Websites

Contact: at the very least write out your email address: www.yournamedotcom


Having a website is pretty darn easy these days Whereas social media is fluid and requires frequent updates, you can sit back a bit on website updates.  You should definitely updates this with some regularity, but you don’t have to every day.

I know several people who are abandoning website updates in favor of social media. I don’t recommend this. A website is a wonderful public archive and can give a comprehensive picture of who you are and the full body of your work.

You are all at different stages and have different needs in a website. But, I would say that you all need to have one.  Julia Galloway’s Field Guide  is really the best advice and direction I have found on this topic. I would like to reiterate a few points. First, if you pay someone to design your website, you have access to expertise you do not have, to spend the time to learn- or take the time to update for that matter. On the other hand, you also have to rely on someone else to do that updating for you. This is a long-term expense. There are a number of really great ways to create a website on your own. I would suggest that at this stage, it may be better to start your website on your own.

It seems that going with the middle road, like Squarespace, or WordPress or similar platforms will allow you the ability to change your template fairly easily- without the need to learn code. There are more and more customizable options for you to explore, making this option feel less limiting than it used to. These companies are also large enough that they give you access to the most up to date options. While there is a small monthly or annual fee for these services, you can be sure that your site and its content will be up to date in so far as technology. Having a responsive and mobile ready website is critical for your ability to communicate your work to as many people as possible. If you change your mind a lot, be sure to find out whether you can easily change your information from one template to another (squarespace lets you do this- wix does not)

I strongly discourage you from using any kind of site that uses Adobe Flash. Smartphones- particularly iPhones do not open these sites and many people do not keep their Adobe software up to date enough to be able to access sites that use Flash on their computers.  

You could of course pay someone to set up one of these sites for you, and have them hand the reigns over to you to update going forward. If you have the cash, that’s what I would do.

Whatever you do, I highly recommend that you keep it simple! 

Here are some questions to ask yourself when setting up a website, and some things to consider when designing your site:

Questions: What is your primary purpose for having the website? Is it to display your work in a beautiful visual way? Is it a mixed content site (images and text), do you blog as a part of your practice? Do you want to sell things from your website or are you ok with maintaining an etsysite in addition to your website?

Considerations/ Suggestions:

Sales: If you are selling work from your site, be sure that you look into how that will work, with your bank, with taxes etc. We will discuss sales tomorrow. You may not need to have a shopping cart on your website, but having a place where people can contact you if they are interested in purchasing something is vital. You can have a discreet price list for people to access if you are not comfortable with having prices in the description of each pieces.

Documents: I highly recommend that you have your words on display and create a way for website visitors to see your writing as pdf’s- pdf’s as a url’s themselves, or downloadable versions. The art world is shifting and many gallerists use social media to curate exhibitions. If someone finds your name this way, make it easy for them to find about you, download your information and bring it to their committees. Find out before you choose- how easy it will be to make this information available.

Contact information: Have your email address at the very least- and even better, your phone number on the contact page of your website. Also connect your website to any and all social media sites that have to do with your artwork. Make it easy for people to contact you. As a gallerist, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to try to reach out to an artists to invite them to be in an exhibition and have to fill in one of those contact forms that emails the artist from their website. This takes time that I often did not have  when reaching out to artists.   This has on more than one occasion made me decide not to invite that artist. If you are concerned about privacy, create an email address specifically for your business communications.

bio

Business vs personal email address…..

News: If you have a good practice of maintaining and keeping your website up to date- by all means have a “news” page. If you do not have a great practice of keeping thing up to date, avoid the use of this type of page and stick with your CV and resume for this function. The more things you have to keep up to date, the harder it is to maintain all of them.

About: an about page is a great place to have your bio, artist statement and documents, or it can be a place for a more candid picture of you and your practice. This could also be your home page

Images: Find a way to keep your images organized that is easy for people to navigate without too many clicks. Avoid the need for click-backs- try not to make people have to head back to the Home page before seeing the next image.  There is a careful balance between keeping information organized and creating too many clicks. Follow image size specifications so your website doesn’t load to slowly (too large), or your images either don’t expand or become pixelated (too small) when opened. Most companies have really great FAQ sheets or tutorials. Really pay attention to this! Also pay attention to how much storage is allowed by your site. Large images take up a lot of space. A free wordpress site for example has a surprisingly small amount of storage virtually requiring a user to upgrade after just a few months.

Some suggestions to get you started- go to the websites of the people you admire who are further along in their careers. See how they so it.

29 thoughts on “Websites

  1. I judge an artist so much by what their website looks like because it really is a presentation of themselves and their work. It feels like a lot of pressure, but I don’t want a website to reflect poorly on me.

    Is it practical to make a free website for now on wix and then just create a squarespace or other hosting domain that is maybe nicer and more flexible once it’s financially possible?

  2. I have been wanting to create a website for a long time, and this reading was helpful to be able to see my options for a free website for starting off.

    As far as display, what is your opinion on work being displayed on the home page vs. an about page as the home page?

    • I think work should be displayed on the home page. You home page can function as an about page, but I would avoid putting too much text on that page. You want your images to draw people in. I’ve seen it done well- where the bio / about section is on the home page. It’s really up to you and hw you feel you want to present yourself to the world.

  3. I learned that I need to be easy to contact in order to be invited to shows. Giving a curator one less step to go through could be my way in to a show. I also found it interesting that I should try to avoid click backs in my image gallery. The less steps a viewer has to go through to learn about my work, the better!
    Question: Should I add my address to my website or not?

    • I thinkfor privacy’s sake, I would leave off your physical address. It’s ok to say which city you live in, or have it on your resume- but for the sake of avoiding spam mail- and for the off chance of having a creep show up at your doorstep, it’s better to leave it out.

  4. I learned a lot about keeping my website simple and easy to navigate with this reading. My one question would be is there a preferred way to display images? Should I have my gallery on the home page where it is easily accessible or should I save the home page for things like bio and contact and have images on a separate page?

    • I’m not sure if there is a preferred way. Standard is to have at least one big image on the home page or landing page. The structure is really up to you in terms of how you choose to present yourself. What is more important? Your words and your story or your art work?

  5. I learned that the size of your images comes into play in regards to the presentation and speed of loading your website. This is crucial for photography as my images need to be presented easily and clearly on my website.

  6. I don’t have much experience in creating websites, but wordpress seems to be a very efficient way. I recommend using Etsy for sales as it tends to have good viewership, is easily customizable, and is already filled with users who are specifically searching for handmade/ one of a kind items. Users are also used to somewhat higher price ranges. It only costs $0.20 per listing.

  7. This is a lot of helpful information especially since I have yet to set up a website for myself. I do feel like they are so important however. I really do spend a lot of time looking at other artists websites, to see their art but also looking at their experience. I have really enjoyed my internship in that searching for contact information, I’ve been exposed to countless websites! They’re good to look at for references on your own website too!

  8. I am always so disappointed when an artist, especially a current artist, doesn’t have a website. Websites are a great way to learn about an artist and see a majority of there work. On gallery sites, you can only usually see the work that they are showing and sites like art21 do not often provide a lot of images.
    I am excited to create a website, but for now, I don’t believe it is the best time. I am not a fan of free website creators or their formats. I previously had to have a WordPress account for my art and I did not like the limited options I had in displaying my work.

  9. Artist Webistes art so critical. I see so many people without websites, selling off of Instagram and this is great for a time but, realistically this is where intellectual property becomes key. It also looks really professional when you have a website listed on your resume when you apply for things.

    Upkeeping a website can be difficult while in school especially graduate school, you’re producing and researching and changing at such a rate that you couldn’t possibly keep up. Do you think it’s better to leave up your outdated website or put up a “work in progress” page with a link to something that’s easier to manage, like an Instagram? In graduate school, you can’t really update properly until you reach a break and I’ve seen a lot of people do this.

  10. It is funny to see a website as easier than social media. In ways it makes tackling a website seem less immense. Maintaining a website seems fairly easy without sales. It is basically another professional document on an online database. It gets trickier to incorporate sales. That section was brief, but I believe it will go into further detail on the next reading.

  11. Websites are very important to marketing yourself as an artist, though many people don’t take advantage of these resources as well as they should. Websites can be confusing, hard to find, and/or hard to navigate. Unlike social media they’re not as fluid and ever changing, how often should one update images?

  12. Websites are vital for artists even with current social media. Having a website gives an artist a level of professionality. When posting on social media you have to worry about ownership of images. I think having a website to show most of your work is a good choice. I have been considering making a website for a while and this gave me some good ideas on how to go about it.

  13. This answered so many questions that I had before I designed my website. Honestly, it definitely seemed a lot harder than it was. In some ways, it was pretty easy to design, but in others I definitely struggled. It might have been easier to go with something like WordPress, but oh well. Do you think that it’s important at all to build a website outside of these and have your own .com, etc? Is it generally frowned upon to have a wordpress or wix site? I’ve personally always thought that…

  14. i thought it was interesting how the use of websites has really been broken down in these readings, highlighting the most frustrating parts of some web pages like the over clicking to see images, this issue plagues many ceramics websites.
    is word press really a worthwhile web page ? I’ve never visited one other than for assignments here

    • Word press is the most highly used platform out there. It takes a bit of work, but is fully customizable. It all depends on how much you need fo the site to be totally customized vs. the need to get the info out there fast. Other site with templates like squarespace, weebly, wix etc are already beautiful, but are limited to the pre-built templates. this is really up to how you want to spend your time.

  15. This is very informative about the aspects of designing an artists website. I learned a lot about websites from a course I took where we actually had to write up critiques on artist’s sites. This information all goes along with what I had learned previously. A question that I have regarding updating a website- should you upload pictures of work as each piece is finished? or should you update less than that/post several pieces at a time?

    • This is really up to you. Make it easy for yourself. as long as it gets done, it’s the right way. Most artists who don’t photograph their own works, will wait to upload a body of work rather than one piece at a time. For those like you who have photography skills, it might be easier to upload as you go. Whatever you decide, keep it consistent. Wrap the updating of your website into the same practice as updating resume, bio etc.

  16. I’ve always been intimidated by creating a website because it feels so official and I don’t know if my art is up to or ready for that standard. Is it okay to keep old work on your website to show progression, or should you update it as you change? Is it mostly for business, or should it share part of your life as well?

    • Great questions.Your work is going to change a lot over the next decade or so, ad the kicker of it is- artists rarely feel as though their work is really “ready”. I suggest you do the work now in building the site, buying your domain name etc. Build this into your practice so that when you do arrive at a time that your work is “ready”, updating the site won’t feel like a distraction. It is totally ok to have old work up. You’ll know when the time is right to take it down. Art is tricky because the distinction between business, life and art is sometimes hard to see. You can use your website how you need, when you need it. Art consumers often buy the artist as much as the art. Incorporating your life into the site is totally fine- but not necessary. Really depends on what your needs are- how private or public you need to be to build your art practice.

  17. I forgot that adobe flash was a thing, so it is a good reminder to be careful of creating a website that might rely on it. The guides on keeping a website simple and functional are also helpful for me, as I have tried to create one before, however, stopped when it got too confusing. My question is how to make the feed on your website and blogs different from each other, or if that is important at all? Is it unprofessional to have information about your processes on your website?

    • Flash is less of a thing now… Another semester or two and I will take that piece off the blog. You could make separate tabs on your website- one for static content and one for your blog. #wip is great! People love to know about you and how you make things. It’s up to you how you display this. I think it is a good idea to keep them separate. What I’ve seen is a lot of artists use their websites for finished works, blogs and social media for works in progress and process.

  18. I like the idea of getting a website going and not having to update it as much as social media. I started a website this summer on Wix.com. It seems like square space is better a platform to use.

    What in your option is the easiest way to make a web-sight that has E-comers and a blog?

    • Mike- good question. The more you want to customize, the more I would recommend WordPress. That said, I think that Shopify, while expensive it currently the best option to have all three things.

  19. Websites have always been super intimidating to make to me but reading this with more specific things to put in is super helpful. It is so weird to think back to before this class when I actually had no documents that I needed to start up my website, and now luckily I have so much to put up!
    I was wondering if it is good practice to make your website domain just yourname.com? I have seen so many artists with that format and it seems like the way to go but I wasn’t sure if there was other ways people decide to name their sites.

    • I think yourname.com is probably best so long as you name is your brand. If however you have a design company and you want to name it something else- you’ll want to hav that as your domain. Whatever you do- keep it recognizable and consistent.

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