month we hear from 2 Greenwich Art Society members, Peg Benison and
Lucia Ravens, who are both offering valuable and needed services to the
Greenwich Art Society and its members. Peg, a member of our
Advisory Board and “Info Tech” person who does all the technical work
on our website, has started a business, AreaArtist, to help artists
market their art via the internet. She has researched the
question very carefully and has come up with an idea that is
artist-friendly, inexpensive and brilliant. Lucia Ravens, a
photographer, Greenwich Art Society board and Exhibitions Committee
member, has offered to professionally photograph Greenwich Art Society
members’ work for a greatly reduced price. Both have volunteered
to give a portion of the proceeds to the Greenwich Art Society –
So, Peg, let’s start with you. Of course, you are an
artist. Let’s talk a little bit about you and your art before we
jump into AreaArtist. Tell us about your art.
figure is and always has been the focus of my work. Occasionally I try
and push myself into other subjects, just to get out of my comfort
zone, but I always return to the portrait and figure. While I
usually paint in oil, lately I have been working on large drawings of
the figure using white conté crayon on black paper. This
technique forces me to simplify the image and focus on the light on the
figure. I've been having a lot of fun doing these pieces.
Shauna: I am continually amazed at the multitude of skills many artists
possess, especially when someone can make both a painting and a
computer sing. How on earth did this combination come about in
I went to college (College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts) as a
math major. I had lots of advanced math and computer programming
courses under my belt when I found and fell in love with the Fine Arts
and changed my major. After college I studied both painting and
computer graphics at Parsons. A teacher’s recommendation got me into
working for publishers doing computer illustration for children’s
software and educational materials and I’ve just continued on from
Shauna: How did you get involved with the Greenwich Art Society?
Peg: Another artist had mentioned your Annual Members Juried Show to me. And I started by entering that show.
I also discovered the Greenwich Art Society in that manner as did many
of the people who volunteer with us and make the organization
work. You designed our website for us and manage all the
technical aspects. I continue to be impressed with your point of
view and opinions about “Art and the Internet”; they have guided the
Greenwich Art society well. Tell us how you developed your
website skills and point of view.
Peg: Originally, when the internet started to take off, there were many
people saying it would be a boon to artists everywhere; that through
the web, artists would be able to sell their work directly to the world
wide public. I never thought fine art sales directly through the
web would really work, due to some obvious limitations of the
internet. The simple fact is you cannot accurately judge a work
of art by a small online image of the piece. Color varies from monitor
to monitor, and every artist knows that a subtle change in color can
have a huge impact on a work of art. In addition, scale and
texture don’t come through in a web image. Viewing an on screen
image is just not the same as seeing a work in person. I thought there
had to be a better way to use the internet to help artists.
And that way had to include a website that was easy to use. You want the viewer toremember the artwork, not the fancy gadgets on the website. I
was on the Board of an art organization that had hired someone to do a
website for them. Unfortunately, the website didn’t work on many
members’ computers. That is why I feel website usability is such
an important issue; that a website should be easy to navigate and it
should be easy to access the information the user wants. Anyway,
since I had computer experience, I took over the project. And I
have been doing websites for artists and art organizations ever
Shauna: What else do you think is important in using the internet as a tool to help sell art?
Well, I think the internet should be used to enhance what is already
working in selling art. The internet doesn’t offer the experience that
so many collectors enjoy: going to openings, seeing artists studios and
meeting the artists. So, the internet has to be used to make it
easier for collectors to find artists and artwork. We have large
active artistic community that is too often operating under the
radar. If collectors could easily see a sample of the incredible
work being produced and find the local venues where they can view it, I
think it would be a tremendous benefit to artists and collectors both.
It is all VERY local.
Shauna: Yes, it seems that many businesses tried to market art solely through the internet and went belly up.
Peg: True. Many websites that started to market and sell through the
Internet have shut down. An article in the Wall Street Journal
about the closing of Sotheby’s original online auction site, put it
this way; “True, millions of people could log on and bid. But
without looking, touching and feeling that unique thrill one gets in
the presence of something ineffably beautiful and satisfying, they
didn’t want to.” When I read that, I knew I had the right idea:
not to sell work over the internet, but to use the internet to get more
people in front of the art and in contact with the artists.
are many other logistical problems involved as well. If the buyer is a
distance from the artist, in order to view an actual work either the
artist or the purchaser would need to incur considerable shipping and
insurance costs, as well as return shipping if the purchaser decided
the piece was not what he/she expected. If the artist is expected
to cover these costs…well, there goes the profit margin!
Shauna: So what actually turned these ideas into your business, AreaArtist?
Studio” days in Stamford, where I was born and raised, was getting a
tremendous turnout. People were obviously interested in what
local artists were doing. Hundreds of visitors visited local studios
during those few days but artists were not contacted very often the
rest of the year. It occurred to me that maybe people were
intimidated, not knowing how to find the work they would like and not
knowing how to contact an artist. Or perhaps they were worried
the work would be more expensive than they had expected.
issues were running through my head and I started to think about how
the internet could be used to help artists and to give collectors
advance information so they would feel more comfortable contacting the
It is expensive and
time-consuming for every artist to get their work seen and build a
local reputation all on their own. It makes much more sense for us all
to show our work together, like the open studios, to draw in traffic,
only here it would be internet traffic.
Shauna: Et voila! AreaArtist is born!
Peg: Yep. AreaArtist.com is based on the belief that people want to
see the actual piece before buying. In addition, the people who enjoy
art also enjoy participating in the local art scene, attending
openings, meeting artists and visiting artists’ studios. Therefore our
focus is on building a reputation locally. By concentrating on
local artists, living and working in Fairfield County, CT and
Westchester County, NY, collectors can preview artwork in the style in
which they are interested and find out about the artist. Because
are local, the collector and go view the work where an artist is
showing, increasing traffic to local venues like the Greenwich Art Society or contact the artist directly to arrange a viewing.
Shauna: Wow. You really have the “everybody wins” concept down! The
artist, the gallery, the art society all benefit without stepping on
anyone’s toes. Tell us all the details.
Peg: Our artists are juried in, to maintain the high quality of the work
shown. An artist must submit images for jurying in order to join Area
AreaArtist .com takes no commission on sales. The sales take place directly between the artist and the clients.
There are 2 levels of membership, basic and premium.
Basic membership includes 12 pages:
1) Portfolio Page: 9 images, with individual enlargement pages,
including title, medium, and price.
2) About the Artist Page: Resume, bio, artist statement or commission
3) Contact Page: E-mail or phone number to contact you about your
In addition, AreaArtist
provides a link to your personal website, if you have one, a web
address for your portfolio (Your web address will be www.areaartist.com/yourfirstnamelastname),
listings in our portfolios by name, subject and medium with an image in
all applicable category portfolios, listing in our current shows
section and listing as a featured artist on our home page in rotation
with other artists.
membership adds a second portfolio of an additional 9 images, with
individual enlargement pages, including title, medium, and price; 18
images in all
Go to www.areaartist.com for full details and an application.
Shauna: You can also design and maintain a website for Art Society members, right?
Peg: Yes. On my website, www.pegbenison.com,
there is a item at the bottom, “information on web design.” It will take you
to a page with links to a selection of websites I have designed.
As you will see from the sites I have done, I believe it is very
important to keep the design simple and user friendly.
Shauna: What about cost?
Peg: Design costs vary depending on the size of the website, the number of
pages and number of images for the website. There are
additional fees for hosting the site and domain name registration.
Shauna: How can Greenwich Art Society members contact you?
Peg: Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shauna: Wonderful! Now the only thing we need is fabulous images of our
work. Fortunately, we have Lucia Ravens here it get it right the
first time and she is another artist with a surprising
background. She is a new board member with the Greenwich Art
Society and our official photographer. Hi Lucia! First
let’s hear a little bit about you and your amazing family before we get
into the resource you are offering to Greenwich Art Society members.
Lucia: I was born in Delaware but soon after birth went to Winston-Salem and
grew up in North Carolina. My mom and dad were both in medicine:
my father, a neurosurgeon and mom, a phlebotomist. (Phlebotomy is
the study of blood.) Dad was a founder of the medical
school at Rutger’s and he made fabulous images of the brain. I
grew up with medical photographers and their beautiful images of the
human body. Mom and Dad had many friends who were doctors and
many of them played musical instruments. We often had Sunday
“salons” where they would come over and play. Our lives were
filled with music and art. It was a wonderful childhood.
Shauna: Just the best! So, did little Lucia have a camera in her hands way back then?
Lucia: You bet. Photography has always been a great passion.
Shauna: But it seems you had other talents that sent you off into Science.
Well, I have 3 brothers and sisters and they all went off to be artists
and I was convinced that I HAD to go into medicine. So, I did my
undergraduate degree at Rutger’s in the Biological Sciences.
(B.S.). Then I was accepted to medical school at Bowman Gray at
Wake Forest University. I decided against going there and headed
off to U.C.L.A. to do a graduate degree in kinesiology – the study of
positions and movement of body parts by means of sensory organs in the
muscles and joints.
Shauna: Getting farther away from photography every moment!
Yes, but it wasn’t far from my mind and I was still spending my
weekends doing fine art photography. Strange things happen in
life and sometimes the right thing just falls into your hands and
that’s what happened here. I was visiting New York and saw a
brochure on a bulletin board at the Juilliard School of Music about a
theatre arts program at Oxford (Balliol College). On a lark I
applied and ended up going. My camera went everywhere I did so
off we went together to England. After Oxford, I returned to New
York and had a major fling with acting, landing on the hit series “Spin
City” with Michael J. Fox. I stayed with the show for 4
years. In that show my character was a press photographer!
Shauna: So is that art imitating life or life imitating art?
Not sure!! But, I found that every time I went to set I found
myself in the photography department. I met loads of
photographers and put my photography and acting together and became a
still photographer for film and television.
Shauna: What an odyssey. This explains the obvious depth of your
photographs, especially your portraits of actors. I understand
you have won many awards.
Lucia: It’s something I never dreamed would happen to me but I’ve been very
blessed in that department. I am blown away that my photographs are
included in over 150 private, celebrity and corporate collections.
Shauna: Brava to you!!! Let’s turn now to what you are doing with the Greenwich Art Society.
am really excited about the opportunity to serve on the Society Board
as official photographer and to bring a "voice of photography" to our
community. And I recognize the need that artists have in this
modern digital world to have beautiful, usable photographs of their
work. Photography is a fairly technical medium anyway but the
everyday use of computers has made it even more so. There are
things that artists need to know about sending photographs of their
work out into the digital arena.
Shauna: Can you give us a partial list?
Lucia: Well, you need to know how many dpi to send out for various uses.
For a website, you need only 75. Newspapers need 300. For a
giclee print, it’s a whole different ballgame. The point is, you
don’t want to put an image of more than 600 dpi out on the internet
because it would be clear enough that some nefarious person could
easily use the image without permission. It’s also a good idea to
embed a copyright. All this having been said, more dpi is not
necessarily better. It really depends on the size of the artwork
and many other variables.
Shauna: Hey, looks like a science background is a good thing to have for all this!
Shauna: Tell us about what you are offering to Greenwich Art Society members.
In essence, excellent photography of their work tailored to their usage
needs. I can photograph for website only (least expensive) all
the way to giclee print quality (most expensive) depending on what
artists want. I can create slideshows and moving image DVDs and
format the work in any other ways. I can create a still portfolio
printed on archival paper. There are many options. All of
my equipment is very high end and I have all the equipment necessary to
do whatever the artist needs.
Shauna: Can you give us an idea of what various things will cost?
I want to make it affordable for my colleagues at GAS and want to
support the direction the society is going in terms of
technology. I think what Peg is doing is a great idea and I want
to make it easy for people to participate. I also want to give a
little bit (5%) to the Society for helping me connect with
artists. Each artist may want something different so I can only
give an idea here. These are special prices for GAS members only.
images, 300 dpi photographs (suitable for newspapers and websites) of
similarly sized artworks in one location delivered on a disk,
$600. Less than 5 images, $100 each.
Images for giclee prints are more complicated. There is a one time fee of $250 per work that includes
high resolution digital capture of original art work, digital color lab
work, color adjustment and color proof (8x10). There is an additional
fee of $50 for preparation of a high resolution DVD file, only if you
would like a DVD of your originals for your files. We use color
management techniques to match your original art as closely as
We can make the
actual museum quality archival prints (Somerset velvet 100% cotton rag
paper - 255gsm) at .14 cents per square inch. (The size must include a
border on the print for framing & artist signing.) We can do
sizes up to 24 inches by 48 inches. Of course, we can package
prints for resale and pretty much anything else an artist would need.
These are incredibly reasonable prices, Lucia! And thank you so
much for offering a little bit to GAS. What is the best way to
reach you and schedule an appointment?
Lucia: Email me at email@example.com or phone me at 212-388-2822.
Shauna: You will be receiving my call sooner than later! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
Lucia: My pleasure.