Yesterday was a really good day...it began with this nice photo taken by my friend Christina in the City View and which also featured another friend. Zac and I were two of the artists who have painted picnic tables for the City of Airdrie in conjunction with Volunteer Airdrie as part of their Placemaking initiative. It was such a treat to paint as it was so large, unexpectedly but happily so...though that also made it a bit of an interesting challenge as well. I also spent time yesterday painting my kitchen cabinets and they're well on the way to completion, then an exciting high school football game with my daughter, and my day ended with a presentation to a small group of students. My contribution was about the value of a website/online portfolio so I thought I'd share some information here as well.
My career as a professional artist began before personal computers and required a lot of difficult research. There weren't many resources available at the time though I did find a great book titled 'Taking the Leap' by Cay Lang which taught me the basics for creating a curriculum vitae, artist's statement and artist's package to submit to galleries which, unfortunately, I hadn't learned when I studied art formally in college.
Then, when computers became available, there was still much financial investment and education required to set up a website. Now there are so many options for free web platforms, I use Weebly, though I do pay a minimum fee for my domain name/URL (web address) annually, though I highly recommend being wise in spending your time and money. It is better to invest in quality materials and education while at the same time being consistent and remaining professional online as whatever you share on social media will come back to haunt you (certain politicians come to mind).
Creating a website, whether it is static or fluid (ie. including a blog), is extremely helpful as a practicing artist and there are a few pages that I think are important to include:
1. HOME: This page can be about you or include current information such as exhibits or workshops. Mine currently features areas that I have chosen to invest my time in order to create passive income - Merchandise through Society6 (just required editing photo sizes and uploading) and Books through Blurb (created through the use of blog posts). In both cases, I don't have to have an inventory in my home which means that I don't have to pay for products in advance, nor do I have to store and ship material. Though I only receive a couple of dollars on each item sold, it is a nice way to receive a few hundred dollars monthly. I also have links to other social media where I also share information. Many artists find one method of sharing that suits them better than another and will focus their attention on that but it is still important to have an updated website to share your professional portfolio.
2. BLOG: This can be news updates but in my case I have posted Monday to Friday for several years and have found that being consistent has drawn a daily readership of thousands of people which is amazing to me. At the beginning of each week I like to create visual rich posts that can include anything from quotes that inspire me to works-in-progress and completed pieces. Writing authentically in your own voice and focusing on what matters most to you always allows you to connect with others that feel similarly. I have connected with numerous collectors of my work as well as other artists worldwide because of it and am so very grateful for their support, encouragement and friendship. Because my work is usually quite solitary, this has been a wonderful way to keep in touch.
I also find that blogging helps me to put everything into words so that I can speak more clearly about my work and why I do it.
3. PORTFOLIO: This section is key as it can include the curriculum vitae (artist's resume...keep track as it's interesting how much and how quickly we forget what we've been involved in), artist's statement, biography and, of course, photos or videos of your work. I have taken several photography courses through the years and have learned that the best way to photograph artwork is outside in light shade with no flash. Be sure not to tilt the image as it can be distorted and then to crop it to include only the image, nothing extraneous.
4. GALLERIES: Working with a gallery (or anyone who is willing to share your work including any public space or business) should always be a symbiotic relationship. It's important to have a good feeling about anyone you're doing business with as they really do represent you to people you have never met before. And it is a relationship, which means that you need to support one another by linking through social media and sharing gratitude for what they do for you.
5. CONTACT: A way to get in touch is also extremely important. And even more important is to be sure to respond to emails. Even if you don't have an answer immediately, let that person know you have received their email and also let them know when you will be able to respond properly. It's a professional courtesy.
Regardless of whether you are a visual or performing artist keep in mind that everything takes time. No one begins as the CEO. And always, always use your own voice as it is your story that others want to hear.