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Artist Websites and Good Design - 5 Rules from a Former Gallery Owner

by Clint Watson on 8/26/2010 10:02:06 AM

This article is by Clint Watson,  former art gallery owner/director/salesperson and founder of FineArtViews. You should follow Clint on Twitter here.

Artist websites should make your artwork shine!

Don't clutter artist websites with "cleverness" like animation and moving visuals. Keep it simple and visitors will look at your artwork. A proper online presence for every artist begins with a good old-fashioned website. Your art website is your "home base", your "hub." If you branch out into other online tools...great...but individual artist websites are where art collectors begin and end when connecting with artists.  As such, make sure that your website utilizes a design that is clean and consistent.

Artists Websites - 5 Rules for Clean and Consistent Design

1. Navigation links should appear in same place on every page
- don't make the navigation links move around the page and confuse people.

2. Page design should be consistent across the site

3. Design colors should be neutral or complimentary to artwork - again, let your artwork shine.  A great website design is like a great should improve the presentation of the artwork.  If your site visitors are commenting on how great your web site design is....then you probably need to simplify it to direct their attention to the art.

4. Large image on home page...and not much text.  Your site is about your art.  Pick your very best image and put it front and center on your home page.

5. No long paragraphs of instructions or too much wording.  People don't read online, they scan, so keep your text short.  (Your biography and blog posts may break this rule from time-to-time).

Artist Websites and Usability - Make Sure People Can Use It

If people get frustrated by your website then they'll leave.  Most of them won't return.  So follow these five simple rules to make sure that your website is easy to understand, easy to navigate and, most importantly, makes your artwork shine.


Clint Watson
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

PS - Since your artist website is your "home base",  you need to make sure that it includes certain information and features that art collectors have come to expect.

I've have been marketing art since 1989 and have had an online art marketing presence since 1996 . . . I have learned what works, what doesn't and what art buyers expect.

In 2001 I launched FineArtStudioOnline or FASO for artists who want to do their art website  site right!

>> Click here to use FASO for your artist website free for 60 days <<


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Related Posts:

Artist Websites: The Pillar of Your Social Networking and Online Art Marketing Efforts

Artists Online Presence - How One Artist Does It

Artist Websites with Wordpress: What You Don't Get and Some Downsides

Topics: art marketing | art websites | FineArtViews | SEO for Artist Websites 

What Would You Like to Do Next?
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Eloise Ridley
This information is very helpful but I still don't know the best way to get art buyers to look at my work.

Barbara Busenbark
This is helpful information from a design and presentation standpoint. However, there needs to be enough text so that search engines place your site high up enough so people will find you. The keywords should be in the code but also on the pages.

Clint Watson
Barbara - this post is about design not SEO. SEO is , in my opinion, not the best use of an artist's time, although we do cover SEO issues on this blog.

the meta keywords tag is really not used by any search engines and has virtually no impact on search engine rankings.

Keywords should appear on the page, but it's important to specify WHAT keywords - usually the artist's name is the main target keyword.

I actually covered that a few days ago:

I agree that a website is a powerful too for artists to market themselves but I'm also aware some artists are afraid by publishing their art online it will make it easier for others to imitate their style and ideas.

What can an artist do to prevent that? How can they mitigate that risk?

Carlos Thaga
adorei estas maravilhosas regras de ouro!e veio a mim no momento certo,pois tenho um blog que transformei em site,mas possui poucos recursos.Estou criando um outro site and#195and#160 mais e com certeza irei aplicar esta nova informaand#195and#167and#195and#163o.muito obrigado senhor:
Watson Clint

Carlos's comments roughly translated:

I loved these wonderful golden rules! and they came to me at the right time, because I have a blog that turned into the site, but has few options. I am creating another site that has more and for sure I will apply this new information and thank you Clint Watson

Another thing is not to use too many different font styles. else you risk having your site look like one of those crazy conspiracy theorist websites!

Casey Craig
Great advice. This reminds me of when the local art league here sold mums, had a light show and three 6ft tables of food all during the annual show. WAY too many distractions from the point of the show...ART.

Number 1 is so important even on resume or bio pages, since frequently people will enter your website on a page other than your home page. I'd also add put your name on every page for the same reason.

Thanks Clint!

Spencer Meagher
Precisely why i'm with FASO. They do it all for me.

Helen Horn Musser
Clint, You give us all we need for a wonderful website for our art. All we need!

T. Miller
I have to disagree somewhat. I have a nice flash presentation on my front page. I believe it's tasteful; I enjoy it, and as far as I know none of my visitors have found it off-putting. Plus it's a nice way, I think, to show possible FineArtStudioOnline customers the potential of the site.

Spencer Meagher
Hi T. Miller,
I agree your flash presentation is nice and displays an abundance of your work right off the bat, however, the delay in loading the page, about 15 to 20 seconds, I fear may cause a loss of viewers.
We live in such a fast paced world. Demanding our fast food in less than thirty seconds at the drive thru, won't allow most people to tolerate a delay while a page loads.
I know, because that describes me. I'm a very impatient person (to my own detriment). Having said all that, if you are pleased with your webpage, disregard my comments, because in the end all that matters is that you are satisfied with the results.

By the way, I like your work. It's very nice.

The brief web design workshop I took last year began began with and spent a good deal of the time discussing the creation of a good site map first that will guide the structure of your website. Even if you're using a website service, it still pays to take some sheets of paper and start planning your overall organization, and then each page. In doing so, you find where you might paint yourself into a corner, or where you may be redundant, and most importantly, how you will get visitors to best travel through your site.

Bonnie Samuel
Clint, as always a helpful post. In this day, people are indeed scanners and want a quick look to tell them all. Too much rush, rush, but that's the world we live in. Most important is to showcase your art.

T. Miller
Thanks for the kind words Spencer. I realize the loading time can be problematic but I'm happy with things so far.

Spencer Meagher
I like the concept of your flash presentation. Kind of makes me think of a rubiks cubes.

Teresa Tromp
It would be nice to have many people visit my website and buy my artwork, but it's still nice to have a website of my very own.
I get to fuss with the artwork, and rearrange pictures and reword the words. I like looking up the FASO stats to see how many visitors I have had.
It makes me feel like a real artist!
Thanks Clint!

Carol Schmauder
Of course with FASO, as mentioned before, the web sites always look professional and are easy to navigate, plus they have no gimicks. Thanks for making it so, Clint.

Michael Cardosa

Thanks again for what is always good advice and once again you and your team make doing the above a breeze with FASO.


Joanne Benson
Thanks for the great tips Clint! I oculdn't agree more. My then teenage daughter was going to build me a site at one time but she was into all the fancy stuff and couldn't understand that I only wanted something very basic that "Old People" like me would be able to navigate. Needless to say she later tried to build me a site but didn't have any web design package to use and it was too difficult to update so I just made a blog. Someday I will sign up for FASO!

Joanne Benson
Clint, We need a way to edit these posts so I can fix my silly typo's.....I meant couldn't in the post above....
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Joanne Benson
Clint, We need a way to edit these posts so I can fix my silly typo's.....I meant couldn't in the post above....
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Joanne Benson
Clint, We need a way to edit these posts so I can fix my silly typo's.....I meant couldn't in the post above....
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Alma Drain
perfect timing soon as i get my photos taken i will have my website on faso, have 2 shows im dealing with so been kinda busy but that was such good tips. and i will use them.

Richard Christian Nelson
Clint- Thanks for laying out these broad principles and helping us to accomplish them. My two months with FASO have been a huge improvement. I'm recommending to artists and galleries. Happy Thanksgiving!

Donna Robillard
I really like FASO and so does everyone who visits my website. The art is the focus of attention, not the website. Thanks.

Barb Stachow
Hi there, Thanks for the good advice, I do have a quick question that I haven't seen addressed yet. If a person teaches and paints, should they have one website with blog,or would 2 be better? One for art sales and the other for teaching advertising and blog?

Verne Busby
Can I use the my own site design presentation pages and images with the your shopping cart engine?

Clint Watson
Verne - I don't think that would work very well, our system is designed to be turnkey. I think that you'd be better off getting your own shopping cart. Our site does allow custom designs to be used, but, looking at your existing design, it looks like it's different enough from how we work to make integration unpractical as it is highly customized and appears to work very differently than faso sites.

I like reading your artist's website rules. I have to say that the rules are good but you have to find applications that servers you better. these are golden base rules.
I do have a question for Clint....while website gives an artist unlimited possibilities to present their artwork to a millions I would not say that for selling artwork online. In my opinion people are skeptic to buy paintings online and have them shipped.
Do you have an article that covers online art paintings sales? Thanks!

Clint Watson
Veny - Here's the article that covers the basics:

If you want to learn to sell art online, you might want to consider signing up for our daily art marketing newsletter at:

Hello Clint,

My name is Loretta. Although I do not have my website through Faso, I really enjoyed your articles. Very imformative and helpful to an artist such as myself. I would love for you to check out my website. I feel like my bio/about me may be a tad tooo long. What advice could you give a newbe? I have been thinking about showcasing my art on a website for artist. Thanks


Clint do you highly reccommend adding a Youtube video to my website in addition to sending out email newsletter marketing and adding a "join email list" link to increase sales? What do you think about adding a "water mark" on artwork when being viewed on your website to avoid it being copied? Looking forward to hearing from you.

Reading this post I can say "yay" I've finally done something (mostly) right. I'm still learning and growing, but at least my site adheres to most of this advice. Whew!

Nina Allen Freeman
After reading your article , Clint, I went back to my web site (on faso I might add) and began refining it more. You had some very good advice. Thanks. I have recommended to many friends for its ease of use and great design. I have been very happy with my website.

I just found this topic and (as always) have to chip in a little. It's great advice indeed.

Regarding artists being afraid to put their art online in case someone copies their style, does that really matter? We don't put watermarks on our images or prevent right-clicking (which doesn't work anyway) because a) if someone wants to copy the style that's fine - just because there are thousands of shoe shops it doesn't stop people from opening new ones and b) if they want to print a low-res image from the web, that doesn't devalue our work at all.

Casey makes a great point about the artist's name on every page but why not go one step further and have a small contact form (or at least your email address) on every page?

I know this is an old post but T Miller's comments about Flash are nolonger applicable as it's old technology. Flash is completely invisible on iPhones and iPads and some web hosts no longer support it.

What a huge subject though - Clint, I'm working my way through your articles :)

Can I also mention (if anyone reads such an old topic any more) that it's very important to study the statistics of your site. I study ours daily but then I'm an obsessive :)

The stats will tell you how many unique individuals are coming to your site, where they have been referred from (links on other sites or search engines), where they are from geographically, which are the most popular pages, which hardly get visits, the search terms people are using to find your site and a whole lot more.

This gives you a great direction about how to improve your site and your visibility. If you find that the majority of your visits from other sites come from Twitter, for example, then post there more. The search terms used will be incredibly revealing too. If you're getting a lot of visitors from one particular area, why is that? Are plenty of people going to your contact page but not getting in touch? Why is that?

Here's an example. A few months ago I made a quick comment on a home decor blog for no other reason than it was a great blog and I wanted to say so. I was astounded to see that that quick comment brought hundreds of hits to our site. Now, every time there's a new post on that blog, I comment with the same result. (He only blogs every month or so).

I see no reason why this shouldn't continue and if it does, I am going to send him a small piece of our artwork as a thank you. If I'm lucky, he'll blog about it. If not, at least I'll have one of our pieces in New York ...

Kate Thompson
I have been a fan of "Artists Helping Artists", which is a free online radio show that offers great marketing tips for artists. There are over 100 shows archieved on the AHA website at I just signed up for a month long online class with the host of the show (who i love) Leslie Saeta, to learn how to better market my art online. I can't believe it's 20 classes that will teach me and other artists how to create and improve my website, set up and approve my blog, create a newsletter, and sell on facebook! I am excited about this and thought I'd share it with all of you! The website is . Class starts September 1st, althought I can follow at my own pace anytime!

gloria hirjak
should I have my logo on my home page?

i am a form 3 and have my o'levels next year but i need some pictures AND hints to help me put together a portfolio. Help. should i go to another website ???.

Michael Hutton
I am so thankful for a friend that told us about the FASO web site to sell art online.
I love its ease and friendly people that are so willing to help, and all the things that you offer.
I also love all the tons of information that is provided in this blog. I could just read and learn forever.
Just reading a little opened up my eyes.
I also love the web site all the web pages look so elegant and professional.
I am so happy with my site.
When I start selling I will be very happy. Thank you so much. Patty

maxine masterfiels
After writing several books, making many videos and teaching experimental painting in several countries, i discovered i was much like a bee, spreading sweet nector everywhere. The main problem developed over time. So many artist began imitating my style. This of course can be expected...after all i was teaching techniques, that gave my work a certain look. Now, as many years have slipped by, i wonder if what i taught was right? I too have been writing a newsetter, four times a year and once in awhile an anartist will enter a painting that looks just like mine. It has to be declined. Then i have to explain why...ouch...i never thought about the do feel about the results of anything you may teach? Maxine

maxine masterfield
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