Having a web presence allows people outside of your sphere-of-influence or geographic region to view your work. There is a misconception that being active on social media creates enough of a web presence. It doesn't. Cultural institutions and industry experts expect a higher level of professionalism than a simple Facebook page.
In the last post in the “Seven Steps to Scale Your Career as an Artist” series, titled “Step Two: Build Your Portfolio,” we outlined what you should include when creating your portfolio. Once you have your portfolio established, you can translate it into a simple and effective website.
Having a website is the best way to influence what results are provided when an online search of your name is conducted. Additionally, a website will serve you by creating a channel for you to:
1) Exhibit your work through an online gallery using photos and videos
2) List the work that you have available for purchase
3) Inform the public about yourself as an artist, your creative process, current projects, and upcoming exhibitions or performances
4) Create a brand for yourself
5) Develop a following
Your website should be engaging and easy to navigate. Building a website may seem like a daunting task but there are several website builders that are cost-effective, easy to use, provide modern customizable templates, are dynamic in their abilities, and work whether being viewed on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Or, if this is outside of your comfort zone, you can work with a professional web developer, such as Erie's Werkbot.
You should consider including the following pages within your website:
A gallery page is where you will exhibit your body of work using pictures and videos. Like with the work samples included in your portfolio, only high-resolution and high-definition content should be used when constructing your gallery. Your gallery should be categorized using series or projects. Organize this material in reverse chronological order, with the most recent work listed first.
Continuously add to your gallery as your body of work expands.
The about page is where you will include your bio and CV. It’s also recommended that you include a photo of yourself to put a face to the work that you create. Invest in a professional headshot and do not use a selfie.
The contact page is where you will inform interested individuals as to the ways that they can make further contact with you, whether that be through email, by telephone, or on social media. Include links to any social media platforms that you use to promote your art. If you are working to develop a career in the arts, it is recommended that you create professional social media profiles that are separate from your personal profiles.
Here, you may also want to include any opportunities that you're interested in, such as commissions, collaborations, residencies, etc.
List of Available Works
Whether or not you personally handle online sales of your work is largely influenced by what stage of your career you’re in. It is not uncommon for prominent galleries to prohibit artists from selling direct, and understandably so since it bypasses the role of galleries. One practice you can adhere to is listing the work but then providing contact information for the gallerist currently representing the work.
If you are an emerging artist and you do wish to sell your work online, you can do so through a store page within your website. This is where you will list any pieces of your work that are available for sale. As with the online gallery, only high-resolution images should be used when constructing your web store. In addition to price, a prospective buyer will also need to know the dimensions of the work and the cost of shipping.
Most website builders have e-commerce functions that drastically simplify the checkout and payment processes. But, you will most likely need an account with a credit card processor, such as Stripe, Square, or Paypal. Review if your website builder is compatible with all processors or only specific ones. If you have the option to choose processors, review annual rates and transaction fees and make your selection based on costs and benefits.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a very complex topic. In simple terms, it is identifying the wording and phrases (also known as keywords) that, if embedded into your website, can increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. The use of relevant keywords influences how your website is ranked when a person uses a search engine, such as Google or Ping. SEO can be improved by:
- Using relevant terms when writing text for your website, and not being repetitive in your copy.
- Adding descriptions and alt-text to the images you embed into your website.
- Reviewing all the hyperlinks you include within your website and making certain that no links are broken.
- Including page titles and descriptions through the site settings.
- Adding a blog and routinely uploading share-worthy content, which you later distribute through social media.
You may want to consult with an SEO professional to tackle this portion of your website.
Sample Artist Websites
Mark Creegan - Mixed media artist and songwriter
Malcolm Jackson - Street photographer
Ashley Pastore - Mixed media installation artist, printmaker, and papermaker
Shikeith - Mixed media installation artist, filmmaker, and photographer
Curtis Talwst Santiago - Mixed media assemblage artist, painter, and drawer
Matika Wilbur - Photographer and storyteller
Jeffrey Gibson - Bead artist, painter, and sculptor
Lakecia Benjamin - Saxophonist and bandleader
In the next installment in this series, we will explore building a network. To read the past installments in this series: