Philip Westfall, February 13, 2019
As an artist, you want to be in control of your online brand.
Whether you’re a painter, designer, photographer, or musician, it’s important that your talent is well represented on both social media and your website.
Fortunately, website building platforms have made it easier and more affordable for creative professionals to share their portfolios online.
In this article, we will showcase some of the most stunning artist websites online today while discussing the elements you need to consider when building your website.
Before we jump into the list of websites built without code, let’s first look at what’s possible when building a custom site using experienced designers and developers.
Note: custom websites like these can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars to create. They can be a great source of inspiration for your own design.
Website built with: Custom code + Shopify
Although her main website is custom coded, her online store was created with Shopify. This is a great example that showcases how multiple tools can be used to make a website in order to minimize costs as building an e-commerce website from scratch can be extremely costly.
Website built with: Custom code
Everything about Tamar Halpern’s website is unique, from the custom mouse cursor to the non traditional gallery layout. By not conforming to the traditional grid you see on most portfolio sites, Tamar is able to control how her story is told, one stunning image at a time.
Because custom coded websites like these are more expensive to create, they are typically less common with artists who prefer to build their own website.
In the coming section, we will showcase sites built by artists using a variety of website building applications.
Note: if you’re looking for more custom coded design inspiration, check out awwwwards, where professional developers and designers showcase their best work.
Website built with: Webflow
Olivia Truong is a product designer who’s unconventional website design makes her stand out online. With grid-breaking shapes, subtle animations, and bold colors, her website is truly a work of art. Using a hamburger menu across all pages, she maximizes the real estate of what counts: her story and what she’s created.
Website built with: Wix
James Lewis is a lettering artist who’s worked with some of the biggest brands on the planet, including RedBull and Samsung. His website leads off with a background video that gives you a glimpse of him in action. The bold colors and beautiful type used throughout his site help convey his personality without taking anything away from his amazing creations.
Website built with: Pixpa
Amit Sharma is a Delhi based photographer, working mainly in the field of lifestyle, advertising, and travel photography. The allure of his easy-to-navigate website are the stunning images he showcases in his scrollable image galleries.
Website built with: Squarespace
The beauty of this website is in its simplicity: only three pages (work, about, contact), attractive images, and easy-to-read text. This is a prime example of someone who wants you to focus on their work and nothing else.
Website built with: PageCloud
Brimstone Creative are storytellers who use images and film to share their unique vision. Their website uses whitespace and non-conventional layout patterns to stand out. Scrolling through their team page, you see how creative their brand really is - their employees carry titles like: “Happiness Hero” and “Storyteller”. They even have a spot dedicated to the office dog, aka the “Smile Enthusiast”.
Katie O’Sullivan is professional painter who specializes in horse and animal paintings. Her website’s homepage welcomes you with a timelapse video that mesmerizes visitors upon arrival. Below, a gallery of images links you to the different sections of her site.
Although Midnight Fern’s website design is pretty conventional, the stunning images it contains are not something you see everyday. Another unique aspect is how Midnight Fern has customized some of their URLs: their artwork section uses “/a-r-t-w-o-r-k”. To help sell their prints, Midnight Fern links off to Etsy and Society6 stores.
Thanks to scrolling anchor links, Takesada Matsutani is able to showcase his entire story in a single page. Long form pages like this one are becoming more and more common with the increased usage of handheld devices. One thing to note about this site is the small fonts used in certain sections. Although it adds a level of sophistication and elegance, it does make the content hard to read. This is a common trade-off that certain artists are willing to make.
Website built with: PageCloud
What do you get when you mix one part art and one part design? Mark Stephenson. During the day, Mark is our Chief Product Designer, where he works on the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of the PageCloud website builder. At night, (and on weekends) you’ll find Mark painting and doing volunteer work with the local art community. His website, built on the tool he helped design, uses generous whitespace, large type, and several other user experience best practices to make his artwork the star of the show.
Now that you’ve seen a number of different ways to build a website, let’s quickly discuss the main things you will want to consider when choosing a website builder.
There are two types of website builders: Template builders, and WYSIWYG editors (what you see is what you get).
To make the decision, first ask yourself: “How much control do I want over my design?”
Minimal amount of control - Template builders
Website builders like Squarespace have made it pretty easy to get a visually appealing portfolio online.
Essentially, you pick a template and fill in the blanks.
Although you get to see the page you are editing, you can’t move elements freely. You need to respect the predetermined grid, based on the template you’ve selected.
Here’s a quick example of how this works:
Essentially, with template builders you are trading creative freedom in exchange for pre-built structure that’s pretty hard to “mess up”.
Full control - WYSIWYG editors
Unless you are very familiar with tools like Photoshop, we’d recommend avoiding Webflow as the interface is much more complex than PageCloud and Wix. Webflow is geared towards professional designers who already have a strong understanding of website coding.
Wix and PageCloud have a lot of similarities. However, PageCloud is more intuitive and less cluttered than Wix. This can make it easier for beginners who are building a site for the first time.
Here’s a quick look at PageCloud's user interface:
When it comes to templates, there is no shortage of options. Both template-based and WYSIWYG builders offer multiple starting layouts.
Here are a few examples to showcase the variety of available options:
The cool thing about WYSIWYG templates is that they can evolve over time while their rigid template-based counterparts tend to keep the same look and take more work to modify.
One thing to note is that most artists prefer to have custom websites that represent their brand. Because of this, artists building their own sites tend to favor WYSIWYG tools.
Depending on your website’s requirements, you may need additional features like e-commerce.
While some platforms like Wix and Squarespace have e-commerce baked in, certain platforms use third party integrations to provide this functionality.
For example, PageCloud makes it easy to integrate with over 100 different apps like Ecwid and Shopify to help you sell your art online.
In reality, you can spend hours comparing features between site builders.
However, since requirements for artist websites are relatively low, all the website builders mentioned in this article will be able to provide what is required.
It really comes down to the experience you will have while building and managing your website.
Unless you have built websites before, it’s important to consider what support is offered by the tool you decide to use. Almost all platforms mentioned above offer different levels of support based on the price of your plan, ranging from a few dollars a month to close to $50 per month.
Note: unlike most website builders, PageCloud gives you full access to support even during a free trial.
If you’re interested in building your artist website, start a trial today and reach out to our team if any questions come up.
They are always happy to help!
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