Finding success as an artist is always going to be challenging. Not only do you have to be able to sell your work to your audience, but you will be competing against numerous other people who share your dream. If you are to stand any chance of making it to the top, you’re going to need to seize every opportunity and advantage you can. Chief amongst these advantages is your website. Whether you use a website builder for artists, or build the whole thing yourself from scratch, getting it right will make the rest of your journey significantly easier.
Why Your Website Matters
When it comes to creative pursuits, it can be tempting to think of them as being completely unlike a business. In fact, many people pursue a career in a creative field precisely because they want to avoid the traditional world of business. However, if you are serious about your art, you should think of it like a business, especially if you are hoping to make money from it like you would a business.
When you think about your art in this way, the advantages of having a website become more obvious. No sensible person would try and launch a business in the US today without a website to back it up. As an artist, your website will need to serve a number of functions simultaneously. Not only will it contain a gallery of your work to show to potential clients and customers, it will also give them more background about your work and tell them how they can contact you.
If your website is to be an effective tool for furthering your art career, you will need to think carefully about your design choices. The following are the most important aspects and features of your website to get right as an artist.
Needless to say, you want a website that is simple and intuitive to navigate. From the moment that a visitor lands on your website, it should be immediately obvious to them what the different sections of your website are, and how to get to them. Your website will need to contain, at the very least, a gallery of your work, contact and commissioning information, some background information about you and your work, and information on any upcoming events or exhibitions you will be taking part in.
In many ways, designing your website is like producing a piece of art in its own right. Just as most artists have a specific workflow and process that they follow when making their art, it is similarly a good idea to approach your website design in an orderly manner. Begin with the top of your homepage as this is the first place that new visitors to your website will see, so it’s important that you make a good impression. An eye-catching logo, even if it’s just a stylized version of your name, is a good addition to have.
Alongside your logo, include a summary of your contact information and make it clear that this is a website for your art. The goal is to ensure that a newcomer to your website who knows nothing of you or your art can ascertain all that information quickly and effortlessly.
Many people, especially those with limited web design experience, find that using a website builder for artists is helpful in ensuring that the website they produce is laid out appropriately and easy to navigate. Format offers such a website building tool, which enables artists to easily produce a website that effectively showcases their work and is easy to navigate. There is still plenty of room for you to add your own flair to your website design. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
The primary function of your website is to encourage visitors to become customers and clients. In order to do this, you will need to include a portfolio or gallery as a part of your website. However, you should aim to make it more than just a collection of images because anyone can do that! Instead, think about ways that you can take advantage of the website as a medium.
You could design your gallery as a slideshow so that viewers click through your work and view it piece by piece. Adding some text around the images to give some background on the work and any other information you think would be of interest to potential patrons is a must. You will have to find a balance here though. On the one hand, the purpose of your website is to increase your exposure and generate commissions. However, if you make the text in your gallery too much like a sales pitch, you might end up alienating the very people you are hoping to attract.
The advantage of the slideshow approach is that it ensures that viewers see each image at a reasonable size, allowing them to resolve fine details. The drawback is that, if the first pieces in your gallery don’t appeal to viewer’s tastes, they might quit before finding work that they would like if they saw it. The alternative way of approaching your gallery is to make the whole thing visible as thumbnails and allow the viewer to select pieces they want to view full size.
There is no right or wrong approach, but you will need to consider which of these approaches is the most suitable for your style of artwork. Some artists’ work naturally lends itself to one of these methods, while others necessitate a particular approach. If, for example, your artwork involves lots of fine detail, it will be hard for a viewer to judge your work from thumbnails.
One of the most common mistakes made by artists who have only limited experience with website design is that they choose an unsuitable image format for their work. Digital artists have an advantage here, in as much as they will naturally have a greater knowledge of the different file types and their respective properties. Artists who work in traditional mediums and then upload images of the work often upload straight from their camera or scanner without a second thought.
There are a number of different file types to choose from, each with its own ideal usage scenario. For example, if you use Photoshop at any stage when producing your art, you will have the chance to save the file as a PSD file. These files are great for saving work that you plan to work on later in Photoshop, but they aren’t suitable for your website.
You have probably encountered GIF files before, as many images and animations use this file type. However, any image with over 256 colors will lose quality when saved as a GIF. Your artwork will almost definitely contain many more colors than that, so while GIFs might be the standard for most image files, they aren’t suitable here.
The file type most important to the majority of artists today is PNG. PNG is less common than other image types, but it eliminates the drawbacks that are unavoidable with GIF and JPEG files. Unless you have a specific reason for using a different file type, you should upload all your images as PNGs.
Every artist needs a website. As an artist, you should already understand the fundamentals of good design. Apply the same rules that you would apply to your artwork to your website design, and you should be able to create something that is simple and intuitive to navigate, while also showing off your skills.