On Monday I talked about websites and why it’s important that you include certain things (great photos) and leave off certain other things (auto-play music! Aieeeee!), and today I thought I’d tell you what I like to see on the websites of mixed media artists I suggest to my editors. I love my editors, and I don’t want them to curse me for sending them to sites that are going to irritate them. So here’s what I look for. Subjective? Sure, but it will give you some ideas, maybe, for a little housecleaning.
—Home page. This has got to be good, and by good I mean clean and useful and not irritating. No music, no moving parts, no flashing lights. While there are some animated websites out there that are fantastic, the home page has got to be accessible and have a couple things: the name of the artist, photos that show me what kind of art they do (if I’m looking for something to send to my editor at, say, Art Doll Quarterly, I don’t have time to look at pottery that day), a good clear menu (cutesy titles just take time to decipher; I’m looking for “Gallery” or “Current Work” not “TiddlyPuffins” or “Small Endeavors”–save the more descriptive titles for sub-menus once I get over to the work page. I need to see good professional-quality photos of your work that enlarge when I click on them. This is vital because this is what my editors see when they land on the page I send them. If I have to tell them, “Go here, and then scroll down and mouse over the photo of the tree,” I’ve probably lost them already. Did I mention they’re very, very busy people?
–Then the menu bar should have good, easy links:
I like Gallery (which can then be subdivided by size (Large Works) or material (Works on Paper) or chronology (Current Work, 2012, etc).
Bio (with an artist’s statement and all the formal info about gallery representation, etc)–this is where you have the formal info…
and then About, which is less formal and where I like to see a photo, a studio shot, maybe you working on something, and where I look for info about location (maybe we’re looking for a European artist for a specific issue), whether or not you teach, how long you’ve been working in this medium–in short, stuff that gives me an idea about you and what you do. This is where you want to be approachable and enthusiastic about your work.
I love to find a link to a Blog where I can see what you’re up to right now, where you can provide more personal information about projects and adventures and I can get an idea of what you’re like. in the early days of blogs, I’d go back and read them from the beginning before the interview. Needless to say, that doesn’t happen any more–that would be days and days of reading–but it’s still nice to be able to find out a little bit more about you.
Then I want a Contact page, where I can find an email link, your Facebook info (and Twitter, if you have that), your phone number if you want to provide it. The email address is the most important info, and it *must* be one that you check often–it’s how we’re going to try to get in contact with you if my editor likes your work, and you’d be completely amazed at how often artists provide an link to an email account they check very rarely. If a couple days go by and we don’t hear from you, we have to move on–esp. if we’re looking for someone to fill in at the last minute.
I know Links are important, but I hardly ever check those, so I can’t really give any advice except to suggest you use relevant links instead of ones to your friend’s microbrew home page and your sister-in-law’s fund-raising site.
In short, you want to keep your site clean and simple to navigate, provide excellent photos that can be enlarged to see detail, relevant info that you keep up to date (if the latest bio info is from 2007, it appears that you’re either way behind, not working any more, or dead. And I’m not being facetious: I hate contacting someone’s studio only to find out they’re no longer among us.), and a contact email you check every day.
Check out Robin Houghton’s Blogging for Creatives for more advice about using the internet to your advantage.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS