that the compressed image is reduced in resolution quality. Every time you edit a JPG, you lose some of the original information, reducing the quality of the image.


Use your master TIFF images to create new JPGs.  I usually keep one large JPG in my computer ready at a moment's notice for an opportunity. (This large JPG may be 2 - 5 MB.)


Earrings by Harriete Estel Berman and Necklace by emiko oye.
  Black and White Identity Earrings
© 2009 Harriete Estel Berman
Silver Hubs Trio Necklace
 © emiko oye

  Photo Credit: emiko oye

Website JPG
For the past two years, I've  made all my social networking images for the Internet 72dpi resolution and 1000 pixels (for the largest dimension.)


This size works well for Etsy, Flickr, Facebook, and Crafthaus. It is also a reasonable size for PowerPoint and Keynote presentations.  An image this size is also easy to email.

If I get a request for an image, I am ready to email an image in about five minutes.  Being prepared in advance is all part of the big picture.

emiko oye and I worked together to create this smashing image (above.)  Planning six months ahead for publicity is not too soon.

Sometimes planning ahead can get you and your work into great opportunities. 
Are you ready for action and prepared for every opportunity?

If you need extra guidance with your images, use the Professional Guidelines topics:

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

Working with Digital Images Effectively


4 TIPS to Improve Search for Your Images

Know your digital image file extensions and how to use them?

How to "name" your digital image files for distribution

This post was updated on January 22, 2022.