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I'm a newbie art fair artist getting ready to apply to some 2018 events via Zapplications with a question about image size. Unclear to me if the required image size must be 1920 pixels square, or if Ok if only one side at 1920 will suffice.

My artwork is mostly 11 x 14 portrait, with a few pieces landscape at 17 x 11. I've shot some hi res photos and determined that with a piece of the frame included in the image (the frame matters in my case) I came up with a best fit digital image size of 1920 x 1508. Will Zapplications plant and/or otherwise modify my images with black background space to make it fit a 1920 x 1920 square pixel space or will they leave it as is? If the latter, is there any disadvantage to submitting a 1920 x 1508 full frame image vs a 1920 square with black filler space around a 1920 x 1508 image?


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The requirements will be 1920 pixels on the longest side, but the overall submission should be 1920 pixels square. The remaining side should be expanded to 1920 pixels by adding a black border to it. Go into the canvas size menu and click on that to resize to 1920 using the black canvas selection. It will automatically center the image with equal size black borders on the short dimension.

Generally the frame isn't included unless you're hand building those specific to each piece.

Here's an article I wrote on formatting jury shots and booth shots for ZAPP. It's a bit long but is the result of several workshops on the topic;

Thx for ur feedback. I was hoping I would not have to bother making them 1920 square because I have already posted my images on zapplication. But if that's what it takes to satisfy the jury folks then so be it. 

Thx for the link. I read the parts that apply to my situation. Your suggestion for using a simple gradation for the filler instead of plain flat black was helpful. One of my pieces is framed in black and would get lost against black side bars so I was thinking of using a grey tone. Not ideal in my case so using a gradation instead should look better.

Thx again


The problem is that ZAPP tells you one thing but what actually happens is slightly different. For projection jurying, zapp requires the images to be 1920 pixels square with black borders masking rectangular images. If the images you upload are not that exact size and you apply to a show that projects the images, zapp will reformat your images making them 1920 square and no matter what quality JPEG they save them at, it degrades the images. More so if you have a lot of detail in your artwork, like a painting or photograph of a forest scene. For monitor jurying, the jurors see the images on a black web page so they don't see the borders.

That's why the images you upload should always be 1920 square with black borders masking rectangular images.

Larry Berman

I saw you mentioned not using black for the border. Do not because then the jurors see the borders, which they don't if the borders are black. Black borders means the jurors only see the artwork. If your art is black anywhere on the sides, it would be more advisable to use a light gray stroke around the image. That's a thin gray line. It visually separates the image from the background.

Larry Berman

Thx for the followup. I ended up reformatting the images I submit to 1920 square at 300dpi. Some are portrait and some are landscape so I created a dark background with a slight gradation to place under them for fill. Thx

Absolutely no graduation in the background. Black only. Or else the borders become part of the image and distract the jurors.

PPI is not an image size so it's irrelevant. DPI is ink on paper and PPI is pixels per inch which is what you're referring to.

Larry Berman

The images I submitted include the inner edge of the picture frame, so the slight black gradation is clearly distinguished from the artwork. Why include a piece of the frame and not just the artwork alone like you normally expect? Because a photo of the unique media I use would not come across properly without a reference - meaning someone might think it's paint - which it's not. I make my artwork by cutting adhesive vinyl (mostly the kind sign makers use) in to small shapes which I then paste one-by-one, piece-by-piece on to a rigid backing. I made the decision to include a piece of the frame to emphasize the fact that I effectively "construct" my artwork not paint it. BTW - I tried but decided not to offer prints of my work because I've yet to see a photo of them that captures the in person textural look and feel of the vinyl. Photos tend to turn my work into a sort of flat "painted" look - which is not the case at all when seen in person.


By including some of the frame, it make the artwork smaller (which lessens the impact) when viewed by the jurors. That's why I suggested a light gray stroke. The graduation outside the image also lessens the impact.

What I would do if working on your images would be to make the black in the piece itself retain some detail. In other words, not pure black. That would read as black but stand out from the black borders.

Larry Berman

The impact I'm shooting for (hoping for) is to win the jury over on my unique process - in the limited category of 2D multimedia. The fact is, by the shear nature of the media I use the artwork has physical flaws in it so attempting to squeeze every morsel of photo resolution out of it might mean something to competing oil or watercolor paintings, as an example, but much less so in my case. I'm a newbie so it remains to be seen if my perception is valid, but the message I'm trying to convey to the jury is primarily one of uniqueness. Not purity of image. 

Now I'm completely confused.  I read an article on this site suggesting graduation background-and that is what we just paid (a lot of money) for someone to do for us.  Is this inadvisable only for Zapplications or all juried entries?

It's an esthetics question and there is no definitive answer. If your artwork isn't rectangular or square and requires a background, the graduation could improve the image presentation. But if your artwork is square or rectangular, you don't need a background because you can crop to the edges of your art.

Did the person you paid understand jury images and how the jurors see them? Just adding a background could be counter productive if the person doing it doesn't understand how the final image is to be viewed, or how to make the presentation as strong as it can be.

Larry Berman


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