From art students to internationally-acclaimed artists, the key to being successful in this art world is to set yourself up with an artist website. An artist website is like a studio visit: it’s an opportunity for people to see all of your artwork and learn about you as an artist. The main difference between an artist website and a studio visit is, of course, that your website is always open and anyone from anywhere in the world can come in.
Many professional relationships between Agora Gallery and artists began through artists’ personal websites. Finding these websites is what allows us to keep our gallery filled with such a range of artwork from across the globe: a diversity that has proven fruitful in attracting and maintaining our collectors’ attention.
So how does one make a personal artist website? What should it look like? How much information should you include? We answer these questions and more.
Build Your Artist Site: Don’t Do It Yourself
Most people think that you need to be very tech-savvy to start a website. This is not true. Not only are there plenty of services that help you create your own personal website, but some are even especially designed for artists. These sites offer visual-intensive templates that are built to make your art look great.
Website Building Options For Artists*
|WordPress||Free | Domain: $8/month||Beginner-Advanced|
|SquareSpace||Starts at $8/month||Beginner|
|Weebly||Free | Domain: $8/month||Easy|
*This chart was made based on a variety of online reviews and sources as of November, 2015. These are not the only options available.
Domain Names: If you are just starting out, there is nothing wrong with getting set up with a free site on a hosted website, but once you’re really making a name for yourself, you’ll want to buy a domain name. There is a huge difference between artistname.wordpress.com and artistname.com, and having a short, easy-to-remember URL is going to be a big marketing advantage down the line.
Test Browsers & Devices: Before your website is made public, test how it looks on different browsers. Just because it looks okay on your desktop in Safari doesn’t mean it’ll look great on a cellphone with Chrome. The best way to make sure it’s looking good on all devices is to use a “responsive” site (most themes will tell you whether or not they’re responsive). Still, don’t assume it’s working: check for yourself before publishing your site.
What Your Artist Website Needs
Before you get too wrapped up in designing your page, make sure you have included the basics. Every artist website needs these core elements, or else they may instantly turn away potential buyers:
1. Your Name Really, you should be including your name in your website’s URL, if possible. Your name is your brand: it’s how people find you. It should be visible at all times, no matter what page the visitor is on. Creating a logo and placing it in the website’s header will help accomplish this. Keep your name/logo legible and bold, but the font/design should match your artwork so visitors can remember your name and associate it with your work.
2. High Quality Images If you’re proud of your art, then show it. Do not post small, blurry, dark, or low-res images to your website. Remember, you should be viewing your artist site as a surrogate “open studio.” If you had somebody visiting your studio, would you show them a tiny, blurry Polaroid of your artwork, or would you show them the real thing? While you can’t perfectly represent your works in digital form (unless you are a digital artist, of course), you’d be surprised what a half-decent camera can do these days with the right tools.
3. Artwork Details This doesn’t mean close-up shots of your artwork (though those can also be important). This is referring to the titles, medium, dimensions, price, and year of the piece. This information helps the visitor get a sense of almost everything they’ll need to know if they are thinking of purchasing the artwork. It also makes your website more searchable through Google or other search engines.
4. Is this available for sale? You don’t need to only post images of available artwork, but you should make it very clear which pieces are available and which aren’t.
5. Artist Biography & CV This information is particularly useful when you are using your website as a portfolio, which more and more artists are doing these days. The biography & CV will help when applying to galleries, museums, competitions, or commissions. How to write an artist biography →
Stay in touch with us! Our Newsletter is packed with inspiring stories, art tips, and Agora Gallery’s latest exhibition announcements.
6. Artist Statement Your artist statement speaks for you when you aren’t there to carry the conversation. The statement should always be written in the first person: it is different from a biography. Learn how to write an artist statement →
7. Contact Information You can’t sell anything if you can’t be reached. Be sure to make your contact information easily accessible on your website.
How To Organize Your Artist Website
Don’t shove all this information in one page. A good artist website is like a gallery or museum. The artwork can’t be stacked up, over-populating the walls. You need to give each item, whether it’s an artwork or text, space to breathe. The best way to do this is to organize your artist website with pages.
Here’s a little secret about building websites: every page should have only one purpose. By putting too many pieces of information (or art) on one page, you will lose your visitor’s interest.
Not only is this the clearest, most user-friendly way to organize your website, it also helps with something called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO keeps your page at the top of the search results whenever anyone uses Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other search engine. When your webpages are clearly focused and differentiated, the search engine “crawlers” know exactly what the point of your site is, and will boost it in the search results.
So what pages do you need?
1. Home / Landing Page – This is the “face” of your website. The homepage should have 3 main elements: a title, visual, and map.
- The title should tell the visitor what your website is. “Art by [Your Name]” or “[Your Name] Artist” is a pretty fool-proof way to start. Don’t get too complicated or clever here, you want the title to be something that can be easily translated to any language.
- The visual can be a single artwork, a collage, or a slideshow. Avoid the urge to shove all of your artwork onto this page: that’s what your artwork pages are for. The visual will quickly give the visitor a sense of who you are and what you’re about. If you have three distinct styles of artwork, you can put one example of each. However, if your artwork is fairly uniform in style, do not include more than one image.
- The map isn’t an actual map, but more an easy-to-understand navigation menu. It should clearly specify the different pages that are available on your website. Do not hide this menu, but make it bold and prominent on your page. Keep it on the top, or on the left-hand side of the page, where it will be visible immediately.
2. Artwork Albums – Just like your overall website, your artwork should be broken up into smaller sections. There should never be more than 20-30 images in any one album/page or users will get bored and start skipping over images. There are many ways to sort your artwork: you can do it by medium, style, year, series, theme. You can even break down your pages into both: you may have an abstract album that is sorted by mood. Or maybe you’ll have a landscape album sorted by season. Just don’t get too compartmentalized: each album should have a minimum of 10 images.
Remember, you want to keep it clear which artwork is available for purchase and which is not. You can either indicate this directly within the albums, or create one special album for available/sold artwork. However, you do not want to do this if there are more than 25-35 artworks that fall into either category.
3. “About me” – You can include your biography, statement, and CV in this page, but add visual elements to help “break it up.” This can either be by delineating each section with a different color background, or by using images or icons to separate the text blocks. Include your headshot. Show a picture of you working in the studio. Do you have the first ever crayon drawing you did as a child? Visual elements don’t just make a webpage easier to look at – it also adds personality and a humanizing element to your artist website.
4. Contact Page – Some artists simply include this in the footer or header of their site, which is a perfectly acceptable method. However, having a page dedicated to sales/contact remind the site viewer that you’re available. You can even include a contact form if you do not want to give away your personal e-mail address, but be sure to check your messages regularly. You don’t want to miss out on that next big sale!
Keep These Off Your Site
Music – Do not have music autoplay on your website. If your viewer wants to listen to music, they’ll already be doing so. Music is distracting and annoying, and most people will immediately exit your site if they’re forced to listen to music against their will.
Ads – It’s a pitfall of some ‘free’ site hosts. Before you commit to a host, be sure to check if they will be placing ads on your website. Ads can hugely distract from your artwork and they never look professional.
Other Artist’s Work – Even if it’s an artwork that has inspired you in the past, it will confuse visitors if they see artwork that isn’t yours. It will make them question whether the other art is yours, and your authenticity will be compromised.
Maintain Your Site
Update regularly. At the very least, you should update your website with new art once a year. However, if your schedule allows, the more updates the better: it shows your visitors that you are active. Even more, it shows that you are still alive. When your artist website’s most recent post is three years old, it will raise certain questions in your visitors’ mind: “Did this artist give up?”
We at Agora Gallery update our website several times a day with new artwork and artist info.
Check your messages. If you have a contact form, then make sure you are checking your inbox for new messages. If you change your phone number or your e-mail address, be sure to update this immediately wherever it appears on your website.
Get inspired by these artists’ websites:
Just starting out with the world of online art marketing? Check out our Digital Dictionary for artists, where you can learn the basic things you’ll need to know when creating a digital portfolio.
Looking to enhance your career and build a presence in New York? Submit your portfolio to us and get the opportunity to present your work to a broad range of national and international art collectors and buyers. Visit our Gallery Representation And Artist Promotion page for more information.
Are you worried about having your artwork copyright stolen on the web? It is a risk that you are taking by putting your art online, but we’ve put together a guide to limit the damage.
This post is also available in: Spanish