Artistic Quality Guidelines

Introduction

Welcome to Artfinder's Artistic Quality Guidelines, developed by Artfinder's Curatorial Board. This is version 2.0 of the guidelines and these are being applied as of 17th October 2019. We will periodically update these guidelines following the feedback from our curatorial board as well as the community. The purpose of these guidelines is to:

  • establish a baseline standard for Artfinder platform
  • standardise artist application review process
  • manage quality of artwork uploaded to Artfinder
  • inform curatorial review process planned for the remainder of 2019

Specific criteria within these guidelines have been marked as ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’ to highlight the importance of each:

  • Essential: An essential requirement of the artist
  • Desirable: A desirable characteristic that will make an artist stand-out

We have divided these guidelines in the following sections that help to focus on applicable areas. Here's a handy breakdown of the contents:


Baseline quality guidelines

First impression of the artworks

  • Art has immediate impact through line, colour, subject or style (essential)

Overall style / visual language of the artist

  • Naive artworks allowed if they clearly demonstrate a deliberate style decision and not a lack of quality (essential)
  • Artist has a consistent style throughout shop and uses filters to group works appropriately (desirable)
  • The work forms part of a series (desirable)
  • Artist has an individual/original style that is visibly distinct from other artists on the site (desirable)
  • Artwork feels honest in material, technique and concept (desirable)

Composition

  • Artworks are grounded within rules of composition. Artists can experiment with these rules but must demonstrate an understanding (essential)
  • Confident use and handling of colour (essential)
  • Perspectively accurate work — if not accurate, there is a reason behind its narrative or expression i.e. the work is not sloppy (essential)
  • Visually appealing (desirable)
  • Art is balanced and easy to navigate — subtly leading the eye through the composition (e.g. with a landscape) or encouraging dynamic movement (e.g. with an abstract) (desirable)
  • Positioning of elements/objects is considered and work in harmony (desirable)
  • Clearly defined palette with a method to applying colour in combination with shape and form, including black & white (desirable)
  • Competent drawing — confidence of line and carefully observed contours (essential)
  • Well observed light and shade to create an atmosphere within representational work (essential)
  • Compositions are interesting/clever (desirable)

Subject matter

  • Subject matter within representational work is recognisable (essential)
  • Artist does not produce inappropriate subject matter e.g. pornographic (including sexually explicit/obtrusive depictions of the genital areas of men and women, and images of naked children/teenagers), fascist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-semitic or offensive to certain religions. (essential)
  • Artwork has a concept or narrative foundation beyond the surface of the work (desirable)
  • Artist produces consistent or related subject matter (desirable)
  • Artist is exploring new ideas (desirable)
  • Artist expresses the moment and their surroundings (desirable)

Production and technique

  • Artist consistently shows accomplished technique and good production (essential)
  • Artwork is technically and archivally sound. It should be made with appropriate materials that is able to be hung without breaking, changing colour or fading. Use of good quality materials e.g. paper should be UV safe (somerset paper, photography paper). Should not use paper with perforation at the top (essential)
  • 2D artworks (paintings, works on paper) are kept clean, flat and free from creases, unless it is clearly intrinsic to the artwork (essential)
  • Artist has become proficient in a certain medium but has developed it further and uses this as the basis to create contemporary work (desirable)
  • Artist uses interesting and/or new techniques (desirable)
  • Framing is sympathetic to the artwork and current tastes where appropriate (desirable)

Consistency of each artwork

  • Consistency shown throughout each individual artwork as per the above i.e. no clearly visible weak pieces (desirable)

Potential of the artist

  • The artist demonstrates potential even if some areas of their artistic production need improvement (essential)

Medium-specific quality guidelines

Photography

  • The artist has a distinctive style, approach and vision, something that elevates the work from a photographic snap to an artwork, unless inherent in the concept of the work (essential)
  • There is cohesion and the artworks feel connected or show progression — the artist has not just produced a good amateur shot (essential)
  • Photography is not blurred unless it is clear this is the intention for aesthetic effect e.g. bokeh, to create intentional blur by making elements of the subject out of focus (essential)
  • Photography demonstrates balanced exposure, unless it is clear that under- or over-exposing the photograph is for aesthetic effect (essential)
  • Artists should clearly demonstrate a consistency in sizing and limited editioning in the way they sell the work (essential)
  • The artist needs to be able to see something in a subject that many other people wouldn’t see, or takes an approach to a subject that turns an ordinary subject into something extraordinary (desirable)
  • Artist works with photography in an original way. This could be through digital intervention or something very pure and unplayed with (desirable)

Sculpture

  • Integrity of the material is sound and should be recognised as a stable and archivally sound material (essential)
  • The sculpture is secure and won’t fall — either with a stand/plinth or freestanding. If used, a plinth should support and enhance the piece (essential)
  • Strong 3D form whether cast, modelled, carved or assembled (essential)
  • Thought is given to texture, surface and finish (essential)
  • There are no delicate parts that will be difficult for shipping (essential)
  • Artist demonstrates experience of handling the material for a significant time (desirable)
  • The work shows off the materiality of the sculpture, making you aware of where the material comes from and reminds you of the process (desirable)
  • Artworks use unique stable materials or existing materials in a new way (desirable)
  • Clearly defined methodology around placement, balance and structure based on line, form or geometry (desirable)
  • Works will fit within a domestic or corporate interior setting, or in the case of an outdoor sculpture, it will be of an appropriate size and material (desirable)

Drawing

  • A confident sense of line (essential)

All handmade, digital and reproduction prints, and photography

  • All artworks represented for sale on Artfinder must be one-of-a-kind or limited edition original artworks with a maximum edition size of 150 (though we advise a maximum of 50)
  • We also allow reproductions of original works but these can only be sold by artists on a Professional Plan who have been accepted to sell reproductions of original works through this application form. In this case, we suggest an edition size of 50, but a maximum of 150 (essential)
  • All artwork must be signed by their creator or accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by their creator (essential)
  • The number of each impression must be marked clearly on the artwork itself or on its accompanying certificate of authenticity (essential)
  • All impressions sold from a limited edition print run must be assigned numbers in correspondence with the order in which they were produced (desirable)

Handmade limited edition or single edition prints (including linocuts, screenprints, etchings, collagraphs, lithographs, woodcuts and mono prints)

  • Artworks demonstrate good quality of drawing and definition of line (essential)
  • Artworks demonstrate clarity and exactness of colour. However, with screenprinting, a looser style is acceptable (essential)

Specific printmaking types

  • Screenprints demonstrate assured layering of colour (essential)
  • Aquatint is not under- or over-inked (essential)
  • Geometric artworks should not show ink bleeding or finger marks on the paper (unless inherent to the piece) (essential)

Digital Art

  • Artworks that have been created or altered by the use of digital technology (including digitally generated graphic art, digital collages, digitally manipulated artworks, and digital iPad artworks & 3D printed sculpture). This includes all work that include digital print and process (essential)
  • Printed works should be on a good quality and recognised surface with professional standard digital inks (essential)
  • Digital art does not include digital photography, but can include elements of digital photography within a digital process. Using a digital filter does not qualify the work as digital art (essential)
  • Artists should clearly demonstrate a consistency in sizing and limited editioning in the way they sell the work. (essential)

Subject-specific quality guidelines

Representational artworks (including still life, landscape, portraiture, figurative and animal art) 

  • Artwork demonstrates a likeness to subject proportionally using careful observation and technical execution (essential)

All landscapes

  • Good sense of perspective created though well-articulated foreground, middle-ground and background to help navigate the landscape i.e. elements of the composition should not all be on one plane unless purposeful (essential)
  • Artwork evokes a strong sense of place and is atmospheric (essential)
  • Horizon is straight (desirable)

All still lifes

  • Variety of shapes used to create interest e.g. small, large, medium masses (desirable)

All portraiture, figurative and animal art

  • Well articulated subject matter that is proportionally correct (essential)
  • If demonstrating movement, artists have captured this through pose (essential)
  • Use of dynamic pose (desirable)
  • Evokes a sense of the personality or soul of the subject (desirable)

Still life, portraiture, figurative or animal painting

  • Assured use and variety of edges and textures within paint application to give interest (essential)
  • Artist demonstrates understanding, harmony and assured use of three main functions of colour: intensity (brightness), temperature (warmth or coolness) and value (light or dark) (essential)

Abstract/non-representational art

  • There should be a sense of structure and system to the work, which could include shape, colour, rhythm and grid (essential)
  • A clearly defined colour palette outlining main colours and mark-making (essential)
  • Title of the artwork and it’s description provide insight into the artist’s process or subject (desirable)
  • Work could either have a basis in real form then abstracted, or be non-representational (desirable)
  • Gestural works should show a degree of process, as well as freedom and movement (desirable)

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