The Surprising Reason Art Giveaways Can Make You Money

Whether you’re a designer, a digital artist, a painter, or an artist of any kind, you’ve been asked at least once (probably many more times) to give away your artwork for free, in return for “exposure”.

This wouldn’t be acceptable in any other field, and asking for free work is just plain unethical, right? Well, I recently spoke with two artists who managed to change my mind — at least partially — on this. The key is, if you’re an artist giving away your work, you have to have a strategy and make sure you’re giving it to the right people.

While that statement is deceptively simple, it’s a major challenge for artists to put into action. Who do I give the artwork to? Why is this a good idea? When is it a good idea to give away artwork? And when is it enough? After all, you have to start making money off your artwork at some point!

If you’re struggling with this concept, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone.

Those two successful, full-time artists I spoke to gave answers that were seriously surprising.

“The people that fund charities, the people that help nonprofits, the people that have free time to go to these things, are also the people that support the arts because they have the time and money to be able to do it.

I didn’t think about that at the start. People would say “thank you so much for coming out for our cause” and then in the same breath they’re saying “hey, by the way, I like your art and I want to commission a piece”. I think that’s a great way to get started.” — John Bramblit, read the full interview here.

John Bramblit is a blind visual artist who paints using his sense of touch and “cane skills”. When he started painting, he didn’t have a network of galleries supporting him or any big contacts in the art world. But with each charity event he volunteered for, he got commissions in return.

By giving away something for free, he gained access to people who were interested in the arts AND had the money to pay for it.

He went on in our interview to say that pieces at charity art auctions often sell for prices that far exceed your normal range. While art galleries and collectors are aware of this, it still places a higher value on your work, which you can use to your advantage.

“You have to talk to people! Beyond that, it’s all about self-promotion and putting yourself out there. Set up a portfolio, make postcards with your art and go to your local city hall to request public space. Donate art to benefit nonprofit organizations. Use your art to make a difference! That’s something I’m very passionate about — it’s just a bonus that it also happens to be a great way to promote your work.” — Michael Dergar, read the full interview here.

Michael is devoted to creating equality in art. He regularly donates 50% of his exhibition sales and has founded a charity that helps disabled artists make a living. Like Bramblit, he suggests you donate your art to non-profits. By doing this your artwork will either be auctioned or displayed in a prominent public space raising your profile.

Beyond whether or not a gallery owner ‘likes’ your art, they also want to know that your work has an audience that’s willing to pay for it. At the end of the day, a gallery only has so much wall space — and they have bills to pay. By showing that your art has been bought at auctions or displayed by charities, you also prove that you’re a good investment of time.

So to answer the original question, yes, giving away your art for free can make you money. Especially if you donate it to a worthy cause. It’s a win-win situation and proves that if you go into it with a plan, giving away artwork for exposure really can be worth the investment.

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What the Ratio 1:1.61 Has to Do With Hanging an Incredible Exhibition

What the Ratio 1:1.61 Has to Do With Hanging an Incredible Exhibition

“Here’s where you’ll curate your art for the exhibition.”

You’ve been so focused on creating art, you probably haven’t thought about how you’ll show it.

Staring up at that blank slate, wondering what to put where can be paralyzing. Especially if your work is different in size and style.

Do you feel confused about hanging an exhibition? Here’s a quick guide to beating the fear and laying out your first exhibition.

Using Grid-based Layouts

Grid-based layouts are easy to implement and plan out. The key is to leave equal spaces between artworks and keep things looking uniform.

The golden ratio helps you plan compositions that are pleasing to the eye.

The golden ratio is the mathematical ratio of 1:1.61. It’s been used by great artists, architects, and more for over 4000 years. Some people even argue that it was used in the construction of the pyramids! Here’s what the golden ratio looks like:

In practice, you can use it to create a gallery layout that looks something like this:

The golden ratio is an exceptionally powerful system to use if you’re struggling to get things to just ‘look right’. Follow the flow of the spiral and compose your work as one cohesive whole rather than individual pieces. This works best for series and multi-paneled works.

The perfect viewing height

Here’s where things get really interesting.

When people first put their artwork on D Emptyspace, they get pretty excited about increasing the scale of their work. We’ve seen artworks take over full walls — and we love it!

However, these big works might look great on the app, but blowing your work up too big in real life has some significant downsides. Before you decide to go 8 foot high with your prints, think about how far away from your viewer will be from your work.

Will they be able to appreciate your art in its entirety? Or will they have to put their neck out trying to see what’s happening near the ceiling?

Conventional wisdom tells us that the perfect viewing and hanging height for artwork is eye level. (If you want to get really specific, 58-inches from the floor to your painting’s centerline is the exact height you should aim for.)

If you’re attaching the artwork to the wall (not hanging it from wires), remember to add ½ the height of your painting to the recommended 58 inches to figure out the position to hang from.

The viewing height rule doesn’t apply to digital spaces, so have some fun!

When you’re curating a digital art gallery, you can cover as much or as little of the gallery wall as you like. Because your viewer will be looking at your gallery from their device, they’ll be able to view the full range of your work no matter how much space on the screen it takes up. When in doubt, just try filling the entire wall.

This is where you can really start to play with scale. In a digital space, a wall transforms into a canvas for you to ‘paint’ with your art.

A final note on breathing room

Just like you create drama in your art pieces with silhouettes and shapes, don’t forget to do the same thing when curating your gallery wall.

Juxtapose complex works by giving them plenty of breathing room and neutral space. This simple trick will take your exhibit from cluttered and amateur to sleek and professional.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS:

Android version coming soon!

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New Features: Create More Galleries & Discover More Art

New Features: Create More Galleries & Discover More Art

Introducing the new gallery spaces — Wave.

We keep saying it again and again, but wow — we’ve been blown away from the feedback we’re getting from artists. Since D Emptyspace launched, the number of galleries and artists are growing exponentially and the team is working hard to push the app further and further.

With our previous round of updates, we added featured artists, improved galleries and got started on sharing functionality. This month we’re giving you more galleries, four new styles of gallery to choose from, and D Space — a space for discovering new artists.

Share your galleries with anyone on any device even if they don’t have the app installed yet.

Welcome to D Space: Where you can discover new talent

D Space is a new hub where you can instantly discover recently created galleries and our popular featured galleries. It’s a constantly updated feed packed with new art and artists that you can discover every few minutes.

You can access D Space by updating to the newest version of the D Emptyspace app and looking for the new D icon in the center of the tap bar at the bottom of the app.

D Space is the perfect place to go if you need a little inspiration.

The outstanding work in the “featured galleries” section has also moved into D Space. Just tap the Featured Galleries tab once you’re in D Space.

So what are you waiting for? Update your app, hit the D icon at the bottom of your screen and discover the latest talent.

Scroll down D Space to see the latest galleries

Create more with the brand new Wave Galleries

We’ve created four totally new gallery designs for you to choose from.

To accommodate these new galleries, you can now create up to five galleries on your profile.

To try out “The Wave” just go to your profile page and add a new gallery. You can select either our original space design — Der Raum — or our new space — The Wave.

One of the new galleries

We wanted to create an abstract space where artists could capture a piece of work without the context of a typical exhibition space. The Wave won’t remind you of something specific, but is rather a space where you can convey your feelings through art in a variety of ways.

With our first gallery design Der Raum, we gave you three three color schemes to represent the passing of day into night. For The Wave we’ve given you four colors that represent the seasons. Beige for spring, off-white for summer, warm grey for autumn, and cool grey for winter. Check out the new gallery spaces below.

Wave Autumn
Wave Winter
Wave Spring
Wave Summer

We hope you enjoy creating new galleries!

Special thanks to the entire team at Dift for working so hard to keep these updates rolling out so fast!

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Android version coming soon!

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