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Art: Search Tips

Art Research Plan

Art is such a broad subject that it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. Before you even begin looking for resources, spend a few minutes developing a research plan. This can help you focus your ideas and help determine where you should start.

  • Look at the assignment
    • What are you being required to create?
    • How many resources do you need?
    • Do you need scholarly sources?
  • What are the key topics?
    • Time period
    • Place
    • Style, technique, or medium
    • Specific artist(s)
    • Specific event
  • Is your topic interdisciplinary?
    • Should you look at other databases if your topic overlaps with religion, history, or other topic?
  • Visuals
    • Do you need to analyze or include images?
  • Consider your format
    • Paper
    • Collage
    • Audio
    • Video

Finding Art

If you are looking for a specific piece of art, gather as much information as you can about it. Any piece of this information can not only help you find the piece or an image of the piece, but the information can also be used as keywords when you are looking for more information about the work or artist.

  • Title
  • Artist
  • Date or Approximate Date
  • Medium
  • Origin
  • Exhibit Location(s)


When you search for articles, books, and other information, you need to use keywords. Below is a list of keywords or categories of keywords that could be used in the library databases. You can use this on their own or mix and match them to narrow your results.

  • African American Artists
  • African American Women Artists
  • Art Community
  • Artists
  • Artists - of a specific movement
  • Artists - of a specific region
  • Artists - of a specific style
  • Artists and Exhibitions
  • Artists and Patrons
  • Commercial Artists
  • Contemporary Art or Artists
  • Engravers or Engraving
  • Etchers or Etching
  • Expatriate Artists
  • Folk Art or Artists
  • Glass Art or Artists
  • Illustrators or Illustration
  • Landscape Art or Artists
  • Modern Art or Artists
  • Painters
  • Performance Art or Artists
  • Portraiture, Portrait Art, or Artists
  • Potters or Pottery
  • Pre-Raphaelites
  • Printmakers
  • Protest Art or Artists
  • Sculptures or Sculpture
  • Specific Artist
  • Specific Art Periods
  • Specific Events or Exhibitions
  • Specific Medium
  • Specific Movement
  • Specific Style
  • Textiles 
  • Women Artists

Contemporary Artists

Art is always being created and shared. It probably won't be possible to find scholarly information about contemporary artists, but that doesn't mean there is no information available. 

If you need to find information about a living artist, try a few of the following techniques:

  • Visit the artist's personal webpage, Instagram, or Twitter
  • Contact the artist directly (Never hurts to try!)
  • Search for the artist on Google or Wikipedia (This is one instance where these are great tools!)
  • Look for the artist in their hometown or local newspaper
  • Search contemporary art blogs
  • Visit gallery website where the artist has showcased their work
  • Visit the Cleveland Institute of Art's Contemporary Artist Index