Lighting can make or break your art

I visited the Mobile Museum of Art today. Beautiful museum with a lovely view (and the glass windows to show it off).

I was impressed with their collection of contemporary craft. The installation was a little overwhelming (edit/curate!), but the many of the pieces were noteworthy. At the same time, a lot of them were in the shadows of bad lighting.

Good lighting can make your work even more dramatic than it really is. Bad lighting can cause people to wonder what the big deal is.

Learn how to light your work properly to avoid hot spots, deep shadows, and–especially for 3-D work– backlighting. The MMA had these amazing, complex lighting boxes behind the display vitrines, which should have showed off the beautiful glass. But because the lighting in front was so weak, many of the darker pieces were lost in the backlighting–not to mention the non-glass items that were in the back-lit cases. Sure, the backs of all of the pieces were well lit, but the details were lost in the shadows on the front of them (the only side we could really see!).

I’ll try to find some decent resources on lighting for you, but if anyone has any, please leave them in the comments.

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3 comments to Lighting can make or break your art

  • Sounds sad that the glass wasn’t well shown. :( I don’t have any source recommendations but my tip would be for art fairs – always pay for the extra lighting. Most organisers will offer extra lighting on the order form.

  • I need some lighting advice. I am about to invest in some Pro Panels for showing my work at art fairs. Does anyone have some advice about what kind of lighting and where to get it? Any help is appreciated. Christine

  • Tina: Great tip. Christine: Yikes! I’m afraid no one will see your query here in the comments. Have you tried Googling it?