Monday, December 20, 2010

Large Images Make Photographer's Site an Effective Showcase

Photographer Miikka Skaffari creates dramatic and artistic photos pf people, places, and objects.  His website,, is devoted to showcasing his work with large images and very little text. 

The site features the usual About page, contact info, social networking links, and even a blog, but the focus is clearly on the beautiful large photos. The images are so striking, I couldn't resist going through every photo. Congratulations to Miikka on a very effective presentation of his work.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Illustrations Enhance Website

Last week we looked at a very simple site designed to showcase the artist's work.

In contrast, illustrator Junior Shelver has created an illustrated background for his site,, and uses additional illustrations within the site to...  well...  illustrate his art.

The site includes all the basic features:  gallery pages, artist bio, and contact info, plus a blog and a guestbook.  There are social networking links (Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc) on all pages, but it is the design and illustration that  really make this site work as an effective marketing vehicle for Shelver's work.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's all about the work on Chris Anderson's site

The home page of Chris Anderson's website,,  is dominated by a large slideshow featuring his stunning nature photography.

The Recent Work and Galleries sections feature good-size thumbnails, which lead to large, high resolution images, each with a title, show description, and "Buy Print" button.

There are the usual Profile and Contact pages, but  the bulk of the site is focused on simply showing Anderson's work and letting it speak for itself.  The neutral background and simple design make the photos really stand out.

As we've seen in the past, some of the best websites don't try to draw attention with elaborate designs of fancy features...  and Chris Anderson's site is a great example of this strategy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pastel Basics by Anne Enochs

Many artists, through choice or necessity, supplement their art income by teaching.  For some, teahcing becomes their primary vocation.

Anne Enochs' site,, is a great example of an art teacher's website. 

The site is easy to navigate, and it's easy to find info about Anne's background, and her classes.  In addition, there is a prominent link at the top of the page for a basic course on DVD.

There are also several gallery pages with large thumbnails of the artist's work.  By featuring her own work on the site, Anne establishes her credibility as a teacher.  In addition, some of the works are for sale and can be purchased directly through the website.

Overall this is a very professional and effective site that clearly accomplishes the goals of marketing Enochs' teaching services and artwork.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Website Killers

We're frequently asked how we select the Art Site of the Week. There's no magic formula; we try to feature sites that illustrate useful ideas or new features, but sometimes a site just catches our eye!

However, there are many sites that are almost sure NOT to be selected, because of design flaws that make the sites difficult or frustrating to navigate and view. These are things to avoid when creating an artist website, because they will cause many users to leave you site without viewing it.

  1. Music on the site.  Contrary to what you might think, music does not enhance the user's experience.  Visitors may be in an environment where they can't listen to the music, or they may simply not like your choice.  Whatever the reason, analysis of web logs shows that a significant percentage of visitors leave immediately when the music starts.  So unless you are trying to drive people away from your site - get rid of the music.
  2. Long load times.  The web has made people impatient!  If you site takes more than a few seconds the load, visitors will often leave.  This is often a problem for Flash websites. 
  3. Amateurish design.  Design is subjective, but studies show that people judge you by the quality of your website.  If it looks amateurish, visitors are unlikely to take your work seriously.  If you don't have the skills to create a professional looking website, consider hiring someone to do it for you.
  4. Hidden or 'mystery' navigation.  Sorry, the visitor doesn't know that the little easel icon is a lin to your portfolio...  and probably won't bother to try it.  If you want people to find their way around your site, spell it out!
  5. Inconsistent navigation.  Make sure the same navigation choices appear in the same place on every page (typically at the top or left edge).  Visitors who can't easily find what they are looking for frequently leave.
  6. Typos and spelling errors.  While not as serious as some of the other website flaws, typos and mistakes make a site look less professional.  If you are not confident with your spelling and grammar skills, have someone proofread your site.
  7. Display problems.  Artist websites often use advanced Javascript, CSS, and server-side scripting to deliver advanced features.  However, these features may cause the site to display incorrectly in some browsers.  (Most professional web designers test on the two most recent versions of each of the major browsers, and versions 6 through 8 of Internet Explorer...  another good reason to hire a professional.)
  8. Proprietary plugins.  You website should not require the visitor to download and install something in order to view it, because very few visitors will.
There are many potential problems that will make visitors leave, rather than explore your website, but the list above represents the problems we see most frequently.  Check your own site, and if you have any of these problems, it's time to fix them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ambitious project seeks to create virtual museum

Visit the site:
The Museum Syndicate website is not an artist website per se.  Rather, it is an online gallery displaying the works of almost a thousand artists.  The goal of the site is to "provide an archive of the world's artistic works and historical artifacts in a single online environment."

Given this huge goal, the current collection of 47,521 works is barely scratching the surface.  Still, its interested (and fun) seeing the works of so many great artists.  The works can be sorted by artist, country, museum, or "tag."

I was somewhat disappointed that the tags do not identify major movements or styles of art...  for example, you can view "impressionist" paintings.  Still, that's a minor quibble about what is otherwise a useful and fascinating resource.

The creator of the site, Jonathan Dunder, accepts contributions from living artists as well.  His contact information is provided on the website.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pennsylvania Guild Crafts a Nice Website

The recently updated website of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen ( is a good example of a website for a guild or group.

The site is cleanly designed and easy to navigate.  It's got all the expected features of a modern website (tie-ins to social networking pages, e-mail list signup, calendar of coming events), without being flashy.

In its current form, the site does a great job of serving the needs to visitors and the general public.

There seem to be many more pages and features planned in the Member Resources area; we look forward to seeing the site when these are complete.

For sites that do a good job of providing services to their members, see our post on the Boulder Potters Guild and Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild, in June 2010).

Monday, November 1, 2010 offers rich array of features

We'd like to start out this month by thanking Toni Daniel, who alerted us to by showing us her own website, is operated by, a popular print-on-demand service for artists.

Toni is one of a growing number of artists taking advantage of artist website hosting companies, which offer attractive site templates, simple navigation, and an extensive set of features.

Toni's site showcases her beautiful nature photography and impressionist oil paintings...  most of which can be purchased directly from FineArtAmerica in a variety of formats, including posters, framed Giclee prints,  stretched canvases, and even greeting cards. 

The site features include an artist statement, event calendar, blog, contact form, mailing list signup, and much more.  It's a sophisticated, full-featured site that really promotes Toni's work.

For another example, we looked at  Karin has taken advantage of the blog and news capabilities at to talk about her gallery shows and awards.

Companies like usually limit the ability of the artist to control the appearance and functions of their website.  In return, they offer a great set of features - include easy ways for artists to sell their work - at a very affordable price.  It's certainly an option worth considering!

(Note that it would also be possible for an artist to have their own domain name, and "forward" the name to their page.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Effective Flash Site

We are frequently critical of Flash websites, which overly complicate the user interface for no good reason, but demonstrates that it is possible to create a clean, easy-to-navigate site using Flash.

The site features the "standard" navigational menu, consistently placed on all pages.  It's clean, easy to use, and FAST, and the very simple design provides a great showcase for the artist's colorful work.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Visit to Gallery leads to Attractive Website

I first saw Marsha Rafter's work in a gallery in Auburn, California. I was intrigued by her technique, and afterwards visited her website,

It's important for artists to understand this increasingly common  scenario...  people today often visit the artist's site after seeing his or her work, to learn more about the artist.  The website provides a way for the artist to build a stronger connection with the visitor, leading to future sales.

The home page shows the artist at work, along with several good-sized thumbnails of her work with links to the gallery pages.

Clear and simply navigation choices on the left side of the page lead to information about the artist, her process, gallery pages, events, representation and ordering information.

The site's bold color is eye-catching and works well with the artist's mosaic creation, and the pictures of the artist give the site a personal feel.  

More importantly, the information on the site - the artist's background, technique, and other places to see her work - were exactly what I was looking for.

Congratulations Martha on an effective website.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Simple, Attractive Site Showcases Art Gallery

As we've often seen, a website doesn't need to be high-tech to be effective. Olde Towne Art has a clean, easy to navigate website ( that provides a good overview of the gallery, and showcases the work of each of the member artists.

The site also has a nice map and directions to the gallery - a must for an organization with a physical location. There's also a calendar with info on classes taught by the artists.

The color scheme of the site is bold, but the overall design is quite simple, and it manages to not distract from the artwork in the "Artists" section.

An artist or art group website need to present information and showcase artwork... anything beyond that risks becoming a distraction. Olde Towne Art gets it right with a simple and effective site.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Clean Design Showcases Collage Work

Megan Coyle produces unique works of collage art, using a technique she calls "painting with paper." Each work is made up of myriad bits of colored paper.

In contrast, the design of her website - - is quite simple, with a minimum of color, so her work really "pops" from the page. The site contains a great deal of information about the artist, her work, and even caring for collage art. The Art (portfolio) section shows a good select of Megan's work; many of the individual pieces include links to purchase a print.

The artist also has a mailing list, RSS feed, and pages on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube, all of which can be reached through links on the footer of each page.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Watercolorist's Website Features Extensive Portfolio

Maud Durland's website,, includes biographical information about the artist, current shows, awards, and gallery representation.  But the primary feature of the site is the extensive portfolio section, with over a dozen pages divided by theme. 

The portfolio pages feature good size thumbnails... big enough to give a general idea of the overall work.  Clicking on a thumbnail displays a larger image, and for many of the works, an order form for purchasing Giclee prints, art prints, or even the original work if it is still available.

This is a well-designed and highly functional site for a successful professional artist.

Monday, September 20, 2010

High impact images create a dramatic website

Collin Bogle creates realistic nature art. He's chosen several dramatic samples of his work to use as page backgrounds on his site,, creating an immediate impact on site visitors.

Collin's site has "all the basics" we expect from a good artist site: consistent, easy navigation, basic info on the home page, gallery and event pages, and info on purchasing his work.

The use of dramatic images sets the site apart and invites the visitor to explore further. Congratulations to Collin on an effective artist website.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An attractive portfolio page

Fantasy artist and illustrator Michelle Hoefener has a very basic website. In fact the site,, is just a single page!

But on that single page, Michelle provides a bit of background about herself, a link to a downloadable resume, an e-mail contact link, and two portfolio sections that provide a good representation of her work. By using her own work as a page background, she's created an attractive site with a lot of impact.

There is also a link to the artist's page at deviantART, where she maintains a journal and posts new work.

Hoefener's site shows that a basic site need not be boring, and can be an effective showcase for the artist and her work.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Something a little different!

A good artist website needs to be simple to navigate, provide relevant information about the artist, and showcase the artists work. 

This can lead to a certain "sameness" among art sites.  That's not a bad thing...  remember, the goal of the site is to promote the artists and their work, not win awards for creative web design!

But still, it's refreshing to find sites that show off the artist's personal style while still not distracting the visitor from the artwork.

We think Joshua Hicks's website,, has just the right balance.   It's easy to get around the site.  The portfolio pages work well.  There's basic information about the artist.  But the site still manages to convey a sense of Joshua's style.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Professional Site from Accomplished Wildlife Artist

Mark S. Anderson's website, is clearly professionally designed. The home page animation, which cycles through several of Anderson's works, is very well done, and the small changing painting in the upper left corner of each page is a nice touch. I particularly like the design of the buttons in the Online Gallery section.

The site,, gives the impression of an established and successful artist... a big plus for someone selling work to collectors and conservation groups.

I'd like to see somewhat larger pictures in the Gallery to really appreciate the detail in Mark's paintings, but I understand the concern many artists have about unauthorized copies being downloaded. (I'll be talking about this issue in a future post.)

Congratulations to Mark on a very attractive and professional site.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Traditional Site Provides Extension Information for Artists and Collectors

The Oil Painters of America website has a traditional feel that complements the group's mission - the preserving and promotion of representational art. The site has over 100 pages of information about the organization, its programs and activities.

There is little art on the site, other than the montage of paintings on the home page. However, the site has powerful database search capabilities, allowing visitors to find members and the galleries that represent them.

The design is attractive and professional, but there are few frills:  the focus is clearly on content and services.

This is a great example of a site designed to provide extensive (and easily located) information and resources for a large community of artists and collectors. 

Visit the site at

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to Basics: a Clean Site makes Effective Use of Web Technologies

Derek Gores is a mixed-media collage artist. His cleanly-designed site,, is a great showcase for his work. It has all the features we expect from an effective artist website: clear navigation, info on the artist, upcoming shows, and commission & purchase information. There's a nice video - sort of a visual artist statement - showing Derek and his work.

There is a Flash animation on the home page of the site which gradually zooms out over a couple of Derek's work, showing how the detail coalesces into the finished piece. The Artwork gallery makes use of JavaScript and CSS to create a neat visual pop-up effect. Derek's site uses web technology (video, Flash, and JavaScript) to enhance the visitor's experience, without getting in the way.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Major Museum Website

As a change of pace, this week we're going to look at a major museum's website.

Over the weekend, I visited the De Young museum, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The museum is currently hosting and exhibit called the Birth of Impressionism, with pieces on loan from the Musée d’Orsay.

The home page of the museum's website ( gives a rotating view of current shows and programs, in addition to links for other shows. The pull-down menus are the top allow the visitor to find information about the museum, its permanent collection, educational programs, membership, current exhibitions, and even parking. There's a lot of information, but it's generally well-presented and easy to find.

Pictures of artwork set the tone and entice the site visitor, but the website is clearly intended to present information, not display the museum's collection online.

Once I clicked on the link to learn more about the Birth of Impressionism show, I was disconcerted to see that the top menu bar changed. The new navigation links provided information about the exhibition, tickets, group visits, sponsors, etc, but it was not immediately clear how to get back to the main menu (to find parking information, for example). This problem could have been avoided by adding a secondary navigation bar for the "exhibit" related choices, without replacing the main navigation.

Overall the museum's site is well-designed, attractive, and functional, as you would expect from a "big budget" site... but it's clear that even major sites sometimes make basic usability mistakes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Simple Slideshow Engages Visitors

Dana Levin's website,, has many of the same features we've discussed in previous weeks:  a design that complements the work, simple navigation, multiple gallery pages, coming events, and information on buy the artist's work.

But designing the "home page" - the first thing a visitor sees - is always a challenge.  You got one chance to engage the visitor and draw him into the site.   Dana's site uses a very simple slideshow, consisting of five images shown in rotation, to show multiple examples of her work.

There's nothing fancy or high-tech about Dana's approach...  a bit of Javascript changes the image every two seconds.  But it adds interest to the home page and gives the visitor a better taste for Dana's work than an single image could.

Visit Dana's site and enjoy her "Contemporary Realism" paintings.

In future weeks, we'd like to present "must visit" resource sites for artists. Please Suggest a Site!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Curious Creatures, Clean Website

Artist Lynnette Shelley showcases her beautiful and intriguing artwork on a clean, easy-to-navigate website - The drop-down menus make it easy to find sections of the artist's portfolio, information on shows and exhibitions, purchase info, and a blog.

The artist's background and additional information is nicely summarized on the home page, below a dramatic, page-spanning sample of Lynette's work.

The Gallery section is divided into four parts, each arranged a bit differently. Normally we like to see consistent organization, but the slight differences add some visual interest, and don't get in the way of ease-of-use.

Links to social network pages, both from the main website and the blog, show that Lynnette is well-connected with a large community of artists and fans.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This Week It's Back to Black...

... with the website of Eric Armusik - Some of the sites we've featured in the past used a black (or dark gray) background to highlight the artwork. In the case of Armusik's site, the dark background seems to be chosen for dramatic effect.

From the striking photo of the artist, to the video on the front page, to the announcement of a featured event (at the time of this posting, an upcoming Marathon Portrait Weekend), the site is strongly focused on promotion. There are also prominent links to the artist's pages on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, and WordPress.

Like other sites we've discussed, this site features clear and consistent navigational menus. Major headings lead to galleries of the artist's work (modern representational art), information about the artist, and opportunities to buy and commission paintings or sign up for workshops.

Rather than creating a passive "portfolio" site, Eric Armusik clearly understands how to use the web as an effective marketing and promotional tool.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Simple and Fun

Daniel Maher Stained Glass - - is a very 'simple' website; it looks like it could easily have been built by hand-coding html.

At the same time, the creative use of color and type makes the site fun and engaging, and the consistent navigation menu makes it easy for visitors to find their way around the site.

Maher's site demonstrates that you don't need a big budget to create an effective website.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Art Sites Don't Have to be Black or Gray!

I noticed that in the first few weeks of this blog, the sites selected to showcase had plain dark backgrounds...  so this week we're going to look at a colorful site, where the background image, icons, and even type faces reflect the artist's theme.

Bill Owen calls himself The Cowboy Artist, and his work - sculptures, lithographs and prints - features scenes of the West.  His website,, uses one of Bill's paintings as a backdrop, and features several images of his work on the home page.

Like other artist sites we've featured, Bill's extensive site features consistent navigation, making it easy for visitors to see and purchase his work, and to learn more about his background. The Events page is up-to-date and lists current and upcoming shows.

The site also features a small but fun touch - several of Bill's working "brands" are displayed, with notes on each.

This is a great example of a site that is creative, looks good, complements the artists work, and does not sacrifice usability!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Art Group Website: the Boulder Potters Guild

The challenge for art groups is to develop a website that represents the group to the general public, and also provides services to members.

The Boulder Potters' Guild is a good example of striking that balance with their website,

This attractive website provides information about the Guild, its facilities, upcoming events, sales, workshops and and classes. (There's a What's New link right on the home page.)

It also provides gallery pages where member artists can post short bios and photos of their work, and a separate member login area where members can get additional information not available to the general public.

A well-designed and useful art group website such as this is within the resources and abilities of many art groups.  It's a major benefit of membership in the group!

For another good example of an art group website, visit the Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild at  (Disclosure:  I am a member of this group.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Large and Sophisticated Site -

Like the site we discussed last week, A.D. Cook's website,, features a clean design that allows his striking artwork to stand out.  The sophisticated menus and image galleries show a high level of technical expertise, but just like GayLynn Ribeira's site, the main focus is on the artist and his work.

The Home page shows strong samples of Cook's work, and tells us a bit about the artist.  The top navigation menu, which is consistently placed on all pages of the site, lets us easily find more images, information about the artist, upcoming and previous events, and contact information.  Additional navigational links below the gallery thumbnails lead to more gallery pages, organized by category.

There are also links to Cook's Twitter, FaceBook, and MySpace pages, and an e-mail list signup - increasingly common features for artists showcasing their work online.

Congratulation to Mr. Cook on an excellent site.

In the coming weeks, we'll look beyond basic artist "showcase" sites to discuss art group websites and various forms of experimental sites... as well as other options for building websites.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Clean, Simple and Effective -

I had considered featuring "the ultimate artist website" for my first Art Site of the Week.

But aside from the difficulty of finding a really great site, I also felt that it would be better to start out with a site that could be created by any artist, with some planning and work.  Rather than talking about big sites with lots of fancy technology and features, I wanted to talk about what makes a good website.

And I found a near-perfect example in  GayLynn Ribeira's site,!

The first thing that impressed me was the home page.  It's attractive, and features strong examples of the artist's work, as well as telling visitors what the artist does:  portraits and figurative art.

The design is simple and showcases the art, rather than competing with it.

Going deeper into the site, I found even more things that impressed me: 
  • Site navigation (the menu of links for moving from page to page) is consistent on every page of the site. 
  • The Portraits, Drawings and Landscapes pages each display an attractive "album."  
  • Clicking on the individual thumbnails brings up a "gallery" page where you can see still more paintings.  
  • The gallery pages feature small thumbnail images, as well as Next and Previous links.  Each piece is shown large enough to see the detail, but small enough to load quickly, and the title and medium are shown below the large image.
  • The site also includes information about the artist, and pricing and procedures for commissioning portraits.
GayLynn's site showcases her work, and doesn't get in the way of the user.  It uses some pretty basic web technology, but has the advantage of displaying correctly in all the browsers I tested.

It's a great example of what an artist's website can and should be!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Our first Art Site of the Week will be featured on June 14!

Review our selection criteria and suggest a site by visiting the "Art Site of the Week" page.

We look forward to hearing from you!