My old webpage was serious, it was business, it was boring, it wasn’t me. It was like winding up a clockwork drumming toy, drowning it in bubble-wrap, and placing it in a four ring binder. How is anyone ever going to hear it there?
So I set about re-imagining the whole thing. I identified my goals for my new site quickly: I wanted to build a platform - not a monument, I wanted to create a place where I could be myself, I wanted something that would make people I have never met excited about my work, and I wanted the pictures to be really big. Because I make pictures.
Here’s a little look at my new attitude towards artist sites, in the hope that it may help you - dear reader - to learn from my past mistakes…
1. BUILD A PLATFORM NOT A MONUMENT.
Every year at art school we were assigned a new studio. Each studio had a big pin-board. In theory this space was a large slate of potential - to be filled with inspiration, test prints, contact sheets, and various other testaments to the creative process. They were intended to be dynamic spaces, whatever we were working on was supposed to take shape on these boards. In reality most of us just put up some crap territorially in our first week and left it there until we had to take it down at the end of the year. We’d fill the boards entirely, and then be too afraid to stick up something new.
This is how my original web page felt. Like a solid impenetrable lump of web page. It became psychologically daunting to break that lump, it was stressful to add anything new to it. My webpage felt complete whilst the career that it was attempting to represent was only just getting started. My webpage was stifling my artistic output! Needless to say this wasn’t good.
2. CREATE SOMEWHERE YOU CAN BE YOURSELF.
The old site didn’t reflect my personality, it was too serious. Where’s the fun in that? By ensuring that my new website reflects my honest personality I have been able to create a platform conducive to being myself. Which creates an environment in which I have the opportunity to do the best things I possibly can.
I’ve learned from experience that when you create something you’re genuinely excited about that same excitement comes out through the work, leaps across the room, enters the viewer through their eyeballs and excites them! Excitement is contagious! It makes a great gift! Being yourself is easy, it’s natural, it’s YOU.
I guess it’s like that age old thing about being yourself to impress the girl…
3. CREATE SOMETHING THAT WILL EXCITE PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER MET YOU.
On our beautiful planet there are several billion more people who have never heard of you than people who have. Many of these people will absolutely love your work - if they ever get to see it. So work on that.
4 . MAKE THE PICTURES REALLY BIG.
This is so obvious but artists seem institutionally afraid to do it! WHY!? Seriously… The bigger the pictures the better the experience of looking at them is going to be! Artists are in the business of creating great viewing experiences. If someone has come to your website it means they’re interested in you and your work - what an honour! What an opportunity! You’ve got to make sure these people get to see your work in the best possible light.
Also there’s a technical imperative for providing the biggest possible pictures, technology advances at an unmatchable rate, what is considered ‘high definition’ today will be teeny-weeny in no time at all.
5. AS FAR AS THE VIEWER IS CONCERNED, THE ART ON YOUR WEBSITE IS YOUR ART.
The potential audience for your website is far larger than the number of people who will go out in winter, get on a train, and walk to a physical gallery to see your work. The images that you put online will be the only way that the majority of people will see your work. In this way those images are the work. So make sure the work looks great.
Every picture that you hold back is a picture that will hardly ever be seen. When you deface your work with a watermark that watermark becomes a part of the work, whether you like it or not.
Don’t give your viewers a hard time, give them a good time. Give people the opportunity to enjoy your work to its fullest potential. Make your website great. Seriously.