Thursday, 22 October 2015

Artist Archive List of On-line Art Submissions Sites

This is my list of on-line art submissions sites that ideally I would peruse through every month. I am more sporadic than that. A lot of artists ask me where I find submissions for exhibitions and these are my top places to look on-line. This list for me is an extremely valuable resource.

This site has a small number of really good submissions. My best exhibition that came from this site was a group show in Poland. I was flown there, put up in a hotel, fed, and attended the opening at a major cultural institution. An all expenses paid exhibition. Did I mention they also paid for my installation art piece to be manufactured and paid for?

This is a massive site with so many submission deadlines it can be overwhelming. But they also have a lot of on-line resources for artists. They have deadline lists for each month plus a list of rolling deadlines. Also included are residencies and so much more.

THE ARTERY (Canada) (click on pdf)
This is a big submission list in Canada. Excellent and includes residencies and international submissions. (UK) (UK - good idea to join their mailing list for deadlines) (UK)

Mailing lists of submissions (Canada) (go to Contact and apply for your region of choice)

If you know of any more good submission lists, leave a comment with a link, and I will add the comment.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Web Hosting for Artist Websites

For years I have had a Dreamweaver built website that a web designer set up for me. I learned enough Dreamweaver to maintain and update it and redesign parts of it. But it was cumbersome and time consuming to update. If something went wrong with the script or programming, then I wouldn't always know how to fix it beyond cutting and pasting from another page and hoping the problem would disappear. Mostly it did. Sometimes it didn't. Until lately when I couldn't even upload changes.

Years ago I looked for a clean, free web host in order to set up a site for another artist who made small scale sculptures. I couldn't find anything I thought looked professional and minimal enough. When I looked at paid websites I still couldn't find anything decent. There seemed to be a hole in the market. I had an idea 10 years ago that this was a brilliant business opportunity if I could only find a web designer to work with me. Then I could design the layouts and they could do the programming. Now, 10 years later I actually need the website for myself and am surprised at what I find.

I read an excellent article in my web search written by a web designer. He maintained that there were only two places he would recommend a visual artist use: Wordpress and Squarespace. He wouldn't bother with any other. When I ask artists what they recommend it is always Squarespace that comes up. Both Wix and Weebly come up now and again too so I thought I would explore these as well. But I am sort of stuck on the idea of using because it can be free and I would have 100% control.

I looked at Wix and Weebly to begin with as they were the last options on my list. They are both paid and I am not sure how easy and uniform they are to maintain an artist website with 10+ bodies of work. If I am going to pay, then I might as well use the one designed for artists (Squarespace). I crossed them both off my list despite thinking maybe I should build a website in each to test them all (I obviously don't know how much work that is). is my first option (not to be confused with and I found a free theme that seemed to do almost all of what I want. Responsive Theme: Hatch (see below).

So I download and the Hatch template. I have two folders for each on my desktop which I open. I am looking at programming files in each. What is this? I have no idea what to do with them. Yes, I can watch videos and read tutorials and learn, but if I can't intuitively figure it out quickly, this likely will take up too much of my time. Besides, I need a new website finished in a month and my time is tight within that window.

I immediately go to to check out much closer what they have to offer. The Avenue template is what I visually like the best. (see below)

What are my top goals for a website? 
-Clean, professional, minimal that can showcase my art and make it look really professional.
-Free if possible or almost free.
-Easy to use and possible for me to build and maintain myself.
-Somewhere I can port my domain to.
-A responsive site (it resizes for different devices and therefore does not get downgraded by Google search engine).

After choosing Squarespace I realise I also need some further things they offer:
-A built in Google Analytics.
-A built in Google search thingy (where you put in the key words and it makes the search engine work for you).
-An easy way to add galleries, videos, photos, etc..
-Web support.

-No domain email capacity. I signed up with Zoho Mail (free) and have just got all the kinks ironed out for IMAP/POP mail.
-Templates can be a bit limited, but for the sake of the ease of the rest, it is workable.
-It is not free. I am the consummate starving artist always looking for the cheapest. The good news is it is cheaper than my last hosting plan.

Would I recommend Squarespace? 
Quite frankly I think it is the only option out there for artists. It is what I would have liked to have come up with 10 years ago when nothing like this existed and there was that black hole in the market. But looking at what they have achieved, I would have had to give up my creative job in order to built such a successful empire. Go Squarespace! 

Most artists that I know hire web designers to set up their Squarespace website. But I am determined it must be easy to do myself. It takes me a good whole day to figure it all out, googling how to do things the template doesn't naturally do. But I do it and now I know how it works and I can control it and maintain it (and change templates anytime I want to). 

The price I figure is less than I was spending at my previous host ( Currently Doteasy holds my domains (, Squarespace hosts my website (, and Zohomail hosts my domain email ( 

Note: you can Google Squarespace voucher codes and get 10% off the first year. I did and I think I paid about $86 for the year on top of the domain. 

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. 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.