Creative Digest

Jo Atherton

Having hopefully completed your application for Herts Open Studios 2016, now is an excellent time to focus on your plans for the year and get organised. This month we look at some bad habits seen on artist websites which are easy to remedy, making sure you continue to look professional online.

A spring clean of your website can work wonders for reflecting on your achievements and making sure you are presenting the very best of yourself and your work. Every week we read about new trends online, or hear of the latest social media platform that we must join. However, the humble website is still the very best way for artists to represent themselves online.

Chances are, if you have your own website, it has probably evolved with your practice. Perhaps you now teach, have undertaken residences or received funding for a specific project. How is this reflected on your website? There is a temptation to add new sections each time a project or exhibition is completed. The layout of pages may seem logical to you, but would it be to someone who was unfamiliar with your recent projects or exhibitions?

The key is to think like a curator. You need to be selecting content that represents the very best of your practice, avoiding the temptation to include everything. Imagine if museums displayed every single item that they held in their stores - it would be impossible to enjoy and understand the meaning behind each object when overloaded with too much stimulus.

The same can be said for your website. Trim it back and remember that every image on there must deserve its place. This can be hard to do, as we do have such an emotional attachment to our work but it can be a very useful exercise, forcing you to objectively look at your work and consider those themes and pieces which best reflect your current direction.

Keep the work in progress shots and updates for social media. For many artists, their website becomes their studio, when in fact it should serve as more of a gallery. One tip is to keep all of those work in progress shots and experiments for social media. This type of content lends itself really well to the arena of the tweet or Facebook update as it offers a glimpse behind the scenes. This type of content should not be sitting alongside the very best of your portfolio on your website. Don’t despair though, as you now have a ready made publicity plan for all of your social networks!

Simple labelling of a few key sections is much better than many layers of information which force the user to delve down and become disorientated. Imagine how frustrating it is for someone having to wade through pages of irrelevant content which is replicating your life story, and this becomes especially important if they are selecting work for an exhibition and you are one of a few hundred applicants. Make it as easy as possible for them to view your work.

The key elements essential to any artist website are an artist statement about your practice, a CV, gallery or portfolio of your best works and contact information. That is the basic information which will tell the public a little more about your work, and it is far better to leave visitors to your website a little hungry, so they feel compelled to visit any forthcoming exhibitions, rather than feel they have you entire life story online and don’t need to seek out any further information!

If you decide to spring clean your website, take a look at these handy tips in past HVA newsletters:

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