Why a Website Makes a Terrible Art Portfolio

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

It’s finally happened. A collector you chatted up at a local art event asked the golden question… “Do you have any pictures of your work?”

That question is a make-or-break moment. You need to show them a portfolio of your art — and fast — before they lose interest.

But how?

Lots of artists default to their website gallery.

With DIY website builders like Wix, you can get a website up and running in an afternoon. But does a website make a good portfolio? In some cases, yes. But does it make the best portfolio? Almost never.

So before we get into the reasons why (and what to use instead), remember that websites are useful in many other ways. You can use them to keep a personal journal or blog, build a comprehensive record of your work, supply galleries with a detailed artist’s bio and description of the artwork, and build an online presence that galleries, collectors, and curators can link back to.

Your website takes too long to load on your phone and people lose interest

How loading in WordPress works

Most artists document their artwork with photos using a professional camera or smartphone (click here if you want to know how to get the best out of your photos). While these images are excellent quality, they come along with large file sizes.

If you upload a photo to your website that’s still in its original size and resolution, it’s probably more than one megabyte. That means when you pull up your website to show someone you art ‘quickly’, you could be standing there for 30 seconds while your images painstakingly load. And that’s only after you’ve navigated to your main gallery page.

Are there ways around this? Yes — if you resize every single image AND run it through an image compressing service like tinyjpg.com. But then you have to be careful not to lose too much quality. It’s a delicate dance that takes time and know-how.

It’s worth making sure a website loads efficiently. But when you’re at a cocktail party and quickly need to show someone your work, a website simply takes too long.

Websites don’t always display images beautifully and can be troublesome on different devices

Many people don’t realize that websites are not a “one size fits all” solution. A website will display differently on every single device. So what looks good on your desktop wouldn’t look the same on your iPhone. And with 47.96% of all traffic coming from mobile phones, any display problems are a big deal.

So web designers developed something called “Responsive Design”. Responsive design means that a website will adapt to the screen size you’re displaying on. This diagram displays it best

Plus DIY websites can be clunky and annoying to use on your smartphone when you’re in a rush. Even if your photos display at the right size.

Keeping a website up to date takes time and attention

Artists are not known for their incredible powers of organization. Keeping the gallery on your website up to date is a constant struggle for many, many people. And if you want to show off an artwork that you just finished today, chances are, you’ve just snapped a picture and haven’t yet had the time to upload it.

In a nutshell: Websites are a pain to keep updated — so you probably won’t have your most recent work on-hand.

Verdict: Use one of these other methods to show people your artwork on your phone

1. Have a dedicated album on your phone

Pros:

  • Don’t need to download any software
  • Accessible without an internet connection
  • Don’t need to upload images anywhere

Cons:

  • Fiddly to set up
  • Not a professional look
  • Chance someone sees your embarrassing family photos while swiping

Use a virtual gallery app like D Emptyspace (click here to learn more)

Screen Bed by Jonnie Turpie

Pros:

  • Displays artwork in a professional gallery format
  • Share gallery links with others
  • Scale your artwork up to any size on a wall
  • Include artwork names and descriptions
  • Tell a story by sequencing your work in the right order

Cons:

  • Need to download
  • Need an internet connection or to have saved your gallery offline

Upload your art to Instagram

Pros:

  • Easy to use and familiar to most
  • Can grow a large social following
  • Automatic filters can help you color correct your photos

Cons:

  • Limited to a square image format
  • Have to create a business account for your art
  • Not very professional as a format

Building a powerful online portfolio

As a D Emptyspace featured artist mentions in her interview, being prolific online is a major asset when you’re trying to get your work out there.

“It is through technology with social media that I was invited by newyorkart.com to participate in their group exhibition of their opening of their new gallery at Franklin Place New York.” — Veronica Wong

Use whatever method looks and feels best for you as an artist when showing your portfolio of work. But don’t neglect to build an online presence at the same time.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

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The Surprising Reason Art Giveaways Can Make You Money

The Surprising Reason Art Giveaways Can Make You Money

Whether you’re a designer, a digital artist, a painter, or an artist of any kind, you’ve been asked at least once (probably many more times) to give away your artwork for free, in return for “exposure”.

This wouldn’t be acceptable in any other field, and asking for free work is just plain unethical, right? Well, I recently spoke with two artists who managed to change my mind — at least partially — on this. The key is, if you’re an artist giving away your work, you have to have a strategy and make sure you’re giving it to the right people.

While that statement is deceptively simple, it’s a major challenge for artists to put into action. Who do I give the artwork to? Why is this a good idea? When is it a good idea to give away artwork? And when is it enough? After all, you have to start making money off your artwork at some point!

If you’re struggling with this concept, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone.

Those two successful, full-time artists I spoke to gave answers that were seriously surprising.

“The people that fund charities, the people that help nonprofits, the people that have free time to go to these things, are also the people that support the arts because they have the time and money to be able to do it.

I didn’t think about that at the start. People would say “thank you so much for coming out for our cause” and then in the same breath they’re saying “hey, by the way, I like your art and I want to commission a piece”. I think that’s a great way to get started.” — John Bramblit, read the full interview here.

John Bramblit is a blind visual artist who paints using his sense of touch and “cane skills”. When he started painting, he didn’t have a network of galleries supporting him or any big contacts in the art world. But with each charity event he volunteered for, he got commissions in return.

By giving away something for free, he gained access to people who were interested in the arts AND had the money to pay for it.

He went on in our interview to say that pieces at charity art auctions often sell for prices that far exceed your normal range. While art galleries and collectors are aware of this, it still places a higher value on your work, which you can use to your advantage.

“You have to talk to people! Beyond that, it’s all about self-promotion and putting yourself out there. Set up a portfolio, make postcards with your art and go to your local city hall to request public space. Donate art to benefit nonprofit organizations. Use your art to make a difference! That’s something I’m very passionate about — it’s just a bonus that it also happens to be a great way to promote your work.” — Michael Dergar, read the full interview here.

Michael is devoted to creating equality in art. He regularly donates 50% of his exhibition sales and has founded a charity that helps disabled artists make a living. Like Bramblit, he suggests you donate your art to non-profits. By doing this your artwork will either be auctioned or displayed in a prominent public space raising your profile.

Beyond whether or not a gallery owner ‘likes’ your art, they also want to know that your work has an audience that’s willing to pay for it. At the end of the day, a gallery only has so much wall space — and they have bills to pay. By showing that your art has been bought at auctions or displayed by charities, you also prove that you’re a good investment of time.

So to answer the original question, yes, giving away your art for free can make you money. Especially if you donate it to a worthy cause. It’s a win-win situation and proves that if you go into it with a plan, giving away artwork for exposure really can be worth the investment.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download

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Three Time Tested Ways to Arrange Art in Galleries

Three Time Tested Ways to Arrange Art in Galleries

fImages from Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash

Earlier this week, we brought you Five Resources to Master the Art of Storytelling through Curation, looking at how you can give your own galleries the same wow factor as what you’d see in a museum.

Today we’re going even more basic with clear examples of three time tested ways to arrange art on walls. First we’ll look at a few common arrangements that are proven to work. Then we’ll look at some of the elements in your photographs or artwork that help you decide what goes where.

I suppose that maybe this doesn’t need to be repeated, but remember that if you really want to make an impression, you have to get good at editing and only show off your best work, not everything.

Common Arrangements for Art and Photos

There are a two very practical reasons that galleries seldom hang artwork in clusters, preferring instead for linear layouts.

A linear layout in D Emptyspace. Single, diptych and triptych.

First, when galleries are crowded, a linear layout allows visitors to walk though and enjoy each piece of art equally. Second, it means each work can be at approximately eye level. (Gallery height is 57 inches or 145 cm “on center”. This isn’t something you’ll need to worry about though in a virtual gallery like D Emptyspace.)

The Single

Thanks to what I’ve dubbed the “Instagram Effect”, most of us consume and showcase our art and photography in singles, or one-off images. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a gallery, but it does get monotonous, so you’ll want to break things up with other arrangements as well.

A “single” featured in a D Emptyspace Gallery.

When singles work: Use singles for high impact images that need to be large to be fully appreciated, or images that tell a self-contained story.

The Diptych

From Greek and meaning “two fold” the diptych originated as an artwork in two parts. The earliest diptychs were actually painted on hinged wooden panels that allowed them to be folded, but, as with most things, they’ve evolved. Generally the two images in diptychs are the same size or very close to it.

Though their origins are ancient, diptychs are still used regularly in modern art. Take, for example, Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Diptych, a silk screen work from 1962.

A diptych featured in a D Emptyspace Gallery.

When diptychs work: Use diptychs to show the relationship (or juxtaposition) between two artworks, or to split one artwork across two panels.

The Triptych

I first came across the word triptych in a university art appreciation course. Like the diptych, the term comes from Greek and this time means “tri-fold.” It emerged in the early Christian church and in many cases the three images represented the trinity. While traditional triptychs had a near 2:1 aspect ratio, this is art, so there are no rules!

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, circa 1500. (Public Domain)

Perhaps the most famous and influential triptych is The Garden of Earthly Delights a very trippy piece by Hieronymus Bosch, pictured above.

A triptych featured in a D Emptyspace Gallery.

When triptychs work: Use triptychs to tell a story with clear sections, or to draw the eye across the wall. (Or as one article suggests, use triptychs to maximize wall coverage!)

D Emptyspace

D Emptyspace is available now for iPhone. It’s an app that allows you to create and explore inspiring virtual art galleries on your phone. More than just photo sharing, it’s a way to tell stories with your artwork.

Whether you want to curate an offline gallery and test the placement of your images first, send a specific arrangement to a curator, or create online galleries to share with your friends, D Emptyspace makes everything free and easy.

Download the app on iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download