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Help build something great - The Athenaeum exists as a way for people to share in the experience of the humanities. One of the things which makes us unique is that we give users many ways to contribute a voice to the discussion. This page helps you get started with adding artworks. By uploading art to The Athenaeum, you are contributing knowledge for future generations. Together, we are building a new kind of collaborative knowledge base. Thanks for your help!

If these tips aren't enough to get you started, help is just an e-mail away. Contact the webmaster, Chris McCormick, at cmccormick@mailsnare.net, or athenaeum@the-athenaeum.org.

So, are you ready to add some art?
Step 1 - How do I know WHAT to add?

The first question is one of the most difficult - out of all of the artwork out there, what do you add? What does this site need? What are you allowed to add? The best way to start is by following a few guidelines:

  • What kind of art do we accept? - We try to store artwork of all types, all cultures, and all periods, as long as it is worthy of study. We do not store modern amateur artwork. While our current collection is mostly Western paintings, we'd like to eventually have drawings, paintings, sculpture, book illustrations, prints, tapestries, stained glass, architecture, and so on, from all over the world.
     
  • The artwork has to be public domain - We are a young web site with only enough money to cover our hosting costs. We can't afford to license images, and we don't want to have things illegally. This means that all of the artworks on the site must be either old enough to be public domain, or permanent display rights must be donated to us.

    As a simple rule, works of art before 1920 should be safe. If you really want to be sure, stick to stuff in the 19th century or earlier. We will eventually create a page to explain the finer points of copyright as we understand them.

  • If the artwork is 3-dimensional, the photograph itself must be rights-free - Unlike photographs of 2D art, photographs of sculpture or architecture involve enough creativity to be copyright-able. Thus, the photograph ITSELF must be old enough to be public domain, or the display rights to the photograph itself must be donated.
     
  • We shouldn't have it already - Hopefully this is obvious, but please check to see if we already have a work before you upload it. A good rule of thumb is to try to work with one artist at a time, so you are generally familiar with what's in the collection. You can also browse or search the site for a particular work. Of course, you are also safe if you're entering works for an artist we didn't have before.
     
  • It should be an artist/artwork you LIKE - The collection will continue to grow, as we gain new members. There is no pressure here. This should not be _work_. Add the things you like; then you'll be motivated, and it will be what we wanted in the first place - fun.
     
  • Check our requests - This feature is not yet up, but should be soon. We will add a way for users/visitors to request artists and artworks. You'll be able to check that page and help us meet the requests. Of course, as a user, you'll be able to make requests, too.
     
  • Know the "details" - While (in most cases) the uploading tools will allow you to enter an artwork without providing the title or the artist, artwork records are much more useful if we know those things. As a general rule, try to know at least the title and artist for each work you add. If you happen to know who owns the artwork, when it was created, or other information, that's even better.

Step 2 - WHERE do I find images of art?

There are four main ways we can think of to obtain art:

  • Books - This requires that you have a way to scan in images from art books. As long as the artwork itself is public domain, we believe that scanning in photographs of the artwork is legal (for more information, look up the 1999 court case of Bridgeman vs. Corel).
     
  • Other web sites - Of course, other web sites have already scanned in images as well. We generally do not prefer lifting the images from other web sites (even though scanning is not copyright-able either) for two reasons:

    1. We agree with their mission of bringing art to world, and don't want to have disagreements with other art sites over our "stealing" of "their" images.

    2. More importantly, if another web site has the images already, adding them to our site does not add a _new_ resource to the web as a whole. While we think that consolidating everything into one place provides an additional value, the best works will be those that are new to the web.

  • Newsgroups - There are a few newsgroups where people post scans of fine art, and (unlike web sites) they would probably appreciate the idea that their scans will find a more permanent home. We won't go into how you find or read newsgroups here, but if you have a newsgroup account (or know how to use Google groups), try watching these groups:
    - alt.binaries.pictures.misc
    - alt.binaries.pictures.fine-art
    - alt.binaries.pictures.fine-art.misc
    - alt.binaries.pictures.artpics
    Keep in mind that many amateur artists post to these lists as well; please make sure that the images are in the public domain before you upload them to our site. It's also a good idea to inform the posters of what you're doing.
     
  • Your own photographs - This is listed last because most people do not have the skill, the equipment, or the opportunity to travel to museums, monuments, etc and take very good pictures. But if you can provide us with your own photos, we'd be very grateful for your contributions. Just remember to include only the art itself in the photo - currently we have no place for "tourist style" photos of your Uncle Jack standing next to the Mona Lisa. :-)

Step 3 - What are the guidelines for SCANNING the art?

There are several things to keep in mind when scanning in photographs or images from books. Making accurate scans takes some practice - eventually we'd like to have a whole area just to describe scanning techniques. But for the moment, follow these guidelines:

  • Resolution - We want our images to be nice and big, but not TOO big. Keep in mind that the average monitor resolution is probably 800x600, or 1024x768. These measurements are in pixels. So, your images should generally be smaller than that, or people may not be able to see the whole thing at once on their screen. But make them bigger than 200 pixels wide, or the image will be too small to see the details.
     
  • File size - Our biggest cost is bandwidth. While we want to provide the best images possible, hosting images that have a very large size (in bytes) will use up our bandwidth way too quickly. As a general rule, try to keep the size of your files below 200kb. This still leaves room for very nice, large, clear images.

    Some graphics tools, like Photoshop, will allow you to interactively compress images (in JPEG format) to get the best possible quality at the smallest file size. If you have a tool like this, consider playing with the compression to remove the "extra stuff" before uploading the file.

  • Color - Try to keep the image as close to the color of the photo as possible. While different reproductions may have varying tints to them, it is impossible to know the exact colors of the physical work without standing right in front of it. The best we can do is to reproduce the photograph faithfully. Some scanners have automatic color-correction, which may change or brighten colors. Turn this off, if you can.
     
  • Cropping - In most cases, we want only the artwork itself in the image. Sometimes the frame may hold some scholarly significance, in which case you may leave it in. But generally, we want the whole artwork, and nothing more. We definitely don't want people in the frame of a photo. We like people, it's just that our focus is the art.

Now it's time to actually load the images into the site! --> On to the second page of this tutorial.

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