I’ve just spent the last three days creating a whole new art website; not something I expected to spend my weekend doing but I’m feeling really pleased with the results.
The ‘home’ of my art has been car-parked on the same web platform for exactly three years now and, overall, I’ve been really happy in that space. Its somewhere I can manage my own image uploads and site features without getting bogged down in too much housekeeping or design expenses but a few niggles had been creeping in.
One of these, looking at my stats, has been a sinking feeling that my main website really isn’t fully optimised for attracting the ad-hoc internet ‘traffic’ that is so essential to the modern-day artist if they want their work to be seen beyond those who already know where to find them (like friends, repeat clients and so on). Much as the designers of that site have been reassuring me that ‘all is well’, and that there’s really no need for me to worry about adding metatags to every image I upload, etc., something kept telling me I needed to be doing so much more to make sure I turn up on all the prime search engines when people type in the kind of art they are looking for. With this much work out there on the internet, I should be finding my images popping up in Google search a lot more readily than I currently do and it was really starting to concern me that it wasn’t happening.
The other factor that was getting me down – and I hardly knew it was bothering me until I set to work choosing what to include in my new site – was a heavy feeling from having to ‘take everything with me’ wherever I go; to show off all my work every time I hand out my business cards, approach a new gallery or run a promotion; was there a possibility that many people looking at my website were failing to see the wood for the trees or to fully understand what my current style, and standard of output, look like?
Because its so important, as an artist, to show off your full portfolio of available work, it can reach the point that your website looks like a mixed market stall of everything you’ve ever created for half a decade or more and, when you have those evolutionary bursts and your style changes, that can feel really cumbersome. Other people may still complement those earlier pieces of work or want to buy them but, to you, they can become an aggravant – after all, you never stop evolving as an artist and there comes a time when you just want to clear some space around what you are currently working on.
The benefit of this new website is that I have no intention of using it to replace the old one but, rather to showcase some of my favourite pieces (I like the phrase “curate” as the new and extremely versatile web platform I’ve chosen – which is Wix – gives me the scope to introduce these pieces in more detail than usual and show them off to best advantage using additional methods, such as video and blog). As I set to work choosing the images that I wanted to put in this space, a sense of relief and lightness of being washed over me and I really enjoyed playing with it all. It felt like I was taking up residence in a new, fresh and extremely spacious ‘virtual’ gallery and hanging exactly what I wanted to show off on the clean white walls. The metaphor that sprang to mind was that it was like finding I could ditch all the heavy suitcases I’d been lugging around with me, with all my accumulated possessions crammed into them, and pack just a few of my most treasured things into a small knapsack for the next part of my journey.
It was so liberating to hand-pick what felt right to include and leave some of the more mediocre pieces, or the older pieces, even ones that are perfectly decent pieces of art but which feel like they are of a style or preoccupation that I’ve moved on from now, behind in the other space – which I intend to keep adding to as the complete back-log of all my work. The whole process felt utterly cathartic and made me wonder if other artists might find it refreshing to consider weeding through their web-space or, like I have, running two websites in parallel – one as an up-to-the-minute calling card of what you are currently working on plus all the ‘best stuff’ and another for the treasured backlog so that it is still there but not something you have to share with everybody all the time. Why not? Its your work and you can show it off however, and wherever, you please!
So, what do you call a second website if the first one is under your artist name and is it a good idea to run two websites under completely different names? Well, the benefit of doing this is that you get to choose all-new branding – I’ve called mine ‘Painting Light’ in sync with this blog – which, if you chose your name wisely, could make it far easier for people to find you ‘by accident’ on a search engine before they’ve ever heard of you in person.
After three days with my head down, paintinglight.org is now a breezy and interactive space, loaded with all the right social links so that it can be shared easily on social media whenever somebody likes what I have to offer there – which is such an important part of holding and growing an online presence. Now its gone live, I’m pretty proud of my handiwork so I hope you get the time to hop over to take a look.