Dos & Donts of Artist Websites

Self-Portrait by Kristin Kunc, oil on linen, 2011.
Self-Portrait by Kristin Kunc, oil on linen, 2011.

As you probably well know, I'm online…a lot. And I'd like to think of myself as somewhat well informed about artist websites. I'm on them all the time—whether it is through an email someone sends me, a link on a blog I read, or my own searches of American art or global artists, I'm always finding interesting artists through their websites.

And websites are having more and more impact in the art world. Gallery representation is great if you can get it, but a great artistic website can give you a positive presence and a way of interacting directly with the public. Here are a few do's and don'ts that can steer you in the right direction when it comes to building or updating your own website.

DO have a website. If you don't, it seems really odd. I know taking the first steps to start a website is the hardest part, but having an online presence is really taken for granted nowadays. It's a must. If an artist doesn't have a website, I think twice about working with them because it seems to indicate they aren't serious and may not be savvy when it comes to digital images.

DON'T choose form over function. Some artists have a lot of gimmicky things on their websites, using a paintbrush or easel decal to direct visitors instead of just using words to demarcate different pages within the website. When I am on an artist's website, I don't want to play a guessing game about what is what. Be clear and think of your user's ease of experience.

DO have images of your oil paintings, installations, drawings. Well, duh, right? But make sure that the way you look at the images makes sense. Having a gallery panel with thumbnail-size images that can be enlarged is more effective than constantly having to press the 'Back' button on your browser. Also, make sure you have caption information about the image-like the medium and size-because those kinds of details aren't always apparent just by looking at an image online.

DON'T forget to give a sense of who you are as an artist. An artist statement, a bio, and articles or reviews are a great inclusion. If you have a blog, link to it, or feature it on your website. I, for one, am always going to consider the work before the artist, but the next thing I look for is an understanding of where a particular artist is coming from. Your point of view matters, so don't forget to make that a part of your web presence.

But of course fine-tuning a website is half the battle. You have to have works you are confident about showing. Whether you are a draftsman, landscape painter, or watercolor artist, you want to have your works of art photographed in the best possible light, which means taking photos that do the job well. With Art of Everyday Photography, you can become more at ease with photography, taking strong reference photos can make a difference in how you bring your work to final form, so that when you are ready for a website, your work is ready for it too! So consider Art of Everyday Photography and enjoy!


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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

5 thoughts on “Dos & Donts of Artist Websites

  1. Excellent post. Being able to sell directly to the collector from the site is also helpful. We use a Paypal link on Beale Fine Art.Com. Also, sending out monthly mailers via email with direct links to your website is helpful in keeping your audience informed.

  2. Great post, Courtney! Can I add another “do”? I think it’s best to limit the number of works you post on your site to a max of about 40 works–for two reasons. One, you only want to show your very best work, not necessarily every painting you’ve ever done. And two, too much art can be overwhelming to a viewer. That’s why most museum curators will have maybe 40 to 50 pieces in the average museum exhibition. I guess art is like chocolate: A few bites of the best quality is all you need to be satisfied. ; )

  3. A very timely post, Courtney. Just yesterday I launched, a complete website solution for artists.

    Another DO is to let people comment on your images. Not only is it nice to get feedback, but it’s also a great way of getting relevant text onto your image page, which is important for getting indexed by Google.

    And DON’T underestimate the importance of social media in getting your artwork noticed. Make sure it’s easy for visitors to share your artwork.