It’s no secret by now that artists can reach collectors, galleries, and other important audiences by having a solid online presence. When done right, it can grow your art career exponentially, reaching people all over the world who are interested in buying whatever you’re selling, from paintings and prints to workshops and commissions.
But what does it mean to have an online presence? For most, it involves having a website, a newsletter, and at least one social media account. As an online editor for the art industry since 2010, I’ve seen how countless artists represent themselves online, and I’m here to give you the inside scoop on what works best and how you can maximize your efforts. For this piece, let’s focus on website best practices.
NO WEBSITE, NO CRY
I know it can be overwhelming to start a website, especially if you’re not technically inclined. The good news is that there are easy and affordable options, including SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly, FASO, Sitey, and NetNation. Another platform is WordPress, which is advanced but user-friendly depending on your web experience. Because there are so many options, talk to other artists; see what your friends and peers use, ask what they like and don’t like, then select the platform that best suits you and your needs, and go for it!
If you’re still apprehensive, know that you can always hire someone to do the work for you, potentially saving you time and money and ensuring that your site will look professional.
IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A WEBSITE
You’ve done your homework. You’ve created a website. You’ve uncorked the champagne. Great!
But get another bottle for later because your online art presence now has a pulse and will take some ongoing maintenance to keep it vital and dynamic. Look at your website with fresh eyes. Not later … now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
What’s the first thing you see? Is it a painting that no longer represents your style? Do the website design, colors, and fonts look outdated? Is your name not readily visible? These are all no-no’s I’ve seen, and they can (and should) be fixed.
Once you’ve given your home page a onceover, go through your menu bar and make sure everything there is up to date as well. Don’t have a menu bar? Create one. At a minimum, include a link to show more of your paintings and a page with your contact information. Even better, include options such as the following:
• Artworks (subsections might be Paintings, Drawings, Landscapes, Portraits, Plein Air, Studio)
• Awards/Exhibitions (include past, present, and upcoming shows; this could also include
a News section with any press you’ve received, awards won, or new paintings)
• Workshops (include past, present, and upcoming; a description of what you have to offer as a workshop instructor; and testimonials from students)
• Products (subsections might include Books, Instructional Videos, Prints)
• About (this could be your bio, your Artist Statement, or your CV). Remember that
there are collectors who are specifically interested in plein air paintings, so consider
including at least one photo of yourself painting outdoors, and note that your work is plein air where appropriate.
• Contact (make this easy to find!). Some artists use an e-mail form to reduce the spam they receive, but if you use a form, test it with your own e-mail address as a user would, and check it often. Also, link to your social media accounts.
IT’S OKAY TO LOOK
Do a web search for artists who match your style, and pay attention to the design and content on their sites. If they’re coming up on the first page of a search, they’re probably doing something right. Of course, there’s more to an artist’s success than having a rockin’ web presence, but it’s not to be ignored.
For more stories like this one, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.