Artists & websites & panel, oh my! (Part 2/2)
In my previous blog post I talked about artists and their websites, and about how I became the designer of mine. Today, I would like to finish my thoughts on this topic by sharing some of my experiences with it.
As I mentioned before, a website is a communication tool. As such, and at a minimum, it must be clear, concise, and thoughtfully laid out. It must look professional, be easy to navigate, and have perfect grammar and spelling. Your website reflects you and your art; it must be aligned with your “brand”. Before anything else, you will need to purchase a domain that ideally is your name or the name of your business, and easy to type and remember. Additionally, like with any other type of communication, when you create a website, you need to think about your intention. What is the purpose of the website, and further, who will the viewers be? How will you use it? Some artists are more inclined to the commercial aspect of their art activity, so their websites are designed to accommodate marketing campaigns, increase traffic, and thus reach potential clients. Other artists will be more inclined to use the website as a portfolio for museum or independent curators, gallerists, etc. Depending on these and other factors, your website might include a more extensive collection of your artworks, your various media, more information about each artwork’s process or about your art education, CV, prices, blogs, etc.
Once you determine your goals, then you can get into the planning phase. How simple or complex do you want your website to be? What will its content specifically be? You can always start with a simpler one and add on information later. Will you need a designer, or will you build it yourself? Will you choose a user-friendly platform, or a more sophisticated one that your designer will build for you? These questions, of course, will also be linked to budget, your basic technical skills, and your availability. Quick note: I believe that even if an artist decides to hire a designer for their website, they need to continue to be involved in the building of their website. The artist and website designer should be collaborators and the artist should maintain an active role in this process. There are many content management systems / platforms to choose from-- some even have free options for creating a website. At this planning stage, you will need to determine the overall organization of the content, the various galleries/folders needed if you have a variety of media, the use of logos, the color scheme, the visual appeal that will make it attractive, personal but sleek. While you might not be able to predict your future art paths, the layout should allow for potential expansion, e.g., if you develop different processes or use various media, so that you do not have to start from scratch.
Once you have a good plan for how your website will look, it is production time! Based on your plan and vision, you or your website designer will tackle the construction of it. The execution phase will include not only the building of the site, but also the testing and editing of it, and thus many iterations might occur. You need to make sure it works well for both desktop and mobile formats, in different browsers-- and be on the lookout for potential typos, links that do not work, inconsistencies, redundancies, or missing information. Once the website seems finalized: Voila! your website will go live, accompanied by the most rewarding feeling. Sharing it on social media, email communications or newsletters, along with all the promotion that comes with a brand-new website, is a thrilling experience.
As also mentioned previously, thinking that once your website goes live that your artist website journey is over would be an error. One of the most critical aspects of a website is that it is dynamic and will evolve over time! It is essential to review all the information, and update, periodically. How often the updates occur will depend on your own career. Keeping up with new artworks, new blog posts, exhibits, etc. will be essential, so that the viewer can enjoy updated information about you and your art, as well as the search engines which list your website -- a whole other topic which is important to consider and learn about.
A word on my blog: one of my dear art mentors advised me to start a blog, a great website element to add new information and updates to, and a way to create dialogue with website viewers. I embraced this advice and without much more than my intuition and love for thoughts and words, I started a blog last year. This is blog post #28! Through my blog posts, I discovered a true and honest love for sharing my story, my art process, and my influences. I am grateful for his timely and powerful advice, and I am grateful to all of you who read my posts with continuous support and enthusiasm.
Lastly, if you missed the "Tips and Tricks for Artist Websites," hosted by Studio TWO THIRTEEN, on July 7th, you can watch it here! We had a lot of great questions, and overall, it was a lovely evening! I hope you enjoy it as well!
Image: “Unveiling II” (detail), acrylic, acrylic and ink pen, and Uni POSCA on canvas, 20 x 16 inches, available for purchase. Feel free to browse through my website if you are interested in my artworks. If you have questions, please contact me here.