Why a Website Makes a Terrible Art Portfolio
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.
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
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
- Don’t need to download any software
- Accessible without an internet connection
- Don’t need to upload images anywhere
- 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)
- 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
- Need to download
- Need an internet connection or to have saved your gallery offline
Upload your art to Instagram
- Easy to use and familiar to most
- Can grow a large social following
- Automatic filters can help you color correct your photos
- 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!
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