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How to Set Up Your Art Portfolio Website

Show galleries and private customers exactly who you are with an art portfolio website. Follow these tips and best practices to set up your online art portfolio seamlessly.

An online portfolio is essential, especially if your goal is to make a living off of your art. Establishing an online presence means that even people on the other side of the world can get to know your work. Even if you mainly sell art in person, an online art portfolio website holds tremendous value.

Not only is it a place to gather and showcase all of your best work, but it could also help you grow your audience — and your business. Additionally, an online portfolio helps you make even more sales. On your website, potential clients can learn about you and your passion and decide if they like your work. The sky's the limit if you’re determined to succeed and you’re taking steps towards your goals.

But how do you even know where to start with designing an art portfolio, let alone an entire website? As a visual artist, you may also wonder what types of portfolio pieces you should include. Do you need to have technical skills or learn about website design to get started with small business website design? And what should you avoid in your portfolio website?

In this article, we’ll talk about the do’s and don’ts of art portfolio creation and a few art portfolio website examples.

Different types of art portfolios

Portfolio art can take on as much variety as the artists who create them. There are countless types of art in the world. Regardless of what your outlet is, your portfolio should always feature your best pieces.

For example, some artists’ portfolios include digital media or animation. Or they may be a home for drawings, images of watercolor paintings, photographs, or graphic design. There is no limit to the type of artwork and subject matter you can display.

You might also think about the purpose of your portfolio. Are you hoping to apply to art school? Are you using the portfolio to look for a job in the art field, or to drive sales? All of these questions play a role in how you set up your website.

9 Tips when creating your art portfolio website

Whatever kind of art you do, there are a few universal tips that will help you create a beautiful website design:

1. Showcase your artistic ability

Your portfolio should showcase your range as an artist. The pieces you choose to include should speak to your artistic style, even without words. So you’ll want to display the pieces you’re the most proud of.

These pieces might be anything that makes a statement or reveals your technical abilities. Your aesthetic should be immediately clear when someone lands on your website. Also, make sure you’re using high quality images of your art. Make sure that the pictures you upload are well-lit and accurately represent the actual piece as it would be seen in person.

2. Diversify your portfolio mediums

If you use multiple mediums to create art, you may want to include more than just one of them. To some extent, this will depend on your goals for having an art portfolio.

For example, if you’re applying for work in an industry that uses a specific medium, such as graphic design, your portfolio may lean heavily on that medium. However, if you’re looking to get into art school, you should put up art made with as many mediums as possible to show what you can do.

3. Tell a story within your portfolio

There’s a saying that a picture paints a thousand words. So what story does your art tell? Consider the underlying message when you’re deciding how to present your pieces. While you do want to show artistic range, you don’t want the portfolio to appear disjointed or incoherent.

Additionally, expanding on your artwork can give your portfolio a professional edge. You might include written details alongside your pieces to really bring them to life. You can talk about the context of the piece, how you thought of the idea, or why you chose the medium you did.

Any juicy information you include helps people get to know your art.

4. Organize your portfolio clearly

Make sure that your website is easy to navigate and well-organized so people can find what they’re looking for. For example, you might have separate pages for different mediums or themes. Maybe you have multiple collections that you can group together.

5. Write a stunning About section

Don’t forget to include your own story on your art portfolio website! People love to get to know the small business they’re buying from. Your “about” page is a vital aspect of your web design that can set you apart from the crowd. It’s a great place to talk about your art education, experience, and why you do what you do.

6. Use a minimalist web design

Since your art is the star of your art portfolio, you don’t need a lot of complicated graphic design on your website. It’s best to use a minimalist design approach, with a simple background that makes your artwork pop.

7. Showcase at least ten pieces of art

It’s good to display at least ten to twenty pieces of your best work so that your portfolio feels well-rounded. If you’re applying to an academic program, you may need to follow their specific requirements for how many pieces to include.

8. Use your portfolio to sell art

If your goal is to sell artwork on your website, make it easy for customers to buy. You might even make your portfolio images so that customers can click on them to buy the piece.

If you do set up your website portfolio to sell, make sure you’re tracking analytics and that all your links work.

9. Maximize social media

Social media is a powerful tool for marketing and advertising, no matter what business you’re in. Social media is a powerful tool for sharing your work and growing your audience. For example, you can use it to promote new pieces or announce when you’ll be at the next art fair.

If you need some inspiration on what to post, check out our list of the top 12 types of social media content to create.

What not to do when building an art portfolio website

Consider these common pitfalls to avoid when creating your art portfolio:

  • Unfinished art: Unfinished pieces can cause your work to feel incomplete and unprofessional.
  • Cluttered web design: Busy fonts, colors, and layouts can just detract from all your beautiful hard work.
  • Pieces that are very similar: While you want your portfolio to feel cohesive, you don’t want your subject matter to all look the same. Give your portfolio visual interest by showcasing your range.
  • Poor image quality: If your images are low quality, people won’t get a true feel for the fine details of your work. They may even be put off by poor image quality or a website that loads too slowly.
  • Disjointed artwork selection: While you want to show off all of your art skills, your art portfolio should feel cohesive to your brand and your message.

Art portfolio website examples

Now that we’ve covered some important bases, here are a few art portfolio website examples for inspiration:

  • Darren Hughes — This artist’s website is easy to navigate, clearly organized, and laid out with a minimalist design that lets his work shine.
  • Erin Huybrechts Davis — This artist and illustrator has a simple, straightforward website that immediately showcases her work with a minimalist design.
  • Michelle Carlos This visual artist’s website displays her personality and flair, featuring a creative header that’s on-brand with her art.
  • Susan Collins — This photographer’s website features blurbs and stories about her collections that you can read by clicking on her home page images.
  • Elise Wagner — This abstract painter and printmaker’s website tells a story about the artist and her work. She organizes her art within her portfolio page by themed collections.
  • Sarah Smith — This painter’s work focuses on animals and natural phenomena. She organizes her paintings by year, and a black background makes the images stand out.

There are countless other great art portfolio examples online. For more wide ranging inspiration, try looking up local artists to see how they present their websites.

Always stay true to yourself – and your art

Your portfolio is like your online storefront. As an artist, your strength is your unique aesthetic and voice. Your portfolio should speak to this!

You should feel proud of your art portfolio and want to share it with the world. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your creations, and now you just need to find the easiest way to convey it online.

Mailchimp makes it simple to set up your portfolio website. With Mailchimp, it’s easier than ever to get your website up and running. We’ve recently updated the Mailchimp design and brand identity to better serve small businesses and artists just like you.

If you’re wondering how to start a small online business, Mailchimp can help with that too. We can empower you to find your ideal audience and create effective marketing campaigns. You can save money by building your own website with Mailchimp’s website builder.

With Mailchimp, you can easily set up your online store and track your web pages’ performance using Mailchimp’s data and analytics tool. Streamline your small business with several cool features like automation — all in one place. However big your dreams are, Mailchimp is here to support you as a small business owner.

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