Draw the line where you will between art and design, but no matter where your interest lies, the symbiotic relationship between the two cannot be denied. Today, where the internet dominates the flow of information, this co-existence is more important than ever.
An artist's ability to utilize their online presence goes a long way in getting their name and portfolio out there. A well designed website has become a crucial medium in and of itself.
Why artists should care
It's important to remember that your site will often be a viewer's first introduction to your work. Just as you wouldn't exhibit slapped together art with no consideration, you don't want your online portfolio to look like a pathetic afterthought.
It doesn't matter how much you like or dislike technology, complete ignorance of the internet and social networking will put you at a disadvantage. Even if you express yourself through macaroni and glitter, or chainsaw old furniture in half and wouldn't touch a computer to save your life- you need an online portfolio.
Take a look at these five websites, each in its own way furthering the artist's work and representing their personality.
The elusive street artist known as Banksy depends upon his website to broadcast his graffiti, and performance/installation work to the masses. As sparse and devoid of information as the artist himself, the website is spartan in form and function.
Taking advantage of the internet's potential for near instantaneous dissemination, Banksy's website operates almost as a blog, current and always relevant. A recent update was merely a blank frame with the text 'today's art has been cancelled due to police activity.
A straightforward, no-nonsense site that despite its simplicity, still translates a sense of the artists' humour and post-consumer cynicism.
Also a good example of how to present a variety of work in different mediums in an easily navigable format. You always know where you are in the site, and can easily determine where you want to go next.
03. Tauba Auerbach
This website is clear and relatively simple in presenting a portfolio and contact information. However the clean design and eccentric font exhibit a definite aesthetic direction - contemporary, hip, and stylish. Websites are infinitely adaptable to embody exactly who you are.
04. James Turrell
Full of information covering a lifetime of work, Turrell's website is a good example of how to translate artwork as transitory as light and nature onto the computer.
His website also allows visitors to search through the sizable body of work by date, medium, and geographical location thanks to a clever cartographic timeline.
05. Wim Delvoye
Expanding the perception of what an artist's site can be, multimedia artist Wim Delvoye's site is a riff on the Sim City video game. 'Wim City' allows you to explore the portfolio as you explore the town.
Click on any of the buildings, a farm, or a football field to view the relevant artwork. It is an effective combination of high-brow and low-brow, technology and art working together to convey Delvoye's unique worldview.
How to get online now
A great website alone may not drive your artwork into the top galleries, but it is an undeniably essential step in your career as an artist. Hopefully these examples have shown that an artist's website can be simple or complex, a transparent platform or a work of art in itself.
The most important thing, as with all well designed websites, is that the content, purpose, and style align to convey the right message. It's worth noting that great artists don't necessarily have stellar websites. For instance, Gerhard Richter, arguably one of the greatest painters of our time, has an incredibly boring website; it looks like a blog designed ten years ago for used car parts. It's almost defiantly un-cool.
I guess living legends can afford to be anachronistic and curmudgeonly, but the rest of us would surely benefit from quality, user-friendly web design.
The world functions online now, and your artwork needs to find space in this virtual landscape. Don't get left behind.
Words: Carl Heaton
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Have you seen an inspiring example of an artist website? Let us know in the comments!