Artists have been utilizing the internet in new and creative ways since its inception, but in recent years the advent of broadband, the low cost of computers and increasingly user-friendly software has meant that the professional artist has no excuse not to have a presence on the web.
Why you need a website
For the most part your website will serve as an online portfolio, but it can also have other uses. It can be a backup of your catalog and an updateable blog that lets people know of your artistic activity.
Your Art eXposed site
The first place to start is with your Art eXposed profile. This is the easiest first step to creating a professional presence on the web. It includes a gallery, information about your art, pricing and your own personal blog that are all easily updateable without the need of any technical skill.
Getting a personal site
If you wish to go further and have your own personal website and domain name, your first step is to find a capable and trustworthy web designer. The best solution is going with the recommendation of a fellow artist, but whoever you choose make sure they have already produced at least one artist’s website that you like.
Next, you should search the internet for online portfolios and find a few simple, tasteful designs that your web designer can use as a guide. Ignore anything that uses flash or other fancy visual effects. Visitors need to have quick, easy access to your art, so make this clear to the designer. Talk to him about simple solutions that enable you to easily update both the gallery page and the blog. The rest of the site can stay static, but it’s essential that you can update these two sections on your own.
What the website should contain
The front page design can utilise a few pieces of your artwork, but don’t let it get cluttered. Keep the information to a minimum. It should have your name, location and discipline as the title, with your brief artistic statement underneath. If you have a blog, there should be three or four titles (no body text) with links to read more. You can also include discreet contact details on the front page if you wish.
At the top there should be a short biography written in the first person (we all know you wrote it). Avoid jokes, but keep it friendly. Explain any great influences and key themes in your work. Beneath the writing should be a list of the key milestones in your life that are related to your art, including qualifications, awards, events and shows etc. You can also include a photo of yourself if you wish.
This should be a simple HTML (not Flash) slide show with both thumbnails and high resolution images of your work. Make sure relevant information is included such as the size of each piece and the price. It is essential that you can easily update your gallery yourself with new work or price changes.
A mission statement
All those notes you made while writing your artistic statement come into play here. You should aim for around six hundred words detailing what your art means, where it has come from and where it is going to
Self explanatory, but make sure it includes telephone numbers and an address. Do not use a form for emails; a simple email address link is fine.
The blog is optional, but highly recommended if you are able to keep it updated. It should not be filled with your personal life or general musings, it should be a diary of your activities as an artist. Ideally, it will be as active as possible including any new work you’ve created, where people can see your work, events you’re attending, etc. Remember though, the activity of the blog reflects your real world activity, so if you don’t think you will be able to update it at least once a week then you shouldn’t have one.
What you should pay
Assuming you keep the design to a minimum and steer away from flash and other trickery the website should cost between $400 and $600. If the designer is asking for more than this, try to find out what the additional costs are and decide if you need them.
Unless you are technically minded, it is best to let the web designer arrange the hosting of the site. Make sure you have an easy to remember domain name, preferably yourname.com. Finally and most importantly, when you find a good web designer make sure to remain on good terms with them, they will be invaluable in the future.