Showing Art To People

Tiny Painting

I had originally written an article about artist’s portfolios back in the early 2000s. Times were changing back then and now have become so different, you have to change the way you show your artwork to people. 

Before smart phones and tablets, there were prints that you had to carry around with you, and although that is a great idea, it is cumbersome to carry around a bulky portfolio. Nowadays, you can take a good picture from your smart phone or tablet and show your art via the photo slideshows.

A good protocol is show only your absolute best pieces, and no more than twenty. People still agree that eight to ten great works is better than twenty mediocre works.

People’s reactions differ to viewing paintings in digital form, and it is nothing to do with age. Some people absolutely love the fact that they can see the artwork on an electronic device. Other people however insist on seeing the actual work in physical form and wish to come see the studio. Furthermore, there is an aspect of ew when touching other people’s electronics.


I’m of two minds on people visiting artist studios. I can definitely see the positive nature of bringing someone over to a studio, such as “I want that piece, here’s the cash”. The problem is, if you are like me, my studio is where ever I decide to open one of my box easels be it indoors, outdoors or cafés. And since it is a portable art studio, once a painting has dried it is stored for safe keeping rather than on display. 

Many people have a vision of a grandiose artist studio filled with a disarray of paint tubes and brushes near a large easel, and paintings all around. If people only knew, they wouldn’t ask to enter an artist’s abode. I’ve been to the art Open Studios events, and let me tell you, UGH it is gross. Not only do you want a Tetanus shot after the tour, about 90 percent of the artists’ studios smell like cat pee. It makes me want to say that I’m a pictorial technician rather than an artist just so I’m not lumped in with the cat piss studio artists. Anyways. Haha, that’d be a funny name for a studio, Cat Piss Studios. I like it, but I don’t have a cat. >^..^<

Watercolor sketchbook vs oil work in progress. Showing art to people.

The solution I came to for those types of humans who insist on seeing art in person was to carry a small portfolio of hand painted artist trading cards with website information on the back. These cards are baseball card sized paintings that closely match the quality of larger works.

If you are an oil painter, take a piece of canvas and cut the canvas into small baseball cards and paint them. Otherwise just use watercolors or acrylics on watercolor paper or Bristol board.

These paintings are very easy to carry around. If you are comfortable with giving away artwork for free, these cards shows off your real artwork and gives people who are interested in your paintings a treat. And many people will be happy to buy you a coffee for one. 🙂

Oil painting in a sketchbook

If you feel a bit more adventurous and have a larger bag, you can carry a sketchbook with your art in it, or you can carry one of those old time photograph books with your pictures in it and sell the 4 by 6-inch paintings in it.

Actually, there was this one fella in an art fair recently, in 2019, that had a business card with each of his best works, like 20 of them. He then allowed you to go through them and pick your favorite. I loved that idea, it is so clever.