Four Ways to Tell a Story With Your Images

Think of each application for an exhibition or public art call as a job application. It’s imperative to adjust our “resumes” every single time to meet varying application and call requirements. But one thing remains constant: images.

Your goal is to be selected and get the job (or make it to the next round, be added to the roster, etc.). So, how can you tell the right story with impactful photos and smart image selections?

  1. Know your audience.

What do you want administrators and jurors to see or understand immediately? Start by selecting the artwork examples that best embody the parameters outlined in the call. Order your most powerful photos first and last, then rearrange the other images to fit what the audience is looking for. Think of the competition and what others might be including. Then, narrow your images to those that best set you apart.

When you view the images you’ve selected for the application, does each image stand on its own as a singular piece? Do the images make sense together as a cohesive body of work? Think of a theme and stick with it. Don’t get too cutesy, but especially if the event to which you are applying has a theme, show them you’ve read the prospectus by tying in motifs and concepts from their summary.

Portfolio, grouping of artwork samples.

Bonus Tip: Aside from your photos, categories matter. Make sure you apply in the correct medium and for the types of calls that are appropriate to your work.

  1. Use your space wisely.

One thing you don’t need: A detail shot. In the analog and early digital age, these images were once common. As online and digital technology has improved, detail shots have gone the way of the dodo.

Put yourself in the juror’s shoes. The artist knows which images are detail shots, but a juror may not quickly identify the detail view as a smaller section of a larger work. Jurors score based on images; do you want to waste your most valuable opportunity to score high marks? Wouldn’t you rather showcase a second artwork to really show them why you’re the right artist for the job?

  1. Add where you can.

When uploading images to your CaFE portfolio, you have the option to include descriptive details, such as dimensions, price, year created, and artistic medium. Why not include all relevant information? For photographic exhibitions/contests, captions can elevate an already strong image to the next level.

Some calls are set up to collect video, so use this to your advantage. Submit video when available and applicable, especially as video is far more impactful than those old school detail shots. Sometimes calls are set to collect a link to outside media sites, such as Vimeo. If you’re given the opportunity to show your stuff, use it!

Artwork No. 1


Artwork No. 2


Bonus Tip: Don’t overdo it on the photo editing. Photoshop can be your friend to even out certain areas, but also easily becomes too much.

  1. Bigger is better.

As digital photography—including smartphone cameras—improves and evolves, access to quality images has never been easier. Images uploaded to the CaFE site can range from 1200 to 1920 pixels on the longest edge, meaning artists can submit sizes based on their camera access.

If you can, start with a larger size image for even more options. Using an image with more resolution and greater PPI and DPI, ensures an excellent, versatile image. PPI refers to pixels per inch and is the pixel density for viewing images on a computer screen. DPI means dots per inch, which is key for printing items like posters, brochures, and catalogs. By starting with a bigger image, it’s also easier to size down (or crop) it than use an image that’s far too small to begin with.

Remember too that one of the benefits of the CaFE system is that it’s always being enhanced to improve applying, jurying, and managing calls for all users and stay on top of changing best practices and technological trends.

1200 pixel JPG

1920 pixel JPG

Bonus Tip: If the magic words in real estate are “location, location, location,” then the magic words in art application photos are “lighting, lighting, lighting.” We know you’ve taken great pains to get fantastic images, but if you need help with how to best photograph your work, visit these additional resource links:

Set Up for Success: Creating a Successful Public Art Call

What is a successful public art call? For some entities, it might be a large number of applicants. For others, it could be a smaller group of top tier candidates. Still another organization may be more focused on finding the best way to collect all of the information, documents, and images. From municipalities to universities, arts organizations to hospitals, calls for public art come in all shapes, sizes, materials, and budgets.

Whether you’re seasoned or new to seeking artist applications, keeping the following in mind helps create a call that works for all.

Be clear.

Are there geographic restrictions to the pool of artists where the call is only open to artists from a certain area? Can applicants submit multiple times? Include those guidelines in your eligibility requirements.

Is the budget limited? Is the project perhaps a good fit for an emerging artist? Are there restrictions to the site? Including specifics, such as site description and budget, can help artists self-select into (or out of) applying to calls.

CaFE’s call editor breaks the application into sections and includes editing tools such as making text bold, creating bulleted lists, and indenting paragraphs to make it easy for organizations to include all of the relevant information in a way that’s easy for would-be applicants to read.

Sample Application Form

Use the right tools for the job.

In the public art world, a request for qualifications (RFQ) helps organizations find qualified applicants. This type of call is the most prevalent, as it offers artists the opportunity to submit requested documents, such as their resume and statement of interest, and use images of past works to showcase why they are qualified to create new work for this particular call.

A request for proposals (RFP) asks an artist to propose a work specific to the project’s site or needs; RFPs ask for work from the artist upfront, including the kind of proposal materials that finalists are paid to create.

Sample RFQ listing

Make less work for everyone.

Take the pain out of the process by collecting all the items you need from artists in an easy, effective manner. Calls posted on CaFE can ask artists to supply a resume or CV, letter of interest, references, images, audio, video, and more, all with the click of a button. Customize your call as much as you need to.

Ask for the things you need at the appropriate time. Need proof of insurance from the final group of selected artists? It’s better to ask for specific items on an individual basis and not require all applicants to include unnecessary information or documents. Keep in mind that the CaFE system has built-in communication tools, so you can send notifications to artists and messages to a single artist or group of artists when the time comes to gather additional items.

No matter how you define success, ultimately, no one wants to feel like they’re wasting time. Arts administrators want a pool of qualified applicants (and exposure to a group of existing public artists). Artists want to apply to relevant calls to which they are well-suited and have a higher chance of placement. Administrators want a streamlined, smooth process to make adjudication simple and focus on selecting the exact right artist or artwork for the space.


Get Inspired. Click here to view a list of Public Art calls on CaFE!
Ready to signup and use CaFÉ? Click here to request a free demo for organizations.

Tips of the Trade: How to Price Your Artwork

Pricing artwork is complicated and one of the most challenging tasks that emerging artists face. Expert opinions vary. There is no one correct path; if there was, well, then the process wouldn’t be as complex as it. In this article we proffer a few suggestions. We recommend taking away what resonates with your own practice.

Remove emotion.

Lori Woodward, a painter, writer and teacher, cautions artists in an article on Artist Daily stating, “When I price with my emotion, I tend to lower my prices because I feel sorry that the collector has to spend so much…I need to look at pricing and how to sell artwork objectively.”

Don’t under-evaluate yourself and your work.On the other hand, avoid overpricing your works to impress viewers. Pricing is a delicate balance, but luckily…

There’s a formula to help.

Lori Woodward, like other artists, uses a Square Inch x Dollar Amount formula to price her works.

  • Multiply the paintings length by width (in inches)
  • Take the square inch total and multiply it by a set dollar amount that’s appropriate for your reputation.* Lori uses $6 per square inch.
  • Optional: Round the total down or up, i.e. $1920 becomes $1900.
  • Calculate your cost of canvas and framing, and then double that number.

Let’s walk through an example with the following data points:

  • 16” x 20” painting
  • $6 is the set dollar amount per square inch
  • $150 is the cost of materials

320 x $6 = $1,920.00

$150 x 2 = $300.

$1,900 + $300 = $2,200 (the retail price).

If the painting sells from a gallery, Lori gets a 50% commission.

So, her total takeaway would be…$950 for the painting + $150 for the framing = $1,100.

*Lori asserts that she has been painting for 14 years so her cost per inch will be higher than an emerging artist’s. An artist starting out should make his/her work as affordable as possible, but still be able to cover costs and make a small profit.

Here are two other formulas for pricing your artwork. One includes treating your work like an hourly wage.

Charge the same in your studio as in a gallery.

Galleries invest time and money in the marketing and selling of your works. They do not appreciate being undercut, even if it is your own studio. Maintain strong amicable relationships with your galleries and keep your prices the same.

Beware of pricing yourself too low.

You can always lower prices. It is much harder to increase your prices.

Research the prices of comparable artists.

Research your market. Look at other artists’ work that is comparable in medium, size, style, etc. Don’t forget to take into consideration these artists’ experience, accolades and geographic location. Visit galleries, art fairs, exhibitions, etc. Note what is being sold…and what isn’t.

Price your work consistently.

Buyers want to understand how your art is priced. Consistency establishes credibility and a strong reputation among buyers, collectors, galleries, etc.

Stand by your prices with confidence.

Once you define your pricing strategy, be confident!


Author: Elyse McNiffKoglmeier

Social Media for Artists: Tips for Facebook, Instagram & Twitter

Social media.

The term has become synonymous with marketing. It is supposed to unlock marketing opportunity and sales for artists. But, how? We’re sharing a few tips for leveraging your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Before we dive into each platform, here are a few general social media best practices:

  • The 80/20 rule: People do not want to be barraged with sales messaging. Instead, dedicated 80% of your posts to entertaining your viewers and 20% promoting to them.
    • Content quality over quantity: Make sure your content is valuable to your readers and you’re not posting for posting’s sake. Connect with your customers in an authentic way.
  • Brand consistency across platforms: Make it easy for consumers to recognize your business and brand by maintaining consistency in: your logo and tagline, imagery and your bio/artist statement and tone and voice of your content. Follow successful artists and pay attention to how they brand themselves.
    • Dashboards save time: Download and use a social media dashboard like Tweetdeck or HootSuite to manage your social accounts.
  • Track engagement: Stay tuned to what posts perform well so you can get an idea of best performing content and timing for your audience.
  • Be consistent: Don’t come out of the gates sprinting. Only commit to a feasible amount of posting. You don’t want to set up unrealistic expectations with your followers.


  • Engagement: Encourage engagement by asking a question in your post. And make sure to follow up with all comments! Engagement keeps readers coming back for more.
  • Cadence: It’s recommended to post once a day.
  • Timing: Studies show that the best time to post on Facebook is between 1pm – 4pm. But remember, since that’s a popular time, there will be a lot of competition; consider testing posts at other times.

Inspiration: Here are 10 Artist Facebook pages for inspiration. You can also learn from other types of businesses here. And, Facebook provides artist profile advice.


  • Post length: At the end of September Twitter changed the game. It doubled the character length allowed in posts, from 140 to 280 characters.
    • Save characters by using a URL shortener like or TinyURL.
  • Timing + Cadence: According to the research of an established entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss, the best time to Tweet is  between 4:30 – 6:00pm ET. And he recommends posting about 6 times in that 1.5 hour window. The second most effective time is between 10:00am – 2:00pm ET.
  • Re-tweet (RT): Re-tweet posts to get the attention of collectors, artists, organizations and others you’d like to follow you.
  • Photos: Share a photo using Twitpic to share your complete or works in progress. It’s a great way to get your work out there and get feedback along the way.


  • Consistency: Treat your account and the grid of images as a collection. Every photo should be cohesive. The easiest way to achieve this consistency is to choose a color scheme and stick with it. Some artists use only pastels or earth tones.

*Hashtag: Back up..what is a hashtag? A hashtag is a tag; anyone who clicks on a hashtag is taken to a stream of all posts with that same tag. According to ArtistsNetwork: “The right combination of hashtags helps expose you and your work to a larger but also targeted audience by making what you’re specifically offering easier to find.”


Author: Elyse McNiffKoglmeier

CallForEntry Update to Save You Time!

Great news! The CallForEntry™ (CaFE™) software has been updated to save you more time!

You can now upload images as small as 1200 pixels on one side. This change will allow you to upload images to your portfolio without taking the time to reformat them to the previously required format of 1920 pixels on one side.

As a result of this change, CaFE users may:

  • Upload JPEGs that are 1200 pixels or greater on the longest side (either H or W).
  • Spend less time upsizing JPEG files and use your upload-ready image files more easily.

Current images in your CaFE portfolio will not be affected by this change and you may continue to use these images when applying to calls. The reduced pixel size only affects new JPEG uploads.

NEW image specifications for uploading to CaFE:

  • File format: JPEG or JPG only
  • File dimensions: 1200 pixels or greater on the longest dimension
  • File size: under 5 MB

Questions? Contact us at cafe(at)westaf(dot)org.


Author: Elyse McNiffKoglmeier

10 Art Business Books to Ignite Your Art Career

There are over 73,000 results for “Business of Art” books on Amazon. That’s overwhelming! We’ve curated the list down to our 10 favorites.

These art business books will help grow your career whether you need advice on art marketing, legal issues, selling or grant writing.

The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love

Author: Jackie Battenfield

Jackie Battenfield, a successful artist and professional development coach, wrote this comprehensive guide to teach emerging and mid-career artists how to build and maintain a professional art career. Battenfield provides strategies for all aspects of the job – marketing, online promotion, grant writing and portfolio development. It’s all easy to comprehend through her real-life examples, illustrations and step-by-step exercises. Keep this book by the nightstand!

I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion

Author: Alyson Stanfield

“Enjoy sharing your art as much as your enjoy making it.” – Alyson Stanfield

Self-promotion is a big part of succeeding in the art world  and unfortunately for most artists, it doesn’t come easy.  Luckily, Alyson Stanfield, an art marketing expert, consultant, and author of the popular The Art Biz Blog, helps artists market themselves authentically and genuinely. This book focuses on Internet marketing – building a social media presence, blogging and newsletter secrets, and getting your name into search engines.

Legal Guide for the Visual Artist

Author: Tad Crawford

Whether you like it or not, the legal system is a part of our professional lives. Art law expert, Tad Crawford, crafted an informative guide of the legal implications artists face. He walks through contracts, taxes, copyright, litigation, commissions, licensing, and artist-gallery relationships with practical examples. He also shares sample legal forms and contracts, and offers tips for connecting with affordable attorneys.

Arts & Numbers: A Financial Guide for Artists, Writers, Performers, and Other Members of the Creative Class

Author: Elaine Grogan Luttrull

Budgeting, taxes and cash flow, Oh My! Books about finances are usually dull and boring, but not this book by CPA and artist, Elaine Grogan Luttrull. It’s filled with engaging stories and examples to help you succeed in your business endeavors. Luttrell will boost your confidence and expertise in taxes, budgets, money management, business etiquette, and much more.

The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing

Author: Gigi Rosenberg

Are grants your white whale? This guide gives you all the fishing supplies you need like writing tips and marketing strategies from grant officers, grant writers and fundraising specialists. Tap into the fundraising resources at your disposal and finance your artistic endeavors with this accessible read.

The Artist’s Guide to Selling Work

Author: Annabelle Ruston

How do you sell your work in today’s competitive market? This guide covers selecting the right gallery, approaching galleries, pricing, terms and conditions, artist agents, working with publishers, and public art commissions. Ruston also gives advice on social networking and e-marketing so that you can seize digital opportunities.

Show Your Work!: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Getting Discovered

Author: Austin Kleon

“[The] subtitle could just as easily be, ‘How to Self-promote Without Being a Jerkface.’ It’s an incredibly useful and compulsively readable short book.” — The Fast Company

Austin Kleon helped readers unlock their creativity in the New York Times bestseller, Steal Like an Artist. Now, he helps artists get known in his 10-step journey of self-promotion in which he encourages creatives to share their work and voice. The book is small and short, but it packs a punch.

Kleon emphasizes audience building as a process, not a product. Chapters like “You Don’t Have to Be a Genius;” “Share Something Small Every Day;” and “Stick Around,” contribute to the manifesto of being open, generous, brave and productive in our digital age.

Art Inc. – The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist

Author: Lisa Congdon

“Art, Inc. is a revelation. At long last, there is a resource to help creative people articulate their aesthetic values, successfully brand their business, and manage their artist’s income.” – Debbie Millman, president, Sterling Brands

Professional artist, Lisa Congdon, helps artists do what they love and make a career out of it. Learn how to set actionable goals, diversify your income, manage your bookkeeping, copyright your work, promote with social media, build a standout website, exhibit with galleries, sell and price your work, license your art, acquire an agent, and much more.

Sell With Confidence

Author: Barry Watson

Sales does not have to be sleazy. Barry Watson shares actionable techniques to improve your confidence and skills as a salesperson. Understand the true nature of selling, discover the “secret sauce,” be yourself, positively redefine rejection, turn setbacks into comebacks, and create a sales-confidence game plan. You’ll also get a downloadable 7-Step Sales Cheat Sheet!

Art/Work- Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As you Pursue Your Art Career

Authors: Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber

No matter where you are in your professional career, you’ll get incredible value from this comprehensive guide. Heather Darcy Bhandari, a gallery director, and Jonathan Melber, an arts lawyer, give you the business and legal tools to stay in control of your career. The book covers business basics like inventory tracking and preparing invoices; legal precautions like registering a copyright and drafting consignment forms; promotional tools like websites and business cards; and how to approach career decisions like choosing the right venue for showing your work. Don’t learn these lessons the hard way!


Author: Elyse McNiffKoglmeier