Last week, the most frequent questions jingling my inbox concerned artist’s websites. Fact is, most of them don’t work very well and artists often don’t know why. Some of course contain art that is substandard and any amount of smoke and mirrors won’t make them the dream machines that their owners desire. Having said that, many artist sites are wrongheaded and poorly done. I know this because over a period of several years I’ve had some pretty smart people fine-tuning my own site with an eye to troubleshooting and making it effective. Mine, www.robertgenn.com may not be fancy, but it has a fairly unique feature — it works. It’s a site that empowers the people who handle my work. I’ve always said that a site that attracted ten of the right kind of folks in a month would be a successful site, with the goal being visitors clicking through to your dealers. Believe me, it’s appreciated. Here are a few ideas to consider if you are thinking about building a site or improving the one you have:
Make your site fast-loading with images of your work on the opening page. Make it a free-standing site with your own dot-com. Make it a service so that interested parties can check prices, basic history, and make the connections you want them to make. Repeat your essential key words, your name, etc., on the home page for easy search-engine collection and high placement. Give people a reason to come back. ie: change images often and keep the work you illustrate of the best quality you can muster. Make it possible for people to enlarge work. Put a face on yourself — even if you’re funny looking — let people know what you look like. Without going overboard, let your personality shine through. Include links to other sites, especially to those who handle your work. Avoid sound, flash, white-on-black lettering, weird fonts, sparkly dingbats, streaming video, too much intellectual info, pontificating and general baloney. Your site should understate and over-prove. If you have a prestigious C.V. — include it. Don’t put a counter on your site — subscribe to a simple stats report. Even if you have a small number of dealers, agents, exhibitions or groups you belong to, consider just empowering them.
PS: “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending and to have the two as close together as possible.” (George Burns)
Esoterica: An update from SG: This letter was originally published on March 11, 2003. Since then, a lot of the way we use the Internet has changed, but the idea that we can use a personal online gallery to connect to and empower others remains the same. My simple website, www.saragenn.com is built on a “drag and drop” or WYSIWYG (“What you see is what you get”) platform, which allows artists to tweak, update and change images and text on a template, without having to know how to code. This is especially useful for visual artists who want to change their images regularly and speedily. When used in conjunction with targeted artists listings (including here) and social media, a clean and up-to-date site can inform and direct the curious and enthusiastic to more elaborate, detailed and commercially-minded gallery sites. Website building platforms designed with artists in mind such as Squarespace and Wix are also delightfully affordable. Feel free to share what you’re using to build your site in the comments below, and don’t forget to include a link to your homepage.
This letter was originally published as “The dealer-friendly website” on March 11, 2003.
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“We artists allow others to see through our windows.” (Robert Genn)
My aim as a painter is to bring to life a slice of the world as I experience it. Light, color and form are my vocabulary.