Will the colors in my artwork be the same as what I see on my screen? This simple question is central to all online purchases where color matters, including artwork, clothing, home decor, and more. The short answer is approximately. While all the image files on this website were created on a color calibrated monitor and include color information in the metadata, there is no way to control the environment in which they are viewed. The only way to be reasonably certain of the intended colors on any website is to view the images on a calibrated monitor with software that respects color metadata. For most people, that’s not gonna happen. The bottom line is that all monitors, and even internet browsers, represent colors slightly differently. So, it’s possible that what you see on your screen and what you see in your artwork will differ slightly. Even so, any differences shouldn’t be significant or cause for concern. All the artworks sold on this site are printed to match the calibrated equipment with which they were created. In other words, whether or not your monitor displays colors as intended, the artworks themselves will be true. As an artist, I create each print individually, often rejecting several prints before arriving at one that matches my vision. Only then does the print get signed, numbered, and sent to you.

In order to gain control and get consistent color in digital photography, I use a color management system that includes use of a spectro colorimeter to measure actual screen and print colors. Once the displays and printers are profiled and calibrated, the colors of finished prints are consistently as intended. Images are also tagged with color profiles so other calibrated systems know how to display them. Uncalibrated systems and software that doesn’t respect color metadata won’t accurately display tagged images. As an example, the actual colors in the two Maroon Bell images are identical; however, the image on the left has no color profile attached, while the image on the right is tagged with a color profile. The color profile tells the viewing software, in this case your browser, how to interpret the colors. If your browser is color aware, the images should look different. If they look the same, your browser is color blind and no amount of monitor calibration will guarantee the correct representation of colors. Both hardware calibration and software capable of color management are necessary to display colors as intended.

No Color Profile Attached

sRGB Color Profile Attached

Now that we have that caveat out of the way, it’s also important to understand that home, business or office lighting will also influence the color appearance of a print. In simplest terms, if the room is brighter, the print will look lighter, and vice versa. But possibly more influence comes from differing colors of light, as not all whites are created equal. The color of white light is measured in degrees Kelvin (K), where a higher temperature is cooler (bluer) and a lower temperature is warmer (redder). Noon day sun on a clear day has a color temperature of about 5500K, and is considered neutral white. An incandescent bulb in a home might be 2600K and appears significantly more orange by comparison. Gallery lighting is often from halogen bulbs, which range roughly from 3000K to 3500K, and appear cooler than incandescents but warmer than sunlight. But galleries, as well as homes and offices, generally have windows that can let in filtered light from a blue sky, which might be a very blue 9000K. Can you see where this is going? Just as with monitors viewing images on the web, there is no way to control the viewing environment of a print.

When preparing for a gallery opening, I assume there will be mixed lighting. During the day, a gallery might have a combination of halogen lighting and filtered light from outside, while the evening might include some warmer incandescents. This isn’t so different from the situation in a typical home or office. To cope with the inevitable mixed lighting environments, I evaluate my prints on a light table with two different colors of light. My light table has one set of lights at 5000K to simulate daylight, and another set at about 3500K to match gallery lighting. I work with the colors on a given print until they look good at both color temperatures to ensure they will shine in a wide range of gallery, home and office environments. While there is no way to control the viewing conditions of either an online image or a fine art print, it is possible to tune each image so it looks good in a wide range of environments.