Time to Take a Look at Your Website, Part I

Part of my job is finding mixed media artists for my editors, and while I sometimes come across someone new at an art retreat or art fair, 99% of the time I find people online. That’s where most of us do everything now, and what we find there is way more important than many of us ever would have imagined.

Here’s the deal: your website is your baby. It’s your online representation, the face you present to the digital world. On it, you want your art, sure, but you also want your personality, so people can get to know you, right? Maybe your family, some music you like, something sparkly to grab people’s attention. A full bio, so people know why you do what you do, and some photos, so they can see you and see that trip you took to Umbria last year and you eating lukewarm chicken at that awards ceremony where you got a plaque. You need all this, right?

Wrong. So, so wrong. We’re assuming here that the reason you have a website is because you want to get your art out there, share it and attract the attention of other people who can help you find fame and fortune, or at least chance to show your work and/or be published. And the first thing to remember about these people–show coordinators or gallery reps or magazine/book editors, is this: they are busy, busy people. While most of them would dearly love to do nothing but curate art–surf the web all day long looking for new artists whose work they can showcase–they don’t have that luxury. We’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s important that artists periodically look at their website with fresh eyes, checking to see what works and what might need to be changed. So here are my suggestions–subjective, sure, but there’s this: I check out a lot of websites and have to decide, in the space of the first few seconds I’m there, whether or not my editors are going to want to go there or are going to gnash their teeth at me for having wasted their time and ruined their morning.

–I don’t send them to sites where music begins playing as soon as you land on the home page. Not only is it irritating–often loud, and almost always music you don’t personally like–but it’s an indication to me that the person doesn’t take their work seriously, which is in turn an indication that working with them might not be as easy as it should be. Yes, this is a generalization, and it may often be wrong. But it’s right enough of the time that it makes a difference.

–The moment you land on the home page, you need to be able to see what kind of work you’re looking at. There need to be photos there, and it’s a good thing if I can click on them to enlarge them to get a better look. I hate it when I click to enlarge and get a photo that is maybe a nanocentimeter larger than the original photo. What’s the point? It wasted a little bit of time, and don’t for a second underestimate how important time is.

–Think twice before you fill your site with ads. While it may seem vital to you as a way to bring in more income, it makes your site look messy, and it overwhelms your work, making you look less like a working artist than a salesperson. There are sites I have to go to from time to time, sites that are packed with ads that may be relevant but are, simply put, a distraction from the work.

–Keep the personal stuff somewhere else. I personally prefer two pages: an artist’s statement/resume page, and an “about” page that might include a couple photos (work-related, not your grandkids–think studio shots) and information provided in less formal text than you use for your official statement.

OK–on Wednesday I’ll give some concrete guidelines for what I look for on artist’s websites. It’s not written in stone, and it’s purely subjective, but it will give you something to think about as you look at the place you call your online home.

Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.

Blogging for Creatives 160For advice about using your blog to generate business, check out Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton.





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