The sociologist Charles Cooley said, “An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” Success in art doesn’t hinge on renown or critical acclaimed. Only you can define your success, whether it’s capturing a feeling, improving your technique, or something else entirely. But any artist knows that passion and creativity aren’t much good without hard work to fuel them. Sometimes that work isn’t about mixing paint or spinning clay, but about supporting your art in other ways – with a website, for example. By putting effort into your site, you can get more out of your work and share your passion with the world. We’ve put together this website checklist for artists to help you get started.
This article isn’t intended to be a full website walkthrough. Instead, we’ll list the things you’ll need that are specific to your type of website. This website checklist for artists will cover your artist brand, eCommerce options, and much more. Let’s start creating!
Presenting Your Site: Visualization Maximization
For artists who create physical work like paintings or sculptures, displaying artwork online can feel limiting. They may not feel like they have the same gravity as they would in a gallery. That’s where proper presentation makes a difference!
Make the most of your artist website by focusing on high quality images. If you’re a digital artist, your finished work is likely already optimized to be viewed on a screen. If not, start by taking great pictures. You don’t need to blow thousands of dollars on a professional-grade camera – even a decent modern camera can take excellent photos. Focus on finding the best lighting, angle, and (if you create three-dimensional artwork) background for full effect.
If you don’t have access to a camera or want some experienced guidance, hire a professional photographer to help you capture the best images of your artwork. They can also likely give you advice on the best formats for displaying your art on your website. You’ll find more useful information in our guide to image optimization for SEO as well.
In every part of your site, keep your focus on presenting high-quality images of your artwork to make a visual impact. And whether you take the photos yourself or get professional help, always protect your artwork by adding a watermark to your images.
1. Create Your Brand
When you create a piece of art, your name and work are intertwined. Bring that sentiment to your website.
The name you operate under as an artist, be it your own or a pseudonym, should be featured prominently on your site. As they browse your work, a visitor should never be in doubt about who the artist is. Make sure your name is visible on each page.
That extends to your site’s URL, too. It’s worth it to purchase your domain name, like yourartistname.com, rather than using a free domain like yourartistname.wordpress.com. With your name as the domain name, you’ll make it easy for your fans or patrons to remember how to get to your site. It also adds a level of professionalism to your site.
But as an artist, your “brand” is more than just your name; it’s the kind of work you create. Make sure the work you specialize in is highly visible. For example, if you usually spin pottery but occasionally paint still life, you probably want visitors to focus on your ceramic art. Your best and most highly-acclaimed pieces should be front and center.
Example: Christopher David White
Ceramic artist Christopher David White has a recognizable style – and he makes sure it’s present across his site. Check out his website and notice how he brings attention to his brand, both through his name and work. His unique style of sculpture, reminiscent of wood carvings, is on full display on almost every page. But you’ll also see his initials in the header menu no matter where you are on the site. Even if you’re not a sculpture artist yourself, you can take notes from him on implementing your online brand effectively.
2. Share the Details
No matter why you create it or where it ends up, each piece of art you create is unique. Give potential buyers the full story behind each piece by clearly specifying their details. The title you give a piece is vital, but so are the different mediums you used to create it and the year it was finished. And of course, buyers will want to know the dimensions and price of each piece as well.
This information helps viewers browse your work and make purchasing decisions. It also helps you keep track of the work displayed on your site. If you’re displaying a lot of artwork on your site, tracking details about your pieces can help you sort them into separate folders or portfolios. But it serves another purpose, too: these details are all searchable by Google. Connecting an image of your art to its relevant details is a great way to boost your SEO!
3. Present Yourself
Whether you’re using your website to drive online sales, present your portfolio, or a little of both, it needs to introduce visitors to you, the artist.
An important part of most websites is the About Us page. This page gives visitors a glimpse into the person or organization behind the site. Your site is no different. Include a page that explains who you are and what you do.
Your About page might include information about your history, your work, and your achievements in addition to more personal anecdotes about the passions that drive your creativity. It’s also a great place to include your CV. If you’re applying to have your work displayed at a gallery or exhibition, give them everything they want to know on this page.
To make it easy for interested buyers, galleries, or other visitors to reach you, create a Contact page with your up-to-date contact information. This page should be easily accessible from anywhere on your site. You should include a link to it in your header menu, but add links to it anywhere on your pages where it seems relevant.
4. Make Shopping Easy
Not everyone can buy your art from you in person. But with a functional online store, they don’t have to. eCommerce gives you the ability to make sales directly through your website. Today’s eCommerce platforms come with more features and flexibility than ever.
Some eCommerce platforms that are popular with artists include Big Cartel and Square. The former is easy to use and offers a few simple budget-friendly plans, while the latter comes with more customization and physical point-of-sale options to keep your online and brick-and-mortar sales in sync.
There’s a lot more to eCommerce platforms, though. Before choosing one, research it thoroughly to understand its features, limitations, security measures, and more. We wrote up a guide to eCommerce platforms that you can use alongside this website checklist for artists.
Example: Helen Levi
Another ceramic artist, Helen Levi, is taking full advantage of her eCommerce platform’s features. With clear, crisp, well-structured photos and easy-to-understand instructions, her online store is a breeze to browse. She makes use of product categories to keep her store organized and help shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for.
As an artist, you work in visual mediums. Your website is just another one for you to explore. The effort you put into your site maximizes the work you put into your art. It can help you be found by new art lovers, make sales, and even apply to be showcased in galleries and exhibitions. Using this website checklist for artists, design a site that shows off your best work and amplifies your creativity.