Exhibition Considerations Part II

Today's post is about determining the sizes of my exhibition prints. This is how my ideas have developed. If you're here for the first time - Part I explains some background.

First thought - OK, I have 5000€ to spare, let's get the price for one square meter, divide 5000 with it and then divide with the number of prints and I'm done. For example, let's assume the price is 200€ per square meter of Diasec, so:
 5000 / 200 / 15 = ~1.7m² 
That would make huge prints - around 1.5 x 1.2m in size. This is a bit oversimplified, but enough to make the point.

I cannot discuss sizing without the venues where the exhibitions will take place. First of them is Tallinn Art Gallery (Linnagalerii), which consists of two fairly large rooms and is not very restrictive. The other exhibition - Photoville in New York - takes place in converted freight containers. The dimensions of standard freight container are 2.6m x 2.6m x 6m. So my theory doesn't hold up very well:

  1. I can't even fit all 15 photos into the container (easy workaround is not to show all pictures).
  2. Assuming there'll be people looking at both walls, the average viewing distance will be around 1m, which, for a 1.5 x 1.2m print is way way too close.
  3. Be assured that hauling prints of such size from Tallinn to New York is neither easy nor cheap too.

Obviously that's not going to work and I need to think of something else. Let's try to calculate the optimal size by viewing distance instead. The rule of the thumb is that optimum viewing distance should be around 1.5-2 times the diagonal of the picture. So if my smallest real viewing distance is 1m and we assume 1.5 as the multiplier (we're in eco mode, remember), it would make ~0.7m as the diagonal of the picture. That would make the print about 40 x 60cm (I'm deviating from the 4:5 ratio, but that's OK for illustration purposes). That does not make much sense from Linnagalerii's perspective nor will it fill my budget. This is supposed to be my big day with huge prints I can't afford otherwise, after all.

Next idea - let's make prints in two sizes, so that I can show, say, 7 big prints and 8 smaller prints in Linnagalerii, then make duplicates of the big prints equal to the smaller size and show them at Photoville. To be more specific, I was thinking about the following sizes:
100 x 80cm - the big prints, 7 pieces
80 x 64cm - the "small" prints, 8 pieces
The above set will be shown at Linnagalerii, then I'll make 7 more 80 x 64cm prints of the pictures that were previously big and show only the smaller sized set at Photoville. I can make all of them proportionally smaller if I don't fit into the budget. I even thought which pictures are more important and will thus be made bigger etc.

This was my working theory until last Friday when I went to Artproof for making proofs and to discuss sizing. What the guys there suggested is that the vertical size should remain constant - otherwise it won't look good in gallery. Thus I can make smaller and bigger sizes, but the division will be made whether the orientation is landscape or portrait. To give a visual reference of what I'm talking about:

█ ▐ ▐   █ ▐   █ ▐   █ 

It actually makes a lot of sense. It seemed so logical I was embarrassed I couldn't figure it out on my own. On my previous two exhibitions there were only photos in landscape orientation ☺

So I'm back to square one. I don't have a valid idea what the sizes should be to work for both venues.