What to Include When You Make an Artist Website (and What to Leave out!)

I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 years, but I’m also an artist, and I cobbled together a ridiculous website to sell my art using Dreamweaver approximately 14 years ago. It sucked. I didn’t know how to make an artist website, and there weren’t a lot of good examples back then to emulate.

I’m so excited that artists can make cool websites now to not only promote and sell their work, but also to give people a peek behind what is the art. People like their peeks. Give them their peeks. Also? We need to discuss artist statements. Please read on.

• If you are an artist and feel like also doing some tutorials, blogging, reviews, I highly suggest setting up a WordPress site to get the most exposure and blogging resources. WordPress is simply the best for blogging.

These are my detailed instructions to help you set up a WordPress site.

• If you want to focus on selling your own work, with zero to a little blogging on the side, go with a Shopify site. They are fantastic for Ecommerce.

• If you are looking to simply feature your art on a lovely, slick site, check out Squarespace. Nice designs; user-friendly.

Okay. Now that you’ve gotten your platform chosen, here’s what to include, and what to leave out as you make an artist website:

Images: You’ll obviously want to include lots and lots of images. And you’ll need to take the best photos possible, or hire someone to do it for you. Use large images! Fill up that space.

Show work from your past, (maybe not all of it) and/or include other types of work/mediums you work with. People like to poke around a site and see a whole body of work. Organize it into groups so people don’t have to randomly scroll through pages of art.

About Page: Totally, absolutely include an About Me page. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be too revealing. Write a simple bio letting people know where you live, who you live with, how you learned your art, why you chose your medium. Some extra bonus things to include: pets, influences, hobbies, some random story. Give people something to read and get to know you a little better by.

Statement: Don’t write a long, flowery, pretentious artist statement. For fuck’s sake, artists are visual people and I have read the worst writing of my entire life from artists. I’ve written the worst writing in my entire life in my 20’s, trying to emulate ridiculous artist statements I had read, because I thought I needed to come across as brilliantly articulate about my art.

Keep your artists statement relevant to your art, use simple, clear writing, be authentic like you are describing your art to a close friend. If you must be formal, at least pair down your huge vocabulary words so your statement is readable.

Social Media: Add your social media links prominently on your homepage/contact page/anywhere else you want. In this age of social media, you want to make it easy for people to follow you so they can interact with you, see your new work, and help promote you.

Extra Bonus Tips:

  • Let people click on a piece of work to see it up close – you can use a lightbox plugin in WordPress, or I think Shopify and Squarespace include this capability.
  • Make it easy to navigate your site and your portfolio. Don’t get caught up in the design of your site to the point where it’s confusing to flip through your work. Keep it simple and clear. Please. I beg of you. People will click away in frustration so fast.
  • Lastly (for now) add a contact form so people can get in contact with you.