Recently, I blogged about artwork that I have seen in galleries under the heading “Art Objects Observed”.  Today I am writing about artwork that I have struggled to observe online.

For the past few hours I have been working on my talk, Wax Collage: Beyond Technique for the 6th International Encaustic Conference.  After reviewing jpegs of work submitted to me, I decided to search the internet for additional examples of wax collage to find a balance and conversation among the images for my presentation. However, I feel compelled to stop my work and shout, artists, PLEASE make your websites user friendly. I am confounded by the difficulty I  encountered navigating and the lack of important information on too many websites. I was confronted by a smorgasbord of flashy, moving, spinning things with little or no information about the work. Did I mention long periods of loading?… don’t get me started.  This tour of artists websites was like arriving at a gallery, and the door was locked.

For those of you whose websites must have been designed by Rube Goldberg, I offer to you, with a grin,  the Joseph Herscher video below as an example of the experience that you have created for a visitor to your website:

Now that I am done ranting, but still a little cranky, here’s a few basic necessities that I believe are important for a user friendly artist’s website:

A website is an ever changing entity, which should be frequently updated, refined and tweaked.

Your website should showcase your work, not the website designer’s work.

Your name should be clearly displayed. If you insist on having a signature at the top, please put your name in a legible font underneath.

Along with your name,  your biography, statement, resume and contact information should be obvious to the visitor; displayed along the top or side, in a font and size discernable to the human eye.  Do not make the visitor hunt for this information.  Adding a footer, also containing this information, works well for the belt and suspenders effect, but not necessary.

The background color or pattern should not compete for attention with your artwork.

The following categories should be well written and not in a PDF. No one wants to download your info.  Biography: please do not say that you have been making art since you were 3 years old. Write about your adult art life as it pertains to the work on your site.  Resume: start weeding as it grows.  Statement: here is your chance to tell the world about your work. Your artist statement is not a participant in the thesaurus olympics. Just write about  about your work. What would you tell a friend about your work? Some starting points may include your motivation, technique, process and historical or social influences.

Your contact information should be accurate, an email address and maybe your phone number. Do not give your street address.

When a visitor clicks on an image it should appear instantly and without fanfare. It should enlarge to a size that showcases the work.

Beside each piece of artwork, clearly displayed, should be the title, dimensions, medium and date.

Millions of people have access to your work, make their visit wonderful, effortless and share-able.  Do not forget to add social networking share buttons.

A website is your personal gallery. How does your website compare to your favorite brick and mortar gallery? I am sure that the gallery is uncluttered — simple, elegant website design, the artwork is immediately visible –easily accessible click throughs,  the art object description is complete and adjacent to the work, and if you ask for more information, the gallerist speaks about the artwork without ambiguity –a well written statement.

The next time you land on a website that you like, take moment to consider it’s content and flow.


  1. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah, hallelujah. Hah-le-lu-jah.

  2. Duh. And the same goes for entering a show. Clear instructions are given so why not follow them?

  3. Thanks Mary for this great post…I am in the middle of revamping a website – to brand myself, as an artist and to get away from my business name etc.
    I loved everything you wrote here, it is a good check list for me…I was going to use a slideshow format for my art work and wondered what you meant by the spinning thumbnails? Any websites you would recommend as GOOD ones? : )

  4. I just returned from teaching the first day of class today. Part of the discussion focused on web sites. I’m going to forward this to my students. Thanks for the rant!

  5. MB- love your rant. Best of luck with your presentation! Miss you in D’s.