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Artist Tip: Steamlined Web Portfolio

May 19, 2011

Crush 1.4 by Shellie Lewis, oil on canvas, 24” x 36”

It’s really hard to decide what to put on your portfolio website, especially if you work in different media and styles of art.  Some artists have a highly focused online portfolio, other artists’ portfolios are diverse and some diverse portfolios are tied together by themes rather than by media.

I  recently removed my abstract paintings and some of the more decorative works.  I left one abstract painting up to show that I can work abstractly and do not limit myself to just representational subject matter; making the decision to drop off the other paintings was challenging.

Here are 6 suggestions that may help you streamline your online portfolio:

  1. Do you like the work?  Don’t just show work you think you should show.  If someone hires you to make something you loathe because they saw you promoting something similar, this is not going to take your creative career in the direction you want.
  2. Is it more important to you to be known for your particular style and individualism as an artist?  If you created business cards for others but do not want to design more, do not put business card examples on your site.  If you want to be most known for being a sculptor, having paintings or collage pieces in the mix is going to take attention away from your sculpting focus.
  3. Does the older work have a lower level of skill than your current work?  You want to display your best work.  The website does not need to be an archive of everything you ever created.  That’s what your hard drive and back-up drive is for.
  4. Break up your work by genre.  This way people can see the work they are most interested in.  If someone wants to see my photography, they don’t have to wade through image after image of my printmaking to see my photographs.
  5. Is there enough work to show?  If you only have one or two examples of a type of work, hold off on putting it on your website until you have more pieces to group together and show your skills.  Having just one or two examples of a style of work is not going to inspire confidence that you have skills and experience in a particular medium.
  6. Do you need rapid impact?  How much time would you estimate someone would spend going though your portfolio website? Some people in graphic design go for a strict 6 – 10 image limit to get the most impact from their portfolio, play to quick consumption of their designs and hopefully land a job.  I feel the fine art crowd has a longer attention span; my portfolio is geared for expression and not geared for competition.

In the meanwhile, making abstract paintings is loads of fun, so I suggest you try it at least once.  And if anyone needs some color shaped things to liven up their living space, shoot me an email, because I still have some abstract paintings to unload enthusiastically sell.

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