A website is pretty much a must-have for every independent artist today. In our networked age, the first thing any potential buyer of your work will do upon hearing your name is Google you – and look for your resume and, mainly, your art.
There are a few standard site formats you can use for your own website. A portfolio will include your resume and your works, usually divided into categories for easy navigation. This is the more ‘businesslike’ option, specifically targeting potential customers.
More personalized options include a personal website, dedicated to you and your interests, which can include information about your art, your creative process, your techniques and so on, thus giving potential customers some insight into your own perceptions of art; or a blog, an easier to follow format which might gain you wider readership through the blogosphere, thus helping to reach new audiences.
The type of site you choose also depends on your capabilities. If you are an extremely busy person, a blog or other constantly-updating format won’t do: the lack of updates will make it look ‘abandoned’ and unattractive, creating an impression that the artist is no longer active or relevant.
If you’re financially constrained, consider using a free site-building platform suited to your needs instead of hiring a designer and starting from scratch. This might make your site slightly less personal, but it will help you create a decent-looking page within the parameters of the specific platform you choose – and most platforms offer enough potential for personalization that you’ll still be able to feel like it’s yours, and your design.
Make sure you choose a platform suited to your intended format: don’t make a portfolio using a blogging tool!
Try and stay up-to-date design-wise: your site should reflect your aesthetic prowess, although without stealing the spotlight from your works. Try and avoid attention-grabbing elements, such as loud colors, dominant color schemes, or eye-catching patterns: your works should always take center stage, with the site designed only to complement them. You can browse different artists’ sites to get some ideas about different approaches to design.
Also, try and avoid difficult URLs (too long, containing too many numbers, slashes, etc.). Your URL should be as short and memorable as possible, ideally including your name or the name of your business. If you’re not sure about this issue, try and search ‘bad URLs': there are a few sites that can give you a good idea of what not to do.
Another important factor is the photographs you upload. If your works don’t exist in digital format in the first place, make sure the photographs you put on your site are top-notch and have a professional look to them. You can improve contrast and remove flaws in the picture using Photoshop or other photo editors. Remember that these photos can be what makes or breaks a potential transaction.
It is also important to settle on a reasonable resolution/size ratio. High-resolution looks better, but will increase the loading time of your site and make browsing uncomfortable. Make it as user-friendly as possible; you can always include an ‘open in high quality’ option or send hi-res photos upon specific request.
Choose carefully: You’ll want to upload only the works that will best represent you in front of potential buyers. Remember that you’re under no obligation to put every work you ever did on your website.
These are just a few basic tips to help you get going. For information and tips on specific topics, watch out for our next updates!