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Why consistent and attractive presentation of your work is important.

Sailing to Windward

I’ve written before about some lessons I have learnt about selling online. This post is about the more concrete aspect of getting a consistent and attractive presentation of your work.

The monotypes I’ve been making during lockdown now number about 70 with more still in progress. I’m thinking of setting myself a final target of 100 for the series. Making them has taught me a lot about colour and composition and I want to try to use those lessons in other print forms, especially collagraph. With so much work though consistent presentation is critical, not least because it raises issues of up-front costs in framing etc. Like any small business, artists need to minimise overheads

The cheapest option is obviously to offer these prints unframed and unmounted. However, I have noticed that there is a difference in perception between what you might call the ‘raw’ and ‘presented’ images. The simple act of presentation seems to be key in transform your work from just a piece of paper into an object of value.

By their very nature, gel plates are stretchy, so it can be difficult to get them accurately squared up before printing. Consequently, most of the nominally square prints are slightly distorted. Mounting them conventionally, with the edge of the print showing doesn’t look good because the gap between the print edge and the aperture edge is variable. The mount aperture can of course be cut to fit just inside the image. This gives a clean square look, and if the mount’s external dimensions are a standard frame size, gives a lot of flexibility in framing.

The print can also be torn down to a clean edge and ‘float mounted’. This needs a box frame to keep the glass off the image, which may be slightly more expensive. Here’s a video showing several ways of achieving this.

Instead of framing the print can be mounted on canvas or on a cradled wooden panel. This video by artist Bob Burridge shows how to do that neatly. I have to say I think this works best for larger pieces. Smaller works treated this way somehow lack ‘presence’, at least on their own.

I haven’t made my mind up yet. The float mounting technique in the video looks wonderful, but takes time to do well and would therefore be more expensive. I think in the end I will probably go for mounts cut to mask the edges. That way I can buy the mounts in bulk with bags and a backing board and to fit a standard frame size. Most of the images I’m talking about are 30 cm square so would look good in a 50 cm, but square frame. That’s a bit on the large size for easy shipping but should be possible. I have in the past sent 20″ x 16″ (about 50 cm x 40 cm) without problems.

However you do it, having a consistent and attractive presentation of your work is an important factor in achieving sales. If you are at all serious about your work it deserves that effort.

Let me know in comments how you do this for your work.

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Updates

I haven’t posted here in a while for a whole parcel of reasons I won’t bore you with. In particular some health issues have caused me to temporarily close my Etsy and Folksy shops. I’m using the hiatus to try and clear some of the small prints stacked up in my studio (and the spare bedroom) I won’t say I’m going the whole Marie Kondo route, but I do need to declutter. These prints are being posted for sale in my Instagram account, and crosslinked from time to time to my FaceBook page and my Twitter account. The sale will run until about mid-September.

I’ll probably be running a separate sale later in the year to clear some of the reproduction prints I have in stock from when I was selling at craft fairs. I’ll post a link at the time here and on the Panchromatica Designs blog and Facebook page.

Finally, the print group I belong to, Wiltshire Print Creatives, is having a group show in November in Frome in Somerset from 9th to 23rd November. More details closer to the date.

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Group Show – Salisbury, Wiltshire

The printmaker’s group I am a member of, Wiltshire Print Creatives, has another group show running at the moment. The venue this time is the wonderful Fisherton Mill, in Salisbury. We have almost 50 works available framed, plus about the same again in browsers and lots of cards, which given the wide range of styles in which we work and the varied subjects, means lots of choice for buyers.

Every Saturday between 11am and 3pm, some of the group will be in the gallery to talk about their work and about printmaking in general. You will also be able to see examples of printing plates, tools etc used to make some of the works in the show.

From Westport to Ocean Park
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Wiltshire Print Creatives

Last year I joined with a group of other artist printmakers who share the same workshop space to form Wiltshire Print Creatives, an informal collective. We had our first group show in November at 44AD Artspace in Bath. We were very pleased with the reception we got and sold quite well, so we are now firming things up to create a more coherent presence with a web site and social media. You can already find us on Twitter and get an informal peak behind the scenes but we intend to ramp this up over the next few months and probably add other social media platforms like Instagram.

We also have a couple of further shows lined up – more later – but are still looking for new opportunities and venues, especially where we might be able to establish a more permanent presence.

Collagraph after Kurt Schwitters by Ian Bertram
Collagraph after Kurt Schwitters by Ian Bertram

Untitled - drypoint with chine colle by Ian Bertram
Untitled – drypoint with chine colle by Ian Bertram

 

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Group Show

A bit late in the day for a promo, but I’m taking part in a group show at 44AD Gallery in Bath as a part of Wiltshire Print Creatives. We are an informal collective of printmakers, united only by the use of the same workshop space at Wiltshire College in Trowbridge.

We hung the show on Monday morning. Coming back for the evening Preview and seeing the show as a whole for the first time it was obvious that sharing the same workspace has allowed for some sort of artistic osmosis. Everywhere I looked I could see commonalities in vision and expression across all the work. I was very proud to see what we had achieved. Despite the fact that this is the work of friends I can genuinely say that the work on show is to a high standard both technically and creatively and well worth a visit if you can. My thanks to the other 11 for their support over the years and for their work in putting this together and making it happen.

The Wiltshire Print Creatives are…

  • Tonia Gunstone
  • Caroline Morriss
  • Kerrie McNeil
  • Martin Covington
  • Bella Bee
  • Judy Brett
  • Ian Bertram
  • Hayley Cove
  • Flora Jayne Camacho
  • Alex Nash
  • Claire Camacho
  • Jane Temperley

Setting up the showThe final hangVisitors to the Preview

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    Work in Progress

    This is a proof print from a collagraph plate made some time ago, that I have just returned to. I made it after visting the Kurt Schwitters exhibition at the Tate in London. I’ve made a couple of coloured versions, but nothing so far has worked out and I still prefer the proof! One option might be to add collage elements, but I really wanted to interpret his work, not replicate it. I think I shall add some texture to the area surrounding the two main elements in order to increase the density of ink. I will probably do that with carborundum.

    Collagraph after Kurt Schwitters
    Collagraph after Kurt Schwitters

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    Collagraph – Upper Teesdale.

    A collagraph print called ‘Upper Teesdale’. Part of a series of prints evoking memories of landscapes and places experienced in the past. I included many such in a show called ‘The Landscape of Memory’ that I self curated at the Black Swan Art Centre in Frome. It has not been produced as an edition, each print being treated as a monoprint.

    Collagaph - Upper Teesdale
    Collagraph