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Photography in Flux Editors' Perspective - Are You Creating a Captivating Image?

Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective starts with Suzanne Ramljak, Editor of Metalsmith Magazine, writer and curator. It continues with Marthe Le Van, Editor of Lark Books. The recorded program is now available for you to hear on line with the original Powerpoint from the SNAG Conference.

As I edited the audio from the SNAG 2011 Professional Development Seminar I hung onto every word. I learned a lot about the editors perspective on the qualities of the best photos, and mistakes they see every day.

Visual pollutionSR
This newsstand is an example of visual pollution in our "media saturated culture". Suzanne Ramljak, Editor of Metalsmith Magazine, presented this as an establishing image in her lecture for Photography in Flux

How appropriate for a magazine editor to consider how the magazine competes on the newstand with many other publications, candy and packaging, all at the same time.


Did you ever think about how  photos of your art work compete with the "5,000 ads" people look at every day?

Irving Penn stilllife
  Irving Penn still life photo

Suzanne Ramljak offered many fabulous quotes:
"The still life photographer makes the photo as compared to takes the photo."  

Are you making the photos of your art work fantastic, or are you merely taking a photo? Ramljak reinforces that "artists need to create a captivating image."

"There is no neutral background in a photo."

"Artists need a captivating image to compete with the visual noise without sacrificing the integrity of the object."

Botticelli compilation
Click for more examples of The Art of the Reproduction on line.

Suzanne declares: "The web poses new challenges. Anything can happen to your images and does." Just consider this compilation of the painting, Birth of Venus, by Botticelli. Each square is from a different web site. The variances represent the half truths, misrepresentations, and lack of control artists, photographers, and editors have when images leave their computer and travel at the speed of light on the Internet.

Marthe Le Van_72 The Photography in Flux- Editors Perspective continues with Lark Books Editor, Marthe Le Van. Among the many issues addressed were the questions: What is a good cover photo? Is there a national, European, Asian or international style to jewelry photography? 

MartheLeVancrossplatformimages Getting down to the nitty gritty of photos on the Internet, Marthe confronts us with the reality of small postage stamp size images on a gallery website or social networking site. Do the photos of your art or craft have a strong enough graphic quality to get a viewer to click through on the image?

500 SilverJewelryDesigns Le Van answered a question that I have always wanted to know. What makes a good cover shot? What do you think? 

Earrings by Beate Klockmann  from the
book 21st Century Jewelry edited by
Marthe Le Van

 Is it possible to break all the rules and still have a great photo?

What are your questions? Can ASK Harriete offer answers? Open the discussion.

Listen and learn from the opinions and experiences from both of these experienced editors in Photography in Flux.






View another webinar from Harriete Estel Berman


Photography in Flux - 3 Photographers Offer Tips and Tricks for Quality Photos

BlueSpiralGraph.grDoug Yaple, Christopher Conrad and Roger Schreiber all offered solid information with tips and tricks for producing quality photographic images of art and craft. Now EVERYONE can benefit by watching and listening to the same PowerPoint presentation given at the 2011 Professional Development Seminar during the SNAG Conference in Seattle.

Photolights Here are a couple of highlights from the photographers commentary followed immediately by the SlideShare presentation. "Learn how the visual language of photography can represent your work most effectively."

Doug Yaple.goblets
  Photo by Doug Yaple of glass goblets
  with a more "classical" approach to the


"The market and the audience should drive the decisions in how to photograph your work."

Ask yourself, "What is the image to be used for? Online advertising, articles in print, cover shots, jury submission?"

"Make the story come out in your photos."

Doug Yaple was very articulate in describing his photographic images and why they are so effective. Listen to the Photography in Flux presentation and learn.


ConradJewelry Final 6x4
Photos by photographer Christopher Conrad


Be careful about colored walls and mixed lighting sources when photographing your work.

He makes a couple of suggestions for bouncing light into the photographic image.

Conrad tells how.

Did you know that a "lower ISO reduces noise"? I didn't.

TIP 5. A TRICK FOR SHOOTING PAINTINGS, QUILTS OR LARGE FLAT GEOMETRIC OBJECTS. It's so simple! Listen to Photography in Flux and learn. 



Roger Schreiber photo of work by Carol Gouthro
Close up photographic image by Roger
Schreiber of ceramic by Carol Gouthro

Photographer ROGER SCHREIBER says ask yourself:
"Who is your audience?"
"Do you have enough time?"


He continues: "Everything that falls within the frame is part of the photograph. Shadows, highlights and background are all part of the picture." He is so right. When looking at something in person, the human eye has a natural tendency to edit. The photographic image is another thing entirely. Everything has equal importance in the flattened picture frame. This makes even the tiniest flaw look like a major distraction. Here is an interesting article about the Camera vs. The Human Eye.



Finding a photographer? Working with your photographer? Getting the shot you want.


Berman Black White Bracelet from recycled plastic as jewelry from alternative material96
RECYCLE White w/Black © 2011
Post consumer recycle plastic
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Deadlines for new opportunities are always on the horizon so there is no time like the present to prepare for future opportunities.

Are you ready with amazing, quality photographic images?

Roger Schrieber JimMongrain
Photo by Roger Schreiber
Glass by Jim Mongrain

Photographer Roger Schreiber says
: "Quality sells" and
"Remember more people see the photographic image of your work than ever see it in person."

Would you like to know the tips and tricks of professional photographer?


Next Tuesday's post on ASK Harriete features
Photography in Flux.
 Recorded during the 2011 Professional Development Seminar this SlideShare presentation with audio includes the three Seattle photographers who tell us how to create better photographic images. Stay tuned, put it on your calendar.

Harriete Estel  Berman WilliamsSonoma.72
 Williams Sonoma Bracelet
  from the California Collection

  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Your images need to be spectacular!

Wondering how to find a photographer?
Study the photos in the 500 Lark Books, top quality publications or look on the SNAG web site for a list of photographers. Another idea is to contact local art schools for graduating photo students.

Bracelets by Harriete EStel Berman from recycled tin cans.WEB
   California Collection  © 2009
   Recycled tin cans
   Artist: Harriete Esetl Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Look for a photographer that takes great shots in your media, and style. You can also use the Professional Guidelines document titled, Guide to Professional Quality Images, to evaluate the photographer's portfolio before you ask them to photograph your work.

  California Collection © 2009
  Recycled tin cans, wood, paper
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

WORK WITH your photographer.
By that I mean, discuss in advance the type of image you want, the angle of the piece, and the side or view that you prefer. Photographer Doug Yaple wrote an excellent handout for the Professional Development Seminar during the SNAG 2011 Conference titled, Guidelines and Tips for Working with Photographers. Download DougYaple

  Fulsome Game
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

I often make a sketch of the image that I have in mind for my photographer, Philip Cohen.  He is welcome to experiment with his own ideas, too, but I usually have a good idea of what I want to see in the final image and make every effort to make my expectations clear.

Fulsome Game by Harriete Estel Berman emiko oye suggests:
"If you aren't a skilled photographer (yet), best to hire a professional studio photographer and ask if you can observe the shoot. Some won't mind if you quietly look on while they shoot your pieces, but it's best to ask."

"Do your homework before your appointment and look at magazines and books for the type of shots that you are attracted to and bring these to the attention of your photographer so they know how to style your shots." Get the shot you want!
During the PDS, Doug Yaple said, "Don't overlook getting in tight to accent something critical."  Your detail image should be able to stand alone on its own merits AND be a companion image to your full view. Carefully consider the meaning, content, story, or inspiration behind the work and try to capture this in the detail photo. 

The time and money required to produce professional quality images is relatively small in comparison to all the work you put into a finished piece.  It is an investment. The pay off comes from the free publicity, visibility and long term credibility that you can receive when you are included in a exhibition, book or magazine!


Read GUIDE to PROFESSIONAL QUALITY IMAGES  in the Professional Guidelines

Find the photographer for your work.

Plan the photographic image while you make the work.

WORK WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER to get the best shot.

Photo Shoot using a model, jewelry by Harrite Estel Berman, photo credit: Alyssa Endo

Do you want to learn how to take your own photography?
Next Tuesday's post includes tips and tricks from three professional photographers from the Seattle 2011 Professional Development Seminar. RECYCLE  Braclet by Harriete Estel Berman photographed by Alyssa Endor, le le ELThey generously offer advice on how to improve your photography. Stay tuned, put it on your calendar or subscribe to ASK Harriete.


Shooting with a model:

Images to the above left show a recent photo shoot for my RECYCLE series. The top photo shows the entire team it takes to get a great model shot. Left is photographer Aryn Shelander. I am holding the reflector (right), but also worked as the stylist for the photo shoot. The model was Jen Ohara.  Both photos by documentary photographer Alyssa Endo. More information soon on important tips for shooting with a model.   

NICHE MARKETING - 3 Presentations Offer Great Information

The Professional Development Seminar from the 2011 SNAG Conference was recorded and is available for listening and viewing!

Now you can see the same presentations and hear what our niche marketing experts had to say.  I enjoyed the real time events but learned even more when I was editing the audio....and I think you will too! Here are a few highlights, (then scroll down for the SlideShare presentation with audio).

Alexander Girard mid-20th century
dolls sold to adults were a stylistic
influence on Hilary Pfeiffer new line
of wedding toppers.
Photo from H.Pfeifer PowerPoint.

Our first speaker, Hilary Pfiefer, describes her "Bunny with a Tool Belt" line that keeps her going in this tough economy.

HPelephant Hilary explains that her  childhood interests evolved into her wedding cake toppers sold on Etsy (left photos). She says these are among the few things that people keep and display in their homes after the wedding. Every one of her wedding cake toppers delights...check out success by looking at Bunny with a ToolBelt!


Next up, the Professional Development Seminar continues with emiko oye EMIKOWatch the SlideShare and take notes. No matter what your medium or style, emiko offers solid information that translates to success from gallery exhibitions to Etsy.

 Model  holding  bracelets made from Legos
emiko's TOP five tips
for Getting Your Business Out There!

1. Professional Quality Photography
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP for getting exposure for your business. First impressions are everything so why not wow people's socks off from the get go!

Emiko oye lego necklace 2.Take Risks Don't Get STUCK: Balance
Even though you may sell a ton of one design in one style, don't get stuck just putting all your focus on making the same thing over and over. 

Emiko Oye exhibition necklace from Legos necklace Balance: I'm a staunch believer in making important exhibition pieces (right images) as well as production, ready-to-wear. The exhibition work definitely helps sell the production work and gives broader exposure.

Ermikooyetireearrings 3. Take Note & Be Accessible
Pay attention to how people respond to your work, feedback helps define your niche market. Be Accessible: means have a web presence. As I've said in my lecture, "If you aren't online, you don't exist". Get involved in social media with Facebook, Twitter, and  Crafthaus.

Emiko Oye jewelry on a model
  All jewelry (above right) by emiko oye
  from repuprosed LEGOS
  The Tire Earrings are included in new
  Lark book 21st Century Jewelry

4. Be Ready Set Go!
When opportunity strikes, you must be ready with line sheets, images, bios, and artist statements. Flickr and your web site are great for being ready for the press.

5. Get Involved.
While we love to hole ourselves up in the studio and make to our hearts content, it's important to get involved in your community, local, & national arts organizations.

emiko is posting a more detailed information  about each tip on her blog this week.



Our third Niche Marketing speaker, Deb Stoner, has a multi prong approach to support herself which includes teaching workshops in  Stonermhbc#1-1992 eyeglass fabrication, custom designing and fabrication for Donna Karan, along with her jewelry & photography. She keeps it fresh by being open to opportunity. Read the Handout Deb created for the PDS about Niche Marketing.  Download DebStoner_Final



The Professional Development Seminar was organized by Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and myself, Harriete Estel Berman. We had a strong program brimming with information and over 500 attendees but the Internet offers the opportunity to share this programming with a much larger audience.
ASKHarrietePinkBlack Please feel empowered to share this SlideShare or post on ASK Harriete with your fellow artists and makers (with  proper attribution, of course).  If you want the HTML code to paste this NICHE MARKETING SlideShare into your own blog, web site or organization newsletter, just write to me at:  bermaid [at] harriete-estel-berman [dot]info. It is super easy to do.
Our sponsors include the NEA, National Endowment for the Arts, MJSA, and SNAG.  Stay tuned for more SlideShare presentations with audio from our PDS programming.
ASK Harriete Pin for Harriete Estel Bermanerr

Strategic Thinking When Applying to a Juried Opportunity

ARMORY'Sleeping_Muse',_bronze_sculpture_by_Constantin_Brancusi,_1910,_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art The value of being in a juried exhibition or book is the free publicity, broad visibility, and long-term credibility.  These benefits are certainly worth investing some time and perhaps a little money. 

When applying to a juried opportunity, some strategic thinking will improve your chances of selection.   I recommend that you review the TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine in the Professional Guidelines.

Spice_mod2BThink about how your work can be interpreted within the theme and plan your work accordingly.

Begin by carefully reading the purpose and goals for the exhibition, show or book. 

Analyze the statement with your own creative interpretation.  The most important point is... don't rule yourself out because of any initial impression that your work doesn't fit perfectly.  Instead, try to construe how any of your work could fit the stated premise with a little creative interpretation.  This may seem like a challenge but here is what I mean in this case. 

Spice_mod4B I often look up the meaning for every word in the title, theme and the description in a dictionary and online. 
Look for interpretations that you have and haven't considered. WRITE DOWN YOUR IDEAS.... every one of them. This gives me a range of possibilities to provide some focus areas without being too limiting.

Then, if I don't have a match in mind yet, I do an online search of my local library system to identify some topical books.  I go to the library and walk through the stacks near the identified books looking for new ideas.  Sometimes I will take home piles of related books to look even further.  Yes, I will sometimes invest hours in my research and thinking.  

Spice_mod7B Extensive research may develop alternative possibilities for the opportunity, but don't look at other artists and makers work.  Look at "primary sources" especially if you want to make something outside the usual expectation or forms. Think about an unusual format or design or content.  Redefine the usual parameters.

Design. This a really important word to me.  What does the word "design" mean to you?  I think of many possibilities:

  • repetition of forms
  • repetition of elements
  • ornamental design
  • graphic design
  • aesthetic design
  • modern design
  • rectilinear design
  • ethnic design
  • native American design
  • architectural design
  • holloware design
  • CAD-CAM design
  • furniture design
  • industrial design

Can you add to my list?
Please do in the comments for this blog post. BermanBookManCreation
"And There Was Light" book hold spice box

Artist: Harriete Estel Berman

Mezuzah2 MOCK UPS AND MODELS.  I often make 3-D mock-ups prior to a sculpture using recycled cereal boxes. My son will sometimes do CAD drawings from my cardboard models.  This time invested in making models reveals plenty of issues and improvements to help the final work stand out.

  Pear Mezuzah © 2011
  Post consumer recycled tin cans
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Following the precept of tikkun olam
  Retail Price $175.

Novel structures, interesting appearance, and original concepts. Showing your artist’s voice in a truly creative object will serve your work. Innovate with different kinds of different shapes, sizes, arrangements, purposes, and imaginative designs.

Repeat this process. Practice this way of thinking regularly to submit to other juried books and exhibitions. It does take a little extra effort but it will improve your odds of selection. Although you never really know how jurors will react, you do need to help the jurors find a reason to select your work above other submissions.  

And the most important action is APPLY, otherwise you have zero chance of being selected for the book, show, etc.

Good luck with your application.    


A Vision Beyond the Moment?

Recently, I was interviewed for an online e-commerce site called e-junkies. They have lots of practical and interesting information about e-commerce, trendy products, small business and self publishing. 

NameTag Yes, definitely read the interview and roam around the site.

When I posted a link to the interview on Facebook, Alison Antelman commented, "This is a quote that I really like (from the interview), 'There needs to be a vision beyond the moment.' Well said!"

Password72 Do you have a vision beyond the moment?
Are you thinking beyond the making?

   Password Flower Brooch with glasses
   Post Consumer recycled tin cans
   Harriete Estel Berman  © 2011
   Diameter 3 1/8"
   Retail Price $425.

We makers typically love "making" so much that it is easy to forget the most important tool is our brains.  This is why the current knitting mania is driving me nuts ..... especially when justified with little excuses....the "pleasure" derived from the absence of thought and quips such as, "I can knit without thinking." blah, blah, blah.

ELIZABETHhOWARDThis post was prompted by a recent quote in the ACC series, Why I Make (which explores the human impulse to create).  Elizabeth Howard wrote, "When I switch on my knitting hands, I can take time off from the thoughts in my head.  Knitting - usually done haphazardly, without a clue what BOs and yos are - releases me from having to tune in (at that moment) to that always-chugging creative engine." 

My jaw dropped. This may appeal to a hobby audience, but I couldn't believe that this rationale appeared in an ACC publication. 

THE 'gOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLEY I don't want to paint knitting as the "bad guy," but this overt joy of mental separation from the making that is sweeping the craft world is just one example.  Other parallels are everywhere...IN ALL MEDIA whether working at the potter's wheel, weaving a basket, sanding wood, mixing a glaze, making handmade chain.  

  Page from Manufractured © 2009
  Recycled tin cans, steel dollhouses
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

It is fine if you just want to make, but many makers also want to see their work in exhibitions, shows and books.  And that is the key, this higher level of recognition requires constant, active, thoughtful inspiration, not just aspiration.  

41+veDJYNuL._SL160_ If you enjoy siting there happy as a clam because you are making, that is OK.   But  without thought, the finished work will indeed have no vision....and I assure you....any editor, publisher, or exhibition jury will look at the work and see that it had no vision.

Here are a couple of suggestions for a "thinking while making:"


  • Plan the display of the work early. Anticipate success.
  • Construct the work so that it can be repaired if damaged.
  • Write down thoughts for your artist statement.
  • Keep the main objective for the work forefront in your mind
  • Experiment and take risk. Challenge yourself beyond "safe" work.
  • Think about the photo early while you make the work.*

My sincerest unapologetic opinion,


* The recent Professional Development Seminar at the 2011 SNAG Conference, photographer Roger Schreiber recommended that artists and makers think about the photographic documentation of their work sooner. This is especially important for fabulous photos. You can see a "preview" of the PowerPoint and audio of the Professional Development Seminar. (I am still fine tuning the slide image transitions.) Your feedback is most welcome.

M2L_YellowFlowerScroll72. askH M2L_YellowFlowerScroll_bkah

Yellow Flower Scroll Doorpost Mezuzah

Dimensions: 7.25” length
Retail Price $220.

To Co-Op or NOT to Co-Op: A really big question.

Casabard.eschercuff Dear Harriete,

I've been invited to become a part of an artist co-op and before I jump on the bandwagon I need to educate myself. 

Casabard.mixedmetalboatThe group is small right now ~ 5 artists.  For some reason, the city is requiring that a metal sculptor be a part of this group.  I do not know who this person will be but the space has room to grow, so I'm sure the group will grow from the original 5 artists.

Casabard.mothernecklace We will be able to use the space for creating as well as selling.  Our time is our own, so if we are not there we just use an "out to lunch" sign, and we are not obligated to watch for other artists.

Casabard.poppy The location is owned by the city.  We would pay rent to them.  And the city would be responsible for advertising/marketing.  The rent is not yet set, but they are saying it will range somewhere between $100 - $300 a month ~ quite a steal.

Above images:  Diana Casabar
1. The Escher Cuff
2. The Mixed Metal Boat Necklace
3. The Mother Necklace
4. Poppy Brooch
5. The Sunflower Cuff

I have asked the following questions:
1.  What are the security arrangements?
2.  Will our equipment and products be insured or do we need to insure them?
3.  Can I use my torch and chemicals in the building?  Is the building fire coded for that?
4.  Is there electricity?
5.  Will I have running water?
6.  Will we be responsible for building out our space, or will the city do that?

Can you think of any other questions I need to ask them before I make up my mind to be a part of this group?

Diana Casabar


This is definitely a question with potential consequences.  I will try to be brief.  The questions you have asked so far are a good beginning but, there are two overriding issues on my mind: 1) insurance and 2) getting everything in writing.

Everyone should have insurance to protect their work, tools and equipment regardless of whether the city has insurance to cover the building.

Get everything in writing. This includes arrangements with the city and with the other artists. Getting everything in writing may seem like a pain and take some time, but it will clarify the issues and avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication.  Believe me, this effort at the beginning will save time and friendships in the long run.

Write up a list of co-op guidelines for Studio Policy, Adding and Subtracting Members and Display Policy.  See some suggestions below.  See also my Critique Group Guidelines.  Download Critique Group Guidelines Final2011 which you can modify for your particular purposes.

The next part is very sensitive ….. in my experience, there is always a range of unequal effort and participation.  Frequently it seems that one person may work harder and longer then everyone else and that person may or may not be expecting others to work as hard…..which can cause problems.  At the other extreme, there is often a person who does not pull their weight.

A portion of the group may resent the super hard working person or the polar opposite person .... and that creates stress and tension.  And trust me, it happens even if they are your friends (currently).

Establish a
clear set of guidelines NOW while everyone is still friends. As I sit and write this post, more and more issues keep coming to mind....there is so much to consider.

Below are some suggestions to discuss and get in writing.


  • Sharing equipment
  • Shop hours
  • Shop safety
  • Lock up
  • Cleaning up after yourself and in common areas
  • Weekly/Monthly contributions to shop maintenance
  • Keeping track of the hours for shop maintenance
  • Policy for lost and broken equipment.
  • Creating a fund that everyone contributes to for future improvements.
  • Voting on future improvements.



  • Nomination and acceptance of new people
  • Set up a policy for how a person leaves.
  • What if they owe money? What if they do not pay up?


  • Common aesthetic for display
  • Review of items on display
  • Establish retail (not wholesale) pricing
  • Commission for the co-op
  • Commission for the seller
  • Work hours contributed to gallery maintenance.
  • Hours for “sitting” at the space to keep GALLERY HOURS
  • Policy for Open Studios


  • Who is responsible for accounting?
  • Who is responsible for paying rent, etc.
  • Who is the primary contact with the city?
  • Will each of you handle your own taxes?
  • Will you need a business license with the city?
  • How are you handling purchase? Checks, credit cards,Square

 Despite the expectations of the city for not keeping regular hours or no stated obligation to watch work for other artists, in reality, if you want people to visit your display space there needs to be regular hours that are posted…such as Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Everyone needs to take a shift on a rotating basis for gallery hours and preventing theft.

Hope this helps. If readers of ASK Harriete have some other issues that they consider important in a co-op situation, please write them in the comments.



Promoting YOUR art or craft with SlideShare - Take Your First Step

SlideShare is a great way to promote your art or craft.  The free online service provides easily accessible usage information such as the number of views on each of your SlideShare presentations.  You can allow viewers to download your presentation or opt out.

I'd say you have nothing to lose, and much to gain! It is a great way to create a short lecture about your work, or insight into your special technique.

SlideShare is a FREE site for the basic service and this has worked quite well for me to experiment and build my skills with this new marketing tool. There is also a fee based SlideShare if you want more information on traffic analytics.

Almost everyone’s computer comes with Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote. It is pretty easy to get started. All you need are great images for your digital presentation and you are on your way.

Do all your slide/image/text preparation in PhotoShop/PowerPoint/Keynote. You can not edit your SlideShare presentation once it is uploaded.  If you find any mistakes after uploading, you will need to fix the mistakes in your presentation and upload a new corrected presentation (replacing the old presentation). 

PowerpointBy browsing other peoples' presentations on SlideShare you will see that some create very effective presentations without audio! I did this for my first presentation. Create your presentation on your computer and upload it to SlideShare. Add text to your images or slides instead of audio. It is that simple!

Be patient with the uploading. Depending on the size it can take a while.


UPDATE 2014:

ADDING AUDIO to SlideShare is no longer possible.

To add audio... create a Powerpoint presentation with audio, convert to Video and upload it to YouTube as a video. 

This is pretty easy to do. You really don’t need a lot of technical skills, just the risk taking guts to experiment and learn from mistakes along the way. Your only cost will be a microphone and head set (if you don’t own one already.)

Purchase a microphone/head set combination at your local electronics store which costs about $50. (I did not buy the most expensive microphone/head set, but selected a basic option which has worked out really well.)

SOFTWARE for adding Audio:
To get started with your audio software first visit a site called “How to Podcast”. This will give you a step-by-step guide on how to podcast without breaking the bank. This is the home of the free podcast tutorial that will take your podcast from concept to launch -- and for minimal cost (brought to you by, Jason Van Orden, author of “Promoting Your Podcast”).


The focus of this site is how to create a podcast, but essentially a podcast is just a MP3 file. You need an MP3 file to upload to SlideShare and synchronize with your slides. This site has all the information you need, but if you ever get stuck (it is sometimes really frustrating to learn a new technology on your own), just type your question into Google. This is how I find answers to my questions.

Audio Editing Software (Audacity) and Lame MP3 Encoder are both available online for free. There are free tutorials online too so you don’t need to spend any money on editing software.  The one I use is called Audacity. There is no need to buy expensive audio editing software when you are first starting out.

There are multiple pages of information, and even video tutorials to watch. While I don’t know how to use most of the options in the Audacity editing software, I can still create very acceptable quality podcasts and audio MP3 files.

Go to Audacity to get started.

That's it for today.
Next week, I will help you get started with a few more tips.


You have your assignment.
Get ready for the next tutorial.


Promoting YOUR art or craft at ZERO COST with Professional Results

One of my favorite online tools for visibility is SlideShare.

What is SlideShare? SlideShare is a FREE site where you can upload PowerPoint Presentations.  You can add MP3 files to your presentation to have audio along with your visual presentation. SlideShare also works with Keynote. 

WebsiteCAdream My primary purpose was to create more visibility for my artwork and to provide additional content links for my website.  The SlideShare presentations can easily be embeded on social networking sites, your own web site, or blog posts. Here is just one sample of a SlideShare presentation (below).

California Dream Teapot
View another webinar from Harriete Estel Berman

An extra benefit is that many (and perhaps even
most) of the people watching my SlideShare presentations
are discovering my work from
SlideShare itself or some other social networking


Here is a link to my page of SlideShare PowerPoint presentations
. Go ahead and explore the SlideShare site.  You’ll see that SlideShare presentations cover a really wide spectrum of topics using a variety of approaches. There are some fantastic presentations that don't even use audio at all! How easy can it get!


A SlideShare Profile page is very easy to create and personalize. It is very similar to creating a Profile on any other social networking site.

SlideShareTAGS How to Build Tags for your presentations are just like any other social networking sites, but they offer a great visual.


I just uploaded a new SlideShare tutorial about How to Build a Better Drop Shadow by Christopher Conrad from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar 2011.

While working on more SlideShare presentations from the 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar, it reminded me of how effective this can be for your own work.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts from ASK Harriete and step by step tips for your own SlideSHare.

In the meantime, here are some dazzling statistics!

The SlideShare from the 2010 SNAG Professional Development Seminar at the Houston SNAG Conference has exceeded 5,800 views!  SlideSharePricing 

The “Not Just Another Pricing Lecture" PowerPoint presentation was uploaded to SlideShare initially. Then an audio recording was edited, uploaded and synchronized to the PowerPoint so that people can view and hear the exact same program as the Conference attendees!

Subscribe to ASK Harriete or check in regularly so you don't miss one post in this series. Learn to make your own SlideShare presentation without spending one penny.  


Craft FORWARD Symposium 2011 - Mass Craft, Theaster Gates Constructs Context with Added Value

The lecture by Theaster Gates opened with an song. 
emiko oye captured his "a cappella" solo opening at Craft Forward.

As you can see in the opening title of the video, Theaster Gates' lecture was titled, "Soul Manufacturing Corporation, Racialized Materiality and the Life of a Negro Potter." The title is a mouthful....hard to grasp in one sentence. The lecture and the man were equally complex.

In the beginning of the lecture, Theaster talked about two areas of focus early in his adult life. One is his academic study of Urban Planning. Second his multiple years of study in Japan of ceramics. He says, I have "clay in my veins."

Untitled (bowl) © 2010
Ink on Paper   24" x 30"
Artist: Theaster Gates
Image Courtesy of artist and Kavi Gupta
Gallery, Berlin / Chicago

My impression was that Theaster Gates skills with Japanese pottery, tea bowls, and an Eastern influence were perceived as inauthentic by both the art /craft hierarchy and the public. This external evaluation of his work resulted in limited professional success.

The internal issue for Gates was the difficulty to tie his black identity to a Japanese aesthetic. Gates questions,"How do cultural legacy's work?"  How could he align his black self to the Japanese self?

This is a valuable lesson for all artists and makers. When attempting to adopt the skills, tools or aesthetics of another culture or another artist, your own artistic identity will likely become confused. Professional success will always be limited unless the "authentic" artist within you comes out.

Dave the pottertheaster-gates “Dave the slave potter” was Theaster Gates' early brand in an effort to connect his black cultural legacy to industry, craft (ceramics) and American history. This is where the "Soul Ceramic Manufacturing Corporation" comes from in the title. He essentially constructed a story from 1840 for Dave the Slave that represents his knowledge and love of clay. Theaster tied this context and structure to make his craft "go forward."

My name is product It seems that Gates is much better at creating a conceptual structure around his work based on his own cultural legacy as a black man in America. Read more about Dave the Potter's role in an exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum and decide for yourself. Better yet, listen to his lecture at the Opening night at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Theaster-gatesWHITEhand AT Kohler Artist in Residency program, Gates' background as a Urban Planner took a stronger role as he organized the Kohler Union Workers into a gospel choir. Industrial workers that may not go to art museums sing about bowls, jars and teapots, and bring the "whole body into the world of clay."  This seems like a natural for Gates.

Gospel You can see the Gospel church singing style in many of the video excerpts of these productions online. His "singing is a cultural production" going back to his southern Mississippi roots, the same way that craft and food carry culture.  Yet another way that Craft Forward engages the community as subject and content.

IndexGates is best at the rhetoric. He gives his work credibility and historical foundation a valuable concept for other artists and makers. Theaster knows Japanese ceramic history, 20th century western ceramic history, and black history which he then connects to his own history with ceramics. He intellectually develops a foundation for his work. He isn't just making "stuff" that he can make.  He thinks about what he is making and why he is making it.

TheasterGateshouse More recent work with wood is an outcome of his "urban planning background." He buys old buildings in his neighborhood, guts the buildings using work force development workers, offering training and jobs to untrained labors. This is a one man, grass roots urban renewal initiative - one building at a time.


Theaster Gates shoe shine stands The old materials reclaimed from the buildings are re-used in his artwork creating the SHOE SHINE STANDS. There is a "value added" to these reclaimed materials which add depth to the concepts behind his work. If you ever have the opportunity to see Theaster Gates give a lecture, don't miss it.  This was one of a few lectures during Craft Forward that delighted and inspired the audience.

As with most of the lectures, the Q & A was much too short to expand the conversation. There were a few good comments that I will save for my final review.


You can read all the comments by emiko oye about Theaster Gates on Crafthaus. Thank you to emiko for providing the video clip from Craft Forward.

Theaster Gates is an artist, musician, and “cultural planner” as well as director of arts program development for the University of Chicago.

Interview with Theaster Gates from August 2, 2009.

ArtSlant interview with Theaster Gates that is worth reading.


Craft Forward Symposium 2011: A preview of "Manufractured" (the exhibition)

Manufractured is the featured exhibition in conjunction with the Craft Forward Symposium at the California College for the Arts, Oakland, CA Campus.  The exhibition is curated by Mara Holt Skov and Steven Skov Holt, professors at CCA and authors of the book 41+veDJYNuL._SL160_  Manufractured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects

ManufracDSC04486.72 Manufractured includes work from a variety of Bay Area artists and makers who use familiar manufactured materials and items transformed into something completely unexpected.

Think repurposed, recycled, remixed, and mixed media. Expect the unexpected from medicine capsules and LEGOS to binder clips and maybe Jello?   "Artists in the exhibition include CCA Faculty member Michele Pred along with Bay Area artists Harriete Estel Berman(Grass/gras' in above photo and below), Mitra Fabian,  Liz Hickok , Andy Diaz Hope, emiko oye, Laurel Roth and Thomas Wold. Several pieces have been produced specifically for the exhibition and are being seen for the very first time."

The first reception is Wednesday night (March 30) from 5:30 to 8:30. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, I hope that you can come to this reception. It is open to the public. I will be there early starting at 4:30 photographing the work for the next day's blog post.

Come early for this festive event and meet the artists and curators.

CCA Gallery hours through April 1, 2011:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday:  8:30 a.m. – noon and 1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday:  1:00 – 4:30 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m.



Each day the above Game Board will change with the events at the Craft Forward Symposium. The stakes are high!



Gallery openings are important occasions -- bring business cards.

If you never bought MOO Cards before, readers of ASK Harriete can take advantage of a discount for MOO business cards (see my business cards to the left) by using this unique code: M6QMNG

Take 20% discount off  your entire order until the March 30.

 Remember, it's only valid until 11.59pm (PT) March 30,  2011 - so place an order before then! You should also know that the 20% discount does not apply to Shipping, Rush Printing, or Logo Design.


Craft Forward Symposium 2011 - Helpful tips for Gallery Openings

The first preview for Craft Forward  is a Wednesday night reception for the exhibition MANUFRACTURED.

Read tomorrow's post for more information about Craft Forward and MANUFRACTURED. I will be posting every day with updates and information.

The Game Board (above) will change for every day as I document the Craft Forward  Symposium.

What is Craft Forward?

Roll the dice, advance your piece,
miss one turn, or 2 steps back?  

Stay tuned for daily posts to find out what the Craft Forward Symposium speakers have to say.  I will write one post a day until every lecture and discussion is covered.

 DiceHere are my helpful tips for art openings to get started on this game. Please add your own "tips" contributions in the comments.

HEB1.72gr 1) Make your own name tag.  Make it look like your work. Some openings forget to provide name tags. How can other people know who the artist are? Attendees want to talk with you!

2) Artists are the stars. Shine bright. Keep a pleasant face and be positive.

3) Stand near your work, if possible.  Ask people what they think. Ask them questions. Learn.

4) Engage people in conversation. Don't be shy or retiring. The first time you say "hello" may seem very difficult for an introvert like me (or you), but you never know who you will meet!

5) Meet the other artists.  Look for them and introduce yourself. It's amazing how you will see the same people two years and 3,000 miles later. Take my word for it!  Next time, it makes the art opening so much better.

6) Dress like an artist -- whether wild, wacky, fun loving or professional. People want to talk with you. You are part of the entertainment. Make it easy for people to find the artist. 

7) Stay for the entire opening! Arrive early and stay late. It shows respect for the exhibition curator or gallery owner and all the other artists. Plus, who knows who you might meet?

8)Bring you business cards or postcards. Give people something to take home to look at your web site!

Do you have you a favorite tip for art openings? Please share in the comments. Stay tuned for a post every day from Craft FORWARD.

MOO cards HORIZONTAL72 PS. Great MOO discount if you never bought Moo Cards before. A 20% discount off  your entire order until the 30th of March. Use this unique code M6QMNG

Remember, it's only valid until 11.59pm (PT) 30th March 2011 - so place an order before then! You should also  know that the 20% discount does not apply to Shipping, Rush Printing, or Logo Design.

Tag Lines and Tagalongs -- Like Girl Scout Cookies, Wildly Popular and not really good for you.

"What should I use for a tag line?" A very common question posed to ASK Harriete.  Tagalongs Tag lines are popular, and like Tagalong Girl Scout cookies, somewhat over rated, and not really good for you.

Sorry to be so harsh, but I am kind of bemused. It seems that tag lines are something that people consider important  way too early in their art/craft business career. When they are still figuring out what their best products will be, the aesthetic styling of their business cards, and the work they plan to make, they want to believe that a "perfect" tag line is going to bring it all into focus for them and their customers.

Whoa!!!!!! I've looked in every book on my shelves about art and craft business management (I have lots) and only one had any suggestions about tag lines. Art Marketing 101 gives this topic a small half page. They describe a tag line as "similar to a slogan." They continue, "A tag line should note the physical features of your artwork, the emotional aspects and the special qualities. As an artist, you also want your tag line to help define the style and /or subject matter of your artwork..." 

Fine, all good, but your tag line should not become a priority in your business. Don't buy 500 cards with tag lines on them thinking you'll explode on the scene and have your business figured out.

Only time and experience is going to help you figure out your artwork, aesthetic, and the style of work that is selling.  Who knows, you might even find more than one niche market so that your marketing will have to change or adapt depending on the context.

MOOcardsHORIZONTAL72 If you want tags or tag lines, or even business cards that can function as both...try starting out small. Moo cards are a flexible solution. They let you print 100 cards and all of them different for about $20. You can experiment with images and text for a range of variations. Test out your images in a small print format, then see how people respond. 

Another option -  color copy on card stock, and cut up the cards yourself. Do some experimentation before you print 500 of cards that may or may not really work for you.

Tagalongsbox Forgive me, I must have Girl Scout Cookies on the brain since my husband brought home a couple of boxes.  (I've eaten them but I really wish he hadn't purchased them, and instead made a donation.)

Tagalongs are described as "Tasty cookies topped with creamy peanut butter and covered with a luscious chocolaty coating."  That tag line for Tagalongs sounds really yummy and descriptive, but, have you ever read the ingredients? The cookies are really a combination of partially hydrogenated oils and sugar with very little peanut butter or chocolate. The cookies are not really good for us. Tagalongs cookies have a great tag line sold by cute, adorable, aspiring young girls. Girl Scout cookies have their niche market and they know it well. 

So if you feel you must have a tag line, make it specific, descriptive, memorable, emotional and irresistible.

NOTE:  I am just Harriete (with no tag line).


P.S. The web site at Small Biz Bee offers a great article about tag lines that shows you what really works. Follow their sound advice or skip the mushy, vague and ineffective tag lines that most artists and makers use.

MOO cards HORIZONTAL72 PPS. Great MOO discount if you never bought Moo Cards before. A 20% discount off  your entire order until the 30th of March.

Remember, it's only valid until 11.59pm (PT) 30th March 2011 - so place an order before then! You should also  know that the 20% discount does not apply to Shipping, Rush Printing, or Logo Design.

What's in a Name? Is Your Artist Identity LOST or FOUND in a sea of names?


Should I have a business name?  I’m stumbling and struggling on how to come up with a name.

A reader in search for a name!

PDSCraftReportcolor72 While this question is a condensed version of questions from readers, it represents a fairly frequent issue. It also highlights concerns that are relevant to the Niche Marketing theme for the upcoming Professional Development Seminar  at the Seattle SNAG Conference.

PDS speakers include:

Hilary Pfeiffer who uses her own name for her serious work, but calls her wedding toppers business "Bunny with a Tool Belt".

emiko oye refers to her jewelry line as Reware (though I noticed that the web site name is actually "reware style.")

Deb Stoner has always chosen to do her work under her own name as her artist identity.

ChocolateQuestion200 What I want to ask all our speakers and readers of ASK Harriete:

"Why did you choose to operate under a fictitious business name rather than your own name as an artist or maker?"

"How did you pick this particular business name?"

My primary concern with a business name is the difficulty that most people have developing even one artistic identity, let alone two. In most cases I believe it splits awareness you have built and confuses potential customers or your online network.

Focus-on-goals-1 It would seem to be a lot more focused to keep one name for your web site, email, Facebook, LinkedIN, Flickr, all 2.0 social networking and on-line marketing . One name, or a variant of your name, constantly reinforces one singular identity. Repeated consistently at every site helps the one identity to gain recognition.

Vera-wang There are many examples of companies in all industries who are well known under an individual name such as Jack Lenor Larsen, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang (right) and Thomas Kinkade.

Mrclean_logo To add further emphasis to the idea of one name, it is considered a strong marketing advantage to have a singular identity to represent a brand. Examples include Aunt Jemima, Mr. Clean, Dear Abby to Papa John's, or personal testimonials that create intimacy with a brand such as Keira Knightley in advertising for Channel.

Keira-Knightley-for-Chanel-Coco-Mademoiselle-Perfume Artist's already have a name to associate with a product. Why would we dilute this asset by creating a company name?

Here are some practical suggestions about names that may enhance the effectiveness of an identity.

  • Is the spelling of the name unique in some way?
  • Would your middle name or maiden name create a more unique name?

HEB2.72gr For example, my mother made up her own spelling for Harriete when I was born. At this point, it works really well to differentiate my Harriete from all more common spellings of Harriet, or Harriette. Look up Harriete on a Google search with an "e" at the end. Tell me what happens.

Bunny1 Think about your identity name carefully.  If you are making up your own business name, make it memorable. It seems to me that "Bunny With a Tool Belt" is wacky enough to be memoralble. That is good marketing. On the other hand, on her postcard (above right) Hilary Pfeifer did not put her name anywhere on the card. "Bunny with a Tool Belt" is the business identity.

I admit to being confused by this approach. All the name recognition gained for either your business or your own name doesn't really benefit the other...unless you market them together.

Reware1 Reware_solar_tote Rewareeverest RewareEmikoshorts PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR BUSINESS NAME should avoid using a term in your business name that has many other associations. Ironically, "reware" (used by emiko oye for her web site and business identity) has many other search results (shown to the left) from reware clothing, to a reware business for solar bags, solar backpacks, computer parts,  and software. Starting out with a business name with many other search associations just makes it harder to stand out as a singular identity in any niche market for your business. (Try typing in Reware in an image search to see what happens.) 

If there is a list of competitors with the same or similar business names, it is hard to get a top search engine ranking for your business.



So in summary, I'd suggest working with your own name and making it distinctive and memorable.

What is your solution to this deliemma and why? I'd like to hear what the readers of ASK Harriete have to say to add insight to this issue. What are the search results for your name, business name and web site? Are you Lost or Found?


Future posts will be about Tag lines and improving SEO for your images and web site with easy suggestions.

Discovering Your Niche Markets for Increasing Web Site Visibility.

The Professional Development Seminar is sponsoring an hour of discussion about Niche Marketing.  New FLUX SNAG Seattle Logo  Small_V112010_ Questions for our speakers include the following:

  • How to discover a Niche Market?
  • Should you use your name or a business name?
  • Should you have a tag line?

These three issues are interrelated and applicable to all artist and makers. The topic is enormous! Everyone has a niche audience (or even several niche markets), we just have to figure out who they are and how to tap into the potential.

In a series of posts, ASK Harriete will tackle these issues and how they impact web site visibility for artists and makers. This series will include tips for Search Engine Optimization (simple and easy to understand) without technical talk offering ideas that you can readily implement to bring more visibility to your web site.

This post is devoted to Discovering Your Niche Markets for increasing web site visibility.

web site for Harriete Estel Berman on a telephone Driving traffic to our web sites is not a passive activity.  It isn't effective to simply put up your web site and wait for traffic.  "If I post it, they will come" is a Hollywood dream.

Driving traffic to your web site takes some effort to find niche markets.  This is the creative part but, we need to raise our consciousness to see the opportunities. It all revolves around, What will interest other people?

Longtail Don't just look at the art and craft world for interested viewers. The identifiable art/craft world is small and rarefied.  However, if you think about all your activities and topics, I bet you will find multiple niche markets for your work.  Somewhere out there in the Long Tail of the Internet, there are people who don't know your work and how amazingly relevant it is to their interests.

Here is a recent example of discovering a niche market and then driving traffic to my website that actually prompted this post.

Pencil2_7_2011pullingwarp Pencil_stanineWEBsite

I am in the final phase of a four year project constructing a gigantic bell curve entirely out of pencils -- quite literally, thousands of real pencils. The work is a commentary about the impact of standardized testing on education.

BLACKwingpencil A few weeks ago, a curious looking pencil caught my eye and I happened to do a quick Internet search.  To my amazement, I learned that it is a "collectible" pencil.  What a surprise?  It never occurred to me that one pencil may be worth $30 to $45!

YikesThen I realized another of my pencils was printed with a pencil collector's name, address and the American Pencil Collector SocietyNow looking further online, I learned that there are blogs about pencils and pencil collectors! Who would have thought that this pencil niche existed!!!!!!  This is the Long Tail in the shape of a long skinny pencil!

My first Internet search discovered  They normally feature a pencil artist every Monday. They said, "Although you're not drawing art with these pencils, you are creating art right out of pencils!" This resulted in a feature post on their website about my artwork titled, "Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin."

If you read their short post about my pencil sculpture, you will see more niche marketing. used the blog post about the featured artist (me)  to bring more visibility to two of their "niche markets" - collectible pencils and an link to selling pencils for taking standardized tests!  

PencilsHarrieteWORKING While the artist feature post on about Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin  may or may not result in a purchase of my work or an exhibition opportunity, you never know. Maybe someone will invite me to exhibit my pencil bell curve at their pencil convention. Now that my awareness of pencil associations is raised, I looked online. There are pencil conventions all over. Imagine that? More untapped niche markets.

In addition, the blog post on is driving a bit of extra traffic to my web site. The more traffic to my web site, the higher my ranking. The higher the ranking the more people will see my art work about pencils....

The web has a Long Tail, and I am going to ride that long tail where ever it goes.

41h0cZRmWKL._SL160_ How can you make The Long Tail work for you?  Can you think of a material, color, design, subject, or any other aspect that is unique to your work? Try doing a search. The blossoming of so many blogs and web sites about the most arcane of topics means that they are looking for entertaining ideas for their readers.  Your work may become the subject of an upcoming post! 

Seriously, time to put your thinking cap on. Have you considered the many possibilities to find your Niche? Are you ready to ride the Long Tail? You might find new customers, clients, collectors or exhibitions for your work that you never expected.  

Stay tuned for more ideas and discussion for niche marketing, business names and tag lines. Pro and cons please get ready to weigh in with your opinion.

The Long Tail is an affiliate link and definitely recommended reading for learning how closely connected the internet and niche markets really are for you work.

Photo Styling - "Reality" or Getting Real - an Authentic Opinion

Hotbutton We've been discussing photos for almost two months, there is so much to consider. Your photos are the MOST IMPORTANT tool in the artist's or makers tool box.



Your photos are like Superheros traveling at the speed of light, working 24 hours a day, shrinking and expanding at the touch of a button. The folks at Search Engine People sum up this discussion about images perfectly:

The old adage is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But you do it anyway, so it’s useless to pretend that others don’t, as well. Content may be King, but Appearance is the horse it rides in on, be it a magnificent steed or a gimpy nag.

One of the hot button topics is photo styling which was be discussed at the 2011 Professional Development Seminar in Seattle.  Photo styling as in the stylistic appearance of the photos for your work.

Authenticity The question we are all asking is, "What attributes make an effective photo in documenting art or craft?"  My observation is that there is a shift in the marketplace toward the concept of somehow "capturing authenticity."

Advertising and marketing increasingly strives toward "real" and "just like me".  Even when models are used, the models are presented with a less formal appearance, almost moving to ordinariness. Advertising is suggesting a more "authentic" context or "back story", instead of glamor or seduction.

Teacup Sculpture by Harriete Estel Berman as a commentary about our consumer society. But let's not be fooled. The models, however "real" in their appearance are still models. They have just spent hours in hair and make-up, their photos are taken by professional photographers with 10 assistants to make sure that the "authentic" look doesn't look fake. But this "real and authentic" look is still fabricated, and the photos are still airbrushed.

Authenticity Hoax, How We Get Lost Finding OurselvesI am still amazed that television has successfully coined the phrase "reality show" to describe completely synthetic scenarios populated by selectively skewed "ordinary" people who are thrown into bogus competitions. Or what about commercials that LOOK like they are REAL testimonials? Is a "behind the scenes" Victoria Secret Fashion Show really real?

Buyology Art and craft photography is trending right along side this current style in marketing. To quote Martin Lindstrom from the book, Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. "What we're beginning to witness in the advertising world today is a fascinating marriage between the world of the airbrushed supermodel and the world of the ordinary consumer -- a blurry union between perfect and not so perfect."

Counter Culture As the selling of "authenticity" grows, the marketing of art and craft will continue to evolve.  However, I am concerned by an overemphasis on enhancing reality with artificial authenticity.  

The handmade object remains as authentic as it gets. Art and craft doesn't need to dumb down our work or reduce the quality of our images to enhance reality. We are still selling the one thing that can't be mass produced, the touch of the hand, the quality and craftsmanship from personal care and attention by artists and makers that really do care along with fabulous ideas.

What do you think? Do makers need to enhance authenticity or style reality in the photography of their very real work?  How do you photograph and sell the authenticity of your work? 

Links for these books are affiliate links abd provided for your convenience. Clicking on the book title, or image may provide revenue to support this blog. Your local library may also have these books.  

Side by Side Comparison - Do You Want to See the Whites of Their Eyes When Using a Model?

When using a live model instead of a mannequin there are so many issues to consider. Today we will look at side by side comparisons of photos from Bruce Metcalf and my own work.

Metcalf had a discussion brewing about this image on his Facebook page. He has graciously allowed me to show the original photo and a modified version for this discussion on ASK Harriete.

Now, pretend that you are a juror and you have 5 to 10 seconds to make a decision to accept or reject.  Go with your gut reaction and make an immediate decision.

Here are the photos. Below are the questions:

Bruce Metcalf necklace Bruce Metcalf necklaceonly
Original Photo     V.1      Version 2 Cropped w/Photoshop
"Lucia's Poppy Necklace" 2010   © Bruce Metcalf.
Mixed mediums, wood, paint. Model: Natala Covert.

A second set of photos illustrates a similar issue. This time the model is looking straight at you. Same necklace, different models, different poses.

Recycledcollar800 RecycledmILKNECKLACE
Option A                                  Option B
Recycle Necklace © 2010   Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit:(left) Liz Hickok         (right)emiko oye 

Which photo do you like best?

Which photo better presents the necklace?

Do you like seeing the model's face or eyes? Or is too much of the model distracting?

Do the model's face and hair add important information about the necklace or is it a distraction?

Do you think the skin color is better in the Metcalf Original Photo or in Version 2?

Are there other questions that you would like to ask?

Please give your comments and opinions. 

No answers  from ASK Harriete, today.  I don't want to bias your opinion. I will aggregate a consensus in the next post.  Please leave your opinion in the comments below or on Facebook, or email me directly.

Levels Plus, I am going to include a short Photoshop lesson soon about using Levels for photo "magic."

Discussion of the model issues will continue on Thursday when a range of opinions will be expressed.

DISCLAIMER: Obviously, the photographic images illustrating Bruce Metcalf's "Lucia's Poppy Necklace" are not the same size because I cropped a vertical shot, cutting off the model's face right above the lips. The original rectangular image is now a more square format.

I compensated a little by making the Version 2 image a little wider. If I had the original image, I could have played with the proportions a little better, but it does bring up an important point. Square images often appear more pleasing on the Internet whereas just a few years ago, a square image would have been very unusual.

The model or the pedestal? Which is the more effective image?

Photographing jewelry, sculpture or clothing intended to be worn on the body presents specific challenges. The biggest question is what is the most effective  photographic image-- a model or a more "neutral" background without the figure? This is one of the topics to be discussed at the Professional Development Seminar.

Spring Green Necklace
Painted papeier mache
© 1993 Marjorie Schick
Photo Credit: Gary Pollmiller

Using a mannequin can be a striking solution, midway between a live model and an isolated object. This photo (left) of work by Marjorie Schick uses a mannequin that is stylistically consistent with the work. It works perfectly!

Don't confuse this dramatic solution with a headless muslin sewing mannequin that was "found" at a flea market. It is NOT the same thing.

On the other hand, a live model is sometimes the only solution to bring out the best for your work, but a model in the photo adds multiple levels of complexity.


If using a live model, begin with the Model Release Contract from the Professional Guidelines. At least this contract lets you be comfortable knowing that your model is allowing you to use their image in your photos.

Boris Bally necklace on model
  Scrap Leaves: B Wear Necklace
© 2005 Boris Bally
  Constructed  from street signs.
  Artist: Boris Bally
  Photo Credit: Aaron UsherIII


Next decision, use a model consistent with the type of work. The appearance of your model has a HUGE IMPACT on the artwork being photographed.  Boris Bally's work on the right made from street signs finds context with a model right out of the urban environment.  If a professional model is outside your budget, use a dancer, athlete or yoga participant. Their body positions are often more graceful.

  Photo shoot
  emiko oye photographer

Lighting is KEY to great photos. Bounce cards with natural lighting is the easiest way for amateur photographers to get better "fill light" with or without a model.



Bounce cards can be plain white foam core, a mirror or aluminum foil over cardboard. You can also buy professional level photography umbrellas, etc. but the "homemade suggestions" work just fine.

At the shoot with a live model, be prepared. You need at least one or two extra people to hold bounce cards when you try to capture the right moment of sunshine.

Recycledstraight72 For example, the photos in this post were from a recent "home grown" photo shoot.

I must confess that I've learned a lot about shooting models from watching America's Top Model. Laugh at me all you want, but if you need to use models to photograph your work, then watch this show for helpful insights. (Cycle 16 premieres Wednesday, Feb. 23!) Listen to the experts critique the photos, learn from their voices of experience. While fashion photography is not the same as photographing art and craft, there are many tips you can carry back to your own photography.

Recycled2or When using models, be prepared for a long photo shoot. Working with models always seems to take at least twice as long as you plan. Hair, make-up, clothing, lighting are all a significant factor. Adding the problems involved in the way the jewelry, clothing or art actually fits (or doesn't fit) on the model, is a very complex puzzle.


What do you think? The model or the pedestal?

The next post will be about the problem with hands in a photo shoot. Don't shoot yourself in the foot, or should I say hand. Do you know how to get great hand model photos?


Recycle Plastic Bracelets shown above by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from post consumer recycled plastic. Photos by emiko oye

51yuPuUf-bL._SL160_ Looking for a beautiful book with amazing images of the manequin and the model. Marjorie Schick's book about her art to wear offers 100's of images that might inspire your next photo shoot.


Professional Guidelines improve your images!

Sunday I posted opportunities to submit your images for three different books. Check it out if you missed the post. I didn't want to wait until Tuesday because of the pending deadline for submitting images.

BentClocks06 "Oh No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!," you say.
"My images aren't ready!!!!!!!!!"
"My new work isn't finished!!!!!!!!!!!"

That is just the point! Success is always just around the corner, but only if you are prepared with photographs. You can't wait until the opportunity is upon you to make something you've been thinking about for years. Don't wait for an invitation to complete that important project. Then get your photos done.  Chance favors the prepared!

Alysso Endo PHOTO shoot of aqua bracelet behind the camera
Photo shoot in progress. Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

The Professional Guidelines has several documents that will help you on your path to success with  four topics to improve your application:

TOP TEN TIPS for Getting into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine. 

Working with Digital Images Effectively

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

Model Release Contract

All information is FREE.

Click on this link Download PGHANDOUT2010 for a one page PDF including all 19 topics in the Professional Guidelines.

Stay tuned for the next post about using a model to photograph your jewelry, clothing or art to wear.

New Opportunities to Submit Your Photos - Follow This to Improve Your Chances of Success

There are opportunities to submit your work to upcoming books -- right now, but first below are some tips and links to help improve your chances. 

Consider reading the previous posts on ASK Harriete about photographic backgrounds.  The series isn't finished but I didn't want to wait any longer to let you know about these opportunities to use your fabulous photos!
NEXT, MORE TIPS can be found in the Professional Guidelines which include three specific topics to improve your application:

TOP TEN TIPS for Getting into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine. 

Working with Digital Images Effectively

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

And finally, when submitting for a publication, this is NOT the time to experiment with unusual colored or textured backgrounds.  To avoid getting a "NOT ACCEPTED" notice, stick with the conventional white, black or graduated backgrounds. These "tried and true" standards reliably produce more "acceptable" images for a wide range of situations.

(Click on the links provided for more information.)

1) Humor in Craft ,Schiffer Publishing ,curated by Brigitte Martin

2) 500 Rings ,Lark Books, curated by Bruce Metcalf

3) The Bead and Wire Jewellery Designer’s Bible, Download Information Pack (BDEA) UK by Renata Graham Note: The deadline is very tight, January 31st, so send samples of your work ASAP if you are interested! Preferably only new work. The information is not clear about what size photos so I recommend 4" x 6" x 300 dpi.

Humor in Craft was published and has won multiple book publishing awards. If you are interested in craft objects from sculpture to jewelry I highly recommend this book for hours, days and weeks of entertainment and interesting observations.


The Bead and Wire Jewellery Designer’s Bible, by Renata Graham

In summer 2011 quarto Publishing will be delivering this forthcoming title world wide, and we are currently looking for a wide selection of bead jewellery and beadwork to feature throughout the book.

Each featured artist will be credited in full and receive a complimentary copy.

Please see attached for further details.

Note the deadline is very tight, 31st Jan, so send me samples of your work asap if you are interested! Preferably only new work.

Watermarks on photos - Not Good, The Bad and The UGLY

Marie Kazalia abstract plaid1lrg
      Abstract Plaid #1
     © 2010 Marie Kazalia
     Artist Oil, Alkyd Paints on Canvas

What do you think of digital watermarks and such? I cringe when I see them.
Maria Kazalia


This is a good point to bring up during this photography series on ASK Harriete.  When you say digital watermarks, I want to focus on the watermarks on images of art or craft Manpainting-- not about the digital watermarks on STOCK PHOTOS intended to drive purchase of the photo (like the left image). 

I wrote about watermarks once before, but I wanted to bring this up again and be very clear. Putting a watermark, icon, signature on top of, over, near, or in the corner of photographic images of art or craft is a huge mistake. Don't do it.

Watermark When I see a watermark on a photo, I refuse to try to look through it or past it.  The photo is ruined.  Instead, I move on.  And I believe most people react similarly.

That's my opinion.  Now here is a more rational consideration. 

The greatest value of posting images online is to get more visibility. All of the many possible venues (whether on Facebook, Crafthaus, Flickr, or your own website) help to expose your images to a larger audience.  The Internet is based on the exchange of ideas and images, yours included!  Based on the concept of the Long tail, the Internet is a fabulous opportunity to enable a widely dispersed audience to find, appreciate, and share your work.

Goof Off Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman
Goof Off/Goof Up Flower Pin
 © 2011 Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, screws.

A watermark on a photographic image discourages any blog, web site, writer, or online marketplace from copying and sharing your images. Watermarks disfigure the images. It is akin to putting the images in a virtual closet with the door shut!


HAND PICK  Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman
Hand Pick Flower Pin
© 2011Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, screw,

If the purpose for a watermark on your photos is to  "protect" them from being stolen or copied, then the Internet is the wrong place for your images.  This is the wrong approach to protect your work.



There are many more effective options for protecting your work:

  • Create a unique unmistakable signature style; 
  • Develop a technique that is not used by other artists or makers;
  • Pursue recognizable subject matter that establishes your reputation;
  • Pursue unique content issues;
  • Continue developing your techniques and style so that impostors are always behind you.
  • Create a strong identity for your name and your work (then impostors will be seen as just that, impostors). If a person wants to buy a Zac Posen dress, they will buy Zac Posen. If a person wants a Harriete Estel Berman, they will buy a Harriete Estel Berman. Copycats are "also rans."

Other options for protecting your work are: 

  • Post smaller images (e.g. 200px x 200px x 72dpi). This is not recommended, but it is a better alternative than a watermark on your images. 
  • Use FLASH for your images. FLASH images are more difficult to copy. This is not recommended either. Flash can not be rendered by most phones, or I-PAD type technology. Thus your web site is not viewable online by the new mobile technologies. (A future post will provide more information on this issue.)

OK you got it! Watermarks on photos are OUT!

Fantastic  Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled materials.
  Fantastic Flower Pin
  © 2011Harriete Estel Berman
  Recycled tin cans, screw,

QUALITY PHOTOS are your secret to success.~ Your photographic images can travel at the speed of light, work 24 hours a day, shrink to the size of a stamp, and expand to super viewing size.  



Another point of view on watermarks in a post titled "Should You Watermark Art You Are Posting Online" by Jason Horejs.

Related Post to the watermark issue is when museums post your images on their website, use your images for catalogs, calendars or loaning your artwork to other institutions. In theses examples they would not want a watermarked image. Read about how they handle copyright and images in the post Copyright and a Non-Exclusive License.


Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Breaking the "Rules" with Style AND Perfection - Photos that work!

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

Breaking the "Rules" with Style AND Perfection - Photos that work!

Recently, post after post on ASK Harriete has talked about the attributes of quality photographs to help artists and makers develop more effective photos to represent their work.  The "rules, standards, or conventions" are there because they reliably produce acceptably images for a wide range of situations.  Well, there are also exceptions!  I recently ran across a photograph that breaks some major rules, and it's fantastic!

The photo and artwork to the right below is from Krystal Speck.

Work by Krystal Speck at Chicago's
One of a Kind Show

Why does this image work so well? How can this artist break such fundamental rules so successfully? The answer is that it perfectly combines both personal style and accuracy.

  • The exposure of the photograph is perfect.
  • Focus is precise,
  • Colors clear.
  • The ceramic has a slight reflection to indicate a smooth surface but it doesn't wash out the work,
  • The standard graduated background balances the applied graphics,
  • The irreverent flower drawings parallel and reinforce details within the photo,
  • Overall, a very personal style that is memorable but doesn't obscure the work.

Rickson on Crafthaus commented about this photo saying, "I love the image as it shows the whole creative process from inspiration, to drawings to finished product." The graphics are not extraneous.  They add meaning in her photos because they offer insight into the decorative elements in her work.

KrystalSpeckwebsiteNow taking a look at the website for Krystal Speck, the graphics in her photos also match the web site styling perfectly. Krystal Speck establishes an identity with each photo that she carries forward into her web site. A recurring graphic (left above) is the header for every page.  A consistent header or style on every page of a web site helps develop a clear identity within the web site.

Krystal also has the more standard photos to represent her work (right below). Again the photo quality is superb. The graphics on these ceramic items match the web site graphics. This complete approach to every detail of her work and web site defines a very high level of professionalism.    KrystalSpeck2

Yet, some conventions remain reliable.  The standard graduated background photos demonstrate that she is ready with her jury submission photos.

[The one criticism that I would raise about her web site is that there is no information about the work. Even when you click on the images, there is no descriptive text. I hope she adds this information soon.]

In the meantime, I hope this exceptional example offers insight into how breaking the photographic rules with style and perfection can really set you apart from the crowd.


The 2011  Professional Development Seminar in Seattle with three noted photographers, and editors Marthe Le Van, Lark Books, and Suzanne Ramljak, Metalsmith Magazine discussed trends in photographing craft objects. Listen to their commentary in a series of SlideShare presentations.
Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

A white background in a photographic image has some very practical advantages. The pure white background (#000000) works very well to embed the photo across a variety of other media such as text documents, line sheets, combining images in print or creating a cohesive presentation on a web site. Here are examples in the illustrations below:

White IRREGULAR text The white background in a photo image allows text to move around the image eliminating the grid format. Using In Design or Illustrator the text can be placed around the image in an interesting format. It allows a little more creativity and interest in the layout of the page as in the example to the left from Departures Magazine.

With this idea, you can create great Artist Statements. To see an example of one of my Artist Statements with a embedded images, here is a PDF version to download.  Download Historicalteapotscoffeepots.
Historicalteapotscoffeepots_Page_1 Historicalteapotscoffeepots_Page_2

Line-Sheet-05 On a similar level, the white background allows artists and makers to create attractive line sheets with a clean professional layout. (Learn more about a line sheet in a future post, but essentially this is a list of your "line" or the production items that you sell.)

The white photographic background also provides a consistent look in groups of photos on web sites, juried applications, and on the printed page.

An example of a beautiful web site with images on white backgrounds is photographer Steven Brian Samuels.  A diverse group of works blends well into a cohesive, dramatic and up to date presentation.

Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The white background has been used very effectively in the jewelry book Adorn. If you enjoy looking through a  beautiful book, this is perhaps one of my favorites in part because of the immaculate white background layout.

Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell

Page 151
Artwork by Harriete Estel Berman

All of the jewelry in the book is on a white background. It makes the images (from a wide variety of makers) look incredibly cohesive. There is NO patchwork of the photographic background grid since all the backgrounds are removed.

In this book, I know all the work didn't arrive at the author or publisher with white backgrounds. Many of the images were cut from their photographic backgrounds (including mine) to create this very attractive layout.

Adorn © 2008
Book by Amanda Mansell

Page 85  Red Orbit Necklace (left)
by Harriete Estel Berman, (right) by
Dougehum Lee titled Draw

The amount of effort involved to cut out the images must have been really challenging. Can you imagine cutting out all those fine lines in my work?  RedID_7_600 I've included my original photo (below) just so you can see the comparison. I think they did a fabulous job on the shadows. They don't look fake.

I can see real advantages to the white background. What do you think?

Adorn © 2008 by Amanda Mansell Page 136-137. Left: Kiroki Iwata, Wishes of leaves & Expression of Plants. Left Center Andrea Wagner, House with a White Picket Fence. Center Top Right:Castello Hansen, Untitled. Far Right: Lucy Sarneel, Untitled. Right Center Bottom: Lesley Strickland, Metal.

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos::
Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

When showing a group of photos, be sure the backgrounds are consistent. Practically speaking, if the backgrounds and/or photographic style changes from photo to photo on your web site or portfolio (or even in a juried application), it does NOT look good.

Anthrocabinetcur I recently studied a variety of web sites a few weeks ago for example photos.

For this post, let's look at the Anthropologie "Cabinet of Curiosities page (shown to the left) since they have a wide range of small scale 3 dimensional items. In the first example, the photographic images have an eclectic, stylized appearance, but notice that every photo has the the same background of bleached, faded wood. The web site works to pull the photos together as a group with identical backgrounds.

Anthrolanding While the landing page for each category may be eclectic or have a stylized background, move to any other page of inventory on the Anthropologie web site and you will see that every item is photographed on the same background. While not a solid color, it has a very Anthropurse muted, soft pattern. The background does not distract from the work. Each item is isolated.  None of the photos confuse the customer with earrings hanging off of teacups, necklaces draped over plates, or pendants pinned on wrinkled fabric.

Each and every photo conforms to the general style of the web site and clearly portrays the work.  The photo portfolio creates a clear identity for the business with a consistent style.

Artists and craftspeople can learn a lot from major retailer web sites and their professional merchandising schemes.  Keep backgrounds and the style of photography consistent. Applications for shows, submissions to juried opportunities, or even the appearance of a web site or online marketing should look like one cohesive identity with clear emphasis on the work.

Cratefireplace Go to any retail web site, from Tiffany to Crate and Barrel.  While they may have initial landing pages with multiple items offering mood, "warmth" or connection with their customer, when it comes to showing the merchandise, they don't confuse the customer.



Each item is shown without additional mood or clutter. Clarity about what they are "selling" is a top priority.

The same principle should apply for artists and makers. Mood, "warmth" and connection with your customer should be separated from representation of the item.

I am not saying that you must adopt the retailers' style completely. What I am asking is ....... Have you separated your merchandising from the photographic representation of your work? Do your backgrounds present a cohesive body of work?

Stay tuned to see more backgrounds issues!  Are there ways to break the rules of the graduated background with style and perfection?



Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

JEWELRYeclecticBackgrounds with additional items or content are said by advocates to be more interesting, offering mood, style, warmth or appeal to the viewer and potential customers. In the photo to the right, the jewelry is displayed on a marble table with a jar, shell dish, and other objects all in a warm brown color group. The photo was scanned from a recent Departures magazine.

As a photograph it is very well done. The exposure is balanced with no strong highlights or dark shadows obscuring the work. Focus at all levels and distances throughout the focal plain is perfect. The circular arc of the table is a very effective device for framing the work.  So, is this a good photo to represent the work?  Does the viewer know where to focus attention?  Is this photo appropriate for all situations?  

BluePearls This is a really important aspect to consider.  A number of artists and makers are showing their work with similarly styled backgrounds and groupings.  This may draw a particular audience in a particular scenario, but is it an effective representation of the work?

Photos like these are an editorial style. They can be used effectively in certain situations. 
JEWELRYgridThe style of these photos adds information that shifts the viewer's evaluation of the work.  The image in its entirety establishes a narrative that may detract from or obfuscate the work. The photo now demonstrates the creativity of the stylist and the photographer as much or more than the work of the maker.

Hotbutton If you submitted any one of these photos to a jury for a book or retail craft show (as just two examples), the risk of REJECTION is significantly elevated. The photos are not a clear and accurate representation of your work.

A juror wants to see the art or craft clearly without editorial or extraneous styling.  A photo for a jury evaluation should fill the frame without complex backgrounds, marble texture, waterwashed stones, grids, any other distraction.

Jurors typically must make snap decisions.  Don't give them any superficial reason to pass you over.  There is just too much competition.

What do you think?  Do you take photos like this? What is your intent? Are complex photo backgrounds effective merchandizing? Do they accurately represent the work? Are you consciously selecting your backgrounds to reach different audiences?


Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:
Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....including images on your web site, and "breaking all the rules with style and perfection." 

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Over the last few weeks we have discussed art and craft photography and some of the tried and tested variables. The current arguments consider the impact of the "standard" graduated background or going for a bolder statement in the photograph with non-standard backgrounds.

PurplePURPLEbackground Today's post discusses backgrounds with texture or pattern. To avoid offending any particular artist or maker by selecting their photo for critique, I searched for example images of colored backgrounds with texture and pattern in high end magazines.

This purple background with a contrasting reflection of "leatherette texture" came from a recent Departures magazine. Obviously the photographer and jewelry manufacturer thought this was a great photo that effectively showcases the pendant.

The photo is excellent. The pendant is properly exposed without strong highlights to wash out the color. There is just a hint of glimmer to let you know the enamel and metal is shiny and smooth. A little darkness below the pendant gives it a strong foundation. It does not float but clearly lays on the fabric.

Now consider the purple colored background with a textured appearance. This textured background is no different than using felt, wrinkled fabric, stones, leaves, or wood. The background is something the photographer choose carefully to complement the pendant. But will the viewing audience like or dislike it?

The background material certainly adds a significant element to the photo.  The viewer is driven to consider the background in addition to the the work. Is it a distraction? Is this a fabulous photo,  or too much personality detracting from the work?  When your photos include a patterned or textured background, will people judge your background before the work when they have 2 seconds to look at the image?

Redclutter background The next photo uses a brilliant red background with a thematic element that echos the diamond pendant. In this case, it is a Cartier flower pendent with similar flowers in the red background. The general parallel would be photo backgrounds consisting of water scenes, moss, stones, grainy wood, or leaves -- any background that adds information. Is this added information an enhancement or a distraction? You may like it, others may not.  Regardless, the background is now part of the like or dislike assessment.

A thematic background may be well done, but is it appropriate to art and craft photography. Step back and ask yourself: Is the background essential to the presentation of the work AND TO AUDIENCE?   What is this photo going to look like during a juried review or on a web site with 20 other photos?  

Examine the red photo more carefully.  One may wonder what an expensive diamond pendant has to do with tropical orchids besides the form.  As a marketing device, perhaps it is trying to sell a lifestyle in which the work is promoted as a signature accessory.  Or like car commercials that show us the lifestyle of "wind in the hair" or driving fast like a "professional driver on a closed course."  "Do not attempt at home."  Maybe the lifestyle sells better than the work. The addition of the word and brand name Cartier to the photo is a "marketing device" that I think artists and makers should avoid. 

 Artists and makers have been trying all varieties of colors, patterns and textures to add warmth, style, or other desirable dimensions to their photos.  In whatever form, it adds information to the photo.  Is it a distraction? What message does the background say about the work?  Does the background help sell the work? Will your background be judged instead of the work? Does a background pigeonhole your work into a specific context? Is that where you want to be?

Does the background become overly dramatic, maybe even looking more like a  fashion magazine ad than a serious piece of art jewelry? Is there a prejudice toward colored backgrounds because the colored background is not serious enough? Is the colored background colorful or disconnected to the more serious conceptual content behind this art jewelry?

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Some comments during this series of "Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos" prompted me to add comparisons of photos with colored backgrounds.

The use of colored backgrounds in photography of art or craft is not simply a "black and white" issue.  There are too many considerations. 

For this post, I will only use photos of my work to illustrate solid colored backgrounds (so no one else feels like a guinea pig in this public critique).  Feel free to respond however you want about my examples.

[Note: A couple of future posts will discuss backgrounds with texture or other extra content.  Stay tuned.] 

The photos immediately below are from a pre-digital era. Yes, the left photo was actually photographed on a yellow background paper at my request by my photographer Philip Cohen. The photos were taken in 1990 -- before digital manipulation could easily replace a background with a different color.

Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images) Photo Credit for both images: Philip Cohen.

Cover of 1990 Summer issue of Metalsmith Magazine with a yellow photographic background.
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces
of Time

©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman
vintage steel doll houses
1990 Cover photo for Metalsmith
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

The yellow background photograph was used for the cover of a summer issue of Metalsmith Magazine in the early 1990's.  It was my idea to photograph on yellow and a very scary idea. A bright yellow background breaks completely with the established standard of gray-to-graduated backgrounds, then and now.  I used the yellow background that one time and have never used it again in 20 years.

SmallPiecesgraybk At the same time, I had the same sculpture  photographed on the more standard gray background. Thank goodness! The gray photo has been used over and over in many shows, books and magazines. 

I felt then and still feel that the yellow background really makes the work POP! But let's get really honest! -- the vast majority of the art and craft community do not view work on bright yellow backgrounds as serious work.  The general consensus seems to be that a brightly colored background is perceived as decorative, overly dramatic or superficial.  Or am I mistaken? What do you think?

A key consideration is your audience. The yellow cover of a summer issue of a magazine might work one time, but it definitely doesn't fit my audience every time.  A stimulating image to one group may be too much for another group.

Here is another example of colored backgrounds. The same necklace is in every photo. The background is not Photoshoped, each is an original photo.   

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace © 2006
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

This comparison is striking. The necklace and the reflection are eye catching.  Every photo is lit perfectly.  If you could submit one photo of this necklace, which photo would you use? What happens when your career depends on the decision? 

Here is my appraisal of each photo.

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman is photographed on a neutral light gray background.The subdued gray of this photo is well within a standard photographic background and a fabulous photo, but lacking the drama of the black and colored options. Do you think this is as good a photo as the black background or blue?

I've never used the graduated light gray background because I thought it was boring.  Indeed, one of the previous comments suggested that white, gray, or graduated black backgrounds are boring.

B&wID_blue72 The turquoise blue background is a really dramatic image. The blue is a contrasting color to the orange spacer beads. The combination of the necklace, reflection, and striking background make the entire image very attractive.

I've submitted the brilliant blue background photo to several books and shows but it has never been accepted.  The blue background seems to break too many unofficial rules.

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman is a commentary about our consumer society.The only photo that has been accepted by either a publisher, Internet article, or show has been the necklace on the black background.

This photo seems to capture a high level of drama within the image yet focuses attention on the work. 

The goal of your photograph is to have the viewer focus on your art or craft work, not on the image itself.   Which background enhances the viewer's perception of the work without stealing the spotlight?  Does the background become overly dramatic? Is there a prejudice against colorful backgrounds as not serious enough?

How do you interpret the issues presented here? 

 Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

The book images and links are from Amazon as affiliate links. 

The world of photography is changing rapidly.  Is your photography up to date? Is it an effective tool?
• Are you being judged by the style of your images?
• How much post production is acceptable and who should do the work?
• Current trends in background and composition.
• The model or the pedestal?
• and much more……

These issues were discussed at the Professional Development Seminar titled, Photography in Flux. There are five SlideShare presentations with the recorded audio online for free. Watch them all and listen to the podcast of the lunch discussion. 


Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Andychix.3 In this extended series of side by side photo comparisons we have discussed the white and the graduated background. The black background is the polar opposite of the white background. Just to clarify here, I am referring to the digital #000000 black, or total black. It has many of the same problems as white, few benefits and is even more problematic for capturing a great image of art and craft.

There are some makers who regularly photograph their work on a solid black background holding the opinion that the black background highlights light colored or silver work.

Chicken Ring  ©2009 Andy Cooperman
This photo is not a solid black back-
ground, but uses the reflection not
give the work a foundation.
Photo Credit: Andy Cooperman

On solid black backgrounds, the work may be lost, or fade into the background. The dark edge of the work becomes hard  to see, if not impossible. Capturing the edge with precise lighting is essential.  Another problem, especially if the work is silver, is that the reflections in the work are dark or black.  Thus the photo ends up extremely dark overall.  

This issue is more acute on the Internet
where the images are often smaller and with less information. The dark or black background all too often loses the nuance of the printed images and becomes a dark hole. The artwork ends up looking like it is being sucked into the background.

Black and White Identity Necklace
© 2006 Harriete Estel Berman
Post Consumer recycled tin cans,
vintage plastic, polymer, electrical cord,
magnetic catch.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

If you want a dark background, there are two options that may help. The graduated dark background. or black with reflections/shadows under the work (left images).  With proper lighting you can still get light on the work with shadows/reflections to give a solid footing to the work.  Assuming the work is properly lit, the image will look much better.

Side by Side Comparison (cropped for exact comparison of two photos.) NOTE: I noticed in Photoshop that the right photo with reflection is a little lighter/brighter in some areas, yet, the handle is a little too dark. This is the way I received it from the artist so I didn't change this exposure. (The post continues below...)

Andychix.2b Andychix.tender_man.2a

MAD websiteThe black to very dark background is sometimes considered neutral, arty, or sophisticated. The Museum of Art and Design has a large portion of their collection photographed on black (as in the image to the left). The images are then placed on a black web site background. The edge of the black background photo disappears into the background of the site. Unfortunately, it makes the entire site seem rather dark and dreary.

Harriete Estel Berman's bracelet on the MAD web site. Some of the work on the Museum of Art and Design web site is photographed on the solid dark gray background.  This isn't much of an improvement.  I know because of an image of my bracelet (above right). For some reason the photograph of the work is dark and muddy.

I created all the images above in Photoshop transitioning the background from solid black #000000 to solid white #FFFFFF. While the center photo is not the traditional graduated background, it is considerably softer in appearance that either absolute white or black.

Any opinions about your preference?

What do you think? Do you have a comment or insight to add to this discussion? If you don't agree with me, please share with me your SOLID BLACK background images along with a comparable shot in a graduated or lighter background. I'd love to compare the images side by side.

Additional discussion about the black background can be heard in a lecture by three photographers during the 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar titled "Photography in Flux". Scroll down for the lecture Photography in Flux (Photographers Opinions).

Scroll down further on the PDS page for the Podcast of the lunch discussion. Really interesting discussion.

Next post is about colored backgrounds.

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

 41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_As we reflect on the past, present and future of craft, I recommend the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. This is practically required reading if you're wondering what is the current direction and the economic picture of craft. In particular, the comments about the economy of craft over the past 150 years are insightful. This tome is not easy reading....nor something to balance on the treadmill. Carrying the book is more like a weightlifting activity, so pace yourself for months of interesting insight.

This link to the book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft is an affiliate link. Purchasing this book may provide this blog with a few pennies.

Side by Side Photos - The Graduated Background: Stunning or Stupefying?

Test5Meyers by Doug Yaple with a graduated background The graduated background has been around for quite a while as a standard professional quality photograph for three dimensional work (over the past 30 years).  At one time, the graduated background was the demarcation of the professional photographer since the appearance was only possible through careful lighting. This is no longer the case as paper printed with a graduated appearance has made the graduated background within the grasp of less experienced photographers.

Test 3 Andy Cooperman ring with graduated background and clear shadown by Doug Yaple The graduated background can be light to dark, or rotated, dark to light.   With careful lighting of the artwork, it is relatively easy to create a light shadow so that the work is firmly grounded. With careful placement on a graduated background, the work stands out from the background, avoiding the problems of totally white or black backgrounds (where the work sometimes dissolves into the background). The graduated background can be manipulated effectively to give 3-dimensional work a solid foundation highlighting the work.

At this point the graduated light to dark background has become an industry standard for art/craft  photography. Looking through recently published books and magazines reveals graduated backgrounds in all its variations, page after page. This can be both good and bad.

The good side is that the graduated background is considered neutral, easily assigned to the background and ignored adding little or no commentary to the artwork. We have become accustomed to its appearance and for this reason it is perceived of as "neutral."

The opposite point of view is that the graduated gray background may be considered boring, old-school, or even out of date by some groups. This seems to be especially true for the D.I.Y. community that appears to prefer projecting a new identity outside of the mainstream. Rejecting the orthodox or standard graduated background for colored or eclectic backgrounds is an attempt to give the photographs energy and pizazz.  

   Scan from the book Manufractured
  (Clockwise from top left) Kathryn Spence
   Paper Towels 2003; Sonya Clark
   Twenty-One 1998; Laura Splan Prozac,
    Thorazine, Zoloft 2003; William Sistek
    Bubbleware #1 2007

Groups of photographs with graduated backgrounds are another issue.  Good or bad, the delineated square or rectangle of the photos create a grid of images (see image to the right). If the backgrounds are not identical, the grid appearance may looked mismatched. 

Scan3background from American Craft Magazine.
Page from recent American Craft
Magazine, Page 060 Dec/Jan 11
Images of clay and fiber work by
Hannie Goldewicht
Photo Credit: Douglas Kirkland

Page 99 from the book Manufractured
All images cut out from the graduated
background of their photos by the graphic
designer Gregory Hom of fishbowl design.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen




The graduated background also looks much better when all images have a similar background. In the image to the left, the works look like a cohesive body of work by one artist. A definite plus! You don't want the background of your photos to compete with the artwork or look like a crayola box of colors. 



A downside to the graduated background is that much more editing skill and time may be required to remove the background from the photo to isolate just the object on the page (right.)





An important factor that may dictate use of a graduated background for photos is the background color of your web site. I've noticed that graduated backgrounds look better on web sites with darker colored backgrounds. The photo backgrounds appear to complement the style of the page.

We still have more to discuss about  photographic backgrounds. What about the black background favored by many? Does it make your work "pop", or is it a black hole that sucks in light? The issues about photographic backgrounds are varied and complex.  But I hope to raise awareness of what works well and what detracts from your artwork.

Stay tuned for the next post.

Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

Example photos in the series  Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos are repeated below for easy reference.

Image 1 a.                         Image1 b. 
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 2009  Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven Brian Samuels.

Image 2 a.                             Image 2 b. 
 The brooch in the above photos is “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven  Brian Samuels.

Image 3 a.                         Image 3 b.  
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887
Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall  Sterling silver, silk ribbon. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 4 a.                          Image 4 b. 
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 5 a.                         Image 5 b. 
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers.©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 6 a.                           
Image 6 b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octangonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image) Photo Credit: Philip Cohen. 
Oreo "Unlock the Magic" © 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image) Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels.

Image 7 a.                         Image 7 b. 

Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #2 (left image) by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven  Brian Samuels.
Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #1 (right image)by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

 Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images) Photo Credit for both images: Philip Cohen.

 PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW. Click on their names to go to their web site.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]

Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693
email: steven [at]

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.
email: dyaple [at] 


Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Sleeperhoneystevieb The white background in the photographic image is the "new" look. When discussing a white background, we are talking about pure white...absolute white....#FFFFFF in HTML or Photoshop. You can see this in the left photo and below in photos 1b., 2b., and 6b.

We are NOT talking about a graduated white, with foamcore "white," or "almost" white as shown (to the right below and below in 3b and 4a). Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867

White photographic backgrounds are a stylistic influence from Europe and facilitated by the availability of photo editing technology like Photoshop and FotoFuze. (If you haven't looked at a FotoFuze online demo, you should!)

The super white photographic background with the "fake" shadow starts with pure white photographic background  during the photo shoot but is facilitated with photo editing software. It is almost impossible to get a pure white any other way. The tool, i.e. the technology, has become a style.  

One advantage of the white background is that it is really easy to remove the art or craft object from the background for print. Thus the layout for postcards, books or magazines can depart from a grid format with a smaller investment of time or skill.

Another factor is that white is the default background for many social networking sites like Facebook (the largest photo sharing site on the Internet), Flickr, Etsy, and other online marketplaces.  They make the photos look attractive. There is little or no demarcation between the edge of the photo and the site.  White background images generally look good to great on these sites.

In contrast, white background shots do not look so good on web sites with dark backgrounds.  My web site is a spectrum of greenish, grey backgrounds. I consciously did not want a white background web site.  And I must admit that pure white background photos do NOT look that great on my web site.  See examples of three types of backgrounds - with a graduated, light, and white photographic backgrounds on this page. 

SleeperhoneysteviebOn the negative side,  I don't think white backgrounds show all work to the best advantage.  Some work just doesn't look that great on pure white with high contrast between the work and background.

For example, the dark wood in Andy Cooperman's jewelry (left) doesn't look as attractive on a stark white background. The grain of the wood becoming a focal point demanding more attention than desired by the maker. (See photos 1b. and 2b. below.)

A major concern with white background shots is that the shadows and reflections on the background look fake.  Some people who like the white background also like the artificial shadow. This "artificial" appearance is part of the new and trendy style.

oRBIT BLACK AND wHITE iDENITY nECKLACE BY HARRIETE ESTEL BERMAN White backgrounds can also make the work look like it is floating thus the necessity of the shadow to prevent the white or light area of the work from being lost or melting into the background (such as in the photo to the right and 7a. below). Notice that the white cord of the necklace gets lost in the background. 

What do you think about white background shots?

Photos pertinent to this discussion are shown below.


Image 1 a.                         Image1 b. 
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 2009  Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven Brian Samuels.

Image 2 a.                             Image 2 b. 
The brooch in the above photos is “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain. The left photo is by Doug Yaple. The right photo is by Steven  Brian Samuels.

Image 3 a.                         Image 3 b.  
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887
Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall  Sterling silver, silk ribbon. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 4 a.                          Image 4 b. 
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 5 a.                         Image 5 b. 
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers.©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral. Both photos by Doug Yaple.

Image 6 a.                            Image 6 b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octangonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image) Photo Credit: Philip Cohen. 
Oreo "Unlock the Magic" © 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image) Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels.

Image 7 a.                         Image 7 b.

Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #2 (left image) by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Steven  Brian Samuels.
Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace #1 (right image)by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

This is another post, is the series titled:
Photographic Comparisons Side by Side

Previous posts include:

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!

More posts in the series are coming....

PHOTOGRAPHER CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED BELOW. Click on their names to go to their web site.

Philip Cohen, Photographer
Oakland, CA.
email:  phil [at]

Steven Brian Samuels, Artist/photographer
New Jersey.
Phone 845.300.9693
email: steven [at]

Doug Yaple Photographer
Seattle, WA.
email: dyaple [at] 


Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images? Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos

Patc hwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time by Harriete Estel Berman
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces
of Time

©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman
vintage steel doll houses
Dark background example
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen.

The previous post, The Photographers Revealed! Photograph Comparisons Side by Side showcased a series of images as a comparison of different back- grounds.  ASK Harriete will evaluate these comparisons from several directions.  Two consensus opinions have already stood out: first, one type of background is not effective in every situation, and second, YES, you are being judged by the style of the photographic images!

Cover of 1990 Summer issue of Metalsmith Magazine with a yellow photographic background.
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces
of Time

©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman

vintage steel doll houses
1990 Cover photo for Metalsmith Mag.
Photo Credit:
Philip Cohen.

Image backgrounds are becoming a stylistic issue (or "trend", if you want to call it that).  In fact, the choice of backgrounds for a photographic image may even be placing your work into a "category" of the art or craft world.  This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think there is ample evidence.

Octagonal Bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled tin cans.
Octagonal Bracelet
Harriete Estel Berman © 2001
Recycled tin cans
Graduated background with reflection
Photo Credit:
Philip Cohen. 


Multiple observations were formed
while I was studying  the previous post , comments by readers, and in discussion with Brigitte Martin and Andy Cooperman (as we prepare the
Professional Development Seminar).   Now there are too many remarks for one post.

Oreo Cookie Unlock the Magic bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from recycled tin cans.
Oreo "Unlock the Magic
 ©1989 Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled tin cans, 10k gold,brass
Photo Credit: Steven Brian Samuels



My plan is to discuss the pros and cons for each type of background:

- White
- Graduated
- Black
- Colored

Each photographic background will be discussed, one per post, over the next four posts.  If you have a comment, write your comments below or email  me directly as the posts continue.  


This is the third post, is the series titled:
Photographic Comparisons Side by Side

Previous posts include: The Photographers Revealed.


Compare and contrast photography styles. Be the judge and jury.

The issues surrounding professional photographic images has become increasingly more complex and diverse in recent years. From the accelerating evolution of digital images to the ethics of image manipulation, the world of photography is changing rapidly. 

In the last few months, I have been discussing these issues extensively with Andy Cooperman and Brigitte Martin as we plan the Professional Development Seminar.

In the spirit of exploration and experimentation, this post will compare examples of jewelry on white and graduated grey-to-dark backgrounds. The photographs are side by side. Some pairs of images are by the same photographer. Other pairs are by two different photographers.

I will show you the images without commentary or photo credit to avoid any bias in your evaluation of the images.  Please add your comments below.

In the next post (on Tuesday) the photographers will be revealed along with questions for further consideration.  

On Thursday's post one week from today, commentary on the images  will be discussed. You're welcome to comment about the photos for a whole week so that your opinion can be included in the final post.

Disclaimer: The images in this post may have been cropped or re-sized in an attempt to make the objects in the photos a similar size for side by side comparison.  The merit or demerit of leaving more background space around the object will be discussed in another post as a separate issue.

Here is the first pair:

Image 1a.                        Image 1b.
 The brooch in the above photos is “Sleeper Cell” © 200 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, gold leaf, stain.

Image 2a.                        Image 2b.
 Brooch in the above photos is  “Potter” ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Burl wood, sterling, 18k, stain.

Image 3a.                        Image 3b.
Test1aJ Hall 12-09_9887Test2aJ Hall 12-09_9867
Pendant in the above photos: Black Heart ©2009 Jennifer Hall Sterling silver, silk ribbon

Image 4a.                        Image 4b.
Test4aA Cooperman 6-09_3008Test3aA Cooperman 6-09_3052
Ring (above) ©2009 Andy Cooperman. Sterling, gold, copper, copal amber

Image 5a.                        Image 5b.
Necklace in above photos by Marcia Meyers ©2009 "Homage to Sliced Green Pepper",  reticulated silver, sterling and coral.

The next photos compare similar but not identical jewelry on different backgrounds.

Image 6a.                                Image 6b.
AskharrieteBerman_4.7.07Back_72AskHarrieteOreoIMG_7919_web 1000x
Octagonal Bracelet
©2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (left image)
Oreo "Unlock the Magic
© 2009 by Harriete Estel Berman (right image)

In the images below, this is not the same but very similar necklace "Orbit Black and White Identity Necklace" © by Harriete Estel Berman .  I did my best to make the images the same size, but obviously, each of the photographers chose different angles for capturing this necklace. Which approach do you like better?

Image 7a.                        Image 7b.

As a result of a comment about the use of "colored backgrounds" in photographic images I have added the images below. 

Image 8a.                                Image 8b.
Patchwork Quilt, Small Pieces of Time ©1989 by Harriete Estel Berman (left and right images)

In the next post, Tuesday (next week), I will reveal the photographers' names for the images (along with links to their web sites).

In the third post in this series on Thursday, I will discuss comments from the readers including the differences in backgrounds, angles, and lighting. There are many issues potentially to consider in these comparisons.

These issues and more will be discussed at the Professional Development Seminar titled: Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.

DATE:           May 28, 2011
TIME:         9:00 to 12:00
                 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion)
LOCATION: The Westin Hotel,
                 1900 5th Ave,
                 Seattle, WA.

Free with Conference registration or $40 at the door (for the PDS only).

More information can be found on the SNAG web site.



Who Owns the Photographic Image? Comments and opinions with no clear answer.

The previous post titled Who Owns the Photographic Image sparked many comments, including well researched and logical arguments, but so far there is no definitive answer. Check out the comments on the previous post. There were so many comments from Facebook, Crafthaus, Orchid/Ganoskin, I saved them all. If you want a copy, send me an email request.

Harriete.blurry If you would like to express another opinion, please leave it in the comments below this post.  In the mean time, I'm going to summarize some of the comments and my impressions. 

What bothered me most about this issue is the confusion.  Apparently it would be helpful to have a simple contract or letter of agreement for artists and makers needing to hire photographers to photograph the artwork.  The contract is NOT intended to involve monetary compensation for the use of the images, but instead (as stated in a previous post) to support sharing images of our work for critical writing and lectures.

Gryoscope The purpose of the contract (or letter of agreement) is to clearly establish that the photos of the work may be published without requiring subsequent permission from the photographer.

Andy Cooperman digests the diversity of opinions in his comment on ASK Harriete, "Yes, there is logic on both sides of the conversation. But what we are after, I think (speaking for the Professional Development Seminar Committee) is a definitive answer. Barring any negotiated contractual agreement between the artist or original maker of the work and the photographer who has been retained (hired) to document that work as closely as they can to its appearance in the real world, who owns the rights to the image? Who is the default owner of the rights? There must be an answer...."

Two Roses astutely points out on Crafthaus that the image of the artwork "is potentially as valuable, and perhaps more valuable than the work of art being photographed." "The emergence of on-line exhibitions will continue to place greater emphasis (and value) on the image of a piece rather than the piece itself.""

PCohenWith bounce Cards There is no doubt that superior photography of art or craft involves great skill from the photographer.  However, the goal of the engagement between artist and photographer is to capture a faithful rendering of the artist's or maker's work. Most photographers do not consider that this type of photography reflects the artistic photographer inside them. It is their "day job."

In the past, when an artist hired a photographer there seemed to be an implicit understanding that the artist could use the photo in anyway they needed to promote their work. The original payment for the photos included permission for all future publication either in print or online. Photo Credit is a professional courtesy and obligation by all parties in both print and on line, but this isn't part of the question.

Marthe Le Van, editor at Lark Books and future speaker for the Professional Development Seminar says,"new platforms for content and its distribution are being developed at such a rapid pace (ie: rights for an electronic edition, a digital download). 'Real' answers are short lived. Laws are changed, language is changed, and everyone involved has to live with a continually evolving legal landscape. It is most frustrating that there is no definitive, set-in-stone agreement that one can 'know' beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don’t think frequent changes stem from paranoia, but rather a rapidly changing field."

I agree that drafting an agreement between artist and photographer could be a way to clear up a lot of the misunderstanding about who owns the image or who has permission to do what. Of course, as stated above, it would have to be frequently revised.

What we are looking for here is a very simple, non-confrontational contract for artists and photographers to use. Steven Brian Samuels states in a comment on the previous post: "To me, this discussion just highlights the need for an open dialog between artists and photographers. It also stresses the importance of the relationship artists and photographers must have with one another. Artists and photographers can even work hand in hand promoting each others talents."

Michael Eastman on Orchid/Ganoskin said in a comment,"It really depends on what kind of agreement you have with the photographer . Some photographers will negotiate the rights and demand that they retain the copyright of the photograph they made. Some don't care....  so it is a gray area when it's not discussed."

Stephen Walker comment on Orchid/Ganskin seems most relevant to our discussion. 
   “...a US Federal Court ruling that museums do not own the copyright to images simply  because they own the originals. If the image is public domain because of antiquity or any other reason photographs, copies or reproductions of the art is not protected by copyright because the museum is not the author of the creative content, which is where  copyright originates.”
In my experience when museums own my work,  they still write to ask me to allow them permission to distribute the image of my work in print, online etc. This is even after I have either given them images of my artwork or they hire a photographer to photograph the work. I am looking for more information about this.

In the meantime...Does anyone have an example contract or letter of agreement with their clients or photographers?


Who Owns the Photographic Image?

The most recent posts have discussed some really serious issues surrounding the use of photographic images. The answers are not easily found.

To foster greater understanding, the theme of the upcoming Professional Development Seminar will be, Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.  Organized by Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and myself,  We have spent hours discussing a range of current issues surrounding photographic images.

Here is another one of the serious questions we've been discussing:

ChocolateQuestion200 Who Owns the Photographic Image?

Let's assume that the artist made the artwork and owns the copyright to the artwork. Then a photographer is hired by the artist to photograph the artwork.

Who owns the copyright to the photographic images?

The answer isn't as simple as it first appears.  Is it the artist who hired the photographer?  Or is it always the photographer?

When an image is to be printed in a book, whose permission is required? The artist, the photographer, or both? Can a permanent agreement between the artist and photographer allow unrestricted use by either party? What if the image is altered?

What if your artwork is photographed by a photographer hired by a museum or exhibition? Who owns the copyright to that photo then? The artist, the photographer, or the musuem/exhibition sponsor?

These are just two examples. I am really confused.  I want an answer, a real answer, not just my opinion. Does anyone really know? 

Obverse Obsession © 2005
Post Consumer recycled tin cans,
aluminum, sterling silver, 10k gold
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

In the spirit of cooperation, we all benefit from the publication of images. The artist benefits by sharing their work with a larger audience. The photographer recieves visibility and recognition for the quality of the photogrpahic image (and possibly potential business photographing more work). The art/craft world benefits from the exhange of images and ideas. But who owns the photographic image?

If you have a clear answer please leave a comment.

Do you have a source for your information?

Hopefully, there are practical solutions, but what is the correct answer? We hope to have a solution at the Professional Development Seminar on May 28th, 2011.

Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.

DATE:           May 28, 2010
TIME:         9:00 to 12:00
                 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion)
LOCATION: The Westin Hotel,
                 1900 5th Ave,
                 Seattle, WA.

Free with Conference registration or $40. at the door.

More information can be found on the SNAG web site.


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 Decieve You From
The Real Truth"

Post consumer recycled tin cans,
bronze handle,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

From a range of persepctives, several speakers at SOFA Chicago (including Susan Cummins, Garth Clark, Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos) emphasized that critical writing and dialogs are vital to raise 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 quantity 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, discertations, lectures, books, and magazines. Let's help make valuable contributions to the community with the very best of photographic images of our work.


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

P.S. More information about the issues surrounding photographic images in digital age will be presented on May 28, 2010 during the Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG Conference. Stay tuned for more information about Photography in Flux: Technical Issues, Media and Style.

DATE:           May 28, 2010
TIME:         9:00 to 12:00
                 (followed by brown bag lunch discussion)
LOCATION: The Westin Hotel,
                 1900 5th Ave,
                 Seattle, WA.

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 copyright in a fair and open manner but often to control content (i.e. smother dissent with threats of lawsuits). I find that antidemocratic 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 its 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 obligue 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 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 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 a Pandora's box with this discussion or can we arrive at a broad consensus?

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

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 Janoski© 2009

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

My biggest "take away" 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 appreaciated his unique and fast paced approach. This was NOT a 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!  His Web presence hasn't quite caught up to his live performance, but take a look at the work of Adam Grinovich on  Klint02 (which does not allow images to be "picked up").

The other presentors 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 a 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.


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 let's 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 sculpture from the 1980's  as an example in this post. More information about this series of work can be found on my web site.

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 web site include "sh" at the end of the title.  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.

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 web site 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 CD's.

If you need to create a specially sized image for uploading to an online application, start with your original TIFF and covert 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

web site 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.

Resume - Ready, Set, Go!

Being a professional artist or maker involves a lot more that just spending time in your studio sanctuary. Just making the work doesn't create the opportunity to show or sell it.  I wish that wasn't true, but the reality is that I have lots or work stacked in a closet, up in the attic, or under the bed. What about you?

IMG_6103 Taking a shift at your desk and creating opportunities is all part of the job of an artist. One of those important tasks is keeping your resume up to date.  It is much easier if you update details immediately as an event occurs.  Then, when an opportunity arises, you are ready with your resume without delay.

It's amazing but all too often opportunities present themselves with no advance notice.   Let me go all French on you for a moment.  Louis Pasteur said, "Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés." Loosely translated, "... chance favors the prepared mind."  For every artist, opportunity is always going to favor the prepared artist. It happened yet again this morning for me -- which prompted this post.
Here is my system for a resume.

Write all professional accomplishments in your master CV (Curriculum Vitae). Every show, every article, every published editorial goes in your CV. Right away, that night!

You also need a one page resume. This is what will be used most of the time. This is just the most important or most recent professional accomplishments. Your one page resume may or may not change when you add items to your CV. It depends on the importance of the recent professional activity.

ScaryGHOST If you can keep your CV and one page resume up to date, then you are resume ready, set go.

As you gain more professional experiences that expand your CV to multiple pages, I would recommend maintaining several versions with a two page resume and a five page resume. Each one of these is a digested version of your master CV. 

Think of adding each accomplishment to your CV and resume as a reward for hard work and professional success. This is definitely one of those activities that is a self fulfilling prophecy. 


P.S. Are you wondering what information to put on your resume. Here is a previous blog post titled, Resumes - How much is too much info? with some answers.

The Resumes for Artists and Craftspeople category has a number of posts on this topic.

Need That Photo YESTERDAY! Be prepared.

Ater 30 years of exhibition trials and tribulations as an artist and maker , I contnue to be reminded of a few recurring actions to be ready for special opportunities!

Three bead bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman Take photos as soon as you finish the work. I mean IMMEDIATELY! The two main reasons are that your work will never look more "fresh" than immediately after you finish it, and you can start promoting your new work with the images.

Your images should be shot in RAW format to create the largest file possible, then clean up the image or modify as necessary  in Photoshop. Save the final image as your  "master"  TIF.

CraftsReportcover72As soon as I get my  TIF images from the photographer, I create images for my web site and social networking links like Facebook, Flickr and Crafthaus.

You will also be prepared for an opportunity at a moment's notice.   You never know, but it happens often enough.  Magazines, shows, exhibition sponsors, writers and fellow artists often want images YESTERDAY.  When such an opportunity occurs, the artist who delivers an image always wins out over those who are not ready.

It happened to me twice last week. One person needed images for their lecture in two days. The other person wanted images for publicity yesterday. The magazine cover image for The Crafts Report (from a couple of years ago) was just another example of being prepared when a last minute opportunity presents itself. They needed an image, and I was ready.

Was it worth being ready? Are you kidding?  In minutes I can email images with a complete description and Photo Credit.

Black and gold Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman
       Black and Gold Identity Necklace
       Recycled tin cans, Plexiglas, electrical
       cord, brass, 10k gold.
   © 2006 Harriete Estel Berman
       Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

While it would be ideal if every opportunity presented itself with six months advance planning, but this is not always the case.  Be prepared by taking your photos immediately without procrastination.  You need to do the photos anyway, so consider it the final step in finishing your work.

Next Tuesday, Ask Harriete will include recommendations for the size of your photographic images.  Be ready for your images to travel at the speed of light.


Click on my name to view the entire collection of Bead Bracelets and Bead Necklaces

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

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

Working with Digital Images Effectively

Single AOL Bead functions as a magnetic catch by Harriete Estel Berman.
Retail Price $990.

Business Advice on the Internet

These days there is so much advice on the Internet, I mean tons....some good, and some that seems a little ,,,well....shallow, self-serving, or half-baked.  Penetrating through this fog, there is one person who I recommend, Alyson Stanfield. I have followed her for years. Her professional experience at the museum level is well grounded, yet her very down to earth approach helps artists get their work out of the studio to develop promotional visibility and a market for their work.

STUDIObook I read her book, "I'd Rather Be in the Studio" which reveals practical ways to market your art or craft more effectively.  It is definitely worth reading.

Alyson Stanfield also has a free newsletter. This week she is offering a gift for the subscribers to her newsletter. The gift is some GREAT information about using SlideShare to promote your art and craft. (I know what it says because I wrote it!)

A super short summary on how to get started on SlideShare is included on Alyson Stanfield's ARTBIZblog. The SlideShare site is FREE at the basic level. This is a truly easy, inexpensive, and effective tool.  There is so much you can do with it.  As examples, links to two of my SlideShare presentations are itemized below (the links paste right into my blog or an email). I also use them in several locations on my web site.

Why not subscribe to Alyson Stanfield's free newsletter to receive tips for your art career development.  I read it regularly to perk up my outlook.  

If you sign up now, new subscribers get the step-by-step instructions (that I wrote) to make your first SlideShare presentation.


Here are two links to my presentations from SlideShare.  The first one is about my chocolate pot, Obverse Obsession.  The second one is a presentation from the Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG Conference in Houston.

Affiliate links on this blog may provide me with a few pennies to help defray expense and keep on going. Thanks for your support.
Van Houten Cocao Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman constructed from post consumer recycled tin cans. Retail Price is Pin $485. See a preview of the Flower Brooch collection on Flickr.

Create Your Own Exhibition Opportunities

ArmoryShow_poster I've been reading my way, word by word, chapter by chapter, through the comprehensive reference book,  Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. There is a section about the famous Amory Show, which I'd heard mention as many of my favorite artists from the early 20th century exhibited at the Amory Show. It wasn't until now, that  I fully realized how groundbreaking this exhibition actually was, and why.

41OiZd-LhGL._SL160_ What astounded me was that this show was not organized by a museum or any other institution, but by the artists. "The members of the new Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS) were seeking to undercut the power of the conservative American Academy of Design by independently showing their art (and that of their colleagues) that had been rejected by officialdom as too radical. They were quite successful: the Armory Show created a market for contemporary art almost overnight."  And subsequent to this  event, "the younger generation no longer pursued Academy recognition."**

This example illustrates the merit of reading such an in-depth book.  We can learn much from history, and with some understanding, we can also gain some inspiration.  Do you feel that you are limited by the exhibition opportunities in your community? 

Sleeping Muse, bronze sculpture by
Constantin Brâncuşi, 1910, originally
shown at the Armory Show.
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why not create your own exhibition opportunities? Put together your own show just like the artists who organized the Armory Show in the early part of the 20th century.  The Professional Guidelines offers guidance for exhibition sponsors along the entire project.

Why not be your own sponsor?  The Professional Guidelines Exhibition Contract (for non-commercial exhibitions) is designed for artists and non-profit Exhibition Sponsors to clearly define each party’s responsibilities. (For retail/commercial gallery exhibitions, refer to the Consignment Contract instead.)

Do be aware that sales in a non-commercial exhibition are usually a low priority.  The Exhibition is not expecting to represent the artists over an extended period of time like a gallery. Instead, the Exhibition borrows work from the artists  for a limited period of time, focusing on work that contributes to the theme or premise of the show.  Prices are not usually posted on the wall, although a price list may be available at the desk or upon request.

Exhibitions curated without the pressure for sales may offer an opportunity to show experimental work or work that is not viable in more conventional venues. These exhibitions often include work that is aesthetically challenging, provocative in content or concept, or made by artists not often seen in established galleries.  These exhibitions can be important opportunities to expand the audience for artwork and to educate the viewers.  

Armory painting by Amadeo de Souza Cardoso
Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, artist
Saut du Lapin, 1911

Ideally, such exhibitions produce quality, promotional documentation of the artwork and possible professional reviews and broad exposure to the community.  So while you are putting together this show, consider publishing your own catalog.

Picture of the Duchamp Brothers who helped sponsor the organization of the famous Armory Show.
Three brothers, left to right: Marcel
Jacuews Villon, and Raymond
in the garden of Jacques
Villon's n at their studio in Pateaux,
France, 1914, all three brothers were
included in the Armory exhibition.

Find more information

Consider the outcome of the Armory show. "The artist-organizers handled all the administrative details themselves and gave up a year of their art-making time to make the show happen." Summarizing the information from page 86, of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, $45,000 of work sold.  "Marcel Duchamp and his brother, Jacques Villon, sold everything they had at the exhibition." "All the most advanced works, including those of the Cubists were sold out...".**

Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase perhaps the most famous painting from the Armory Show.
Nude Descending the Staircase
Marcel Duchamp
Painting shown at the Armory Show.

For more insight from history, and potential inspiration, read the book, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, .

Ironically, Bruce Metcalf, co-author of the book, helped me by editing some of the early topics of the Professional Guidelines nearly ten years ago. How can you help your fellow artists?


* Professional Guidelines Exhibition Contract

** Metcalf, Bruce and Koplos, Janet, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, The University of North Carolina Press, 2010, page86.

The affiliate links on ASK Harriete may provide this blog with a few cents to keep on going and defray expenses.

Dragon Fire Flower Brooch makes your day memorable and super hot. Constructed from post consumer, recycled tin cans by Harriete Estel Berman, 2010. Retail Price $595.

Publish Your Own Catalog - DIY

The previous post by Guest Author Larissa Dahroug titled, Self-Publishing An Art Catalog - Thinking BIG on a Small Budget, described how she decided to create her own catalog using This catalog was sold during her exhibition but more importantly, it can be used to approach stores, galleries, and exhibition spaces or as a gift for collectors.  I thought Larissa's catalog was great. Using all of the online programs, computer software and the resources of the Internet now available is so much easier than it used to be.

I've published my own materials several times, it was a worthwhile effort and investment in my career. Here are two examples:

HBcat_frontcover My first catalog was a collaborative project with the Triton Museum of Art. It was printed in black and white with one color (see the cover to the left). I offered to pay for the printing if their staff did the graphic design layout (a long time ago when graphic design layout was all done by hand and color printing was prohibitively expensive). It cost me $1,000.


It was a win-win deal for both the museum and me. They were able to produce a catalog for their exhibition (my solo show), and I had copies to distribute for years.  The whole thing was my proposal from the start including the design. How else was I going to have a catalog of my work so early in my career? 

The refrigerator door on the front cover opened, to reveal the inside of the refrigerator.  I used an Exacto knife to cut every door in the front of the catalog by hand to keep the cost down.  There is a lot you can do to keep costs low if you are willing to work. 

My next opportunity to produce a catalog came when I was invited to be Master Metalsmith 2004 at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. They were willing to contribute $1,000 towards a catalog, on the condition that I take responsibility to arrange everything.

This time I produced a CD-ROM Catalog of work from 1980-2004. 

Cd The catalog included:
*Images of all work
* GRASS/gras' video
     (8:45 minutes)
* Essays by Jill Vexler
     and Deborah Trilling
* Introduction by Jim
     Wallace, N.O.M.M.

* Archive of 1984 catalog and appliance ads
* Past articles and reviews
* Image Directory suitable for PowerPoint presentations
* Compatible with MAC and PC
* Retail price $15.00 plus $3.00 shipping

The $1,000 helped defray the cost, but producing the CD catalog was expensive. There were many challenges in getting all the CD programming done in time. Just like Larissa, every big project is fraught with problems. Nothing ever goes smoothly. It is impossible to foresee all the problems you will run into.

The fun part for me was that I literally constructed the cover design in my post consumer, recycled tin cans.  Then the metal was professionally scanned and printed. That was the fun and easy part.

The advantage of a CD catalog is that the CD and the catalog cover can be used as promotional collateral for years after the particular exhibition.  I can even add new work in a supplemental CD.  I send this catalog with all my more important packages to galleries, museums and collectors.

Alternative catalog ideas:
Some people are using online photo albums services to produce their catalog/portfolio with hard bound covers. I-Photo and Shutterfly are two examples.

These businesses market their product as photo albums, but you can use them as your own catalog or portfolio. Each printing of your portfolio (photo album) tends to be somewhere between $25. to $35, so they are too expensive to give away casually. On the other hand, you have something very nice that you can carry around and show your work to people anytime with beautiful, professional printing.  Some artists have their entire photo album/catalog layout and text completed, and simply print it on demand.  With this method, it can be updated anytime. The catalog is even listed on their web site, in case a client is interested in buying a book about their work.

Another resource is Custom Museum Publishing. I was recently introduced to their company by the president,  Jane Karker. She says, "We are actually less expensive, press proof each and every job for our artists before printing (meaning we actually set up the press, proof it, send it to the artist, make color adjustments as needed). We are a small outfit but have been New England's premier art printer since 2005. We also provide award winning graphic design. We work closely to consult with customers who want to design their own catalogs as well."

I would like to offer you more information about this company, but it will have to wait for another day, and another post.

In the meantime, next time you put a show together either on your own, or with your local arts organization, think about Doing It for Yourself documenting the exhibition event and your work with a self-published catalog.


Mighty Mouse Frt72 

Mighty Saves the Day Flower Pin can super charge your day This Flower Brooch is an ongoing series by Harriete Estel Berman from post consumer, recycled tin cans. View my entire album of Flower Brooches by looking on Facebook or Flickr.

Self-Publishing An Art Catalog - Thinking BIG on a Small Budget.

Recently Larissa Dahroug, a S. F. Bay Area artist, sent a catalog of her work from her recent exhibition to me.  I was really impressed that she was able to put together such a fine catalog and asked her to write a Guest Author post about how this catalog came about.

Note: The opinions expressed by the author, Larissa Dahroug, in this post are hers and hers alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied.

Larissa Dahroug color flier for her exhibition
Self employment is tough. You have to wear so many different hats at once. Being self employed AND in the arts is even tougher, I think. Someone asked me recently why I’m an artist. I told them the truth. It’s the only thing I know how to be. Except for very infrequent, though dreaded, bouts of creative block, I pretty much have got the “make” part of my career down. The part I’m trying to get better at right now is getting an audience for my work once I’ve made it.  For my latest series, Sewn Paintings of Light & Love: inspired by 40 dedicated people living and/or working in Santa Rosa, I tried something I’d never done before. I self-published a catalog.

In these tough economic times the challenge of selling art is made that much harder.  Asking even $250 for a piece of art is a HUGE amount of money when so many folks are cutting back on things like food and health care. For the show of this work I wanted to make sure there was something for as many people as possible, and I wanted to tell the story behind my art. A catalog seemed like a good answer to my desires. But I only had a short amount of time before my show and I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to find a publisher willing and able to print a catalog for me. A writer-friend of mine had recently self-published his first novel. If he could do it with his novel why couldn’t I do it with my catalog?

Larissa, Omar, Simmon and Robin
Larissa, Omar, Simmon and Robin
© 2010
Artist: Larissa Dahroug

I did a Google search for self-publishing companies. There are TONS of them out there. I ended up choosing, a company based in New York, NY. was not the cheapest company I found, but they weren’t the most expensive either. They were some where in the middle. In my experience I usually get what I pay for, and while I couldn’t afford the most expensive company I found I knew I didn’t want to go with the cheapest either. I am very pleased with my experience working with as well as with the end product. For around $700 I got an ISBN number, all of my files translated into a printable format, 50 24-page-full-color-glossy-covered copies of my catalog, express shipping and excellent customer service from a real live person, Jacki Lynch.

I created my catalog using my digital Nikon and Mac’s iPages. iPages is easy to use, but unfortunately the finished files were not in the correct format for printing. provides their printing requirements on their website. Files created using Adobe CS are generally ready to print. In spite of how it may appear, I’m actually quite computer illiterate. I don’t know how to use Adobe CS. If I did it would have cost me about $200 less to have my catalog printed. It also would have cost less if I hadn’t required express shipping.

The process of producing the catalog was not without it’s bumps.
There was a last minute issue when the printer accidentally shipped my finished job by ground instead of air. Jacki was on it though! She had my job reprinted and shipped on time at no extra cost to me. In fact, it turned out very well in my favor because the original job had already gone out so in the end I wound up with 100 copies of my full-color-glossy-covered catalogs for the price of 50!

I forgot to mention that this series of work and the culminating show were also a fund-raising event for an institution in my community. Planning any art event, but especially one like this can be very stressful. Over the phone (me in California and in New York) Jacki was with me each step of the way, reassuring and soothing me when I was stressed. Customer service like that is priceless.

Page 12 from Larissa Dahroug's catalog "Sewn Paintings of Light & Love."

My show was a great success! I sold some of the series and a bunch of catalogs. Sales are still happening and I also now have an impressive and professional promotional item to use to market myself to galleries and other venues. With the technology that's now at our fingertips a beautiful catalog once only possible if an artist was picked up by a big name gallery or museum, or had tons of extra money sitting around and a friend in the publishing biz can be a reality for anyone. $700 is no small sum of money these days. But it was a smart investment in my business, and it’s important to remember that cost and value are not always equal. My businessman father has taught me, value transcends cost.

Larissa is a socially minded multi-media artist. She lives and works in Santa Rosa, CA with her husband and five spoiled cats. See her work online at

The affiliate link (below) to is provided for your convenience. The web site is very interesting. There are many different ways you could approach creating your own catalog or publicity materials. In the next post, I will tell you how I put together two different catalogs for my work.


Page 12 from Larissa Dahroug's catalog "Sewn Paintings of Light & Love."

Plan Ahead If Hand Delivering Your Work to an Exhibition.

Remember Me by Harriete Estel BermanImagine you are hand delivering your work to an exhibition.  Most likely you'll walk in to deliver your artwork and won't know any one there.  Then you hand your art and craft to a total stranger, and everyone is busy and excited. The staff may be inexperienced volunteers, but all are thrilled that you are participating.  Ultimately, you turn around and walk away.

Whoa Nelly!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did you get any documentation that you dropped off your work? Could you possibly remember who you spoke to during that frenzied morning?

Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the Front Door from the Street by Harriete Estel Berman
Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the
Front Door from the Street 
Multiple frames fabricated from recycled
tin cans and vintage steel dollhouses.                   
18" height x 20" width x 5" depth
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Before you go, be prepared.  Make two copies of your documentation BEFORE leaving your house (or studio) with your art work. This could be an Inventory Record, Condition Report, Exhibition Contract, or one page Invoice. Upon arrival at the drop off location for the exhibition, hand both copies of your paperwork to  a representative of the Exhibition Sponsor and have them sign one copy and hand it back to you before you leave. The other copy stays with the work.

Print the representative's name on your copy of the paperwork.  Ask to see their driver's license if you have any uncertainty. (Discretely make a note of the person's appearance, so you can remember in case there is a problem.)

This is your only proof that the work was delivered to the exhibition sponsor and to a responsible person. Don't just leave your work without this level of documentation that your work was delivered and received. 

Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the Front Door from the Street close up view by Harriete Estel Berman
Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the
Front Door from the Street
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Frankly, a well run exhibition should have all this paperwork ready, anticipating your arrival. If so, fabulous! You can feel very comfortable that this exhibition is going to be well organized. You'll sign each others' papers and everyone will be satisfied.

Unfortunately, all too often the exhibition sponsors are not this well prepared.  And if you didn't bring your own copies of this paper work, it is too late. By bringing in your own paperwork, you have a "back up plan."  I believe in preparing back up plans before a crisis.

Your level of preparation will make you look like an experienced professional. You are the artist that is going to have a good night's sleep instead of nightmares about lost work.


P.S. Don't forget to read the previous posts about preparing the boxes for your artwork. These principles apply even if you are hand delivering your work.

Shipping Boxes for Art or Craft Should Include Instructions
Tips on Packing Your Art or Craft for Shipping to an Exhibition.

Shipping Boxes for Art or Craft Should Include Instructions

When shipping work to an exhibition I include instructions for UNPACKING, DISPLAY, ASSEMBLY (if necessary), and RE-PACKING MY WORK for return shipping.

IMG_2860In every box, a copy of the instructions are glued on the inside flap of the interior shipping box and a separate set is in the box. I glue the instructions to the box so that even if the loose copy is lost or misplaced, there are always instructions with the box and artwork. I also include disposable gloves in my interior shipping box. (See image below.)

Instruction Labels should include the following:
  • Labels on the boxes should be neat and easy to understand.
  • Use Elmer’s Glue or rubber cement – not glue sticks – to adhere the labels to the box.
  • Glue an ADDRESS label or ‘rubber stamp’ inside all boxes with your complete name and address. 
  • Glue a TITLE label, including title, date created, materials, and dimensions on the outside of your interior shipping box.
  • Include assembly instructions, if necessary, along with a diagram or photograph of how the artwork should look or be displayed. (READ the previous post.)
Sample image for your packing box.

Artwork should be well-constructed and designed to survive shipping conditions.  During the creative process, it is a good idea to design the work to survive the sometimes unpredictable vibration or "rough and tumble life" of shipping conditions. Consider what will happen if your box is turned sideways or upside down. Work that is not appropriately designed for shipping is much more likely to become damaged during shipping and consequently unable to be shown in the intended exhibition. For this reason, sometimes it is best to design work to be disassembled and reassembled at the exhibition location. This is especially important if there are heavy components and lightweight or fragile components in the same artwork.

Remember Me by Harriete Estel Berman
Remember Me     © 1998-99
Recycled tin cans and vintage steel doll
houses, Brass wire embroidery,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Consider how the work will be displayed.  Include a custom display, if needed, along with clear instructions for the set up. If you have a pre-conceived idea of how the work should be displayed, this information should also be sent to the Exhibition Sponsor two months prior to the show.

Just in case the exterior of your shipping box is damaged, the interior shipping boxes should be labeled with:
Artist name

City, State, Zip
Phone (area code) and number
Web site: 

Here are Packing Tips to Download PackingTIPS PDF

Remember Me in it's custom made interior shipping box. The interior of the box is upholstery foam cut to fit the artwork. The foam is covered with flannel and felt. In this photo the felt flap is open. This interior shipping box is appropriately sized for storage. For shipping it should be surrounded by 1"-2" of peanuts in a larger exterior shipping box.


Documentation for SHIPPING Art and Craft

Custom Shipping Box /Design Your Work for Shipping

PACKING one-of-a-kind artwork for SHIPPING

Should I enter jury shows? Words like "museum" and "juried" intimidate me.

Harriete...I have been asked to submit to a juried show. It's pretty exciting...but scary.  All the work and the shipping ...the prospectus is pretty daunting to a self taught artist like myself. 

Mary Anne Enriquez
  "21st Century Fusion" coat and 3 accessory
  ensemble (includes the woven boot spats.) 
 Materials: 98% recycled household trash
  Artist: Mary Anne Enriquez
© 2009
  View information about her outfit on Flickr.

     Are juried shows worth the effort and trouble?  How can they help an up and coming artist?  Can you give some reasons for going through all the motions.  I guess, I am scared off by the words "museum" and "juried" show. 
     Thanks.  Great things have been happening to me and my art career as I follow your advice! 

Mary Anne

Juried shows provide great experience for you and exposure for your artwork.  A definite way to climb up the professional art ladder.  In addition, you never know who might see your work.  Such shows can launch your career forward, but even so, it usually takes years to establish a name and a reputation for your work.

Keep documentation of your participation in each show and update your resume. Shows held at non-profit exhibitions spaces and museums are definitely better resume boosts than shows held at galleries. This is not to say that galleries can't put together interesting shows. It's just that a gallery's focus on selling may influence the selection of work.  Museum and non-profit exhibitions seem to show more interesting and unusual work.

Most academic undergraduate or masters programs don't  teach their students about entering juried shows, although they should. Consequently, being self taught or inexperienced should not hold you back from applying and participating at this level of exhibition experience.

The Professional Guidelines offer several documents about how to enter juried opportunities with more confidence and success. My first recommendation is to use the TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine.

Here are the TOP TEN TIPS.
TIP #1. 
TIP #2. 
TIP #3.
TIP #4.  
TIP #5.
TIP #6.
TIP #7. 
TIP #8. 
TIP #9.  
TIP #10.

This document also includes an appendix with additional information:
Appendix I   Sample Contact Sheet
Appendix II  Where can artists learn about juried exhibitions, craft shows, books or magazines to submit their work.
Appendix III  A word about publicity

Read the entire TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine for more comprehensive information.  

Additional Professional Guidelines documents titled, Juried Exhibitions and the Exhibitions:Artist Checklist, may also be helpful in reviewing a show’s prospectus before you decide to enter. Success is within your grasp with careful planning and preparation.

Stay tuned next week for more issues involved with entering juried opportunities.



Liquid Wrench Flower Brooch  by Harriete Estel Berman
Recycled post consumer tin cans
Diameter 4.25”    This pin is SOLD.
Find more on Etsy. View the entire series on Flickr or Facebook.

How To Ship Large Artwork? Asking ASK Harriete, the artist, a few questions.

Several readers have asked how best to store and ship larger sculptures.  In today's post I will reveal how my work is designed for shipping. Storage is another problem that has no easy solution. Right now a lot of artwork lives in closets, bedrooms and in my studio.  Sometimes, artwork is out on display at various exhibition spaces, but other times, like now, most of my work has come home to "rest." No easy answers for storage exists, but I do design and make my own interior shipping boxes for compact and flexible storage.

Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture
Recycled tin cans, battery motor, alum.
rivets, dial, screws.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 1994
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen All

All my artwork is designed during construction in anticipation of shipping. If possible I plan and design to disassemble fragile or delicate components from heavier parts. This principle is applied to smaller art work as well. Below are some examples.

BermanObverse_front Obverse Obsession (shown to the left) disassembles into multiple parts which include the base, body, lid, and the sterling silver "kiss" on top. Even the delicate sterling silver kiss "flag" comes off as a separate piece. 

Each part fits into a custom made interior shipping box. I cut foam to create recessed  shapes lined or covered in flannel. The interior shipping box then slides inside a larger shipping box with space for packing peanuts between the two.

AssemblyINSTRUCTION72 On the right,  you can see the inside of the base after it is disassembled. Assembly instructions are even written in letters from recycled tin cans. These instructions will never be lost (and of course, there are more detailed instructions for assembly and dis-assembly printed and glued to the interior shipping box.)

Obvob_kiss copyPP On the left, you can see the sterling silver kiss (that looks like it is aluminum foil). This kiss unscrews for easy cleaning (if it tarnishes) and for safe shipping. The sterling silver flag (labeled, SEDUCTION) has a little post that just pulls out and stores separately. 

Imagine trying to ship this chocolate pot without taking it apart. There would be real problems shipping a large heavy base along with a delicate sterling silver kiss and flag on top. Don't go there!!!! Plan ahead when constructing your work. 

Hourglass Figure: The 
Scale of Torture
Inside view of 
Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture
Inside the sculpture are assembly
instructions visible in this photo.
Recycled tin cans,
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman © 1994
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

On the right you can see another artwork, Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture, with the assembly instructions written inside the sculpture. These instructions, along with the elaborate details on the inside are not visible when on display.

PPGrass_SW The 9' x 9' Grass/gras installation is actually 36 separate panels measuring 18" x 18" square.  Each panel fits snugly inside its own interior shipping box. Two single panel boxes fit into a larger shipping box. There are 18 shipping boxes total. Storage is a real problem. Sometimes the boxes have to live in my living room or my childrens' bedrooms when it is not on display in an exhibition.

MeasuringCompliance The floor for Measuring Compliance (on the left) is about 10' x 14'.  This disassembles like a puzzle into manageable pieces, numbered, layered on top of one another with paper in between, and is reassembled on site. It travels with assembly instructions and a diagram.

The #2 pencil bell curve piece titled, Take Out Your Pencils, Begin is constructed in nine sections. Each section is three feet wide (the red section or "stanine" is visible to the right) and rolls up very easily into a large roll. Eventually when it is done, each roll of pencils will get its own interior shipping box. To protect the pencils adequately, I will either roll layers and layers of bubble wrap around the pencils or find a tight fitting interior shipping box. This will ship in a larger exterior shipping box.

Double boxing is my preferred method.  If damage occurs to your shipping box, the interior shipping box safely protects the artwork.

Words to the wise, save yourself future problems:

  • Design your work for shipping (from inception and during construction)
  • Custom design your interior shipping box and packing method.
  • Double box your work.
  • A Professional Guidelines topic on making a custom interior shipping box will be ready soon.

How do you find venues for your work? Asking ASK Harriete, the artist, a few questions

"Hi Harriete!
Ive recently been listening to all the past Whaley studios blog radio programs and have gotten up to your interview a few weeks ago. What a great interview! It gave me a chance to know a little more about you and your work...from your own mouth!

After listening I had a few questions about your installation/museum work: How does it work? Do you come up with an idea, make the work, then try and shop it around to different venues? Or do you try and fill an already perceived need a venue may have? Or something else?

What sort of monetary arrangements are there (if any) for just showing the work (instead of the piece being acquired by a museum)?

Stevie B.

Grass/gras' sculpture close-up © 2001
Recycled tin cans, steel base
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

That's a lot of questions.I will do my best to give you some quick answers.

Grass/gras sculpture about our consumer society by Harriete Estel Berman
Grass/gras' sculpture close-up © 2001
Recycled tin cans, steel base
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Mostly, I come up with an idea, make the work and then "shop it around", as you call it.  This takes a  considerable amount of time from start to finish. For example, the Grass/gras' installation took a year to make plus another year to finish the Grass/gras' video. The series of 200 cups titled, Consuming Conversation (see images below), took four years plus another year for the two videos. In both cases I photographed earlier examples and started promoting the work before it was finished. Considering the entire effort, both projects took several years from inception to the finished work because I need to keep up on other work that makes money during the same period.

It often takes years until a piece becomes known, shown in exhibitions, or published in books or magazines with images widely distributed. The Internet really helps with that aspect of promoting your work, but it is important to maintain your focus and keep on working no matter what.

Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture
Recycled tin cans, battery motor, alum.
rivets, dial, screws.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
© 1994
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Sixteen years after completion, Hourglass Figure: the Scale of Torture is  included in the book Makers: A History of Studio Craft.  I haven't seen the book yet, but this is really big news! You have to plant your seeds and nurture them. You can not wait for opportunities and invitations to show up, you need to create the momentum by working all the time.

Pencils Sharpening System in the studio of Harriete Estel BermanI have been writing about a current artwork in progress involving a bell curve made from #2 pencils on my web site and Facebook. This is the fourth year of working on this project, but I am really trying to finish it this year. When I have some preliminary photos, I will start looking for exhibition spaces.

There is no money that I know of for these big projects. Once in a great while I get a little money to make a video or to speak about a piece. Big projects like this are time consuming, drain my financial resources, drive me insane, fill me with self doubt and torture -- it is not a picnic.  Yet this is what I see and must do.  It is my expression of art.

Next post answers the question: "How do you transport the larger work?"  Another real world question from several readers  of ASK Harriete.


Consuming Conversation a series of 200 teacups construced from recycled tin cans.

Consuming Conversation © 2004
Teacup sculpture from recycled tin cans.
Handles are sterling silver, or bronze.
This was the first photo I had for the
series and started promoting the series
through this image with note cards
and images. 
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen