Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Websites for Artists: Content

Content is the next thing to consider in an artist website. I do think less is more. The further I go along, the more I think that less is actually more striking and professional looking. There is a fine balance of course. Pages in your website can include New Work, Work/Archives, CV/Bio, News/Exhibitions, Contact/Newsletter/Representation and I am sure there are more depending on different things artists have done or are involved in. I am a painter so I am aiming at what I have done. In my recently revamped website I have merged previously separate headings to come up with only 4 pages.

My most important idea for my website is my homepage, New Work. I want all my latest series in thumbnail format to be viewable as soon as you are on the home page. A single new work (see Laurie Steen's front page below) can also look very clean. But what is going to bring a viewer back to my site time and time again? Only something that is always changing. Artists' websites are notorious for being so static that you rarely have to visit more than once every few years. So if I can change the series I have on the front page every month or every few months and include the link in a quarterly newsletter then I can increase my traffic and hopefully keep my work in people's memories. Another good idea is to have your most recent upcoming exhibition on the front page.

Speaking of traffic, who am I aiming my website at? firstly, galleries that I market to. I want them to find my most recent work immediately when they arrive at the home page and be able to easily follow a path to cv/bio, etc. The more work I make them do the faster I will lose them. Easy, simple and clean is my moto. Secondly, I am also aiming my website at people who follow me and my work, buyers, fans and friends who support me and want to know what work I am doing and where I am exhibiting next. 

Your Biography/About page is statistically the next most visited page in a website so it is key. I have now combined my CV and Bio on that same page. Again, my aim is to really simplify my website and make it extremely easy for people to get around and not have to endlessly click. The more you have to click on a new page the more viewers you lose. And to be a bit cheeky and add a bit of a hidden surprise, a link to this blog is partially down the page. I am not keen to advertise this blog as a fully functioning member of my website given who I am aiming the website at. But I don't mind some people finding it and following the link out of curiosity. It is meant to be a hidden thing. The "behind the scenes", no-bullshit-about-being-an-artist blog.

Your other or older work is next. I am trying to figure out a way to show my land based paintings, my figurative work and my interiors/food paintings all in one go. I don't really want to make people choose between genres and click to separate pages. My thinking was originally to not even have old work. Once the new stuff came, the old was gone. But then an artist pointed out that people want to see the work I am talking about having done in my bio. So perhaps I will choose the best of the past series and include them on a "work" page. This I have yet to include on my site. Above is a nice clean example of exhibiting a lot of small images. Michela Sorrentino had some really nice page layouts. And I am almost certain she used the Avenue template in Squarespace as well.

I decided to combine my CV and Bio in my recent website update. My bio is quite short and my CV is quite long. What I need to do next is really edit down my CV. I need to have the headings Selected Solo Shows and Selected Group Shows and edit it down even more to the most impressive galleries and exhibitions. When you are starting out, you don't edit it down, just so you can get a CV going. Then you try to edit out the beginner type shows and carry on from there.

The two images above are a really nice layout for a News and Exhibitions page.  In fact, I copied Michela's layout in my website I thought it was so effective. http://www.michal.ca/news/ Image on one side and info nicely laid out on the other side in the same format for each item. I also really like how she puts the month and year above each for a very fast glance as to generally when the events are.

A really nice shot of Michela's home page. Each image toggles through different images. Very clean.

Lastly, for me, I have a page for my contact details, newsletter signup, and gallery representation. I currently have only 4 pages on my website which I think is great. But I am going to add a Video page for an upcoming e-course I have filmed, a Works page for older work and who knows what else as I get further along.

All in all, I think the aim of my own website design is to be as clean and simple as possible. To have as little clutter or extra pages to click to. To look extremely professional in layout, work, cv, and exhibitions. This is one of the most important tools nowadays for artists and really says a lot about an artist and where they are in their career.

Afterthought: when I initially wanted to write about website content I think I had a much more specific aim that I was wanting to get across. Now that I waited a few weeks to finally write it, I think I have lost the main aim of what I had been keen to get across. Oh well. Maybe it will come back to me and I can write a post-script addition to this post.

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