How do I list the measurements of my artwork? This is a common question that I am asked, by students and, by other artists. It is also an important question that needs to be answered for the collector who is looking for a piece to add to their home, office, or private collection gallery.
The confusion we encounter in measuring original art comes to us because common measurements - of hardware products, general store items, and yes, even frames that we purchase for our prints - are all listed in the standard US form of length x width x height. Isn't that also a formula we learned in grade school mathematics? Well, that common form of measurement is not used for an original work of art.
Art has a measurement category all its own. Remember that art is not a tool, or a piece of furniture (that is, unless you are purchasing reproduced "furnishing art" from Target or another retail outlet.) Art is, most often, an investment in the emotional, or experiential, statement of an artist with hopes for: increase in value; a mental or spiritual retreat during a hectic day; or, a visual spark for a dear memory one holds for a place, feeling, person or time in one's life. Art is amazing, and amazing isn't measured the same way you measure a bookshelf. (Although I have seen some very amazing bookshelves.)
So, how do we list the measurements for a work of art? Art is listed by its: Height x Width x Depth (HxWxD). It took me a while to remember the order when I started out so I made up a saying, using my first name, that would help me remember: "H-anging W-ith D-olly." I know it isn't grammatically proper, but it works. Make up a saying that will help you remember the order for yourself.
When you purchase your next house and ask your interior decorator to find an original work to hang over the parlor room sofa, remember that the first measurement you give should not be 72" unless you have extremely high ceilings!