Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Do Artist Websites Suck So Much?

The title of this post was taken of Andrew Sullivan's blog today (more on that later). Jesse Ford, the creative director of a New-York based design firm, feels much as the same as the programmer Andrew quotes. Here's a quote from Ford (who is focusing his firm's marketing on artists):

“As an artist myself, I am very upset by the uniformly poor quality of art on the internet”, said Josse Ford, Creative Director at BWA. “ Artists invest huge amounts of time and energy in their work and they need to take much more care in how they display it. This is particularly true now because more and more galleries and collectors are looking to the worldwide web in selecting and reviewing art purchases. Our aim at Beautiful Websites For Artists is to showcase each artist’s work as if it was in a museum or high-end commercial gallery.”

While many good artist websites do exist, the sad fact is that most art is displayed on websites that look cheap and folksy or are so generic that none of the personality of the artist shines through. “Beautiful Websites For Artists” addresses this need by providing cost-effective website design and consulting services specifically geared to the needs of artists.

“Arts professionals want to see that the art looks great, but they also want to get a feel for who the artist is,” commented Daniel Tardent, responsible for new business at BWA. “A well executed website will never replace a physical meeting with a collector, but it can be the key factor that sets the meeting up – and the value of that is priceless. You just can’t get that from any old designer – they have to understand artists and the art industry”

The text on the grey background, below, is taken from Andrew Sullivan's wonderful, award-winning, widely-red blog, The Dish. I am a huge fan of this ex-Brit who now lives in the USA. This is one person's point of view about artist websites, but an interesting one!

From my perspective, as a web programmer, if you really want to see some reliably lousy websites, then look no further than those that artists (painters, sculptors and the like) put up for themselves. They may not have the "discoey" music gaudiness of some restaurant websites, but as far as everything one shouldn't do when making a website goes, they hit all the major notes:

Using a 10 different fonts on one web page? Check.

Having a bunch of broken links on the front page? Check.

Gaudy color schemes (you know, because the website is an "extension of their work")? Check.

Uploading image files that are way too large, thereby causing any visitor to the website to have to wait ten minutes for a page to come up because each work sample is 4 megabytes? Check.

Updating the website once every six years? Check.

Putting their personal Hotmail address on the front page of the website, thereby contributing to the world-wide junk mail scourge (and not to mention making themselves look like a hack)? Check.

Forgetting to pay their web hosting fees, so that half the time their website is "down for maintenance"? Check.

Oh, and this might be the worst ... taking their visitors' emails and including them in large, un-blind-copied show announcement emails? Great big check.

The list goes on, but aside from the bad aesthetic and bad internet manners, they're lousy as customers - a lot of micro-managing, obsessive-compulsive attention to every unimportant detail (I had a woman once call me and complain that a line break was 2 millimeters lower than where it should have been ... she was holding a ruler up to her computer screen), fickleness, and of course the lack of ability to pay for any of the work they've just demanded too much of your time for.

I learned these lessons long ago and don't service many artists anymore. Unless they pay in advance and have a day job.


  1. How about a post with links to some good artist websites? As an artist who has designed/maintains her own website, I have thankfully dodged most of those bullets, but am always looking to improve and learn something new.

  2. Bingo! You are right. And they are selfish, they do not colaborate with other blogs.


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