A Page from Our Handbook: Designing and Building Your Artist Site

In Detroit, Rola Nashef and Donavan Glover receiving their Creative Capital Artist's Tools Handbook

In Detroit, Rola Nashef and Donavan Glover receiving their Creative Capital Artist’s Tools Handbook. Photo Credit: Sarah Nesbitt, ArtServe Michigan. 

The following post comes from the Professional Development Program’s (PDP) Artist’s Tools and Internet For Artists handbooks, which are used in our workshops. If this piece leaves you wanting more, you’re in luck! On Monday February 13, PDP leader and artist Sue Schaffner will host a webinar on Web, Blog & Email Essentials. For more information on Creative Capital’s workshops and webinars, see our online calendar.

The first impression of your site is the most important. It should spark the viewer’s interest, either through an evocative image, media or through clearly presented information about you and your work. For some artists this can be simply a name, email link and a photo; for others it’s a menu of links to bios, catalog, media and an archive.

Start by looking at sites you love and see what strategies you can adopt. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Are you a touring musician who is also currently producing soundtracks, developing a symphony on commission, and rehearsing with a new band? You might think about a blog-style front page with multiple columns, like a newspaper, that lets the viewer see all of what you are up to but focuses on the most current.
  • Are you a monologist who makes a new piece every five years? A simple site you can update quarterly might be enough.
  • Are you a painter making a figurative watercolor series about seasonal transformation in your region of the world? Find a way to let the visitor virtually travel to your location when they get to your site.

Building a Site
Building a complex site can take some time. Here are some options on building your site, and the pros and cons of building it yourself or hiring a professional.

Teach Yourself
Many platforms for building your own website are user friendly and are continually getting easier to use. If you can take the time to learn one of these platforms (iWeb, WordPress, Gallery) then you will have complete control over your site and it will be easy to update an change as frequently as you need.

Example platforms include:-

  • SquareSpace – one of the latest hosted services to enter the field and using the most up to date methods.

    • PROS: Very easy to update and change. Very well designed and engineered with a good balance of usability and flexibility. More flexibility than most hosted services. Try it out for free. Also allows you to use your own domain name.

    • CONS: Monthly cost $8-16/mo. Not able to so quite anything you want (but still very good). Hosted on their servers. Only one domain name per account.

  • MODx – a content management system

    • PROS: Free and open source, very flexible, paid help is available

    • CONS: requires more technical set up, smaller community of users

Hire Someone
You can hire someone to build an entire site and do the upkeep, or hire someone to get you set up with one of the above listed platforms and have them instruct you as to how to update it. The cost of these two approaches varies depending on the complexity of your needs. With the first choice, the downside is that you are beholden to someone else to do your updates. If you can update the site yourself after the initial setup, you are more likely to keep the content fresh and current.

For more detailed information on enhancing your web presence, be sure to register for our upcoming PDP webinar, Web, Blog & Email Essentials, with artist leader Sue Schaffner on Monday, February 13 at 7:00pm EST. 

Register Now

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Holly Ajala

About Holly Ajala

Holly Ajala is a writer and storyteller with a fierce belief in the power of effective narrative to inspire empathy in the face of difference, to propel the reach of social justice and above all to challenge humans beings to be more human. To these ends, Holly has worked with the NYU Leadership Initiative, the ACLU Racial Justice Project , and the NYC Collaborative Writing Project to amplify the reach of marginalized voices, narratives, stories and communities. Holly currently writes for AYO Magazine, an online publication dedicated to honest and multifaceted portrayals of black women in search of joy. She is a recent NYU graduate with a B.A. in Politics and Africana Studies. She joined Creative Capital in 2016 and currently resides in Harlem.

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