Artist’s Websites – now you have no excuse

Having a web presence is essential for every artist, regardless of medium, age, location, or even representation on a gallery website. Controlling the availability of images and information on your work and your career is a uniquely modern ability for artists, and it should be taken advantage of – but how? For some, web presence means uploading photos on Facebook, Flickr, or on a site like Tumblr. Others may hire a designer to build a custom website. Many choose for managed services like Other People’s Pixels. And of course, a surprising number of artists have no presence at all; either invisible completely or available only through event listings, reviews, or other accidental sources.

I’ll list a few of the best options for where and how to put your work online.

Other People’s Pixels

Other People’s Pixels is owned by Chicago artist Jenny Kendler and is a very popular host for artist’s portfolio websites. Around 10,000 artists use the service, and almost all for one reason: it is probably the easiest way to get from nothing to a full-featured, functioning online portfolio, though there are serious issues to consider.

To its credit, OPP is easy to set up. The service takes care of your domain name registration, provides unlimited bandwidth (though this sounds more valuable than it is), and allows users to upload and modify at will photos of their work, CVs, writings, links, news, and artist statements. While every site is locked into the same basic framework, customizing superficial elements like fonts, colors, backgrounds, etc., are all easily done. Every element can be changed at any time, allowing for design tweaks over time.

However, the problems with Other Peoples Pixels are many. At $16/month or $160/year, the price is very high relative to other options discussed later in this article. For that price, I would expect much more in terms of modernity and flexibility. Instead, OPP’s back-end interface is over-complicated, rudimentary, and very dated, ignoring many intuitive functions common on the modern web. The development team has a very low frequency of updates and improvements. I’ll leave out the fact that all of the websites look almost identical because to some subscribers the mediocre design’s ubiquity might be desirable, as it quickly identifies the artist as someone serious enough about their craft to not have the time to deal with their website, so they use designing and marketing companies as Indexer, to help them with this so they website get more audience and better results.

In summary: Other People’s Pixels is a paid, premium service for artist’s websites, but it doesn’t come close to living up to the implications of that description. The sacrifices subscribers must make to avoid even the calmest of technical waters largely blow the benefits of simplicity. I would recommend OPP only if you have explored every other option and found them too complicated to deploy.

Indexhibit

Indexhibit bills itself as a “web application used to build and maintain an archetypal, invisible website format that combines text, image, movie, and sound,” and was created by artist Daniel Eatock and designer Jeffery Vaska. The format is a riff on the ancient left-column-right-body framed designs of early web, though now accomplished through modern design techniques.

In its purest application, an Indexhibit design retreats from the eye, providing just enough material for navigation and allowing the hosted content (paintings, photographs, etc) to make up the lion’s share of the site’s display. The simple framework does allow for customization, and a tour through the project’s participants shows many unique variations. Almost all share the simple (and intuitive) nested navigation on the left.

Going from zero to a fully functional website is not as easy here as it is with completely managed options like Other People’s Pixels, but it isn’t hard. The site has excellent documentation, however, including video instructions and a dummy-guide. To start with, you’ll need your own domain – I use Lithium Hosting, and their $10 a year plan should be more than enough for an artist’s website – and an FTP Client like FileZilla.

The design’s back-end – where the site can be customized, artwork added, etc – is excellent. Broad visual changes can be made instantly, allowing for a great deal of trial-and-error tweaking. Artwork and images are added in a simple, single-page interface, and customized without a lot of form-filling. The modern design shines here, especially with the in-browser drag and drop organization featured throughout the site. I recommend turning on the Advanced settings to get at critical tools like thumbnail sizing and slideshow displays.

It’s not difficult to set up a website using the basic, included theme, however customizing your website requires modifying or rebuilding CSS-based themes. For designers or those familiar with CSS, this is a huge advantage – the openness allows for almost anything to be done on top of the Indexhibit framework. For everyone else, this means that modifying elements as simple as link color or font size will be impossible without learning some basic CSS. While the default theme isn’t bad, I’d recommend hiring a designer if you’re looking for something different.

In summary: considering the cost of Indexhibit (free), its modern design, and the endless potential for modification, Indexhibit makes an excellent choice for an artist’s website. While more complicated to set up than fully managed options, it shouldn’t take more than an hour or two to set up regardless of experience with the tools involved. If you are hiring a designer, I’d recommend asking for a site based on Indexhibit.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *