Having an online portfolio of art is now almost essential for artists worldwide. It was once the territory of the brave and adventurous to have your art displayed online, but now it is only the foolish that do NOT have their work online. Many savvy artists are even bypassing traditional art galleries and making a comfortable living selling their work online.
Telling your traditional art gallery to go jump isn't recommended just yet, but having your work online can open many new doors and get your work seen by a whole new audience that would have never seen it hanging in a traditional gallery. It can be a complimentary marketing tool with your gallery if you have one, or it can be a portfolio to get you noticed if you are just starting out.
There are a variety of ways to getting your work online, costing varying amounts, depending on how much time you are willing to put into creating your online portfolio.
One of the easier and cheaper ways of establishing an online presence for artists is to join one of the many online art galleries. They vary much in quality, price, and the services that they offer. They start from free online galleries that provide artists with very limited options, through to premium services that charge a recurring fee to display and sell your work online.
Most online galleries require you to have very little or no technical knowledge and walk you through the steps to getting your work online. They allow you to add your paintings, biographical details, artist statement, and contact details. They range in price from a few dollars per month up to $200USD yearly or more, depending on the services they offer.
Being a part of someone else's website also means you have much less control over the presentation of your portfolio though. Some online art galleries also have a stable of hundreds of artist portfolios, making it much harder to be found. Another drawback is that your website address will be something like www.the-online-gallery.com/your-name/index.htm. Which is much less attractive than having your own website address like www.yourname.com!
Online galleries are great for getting started or for those that have no interest in learning to design their own website or to pay a designer to build one. But having your own website and being able to present it in your own way looks much more professional. Your own website address also looks much better on your business card (You do have a business card, right?!).
Having your own website has far more benefits for the artist, but it also involves more time and money to get started. More time if you plan to learn how to design and maintain your own website, or more money if you plan to pay a professional website designer to build and maintain your site.
The costs involved in designing and maintaining your own website are similar and often cheaper than paying for the services of an online gallery. Your own domain name like www.yourname.com can be bought for as little as $10 USD per year and the cost of a website host can be found for less than $10 per month. The biggest costs will be your time spent learning how to design your site and update it. There are plenty of website design tutorials available free online and some of the website design software like "Macromedia Dreamweaver" or "Microsoft Frontpage" make it much easier to get a website up and going.
The other option is to pay a professional website designer a fee to build you a website and to maintain it (as you will have to update it regularly with new works or news). Along with the fee for your domain name and for the website hosting listed above, you will pay the designer from several hundred dollars for a simple website, through to several thousand for a more complex website. Their fees vary greatly and the best way to find a good one is to be recommended one by a friend. Their services, fees, and professionalism vary greatly.
If you are a full time artist with a plan to earn your full-time income from art, you cannot afford not to have your own professionally designed website with your own website address (domain name). Your website can be your own art gallery open 24 hours a day with a possible audience of millions worldwide. If you are already represented by a commercial art gallery your website can be a great tool for marketing your exhibitions and showing your work to collectors worldwide. Or if you are looking for a commercial art gallery you can let them know you exist by making them aware of your portfolio online.
Using a free online gallery or paying for a premium service is also a great way of having your work seen online. But if art is your living, online art galleries should only be used as marketing tools to get your art seen in more places online. Most online art galleries also allow artists to link to their websites from their gallery profiles, making it attractive to have both a website and several online gallery profiles.
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This article was written for Linkism.com http://www.linkism.com/
Linkism is a popular art directory with a webmasters section to help artists and people in the arts industry promote and market their website online.