Lines and Colors art blog

How Not to Display Your Artwork on the Web
In the thirteen years I’ve been on the web, twelve of which I’ve spent doing professional web site design, and the last two of which have sent me to hundreds of artists’ web sites, I’ve come to the inevitable conclusion that the thing artists want most when placing their art on the web is for it not to be seen.

There are millions upon millions of bad sites on the web, but artists really work at it. Never have I seen such an array of sites in which artsy designs, misplaced cleverness, highbrow concepts, amateur clumsiness, arrogance and ignorance have been painstakingly employed to drive visitors away.

As a result of this obvious desire of illustrators, painters, comics artists, concept designers and other artists not to be seen, I’ve created a collection of handy tips for how to send editors, art directors, gallery owners, prospective buyers, webcomics readers and casual users hastily clicking away in search of some portfolio site other than yours.

Got your note pads ready?

Use a “free” hosting service that only charges by making your site display pop-up ads. Hey, free is free, right? Besides, everybody loves pop up ads. Don’t bother with real web hosting from decent hosting services even though it can cost $8 a month or less, and don’t bother to look for reviews of hosting services on reputable sites like C/Net. Also ignore the fact that blogs, when used with “pages” instead of “posts” can serve as easily constructed, pre-designed and free web sites.

Don’t take the trouble to get a domain name. Art directors will remember “” much more easily than “” when they go to hire their next artist. Plus “” is so easy to mention in conversation or recommend to someone else, and it looks great on a business card. Don’t consider the fact that domain names can cost less than $10 a year, and are often free with real web hosting accounts. Hey, the good ones are all taken or squatted on, right, so why bother? And if you do get a domain name, longer names that are more closely associated with your name or studio, and might be easier to remember, can’t possibly be a cool as bizarre, clever, short ones that have nothing to do with you or your work.

Speaking of “clever” be sure to use a clever interface design and enigmatic navigation. All art directors and gallery owners love to play guessing games, and they have plenty of time to click around until they’ve figured out where on your nifty “concept site” you’ve hidden your artwork. They’ll be so impressed with your high concept that they’ll feel the art is that much more valuable when they finally find it.

In fact, make them wait a bit in anticipation. Use an Intro Page, especially with a long, clever animated Flash intro that that can’t be bypassed, to make sure they’re in the right mood when they arrive at your fabulous Splash Page, the entire purpose of which is to force them to search for a tiny, almost invisible, “Enter Site” button and click on it in order to get to the Main Page, which should be as confusing as possible and from which they must choose “Creative”, or some other euphemism for “Portfolio”, in order to arrive at the Gallery Selection Page and be presented with choices for which section of the Gallery they want, hopefully named in some arcane terms only you and the members of your fan club would understand, and then choose a Sub-gallery, and ideally a Sub-sub-gallery, before showing them any images. Make them work for it so they’ll understand just how important your images are! Hey, they wouldn’t have gotten this far if they weren’t, right?

Use lots of bright, intense colors in the design, particularly in the gallery area. You want to make sure the colors in your images are suppressed and overshadowed by the design. After all, the web site itself is the important thing, isn’t it?

Use tiny, square thumbnails with a nondescript crop from some obscure corner of the artwork. You wouldn’t want someone to miss the fun of playing “Concentration” when trying to remember where a particular image is; and if the thumbnails clearly described the images, visitors might actually go to one they like in the eleven seconds they have to look at your site.

Even better, why bother with thumbnails or preview images when clever little dots, squares or enigmatic shapes are so much more artsy? Everybody already knows how cool your stuff is, they’ll certainly take the trouble to click through all the shapes to find an image. Plus if they come back looking for a particular image, they have the fun of discovering all over again!

Use “pop-up and close” style gallery navigation. Don’t let them be lazy and click through all of your images with a simple “Next, Previous, Thumbnails” style navigation, they might go through your whole portfolio! Better to make them work for it, open each image in a separate pop-up window and click to close it again before they can click on the next image. Your fabulous art is worth the trouble! For an extra incentive, make them wait for a JavaScript that cleverly re-sizes the pop-up window every time before displaying your image. In fact, the more pop-up windows, the better! Pop up each gallery, gallery subsection and individual image in a separate pop-up window! Wheeeee!

Speaking of Javascript, be sure to use one that makes the user’s browser window reposition itself, or forces it to full screen when they arrive at your site. Nothing says “Welcome” like yanking the user’s browser out of their hands and making it clear you don’t think they know how to view your brilliant design properly because they’re idiots.

Here’s another good trick, use JavaScript on your thumbnails so that they can only see your full size images on rollover, and the instant they move the mouse, change the image. The self-control necessary to keep the mouse steady, or carefully take their hands off of it to view the image for more than a split second will keep them on their toes. You don’t want any slackers looking at your stuff! Plus, this has the added advantage of making them wait for the images to pre-load before they can see them.

While you’ve got the JavaScript book out, pull out the Flash book too. See if you can find some ways to make your galleries hard to scroll, keep the text from being read by search engines and make the images take forever to display, either by long fades, dramatic transitions or resizing display areas. (Ignore the fact that Flash can be used responsibly and effectively if you learn how; that stuff’s for sissies!)

Be sure to put your site in frames! You wouldn’t want someone to be able to conveniently bookmark a page, or send a link to an individual page to, say, another art director. You want them to go through the entire navigation process everytime. Putting your entire site in a single Flash file is good for this too.

As long as you’re coding, make sure your site is Internet Explorer specific. You don’t want any bums using Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, OmniWeb, UNIX, LINUX or a Mac to access your site. If they can’t get a real computer, they should get lost.

Don’t bother to find out how to make your site search-engine friendly. True artists have always languished in obscurity. If you do go insane and decide you’d like your site to be found, don’t take the trouble to go to, or similar sites, and learn anything about search engine optimization; be sure to hire a black-ops, fly-by-night search engine optimization outfit from a country whose name you can’t pronounce, that has sent you a spam email promising to post your site to “hundreds of search engines”. (Those stories about 90% of all searches taking place on the top four search engines? Just rumors!)

Play some tricks! Use nondescript links, that unsuspecting users think are to other pages in your site, to send them without warning to eBay, your blog, a Flickr gallery or to start the unwanted download of a PDF file. What fun!

Wow ’em with sound. If your visitors are in an environment where music is inappropriate, and only have their sound on so Microsoft Word can seranede them when it belches out a document, they’ll appreciate the welcome relief from boredom that your surprise music explosion brings to them, their unspecting co-workers, and their boss, who needs to loosen up anyway. On the other hand, if they’re in a sutuation where music is acceptable, they’re certain to like what you have picked out better than what’s on their iPod, and they’ll appreciate the surprise mash-up of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Dust in the Wind. Besides, your taste in what music they should listen to is obviously much better than theirs. If you’re creating your navigation in Flash to keep it hidden from search engines, you can add bonus sound effects to the buttons! And don’t let some namby-pamby usability expert talk you into subtle little camera shutter clicks to give user feedback when they click on a button; imagine some art director’s deilght at the button for your “About” page emitting a sound like a Star Wars light saber slicing through a jet engine housing!

Don’t learn anything about usability, information design or good navigation practices. If you’re making your site yourself, you don’t want to stifle your creativity with such things, nor do you want to be aware of them if you’ve hired a “creative” web site designer or agency who has promised to make your site “cutting edge”. All that nonsense about making a site easy to use just gets in the way. Make sure you don’t read books on web site usability, like Steve Krug’s Don’t make Me Think. Don’t try to look at your site like someone who’s never been there before. Hey, you know where everything is, if some newbies can’t figure it out, screw ’em!

Keep ’em guessing. The home page is the first impression visitors have of your site, Whatever you do, don’t set aside a space on the home page, or at the top of your blog, to give first time visitors a succinct description of who you are and what you do, or tell them what kind of site this is. What fun is that? In fact, do what you can to make the intro to your site as enigmatic and obscure as possible; this is très chic. Besides, all the important people have already been to your site and know the score; and the newcomers will love the feeling that they have arrived at the gate of a clandestine private club, and will appreciate the challenge of figuring out the puzzle while they decide whether or not to apply for membership.

Don’t focus! Since everybody important has already been to your site, design your home page for their benefit and fill it with the latest news of your comings and goings, or your insightful ruminations on last night’s episode of Lost. Don’t waste that wonderful home page space on introductions for strangers! Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure to cram as much as possible on your home page. It’s the most important page, right? So everything should go there. Make it long and scrolling and squeeze stuff into every corner. You don’t want any wasted white space! The more stuff vying for attention, the better! MAKE EVERY LINE A HEADLINE! Mix colors! MAKE YOUR HEADLINES LOOK LIKE LINKS! MAKE YOUR LINKS LOOK LIKE HEADLINES! Be sure to underline, italicize and bold all kinds of stuff for EMPHASIS!!. Isn’t this fun?! Don’t forget, the computer gods gave you a milliOn fOntS for a reason; it would be a sin not to use them.

And be sure to center your text. It’s a well established principle
of graphic design that centered text is much easier to read than boring old justified
text. That’s why all novels, magazines and newspapers look like wedding

Once you’ve made your images inaccessible, make yourself inaccessible. Suppress any unwarranted urge you have to include a brief bio. At the very least substitute a clever “fake” bio that’s sure to leave ’em laughing. Or, if you must add a real bio, be sure to write a lengthy multi-pager with your entire life story, your views on all aspects of art, religion and politics and the details on your penchant for eating Oreos dipped in Diet Coke at 4am in your Sponge Bob underwear. Don’t include a short description of your working methods, that might be too interesting or informative. Make certain your contact information isn’t available, or be sure it’s presented as some kind of weirdly arranged interactive form, the location of which is hidden and the page for which makes it clear how much you don’t want anyone to contact you unless you already know them, because they’re obviously “fans”, and as such, beneath your notice.

Most importantly, make sure the images themselves are too small to really convey any feeling for your work. Remember – all visitors to your portfolio site are malicious parasitic thieves, out to steal your precious artwork and print it on millions of knock-off T-shirts in China! Don’t give them anything that makes your work look good enough to steal!!   Better yet, keep your work safe by not putting it on the web at all! If your work is in print, you need to write your senators and demand they outlaw inexpensive scanners, which can actually be used to grab a high-resolution, printable image of your art. Now that I think of it, it’s better to prevent your work from appearing in print too. Keep it at home in a drawer so no one can see it but you!

Or just watermark everything. Now we’re talkin’! Make sure your watermark is big and ugly and obliterates any remnant of appeal your tiny images might still allow to be present in your work. The best phrase to watermark across your images is: “I think you’re a thief, you’re not worthy to look at my brilliant work and you wouldn’t understand it anyway! Go away!”

See how easy it is? By following these simple rules, or just a few of them, you too can make your portfolio site as magnificently unappealing as many other artists! So grab your copy of Front Page and have at it!

Addendum: Due to the overwhelming response to this article, and the many requests for information that have stemmed from it, I’ve started a less entertaining, but hopefully more directly helpful, series of articles on the subject of How to Display Your Art on the Web.


236 responses to “How Not to Display Your Artwork on the Web”

  1. Wow, Charley, you really nailed this one. I think there are some artists who would be shocked if they knew that I tried to view their work for consideration in one of my books and got hammered by just about everything on your list above–and gave up. The contact thing is especially frustrating. And of course, there are those who don’t deign to use email and surprise, surprise! I don’t have time to call them up. I’m guilty of one of your biggies, though, and must do something about it when I finish my current book. I should put my art images into a slide show instead of click and close. I could probably use a whole re-design next time around. Thanks for the heads-up.

  2. Some excellent food for thought there. Of course, so many of those points could be applied to a whole host of sites as well, not just artists’ galleries, but sometimes they just need to be forcibly pointed out…

  3. Charley, I look forward to reading your blog each day, but I particularly enjoyed this post! Of course, your points apply not only to artists, but to any company or individual representing their product or services in some way on the Web.

  4. Lovely! Actually, I’ve been keeping in mind some of your previous comments about what you like/don’t like about artist websites and their usability while I’m redesigning my own site..and have been happy to pass on the URL to your site to some of the young artists I’ve met over at and CGTalk. Great to see all the key points in one post at last.

  5. Charley, thanks for this post. Very insightful and I plan on reviewing my own site and making necessary changes to make it more appealing.

    I’ve actually had my work “stolen”, duplicated, the actual JPEG was used, my signature erased with Photoshop and sold on eBay by an impossible to reach guy in China. Frustration led me to putting a big ugly watermark on my work, I’ve always provided large images for potential buyers to get a good look at my work.

    I am going to reconsider the ugly watermark (believe me, I despise putting it on my work), but going through the process of trying to stop someone successfully selling work based on my exact images I made available was irritating to say the least.

  6. Yet again another great post, Charley! You definitely nailed a lot of great pointers here. I especially despise those little square links to artworks myself.

    Keep up the great work! It’s no wonder your site is one of the few (and rapidly dwindling) sites I regularly visit. I love your informative posts regarding art and the people who made them.

    I’ll always be a fan.

  7. Excellent stuff as usual charley .I agree with most of it – but the question of theft does rear it’s ugly head from time to time .Water marked images are hideous however and so it seems the solution for clarity plus security has yet to be found .

    Someday .

  8. Thanks, all for your comments.

    I understand the concerns about protecting artwork. I have also had images “borrowed” and “repurposed”, so I share those concerns. My point, though, is that it’s a Big Bad Web out there, just like it’s a Big Bad World, and if you want to play the game, you have to ante up.

    If your work is in print, you cannot prevent it from being scanned at a higher resolution than you are ever likely to post on the web. Placing an unwatermarked file on the web makes it easier for the lazy ones to grab, that’s all. There are tricks you can try with JavaScript and Flash to make it more difficult to grab your images, but none of them can defeat a good third party screen capture utility.

    If you are worried about theft, post fewer images. Assign the best ones to the fate of potential theft in the course of their service to publicising your work. Post the ones you want art directors or gallery owners to see, and reserve the rest if you must. Better a few good looking images the lots of tiny watermarked blotches that make your work look bad.

    You have to be vigilant to watch for those who would “borrow” your images. It just goes with the territory. Make sure your images are registered with the copyright office. If they are not in print, you can collectively register a bunch of them with the Copyright Office as a “portfolio” for $45.

    If you are going to post images on the web, you have to decide if it’s worth doing. What sense does it make to post images that don’t make your work look good?

  9. Hi Charlie,

    Great post now i know not what to do….but heres the prob. Im a geniune poverty striken artist – so cant afford a pro host site & dont know html or have dreamweaver. Im left with myspace/blogspot/deviantart as options. Any suggestions of how/where I could set up a basic no frills funtional site showing my stuff? any suggestion would be great! I dont mind paying for a decent domian name though!

  10. You made me laugh hard several times with this post 🙂 I totally agree with you. Many artists are truly clueless when it comes to presenting their own work online in a user friendly fashion.

    BTW, here are a few more recommendations for artists who want to maximize their visibility online:

    Don’t bother resizing your images for thumbs. Just use your high-res images as thumbs, so when a visitor clicks on your gallery page he’ll be downloading 10’s of MB of image data all at once. That way you’ll pay much less for bandwidth use. After all EVERY visitor wants to see ALL gallery images, right?

    Use the first Java Script you come across. Don’t worry if it uses 100% of the CPU time due to poor coding. As long as it works, it’s good enough. Never mind the slowdown. People should upgrade their machines if the site runs slow for them!

    Update your site every few years or so. This will definitely ensure regular visits from your fans and a steady increase in traffic.

    Never ever use ads – they are evil. Nobody clicks on them, and if anybody does, they end up on competitor’s site earning you only peanuts (if anything). Ads also ruin the look of your site, which most of your visitors care so deeply about.

    For maximum compatibility, and a great user experience, make sure to design your homepage in Front page. Nothing beats it!

  11. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful post. Thanks so much. Well said! 🙂

    The thing that annoys me most must be the fullscreen non-resizeable window.

    I work on dual monitor setup, so the website ends up non-viewable at all. It ruins my day and I curse the artist/designer… many times repeatedly. Viewing the website or anything on it is out of the question.

  12. The ‘no right click’ JavaScript is the one I dislike most. You’d think people would realise by now that JS can be switched off and using ‘no right click’ just makes them look like fools.

    Re. watermarks, I have used them occasionally (not on artwork, just on one or two photos) basically because if someone decides to hotlink to an image (which they can do if you’re on some free hosts, although not if you’re self hosted) then their theft is easily seen. If they want an image without the watermark, at least they have to do a little work for it.

  13. hahahha…….oh this was too funny. GUILTY charlie! I read this piece and thought. “O mi gosh!” This is horrible and so TRUE! He must’ve seen “my” site. LOL! THANKS so MUCH! LOL!

  14. Hi Charley,

    You are my kind of blogger. Tell it like it is with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Use humor to drive home a point. Well done! I hope you get a million hits.

    I’m posting a link to your blog on my site and will post about your priceless advice for artists seeking to get notice via the Internet.

  15. Quite agree Charley but you need to add on a little J.S.Bach on an elecric piano in the background with no option to turn it off, ouch.

    Ed, whilst the costs of an internet presence can get expensive the start up costs: domain name, basic hosting are really inexpensive.. . these days you can buy domain names for $5.95 a year and hosting for about the same monthly (some with pre payment discounts and enough bandwith to enable three or four friends to share that cost). If initially you use blogger as your code supplier/template designer you can have your own domain paid hosted site up in about 24 hrs for a total cost of less than ninety dollars a year( less if you can share).

  16. Hahahahahh.

    Charley, I read this page every day, and I almost always want to comment, but I figure, “Oh, I’ll say something next time we’re sipping tea by the river…”

    But man, you really hit the nail on the head with this one.

    I’ve noticed so many of these issues with websites, (artist or not), but I thought it was just ME.

    Like “well, that must just be how it’s done!”

    Not you though! It’s like you just gave the entire internet a “time out”.

    I love it. See you soon!

    PS I just got Rapidweaver, a great Mac web-creation app, and hosting with Macdock, which is a little pricey at $30 a month, BUT comes with a web store, which makes it totally worth it to me…

  17. This is the first time i visit “lines and colors” and this – the very first article I read here. So my comment comprises of the following statement: From now on this site will be my “morning newspaper”!

  18. Heh, this made me laugh. Great article, hopefully no one takes it literally! 🙂

  19. Wonderful. I must say that I am guilty of ignoring one or two points of your wonderful list… I’ll try to work on those. Promise.

    Thanks for speaking up.


  20. Well put – and a great article for me to share with my students (i.e. how NOT to design their portfolio website.) Thanks!

  21. Terrific article – this brings up lots of great points that I’ve never been able to get a coherent focus on, but which make perfect sense now that you’ve pointed them out. Thanks for sharing these insights!

  22. leonard Avatar

    Here is another extremely important advice in this context:
    Everyone who can hold a pencil and has fun with copying her or his favorite manga figure, or has lately even successfully “painted” a portrait of, say, Justine Timberlake, from a photo from the internet, with the help of her or his extremely creative painting program X.0, and who is not yet aware of the importance of showing us the result (are there any like this?): Do it now!! We neeeeed it!! And don’t be shy because your art looks like the smearing of a 2 years old hyperactive imbecile with fingercolors – the more it is art!!! We’ll LOVE it, promise!
    Ahh, and if you want to make us REALLY HAPPY, also show us the whole process of painting in a 20 minutes video on YouTube…

  23. I agree with most of these points (there are only two of your pet hates that I find ‘acceptable’) I teach web design to a class of visual artists in a tertiary institution. You would not believe how many times I point to all these faults in websites yet every semester there is always at least one student who resists practicality. Generally the class ‘gets it’ but there is a drive – need- desire – something that makes them want a ‘cool’ site
    I tell them they are designing a glorified business card and displaying their artwork is main reason for having the site but there is always someone who does not like working within the medium and then they host it on freebie hosting service!

    I would love to hear your pet hates on institutional sites – ie the large museums and galleries who are employing professional designers to display collections. I have a few pet hates with these sites which are mainly to do with navigation, too many clicks to find meaningful content, an assumption that you will use curatorial search terms, the inability to browse without using search, and the assumption that you have all the plugins possible loaded – but would love to hear your ideas.

  24. “Pop up each gallery, gallery subsection and individual image in a separate pop-up window! Wheeeee!”



  25. Well, first of all I have to say thanks a lot for hosting this blog and all the great articles, I truly appreciate and admire your enthusiastic effort and insights.

    I started designing my own website (created on Frontpage and I’m kind of surprised that some people hate it!) about a month ago, so it’s kind of hilarious after reading this post ’cause I just found a web host with a domain name and will have my pages on the web in a couple of days. I have plenty of my works on flickr, deviantart, terminus1525, etc. already and I’m fully aware of the issues of theft. I wasn’t always hoping for the best but certainly not expecting the worst as well. The only way I adopt is having my images set in 72 dpi and adjusting their sizes without losing the quality. It’s kind of pointless if a visitor comes to your house and sees nothing good you’ve got to offer, right? As for the webdesigning, it was a great experience (for the resources I have are all on the web) but I have to get some feedback first to know how the visitor respond to that.

  26. I am new in freelance web dev., but I agree 100%!

    My biggest pet-peeve is re: “keep ’em guessing” Uggggh! I can’t stand it when I go to a site and can’t figure it out within the first minute or two.

  27. commetor Avatar

    This is an amsuing statement coming from a site that has issues with its background. I’m looking at it in FireFox, and the white background ends right about the bottom of the first screenful. The rest of the text has to be highlighted to be read. Insert sarcasm here.

    OTOH, much like , I can agree with most points.

  28. Argon Avatar

    Wow! Close to the bone, but oh so true.
    What about the growing trend of linking from a splash page right into a flickr set? Seems like a good solution if done right…

  29. Here I was feeling particularly vintage (19 years in design), and currently redesigning my website, when I read your post … thank you for reconfirming my design rule of ‘kiss’ (for the few that don’t know: keep it simple stupid). So often when I view various illustrators sites, I leave feeling overwhelmed. Am I now old fashioned because I believe the purpose of my site is for potential new clients to view my work?

  30. deryke Avatar

    this so condescending that i want everybody to try to design as poorly as possibly.

    i have been a designer for a long time as well as a teacher and an AD. as much as one part of me wants to cheer and laugh the other feels bad for people you may be belittleing who just want to show some work and maybe get a job. it may be better to use your powers for good instead of snark.

    not everbody is a pro like you ‘big guy’.

  31. I believe that’s exactly what he’s doing, by that I mean helping people. It’s good advice, and the attitude? Well, it’s free, and it gets the point across.

  32. wonderful and very useful post! It’s exactly what makes only about 10% of the hundreds of art websites I bookmarked worth viewing the second time. It’s such a shame, because there is a lot of great artwork out there scrambled and locked up in weird looking, obscure encrypted, bad scripted, annoyingly animated (not to mention those that have sound) websites. I wonder if they every fully explored their own portofolios to discover how impossible that is.
    Oh, and don’t forget about dropdown menus. Those that expand on rollover. And dissappear when you move the mouse 0.005 of an inch. They must be as long and as they can, split in a zillion subsections. Your work should be somewhere at the very end of it, flashing randomly at a mouse touch.
    And speaking about Youtube videos, put one on your main page. With no description of what it presents. Actually, since you’re into it anyway, put about 8 of them. People love to scroll a lot through pages with no text at all. The videos could be about some cool events in the skating park, people will watch all of them, because they’re on the main page of your wonderful art website.
    Please put a link to your deviant portofolio. We LOVE Deviantart. We want to visit your website in order to see your work on another website. Be sure your have your deviant account since you were 13 and you still keep your old doodles there. And since everybody loves clicking away from your main site to visit your obscure accounts, put a link to your Hi5 profile on the “About” section.

    Congrats for the article again, it’s a must-read for every artist out there. Cheers!

  33. imaginary Avatar

    i have to agree with deryke. i’d prefer this article spun in the other direction. all the info is good, but it’s so buried in negativity and snark.

    but, hey, that’s your prerogative.

  34. any starving artist-low-income or just tight with cash,can use for free my own answer to posting your art,which is also,add- free:
    you can join at any time,and realize that this site is years-ongoing with many excellent artists which also have several projects you can participate-in. check it out, cheerz from DAWK

  35. whiner

  36. Hahaha, that was awesome. Fantastic article, Charley.

  37. I admit I didn’t read the whole article, yet it was hard to recall here and there that you’re using sarcasm along all over the way, and I had to switch to the opposite to think about what is good to do.

    So, even though, it’s funny using sarcasm, using it in a long article… arrrg 🙂

  38. Er, what? You have a short attention span if you can remember it’s meant to be sarcastic. Although I suppose this proves the point of the article, that people don’t have the grey matter to work out relatively untaxing things…like web sites. Keep it simple and reach the wider audience.

  39. deryke Avatar

    i understand that only folks in the know are going to be here.

    this IS an INSIDE joke. i get it, but whiner?

    that guy can suk it.

    on the other hand. sarcasm …. hmmmm … being one of my favorite things …… dunno.

    double edged swords. ya know.

  40. I dont understand why dont you apply this to your own website.

  41. Greta post, this really needs to be forwarded to hundreds of artists. Even gallery sites could use this help. Ive posted this on the online zine I run.

    I do think that one of the rules should be, no Myspace portfolios. I know its hard to find places that look professional to post work, but there are places. Search around, youll find them.

  42. hehe,
    good one ^.^ you should post the ten worst artist websites ever, hehe…

  43. Haha. Great article!!! but… Oh my god… I better change the “bio” from my webpage right now. :D.

  44. whew! i was worried when i did my site that it wasn’t flashy-cool enough. i’m glad i not doing any of the above mentioned things, except the pop-up window on my work. and the rollover trick drive me crazy on other sites. good post. marc

  45. Clara Avatar

    Hej, that is a great guide. Fun to read and helpful. thank you for this!

  46. SauceForTheGoose Avatar

    Let’s not forget these useful tips:

    1) Use giant blocks of ultra-low contrast gray text at a size that’s guaranteed to be illegible on a high-resolution monitor.

    2) Use a layout that breaks, horribly, if the hapless viewer tries to manually increase the font size.

    Sorry if someone’s already pointed this out. My eyes gave up somewhere around the second paragraph.

  47. I agree with most of what you say, but forgive me…your rant inspired this rant: We’re not all webdesigners. In fact, some of us would rather have nothing to do with having a website, but now its been standardized so that every artist must have one of these horrible portfolio sites. This all creates a culture where the crap artists who spend all of their time updating their website supplant the real artists who actually devote themselves to making work. As for myself, most of the reason i became an illustrator is precisely because i didn’t want to have to become a Web Designer. Besides ALL art looks like crap on a monitor, no matter how nicely its compressed. The fact is, many Great artists who get Loads of work have “bad” websites (jon foster, tomer hanuka, istvan banyai, etc). A good site will Never equal good work and illustration is not just for blogs! Illustration is and always will be primarily intended for print, because it just looks better there! Sorry for that. i had to let it out.

  48. That’s actually my point. Artists get in trouble thinking they have to have fancy, artsy, high-concept web site designs with all kinds of bells and whistles; when simple, spare designs, with intelligent navigation and an emphasis on simply displaying the art as clearly as possible; are much more effective, and don’t demand that you spend all of your time maintaining them.

    The #1 principle in art is also the #1 principle in web site design: What doesn’t add, subtracts.

  49. Thank you for detailing all the typical failings of artist and advertising agency websites. It’s astounding to me that those who are supposed to be communications professionals completely drop the ball when it comes to the web, and especially their own sites. As a web development company that specializes in partnering with advertising agencies and design firms and I can confirm that they frequently fail to design and structure their own sites effectively. Here’s a newsletter I wrote awhile back on the same theme. Advertising Agency and Artist Websites.

    Thanks Charlie!

  50. Heh… very true, all of it. I am myself guilty of the small square thumbnails crime, and indeed the entry page. Though the flash is very minimal in size and I have html alternatives anyway.

    I feel shamed enough to have a rethink on my front page now… if I had the time!

  51. Charley Parker you are a genius. a dirty dirty genius. This is so right on it hurts. you don’t pull any punches. If the artsy fartsy want to do that than make a link to the artsy fartsy concept site from the usable site. Creative directors just want to easily use a site. They have a stack of applicants and artists to go through, as long as they find one they can use, they could care less about trying to figure you out.
    Dirty, dirty genius.

  52. Thanks for the excellent guide. You are right on the mark with all your points.

  53. tbird77 Avatar

    Great sarcasm!

  54. perhaps, as a follow up to this post, you could post links to 5 or 6 sites that are DESIGNED in the way that you approve of. In other words point us to to the good stuff.

  55. It’s been hard to decide if a community of artists with bad sites is worse than a community of artists who are obscured from the Web — invisible to other art communities save for what trickles through gallery storefront sites. I’m rehabbing a tutorial site for (Chicago) artists — the gallery/independent sort, not really for the commercial breed. I’ve found that it’s really difficult to convince artists to get themselves online, particularly if they aren’t young enough to have had it drilled into them in school.

    I once sent an email blast trying to reel in artists’ concerns about being on the Web in general. Based on responses, I came up with the following:

    1. No computer talent or technical ability. None needed! The beauty of the Web is that it is an amateur’s paradise. Plus, a website can be created by hand without ever learning a lick of programming code.

    2. No time to learn a new skill. Any profession requires learning new skills all the time. Even for artists, who must learn business acumen, taxes, marketing techniques, production techniques, better writing, oration, languages, etc. Fortunately, learning to create a website goes a long way in making achievements in communication and marketing, so it is a facet of one’s artistic profession that blends into others. Plus, you only need to learn a little HTML to get a full-fledged site going — it’s popularity rests on the fact that it’s easy to apprehend.

    3. HTML is too left-brained. Not true. It’s a creative endeavor that simply requires some organization.

    4. The website won’t be sophisticated enough. It doesn’t need to be sophisticated, it just needs to be useful. The artworks can be sophisticated instead.

    5. No access to advanced equipment. All you need is a computer that is online, some free programs that you can download, access to an image editor (Photoshop, or cheaper alternatives), and server space — which does cost money, but it’s pretty cheap nowadays to get a lot of storage space and bandwidth.

    6. JPEG’s (or other compressed media files) cannot sufficiently represent artwork. MP3’s don’t convey the experience of a band’s live performance, but they’re still essential for exposure. No artist is too good to have compressed reproductions handy for the public.

    7. Artworks online could be “stolen”. Media that has been compressed for the Web will make lousy reproductions. High-quality MP3’s are the exception, and this doesn’t deter bands from uploading them (their CD’s will get traded on P2P networks anyway). If someone does steal a JPEG for their own work, site, or Ebay t-shirt line — then it’s one stolen work. Go make 100 more.

  56. First time i’ve ever commented – SPOT ON MAN.

    Now set up an automailer so you can send it to every artist that fails miserably.

    – j

  57. Umm, one thing you might want to add (and maybe think about yourself?): “Make the font as small as possible so that people with less than 20/20 vision or small screens close the tab with your website right away!”

    ^^ I couldn’t resist it, everything else is so nicely told and true, but it really hurts to read your text and the comments here (Firefox 1.5) and I can’t find a CSS button to make them bigger (not all that many users use the inbuilt stuff in their browsers I believe).

  58. artgeek Avatar

    Man, this rant has gone through my head dozens of times as I am enlisted to bring someone’s portfolio online. The number of artists who are just determined to make it difficult to see their work has always amazed me. And you hit each one of the issues directly on the mark, particularly the fuss over “intro” pages. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in my frustrations.

  59. Excellent! I agree especially with the last one. Someone says: if you don’t want to be copied, don’t put your work on the Web.

    I think that as soon as you release something on line, you need to know that you are sharing it.

  60. Very good amusing post. And I so agree about the watermarks. It always seems to me that the worse the quality of the work the bigger the watermark.
    My other pet peeve is artwork displayed on a black background. There are hardly any styles of painting/drawing/illustration that suit a black background but a huge percentage of artists choose black.

  61. First I love your blog and thought many of your comments were right on the money.

    My only beef is how to best navigate through thumbnails. I use java script to pop up the artwork and have the window re-size automatically to the art.

    I understand it requires an extra click to close, but I found it the easiest method to update thumbs and not have to worry about the ‘previous’/’next’ order getting screwed up.

    I don’t like the previous/next set up that does not use thumbnails because I have no idea how many images there are and if you have a favorite you have to scroll through several images to find it again.

    Request for you:
    How about a follow up blog with what you feel are the best of the best sites and examples of the worst.

  62. Thanks.

    My suggestion (if you read between the snark) was for a “Previous, Next, Thumbnails” navigation that gives the user the option to do either.

    Yes, “pop-up and close” is easier for you to maintain, but not easier for the visitors to your site to use. If you only have 6 or 8 images, it may not seem that bad; if you have 20 or 30, it becomes tedious quickly.

    In light of numerous requests in these comments, I’m working on a follow-up post that I hope will be more straightforward in terms of positive suggestions (if less entertaining), but it may take a while to put together.

  63. gnomon Avatar

    Hahaha, this is the longest piece of sarcasm I’ve ever read. Great job!

  64. This is pretty funny, it’s not only for people who make their own website, but for the companies that gives this services. The clients always have this kinds of demands, lots of elementes, intros, pop-ups.. ect… it’s an endless discussion..

  65. … but these are features that differentiate artist web sites from non-artist web sites. I know I have arrived at an artist web site because of these things. They send signals to my brain that I am looking at something creative.

  66. Gious Avatar

    Good stuff.

    The article may be snarky, but it’s right. I’m not a creative director, just someone who enjoys art. I made the mistake (a few times) of waiting for the intro to load, sitting through it, and then trying to figure out a puzzling splash page. I got sick of it quickly. I hate to think how tiring it must be for people who are there for business and have other sites to visit.

    I now click past any page that loads anything. Respect people’s time.

  67. Great article! I had to laugh a couple times because sadly, I have done some of these things before. The obscure thumbnail crop… oh ya, I’ve been all over that!

  68. Great post!

    I need to look at my blog really hard and determine if the art is easy to focus on, because that is what it’s all about. I think I may have to add a bio to the sidebar? A domain name is in the near future…

    I think I may be making excuses here.

    Thanks for the entertaining an educational post.

    Brandie Butcher- Isley

  69. Hello 🙂

    Thank you for that article, very good one. I don’t mind the sarcasm, that was funny and so true. Also for my own web,unfortunately. I’m on my way to redesign it so it comes in a very good time 🙂
    A lot of interesting extra points appeared in the comments, too.

    Why not frames? I was always told to use them so the site will load faster. Well it was in slow modems age, now most of people use faster connections so maybe you are right.

    Regarding a remark above – why art is so often displayed on black? Because only black, white and grey do not change colors of artwork, do not interfere with them. Not that different screen settings don’t change them anyway 😉 Still these three colors are the simplest choice. Grey is the most neutral one thus it is used for example as a background colour in graphic software.

    I’m joining the chorus asking for examples of good sites.

    Karolina Wegrzyn

  70. Its funny because everything on this list was taught to us as proper technique in my computer class for designing a portfolio website. I hated that part of the class, so I tried to unlearn as much of it as possible.

  71. i think everyone has made/makes the common mistakes at one time or another. sometimes they are more forgivable than others. as a rabid art fan, I look for new sites daily and have to agree the black background on sites makes me crazy, but having music on a site is the worst. i’m up late, two o’clock in the morning and “bwah! bwah! bwah!” no, thank you.

    there should be something different about the site, tho. maybe not crazy, but entertaining or that might give you a connection or idea to who that person is. if you want to work with them it might be a good idea to see what kind of person they are, after all.

  72. Emily Avatar

    Great article and great tips. Now, would you mind taking off all the unnecessary language from your title? When I bookmarked this, I had to delete the 15-word description of your blog so it wouldn’t cause as much trouble in my bookmarks as it is while viewing it. It’s so long that I can’t read the whole thing. Wow.

  73. Sorry for the inconvenience, but the title isn’t for your benefit, it’s for Google to read.

  74. I know I’m getting at least a *little* bit better at this whole web-design thing when I find myself saying “ouch” less often when reading a post like this! Great info…thanks!

  75. Kent Larsson Avatar
    Kent Larsson

    I just wanted to inform you that the text on your site is so small for FireFox users that it’s hardly readable.

  76. Thanks. I agree that they’re small, but I believe if you set your text size to “Normal” in Firefox, the quotes (which are extra, not essential to the basic function of the site), should be legible if you are not visually impaired (or are not using a higher than normal resolution).

    I’m unwilling to compormise on the height of the top banner because the posts themselves are the important thing, so if I want the ability to put quotes of more than a single sentence in that area, the font size is where the compromise is made.

  77. Oh god yes, this is just what I needed to read to close out my week.

  78. Nancy Avatar

    I couldn’t agree more. While surfing through hundreds of artist’s websites, I compiled a mental list of all the things to avoid when designing my own. It may seem difficult, but it is possible to make something simple yet memorable.

  79. That is so funny! I’m sitting here killing myself with laughter.
    Good points as well by the way

  80. Jason Sheltenham Avatar
    Jason Sheltenham

    Pretty useful article but I thought your tone was kind of snotty and even a little annoying. This is why I don’t usually read blogs. Sometimes there’s some useful info, but presented in the typical I’m-better-than-you-because-I-have-a-blog way. I have a great sense of humor but it just didn’t get me laughing. PS: I agree w/ Kent. I’m using a normal resolution (1280) and am not visually impaired, and I think the fonts are pretty tiny in Firefox on my mac. PPS: Not a fan of the logo. Anyway, good info, thanks.

  81. If you take the trouble to read some of the other posts, you’ll find this is not my normal tone. I’ve reserved it for special posts. The font size stays.

  82. Hi! i found this post excellent and I would like to make a spanish translation of it. I thought I might ask you first, what do you think?


  83. Someone else is translating the post into Spanish, but you’re welcome to do it also. Please link back to the original post. Thanks.

  84. Umm, great blog. How stupid and up yourself do you want to sound? I wasn’t laughing at all. Merely frowning. Nice waste of an hour typing this drivel, I want my 10 minutes back that I spent reading this.

  85. I notice you took the time to read the entire post, log in and write a comment. You could have saved 9 of your 10 minutes. <g>

  86. Thanks! I used Manuelita’s translation instead.

    You can see my post here , proper credits and all.

    Thanks again for this guide! I’ll make some changes in my site for sure!

  87. Howdy Charley, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve spent the past year or so attempting to organize and express a rather large body of work. I found there were few tools out there which could help me accomplish this, so i just slapped together whatever i could find, comprehend and make work. I think that many of us want to embrace and execute the sort of presentation you and i believe in, the problem is that there are so few tools which help facilitate this in an elegant enough manner. Or if there are, i have yet to find them.
    Ignoring the blog section of my site, i’d love to hear your thoughts on how i could improve my galleries. I have some pretty swell ideas for the front end, but time and funds are in short supply these days.

    anyways, thanks!

  88. Don’t let the naysayers get you down Charley. It’s a great post, and I’ll revisit it when I start the new iteration of my own site. (I’m guilty of one or two of these issues, but not that many.)

  89. Artist Avatar

    Right on most points, but you underestimate what a thief’s market the internet is. Judicious watermarking is a wise practice.

  90. Michal Avatar

    One more point. Make sure that you use really small font – just like this website so that visitors can barely read it. It will help if you make it slightly off-black and put it on a washed out colour background so it is even harder to read.

  91. Nicken Avatar

    You forgot the one about disabling the user’s ‘Back’ button.

    That’s my all-time favourite.

  92. Thanks, all for the continued comments, suggestions and additions the “How Not To” list.

    On another note, In response to several comments regarding the font size on lines and colors, I’ve gone back an looked at the blog again in a variety of browsers and, I’ve relented and upped the font size slightly, though only in the body of the posts. I might add to the list of “How Not To” tips: “don’t learn from your mistakes, or the input of those who actually use your site”.

  93. BenMauro Avatar

    good times, good times.

  94. Great tips on “how not to”–I too am guilty of a few. I look forward to reading your suggestions about navigation without pop-ups. I have several gallery categories on my website that link to the same image, so a simple back/next navigation will not work unless I make a new page for each image that falls in more than one category.

    I used to do the back/next thing but soon learned that this method made for a very bloated website and one that required at least twice the time to update. However, I do recognize that pop-ups are not ideal. There has to be a solution that addresses both the needs of the end user and the taxed webmaster…I hope?

    Regarding the watermarks; I do use them and sell steadily from my website, so I have not found them to be a deterrent. I’ve actually had people find me from image searches and other hotlinked blogs/websites because they said they saw my name on my image and did a search from it. I do agree though that huge watermarks that obscure the art are an eyesore.

    I didn’t see no right click on your list, but saw it mentioned in the comments and I have to agree. I applied them to my website at one time because at the time I thought it was a good idea. However since then I’ve had a couple of galleries and designers who have tried to download my images for presentations and were prevented from doing so. Haven’t had time to make site-wide changes yet, but the no right clicks are going.

  95. Good article, a little annoying by the end, but good.

    My favorite part about this entire thing is that half the people that are answering something like “hahaha wow yea, totally I agree dude. Nice one!!!1! have sites that outline in themselves exactly what you are saying not to do.

    Also I had to scroll through 95 comments just to leave my own 😉

  96. Charley, I have had it in mind to re-do my site for a while so I look forward to your follow-up on the right way to do things, though I may not be able to implement all of them; I definitely have limitations to what I can do myself…

    I have only recently added watermarks to my artwork and until I read this post I thought it was an improvement rather than a detraction. My reason for adding them is a little different than most. I think that a lot of artists download pics that they see on the web and keep them in an “inspiration” folder. I am absolutely fine with that. However, I want them to remember where the art came from so that they can find their way back to my site. This is especially so when the art passes from one person to another.

  97. jamie,

    If you’re referring to the “” I occasionally see discretely added at the bottom or edges of your images, I don’t consider that a watermark as it’s intention is not to disfigure the image in order to make it unusable (or unviewable). In fact, assuming that images will be passed around on the net, I think a small, informative digital signature, that does not overtly mar the work, is a good thing.

  98. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I just published my first website and will use your pointers to check it. This is a great tutorial that I will pass on. Great advice!

  99. Your pointers are very apt, but I would ask that you and others bear in mind that many artists are not trained web-designers. I’ve spent ten years online now, trying to learn some of the ins and outs of web pages, how they work, what should and shouldn’t be done, etc etc…..and I still can’t keep up with it. The pointers you gave may be obvious to YOU, but they might not be obvious to everyone, especially new folk who are really just trying to get started.

    Technology has also rushed on, leaving many people even further behind. We don’t all have the latest computers, Windows, monitors or graphics packages (they cost money); and we don’t all have time to learn how to use them properly. We’re actually busy painting…or sculpting….or whatever it is we do.
    I use Notepad, can’t be bothered with all these fancy packages. Easy to write, easy to maintain. My website is pretty basic in appearance, but then again I don’t want it competing with the paintings.
    My coding ability isn’t brilliant, and I’ve now been forced to conclude that nearly fifty percent of my website visitors are using 1024×768, which makes more work for me, to try and resize the website.
    Almost every website has faults, and nothing will ever be perfect because website designs, like art, are subjective.
    Being in the creaky-hinge age group (over 50), I never had the benefits of being taught web design, computer science or any of the related skills that are around now. However, I am far from being a technophobe…not all artists are airy-headed butterflies.
    At least, despite not having a trendy-looking website, it’s been good enough to get visits and sales, so I shall be happy to muddle along with regular website tweaking.

  100. Christine,

    Though my tone is intentionally snarky, and hopefully amusing, the actual purpose of the article is to provide some of the guidance that you and other working artists don’t ordinarliy have access to without attempting to become web site designers.

    Though it’s worth noting that most artists would not consider building a studio themselves, but would instead hire a professional builder; but they, and millions of other individuals, seem to think nothing of building a web site on their own without really learning the associated skills and techniques.

  101. I have scarcely ever had as much trouble resizing the text of a site and actually reading a long blog entry as I have with this one. (I gave up and loaded it in Opera and turned on the accessibility layout.)

    I think you should check your CSS and HTML.

  102. Joe,

    Thanks for your input. Due to responses to this post, I just changed the way my text size is specified for the first time in a year an a half. I may have to reassess that move.

  103. LOL! I thought this was hilarious and really informative. Funny how many sites are out there that break these rules. I admit though…I have th pop up gallery thanks to the lightbox fad :D…but honestly i think thats the easiest cleanest way for a gallery…at least IMO

  104. Fabulous list, Charley!

    I started writing html in 94 but soon stopped, ’cause I assumed that hundreds of thousands of design-savvy students would soon graduate with these skills and would overwhelm the “market.” ANOTHER bad decision! GACK!

    Anywaay, I [among most(?) artists] have not taken the time to redo any websites OF MY OWN, so take a look at mine to see just how bad it can get. I admit to being guilty as charged– I’m gonna duck!

    When will *I learn to hire a pro? Better be SOOON!

    Keep up the good work, Charley, and nevermind any snarky comments by others.
    Good on you! [pronounced “GuudOWNya!” in Georgia]

  105. Just finished reading all of Scott McCloud’s books about comics. Great books!! Should be required reading for anyone intrested in image making…doesn’t have to be comics. I do photography and learned so much from his books. I started following up on the webcomic artists listed in his books (that’s how I stumbled on your website…love your site) and I was shocked how difficult it was to view the majority of the images and comics on the web. I couldn’t believe that someone who advertised themselves as “webcomic artist” would seem to know nothing about web site presentation.

    Someone earlier in this thread mentioned something about not being able to afford the cost of the site. Gvie me a break…it’s like saying “I want to grow up to be a sculptor”…but I can’t be bothered to buy clay” The website is the 21st centurey “coin of the realm.” But it is not only the lowly student problem….the graphic novel posted by the big budget “TV show; “Heroes,” was designed around the “print format” of comics…. posting two pages from a regular size comic with naviagations buttons that didn’t work half the time…very difficult to follow.

    Scott’s predictions of natural pairing of web and comic art remains in its infancy….I can’t understand how hard it is to post just a couple of images and have viewers page to the next images for a true “webcomic experience.” Some of these sites actually charge for the experience!!!

  106. i have all of scott’s books excellent stuf, and certainly relavent. this is a Super post! some guilty parties might take it too seriously. All said and done. Using good old common sense will keep them in the right direction.

  107. Thank you for great article. Very handy and useful.

  108. For those who need a good website design software, NVU is excellent. It is an open source competitor of Dreamweaver. And it’s FREE.

    I found it very easy to use especially after teaching myself HTML and trying to build my website from code.

    You can download it at


  109. Good article, my thoughts exactly. You might also add to that – never show all of your work (especially the bad stuff!) I designed my own site with most of that in mind:

  110. Hi I am guilty on all accounts but I like to feel like my expression is my own. If you walked into a gallery the art is not always arranged by ‘good’ design whatever that is subjectively.
    Rules and regulation always seem to attach to power and hierachy. Give me freedom and anarchy
    but most of all give me GOOD DESIGN.
    Surely there will be room for Design Brut the internet gives us wings leys not become battery hens but remain signing nightingale & soarting eagles.
    good for a laugh though keep talking!

  111. I really enjoyed this a lot! I laughed and laughed! Thank you so much! I’m currently guilty of the lack of focus on my personal website and blog – but it is deliberate with full knowledge beforehand of the rules I am breaking.

    I had to mention your article on my blog – it is very cleverly written and great advice for people if they can see themselves in it.

    I think the very hardest part of being a web designer is trying to convince people not to do things like you pointed out above that they are determined they just have to do!

  112. Make sure you protect right click on your images with JavaScript with “Copyright by ArtsyArtist, do not save my images to maybe show or send it to some other art director, give them my longy long url to make them really work”!

    Nice article, congrats 😉

  113. Terrific post. Thanks so much.
    Linda Blondheim

  114. Matt Wright Avatar
    Matt Wright

    It’s comforting to know that there are people ‘out there’ who seem to know the basics of keeping it simple with regards to website design, and design in general.

    I have often visited sites, and even though the content is above average, the bad design and sheer un-usability has made me want to pierce each eye with a freshly sharpened pencil.

    It baffles me.

    Your post was great, although I hope that hardly anyone takes note of it, because then everyone will look good at what they do, and arrogant, bigoted fools such as myself wont be able to get off on how much better we think we are 😉

    For my next website, I think I might choose bright green text on black, just to make the visitors eyes bleed just that little bit more…

  115. Nice text but I’ll just have to add something. “Putting your entire site in a single Flash file is good for this too.”, I agree its good idea but flash sites are very hard for indexing in search engines and it can result in poor pagerank.

  116. Thanks Charley, you really cleared up the watermark dilemma. I also got a good point from Jaime about this subject. By the way, your site is a daily stop for me and I appreciate the inspiration and knowledge.

  117. Mr./Mrs. Charley

    I can’t believe I read the hole thing! Bravo! I’m one of those easly bored person’s but your face slapping kept me until the end. I could not have painted a better picture. I found this via a email so you must have really hit a high note with this. I cant what to see what you up to next.




  118. Donna Halpern Avatar
    Donna Halpern

    Charley, you could use a good editor or at the very least, Spell Check. I’ll bet I counted at least 4 grammatical/spelling errors. Good points, however.

  119. I try, but at one a day, on top of my other work and projects, these come off the keyboard pretty fast. Corrections are always welcome, however.

  120. Charley,

    Thank you for the information. It was very informative. I had an updated list of most expensive art works here. You might want to look at them.

  121. Hey Charley,
    Good job on setting things straight. The world is really a better place now 🙂 However, got some comments:

    1) If I were you, I’d arrange all the headers in a group and have ’em click to see the relevant info. Having a long page full of text is a BIG turn-off for anyone, I’m sure, even for a ‘great’ web-designer.

    2) Surprised at the font-size of this article. Considering that many of these ‘ignorant’ artists might be middle-aged/elderly, say 45 or above?

    3) At 1024×768 resolution, when I’m at the top of the page, all I can see is a top-band, header and an irrelevant graphic. Talking about using screen real-estate wisely…

    4) I disagree with point # 9 (“use ‘pop-up and close’…” Please number the list, it helps!). I usually like to open the enlarged view in a new tab (looks like you’re still using IE 6). This helps me to look at all the thumbnails and see which one’s I’m most interested in opening (In a new tab of course), until the enlarged view loads. Having me go back and forth, one image at a time is irritating.

    5) I’m not sure the intended audience is gonna sit through this huge list of to-do’s/pitfalls and correct their mistakes one-by-one. From personal experience, most of these artists are really ignorant of technology, and have better things to do than update themselves about usability and website design. It would be much beneficial if we designers could just send a personal note to them pointing out the mistakes in their sites. Who knows, they might even hire us to do the job?

    Not that I’m perfect in anyway, but I couldn’t restrain myself. Think about it, how perfect a designer were you when you put your fist website up? Hope you don’t get mad :-))


  122. I’ve made my share of these mistakes in my years on the web, which is one of the reasons I speak from experience. This wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide, just an amusing and, hopefully , helpful rant.

    Opening an enlarged view in a new window can be handled well with a lilttle extra trouble. Just provide forward and back navigation within that window to avoid the tedious pop-up-and-close cycle.

  123. so its the end of the world to be an artist and want a little creativity in your website, and not have it a cut-copy-paste page that takes 5 mins to make? its not our fault everyone else is too lazy to actually look around a site and wants everything spoonfed straight to them. the more creative your site is, the better. it makes you stand out.

  124. No, it’s not your fault that people are lazy, but it’s a reality.

    You can make your site “stand out” as much as you want, but if you drive away the “lazy” art directors, gallery owners and art buyers, you can can find yourself standing out in the cold.

    You don’t have to sacrifice usability and good information design to be creative.

    These days a simple, graphically elegant, well thought out, easy to navigate artist’s web site would stand out – like a Caravaggio in a Thomas Kinkade gallery.

  125. sorry for the confusion, but do you really think all theese “tipps n tricks” about website-presentation are good? I mean hide your links and build more pop-ups etc…??? They have to work to find your works???

    You say:”Don’t take the trouble to get a domain name. Art directors will remember…” – Do you really think Art directors do remember and will take the time to search trough your site if they don t really know you?

    I have just a blog because I build since a half year my website – the most problems I have is to build a simple navigation so that anyone can easy find anyone information about me, but still to let this navigation looks good. Until is finished I changed my blog a little bit on

    Am I completly wrong to think that actually Art directors and people with influence do not have time to spend in searching trough your website???

  126. Perhaps a language barrier is keeping it from being clear that this is a guide to How NOT to Display Your Artwork on the Web.

  127. Alright Mr. Smartypants, I’ve redesigned my site! Thanks for the article.

  128. Oh, to FF (who mentioned font size readability on the web):

    If you (or anyone else reading this) can’t read a Web page, try hitting “Command/+”.

    Now who’s “ignorant of technology”? ;P

  129. I am presently putting all of your suggestions in place in a major site overhaul, starting with a clever animated Flash intro that says “Who the f@#k do you think you are wanting to look at my artwork, you son of a whore…” Or something like that. I haven’t quite worked out the exact wording that would provide the most impact. I figured calling their mother a whore is always a good place to start, but does it have enough gusto?

  130. You haven’t even insulted their pets yet… ;-]

    If you’re really serious about this, you could password protect the entire site an make them write to you and beg for a log-in.

  131. Thanks for this–I’m looking forward to reading your series of articles. I honestly don’t object to the practice of artists watermarking imagery at their own sites, as long as they don’t go too crazy trying to control the way that other sites present the same images (for example, expecting the watermark to appear if a museum publishes an example of their work on the web). It sounds like you object to clunky watermarking, and I couldn’t agree more. There are plenty of subtle ways to show ownership without making things unpleasant for viewers.

  132. I should make it clear that I have no objection to added signatures, bylines or markings with a web address meant to identify ownership of the image. In fact this is a good practice when done judiciously.

    When I say “watermarking” I’m talking about the addition of markings meant to intentionally disfigure the image and make it unusable (and also unviewable in my opinion).

  133. Yes, you make an excellent point. Watermarking images makes them unusable. Images which are in the public domain should never be made unusable; however imagery which is not public domain is free to be seen on the web, too–I suppose it’s a question of how far the owner of the image takes the idea of utility. One possible attitude to have is that making an image unusable doesn’t necessarily make it “unviewable”–this is my opinion; though as I said earlier, I don’t think all publishers feel the same way, and may prefer, if the artist’s image appears at their website, that it not be disfigured with the watermark.

  134. Here are more website foibles to add to your list.

    1) Do not specify a size for your images in the HTML code. This way the content on your page will jump around to new positions every time the next image is downloaded. This adds exciting animation to your entire page until the last image is in place.

    2) Use Easter Egg navigation; i.e. do not use obvious or consistent link properties. Force the user to test a possible link by moving their cursor over it to see if the arrow turns to a hand symbol. (Mea culpa for two non-critical links on my home page at

    3) Convert text to graphics. This allows exotic fonts and colours. It also causes problems for search engines and electronic text readers for the handicapped. (Mea culpa for one item.)

    4) Use lots of beautiful graphics on the home page. Bandwidth is cheap – right?

    5) Fail to test your website on different browsers and screen resolutions. Broken formatting is always interesting.

    6) Format the page using one huge table. Some browsers wait for all of the content to be downloaded before the table is displayed. The user will see a blank screen until the web page suddenly appears in its entirety.

    7) Make the home page a single graphic with image-mappng for links (which does not give feedback on visited links) or better yet, a single “Enter” link. This both easier and worse than Flash.

    8) For the advanced website developer, disable scrolling in the pop-ups. Everybody should be using the same high screen resolution as you.

  135. Charlie, this had my laughing out loud! Great work. I too have been involved in web development–built Cisco System’s first web sites, worked 7 years at CNET.


  136. Thanks, Ed.

    Most of us “old timers”, who were on the web before the web got fame, learned these things the hard way.

  137. Thanks for sharing your experience, good and quality advices for web designers, especially for beginners. as me 🙂

  138. I am strictly an armature of advanced age who loves (delightful to my eye) art, plays with paints and other ‘artsy’ toys, and whose second love is probably humor. Thank you so much for ending my day with so many truths that also brought laughter. I have visited a number of the poorly designed sites you’ve described. You will have helped many who are aspiring artists, and even some of us who are possibly shoulda-woulda-coulda folk who still enjoy dabbling and who will appreciate your wonderful comedic talents as well. Thank you. Your blog is outstanding in many ways.

  139. I have had very similar experiences to you. I’m a web designer and an artist and I’ve had my own online art gallery for more than 10 years – I have learned the same lessons the hard way. My new art gallery attempts to avoid all the pitfalls you mention.

    I think the problem is that most artists don’t know a thing about web design so they end up with substandard websites without even realising it. Unfortunately today if you want to succeed on the web as an artist you also need to know a thing or two about good web design.

  140. Charly Burleson Avatar
    Charly Burleson

    Great article, but your German, not so good… Ein Klein a Knecht Musik should be Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Knecht means churl,
    servant, or farm laborer. Hey you’ve gotta have at least one nitpicking reviewer!

  141. Awesome article, Charley. I’ve designed my illustration portfolio,, to follow your rules as closely as possible. Thanks!

  142. Hey

    What NOT to do when writing an article:

    using sarcasm all through it. Why make it easily understandable when you can write using sarcastic sentences, so that everyone reading it has to read each sentence twice then put it in reverse in their mind to know what you actually MEAN? Really the point of writing an article about making a great, understandable website would come across better if you wrote in a great, understandable syntax…

  143. How NOT to read a sarcastic blog post:

    Ignore the prominent links at the bottom to the entire series of follow up articles written in clear, understandable syntax without (much) scarcasm.

  144. I found the article and the sarcasm easy to understand, and enjoyable at the same time.

    To those who are concerned about their work being stolen off their web site. People will steal your work with the watermark on it. They really don’t care. Usually the image is being used on some third rate site to illustrate something. is not going to steal your image. Also if you make sure your jpegs on your site are at a resolution of 72dpi, no one will be able to reproduce it in any decent fashion.

    Also, please do not do what was mentioned a few responses above. Do not specify the image size in your html. Size your images before you upload them to your site. Resizing images via html coding is a bad idea.

    You can replace text with images if you do it right.

    And bandwidth is cheap. You’d really have to overdo it these days to run through the bandwidth alloted on most decent web hosts for only $5/month.

  145. Found your article very useful but my problem is how do I convince my daughter (the artist).

  146. Nice list of points!

    One thought on the small thumbnails: if the main image is a wide scenic photo then its not always possible to make a decent looking 50 pixel thumbnail from that image. Often the thumbnail will just look like blobs of grainy color. Picking a section of the image that will read well at 50 pixels and still give a strong visual clue to the full size image is often a balancing act. Still some users do get too cute when it comes to cropping their thumbnails.

    Creating full width thumbnails that are too large can be a problem as well: besides the extra bandwidth this method increases the likelihood that visitors will skip viewing the full size images all together if they figure they have seen enough just by looking at the thumbnails…

  147. Astute list Charlie with enjoyable sarcasm that grates against the conventional wisdom that the status quo ought to be followed because so many seem to be doing it. As someone in computer engineering and networking many years, I hand coded the html for my own unique no frills site and the only thing from your list I might get dinged on is in periodically doing my homework on up to date search engine recommendations and promotion. I’m sure you could find some things that could be improved and anyone that wants to comment please do via my above email. …David

  148. Great article! I finally had to design my own site for showing wall art because it was so frustrating trying to get a site that would do the works justice. I have noticed a much better response to the art. I must say , though, that your list “dings” me on a few things. I will get back to the “drawing board” right away. I welcome any criticism to the e-mail above. Always looking to improve : )

  149. Charley, thank you for a witty and informative article. I will be sharing it with my fellow artist friends (giving them an option between the sarcastic and the serious articles, for those who don’t appreciate sarcasm). I will also be taking a hard look at redesigning my own site (of my fantasy creature sculptures) for optimal non-obnoxiousness. I think I’m doing pretty well overall, but there were a few flags that gave me food for thought. (Critiques welcome!)

    I can’t believe some people are giving you flak about this. It’s your blog after all, and you’re giving good advice away for free ~~ advice that might help them make more money. Not to mention the fact that it’s highly entertaining. 😀

  150. To all starving artists, the web freebies that I have found very useful: ( *free* tutorials on coding) ( *free* web building tool) ( *free* alternative browser) ( *free* awesome tool to examine the code in any webpage you use it on, to help in learning how to construct your own)

  151. One last thing you forgot to mention(while you’re still in a good mood) is to make sure that all of your website is on a single page so that the user has to scroll through 3000 miles of screen real estate to get to the bottom. From this page alone I can see that you have no idea how to design a web site.

  152. Though there can be crossovers and similarity depending on intention, in general, a blog is very different in form and function from a web site.

    This is a blog. It follows the generally accepted paradigm of displaying a number of previous dated posts on the main page (in this case 10). Were I to put “all of this site” (780 posts and 2,300 comments) on one page, it would indeed take up 3000 miles of screen real estate.

  153. An articulate and witty article which happens to be so very true. I have had to deal with an artist who I think you must have been writing about. Her sites meet almost each and every one of your points.

  154. Karen Brown Avatar
    Karen Brown

    If you want a website that looks generic that’s fine but some of us don’t – i don’t care that visitors to my site will have to work out the navigation for themselves and i get loads of daily hits. I use tiny thumbnail shots, any colour i think works in the overall design and if it’s day-glo pink then so be it and as soon as get more proficient with Flash i’ll be adding long drawn out intro’s and any other Flash whistle and bells i feel works for expressing my work.

    I don’t want a boring old ‘shopping cart’ type website, i want to have some fun with web design and i have’nt had any bad feedback from visitors so i guess it’s a case of ‘horses for courses’ here.

    My Advice…Be adventurous with your web design and make it how you want it not how anyone else thinks it should be. Individuality Rules!

  155. Thanks for your comments.

    None of what I’m suggesting precludes creativity or requires a generic cookie-cutter site (in fact most “shopping cart” sites have terrible navigation).

    I’m simply saying that usability shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of misguided notions of “creativity”.

    If you’re truly creative, you’ll be able to make an exciting, captivating site that also takes usablility into account.

    Most disgtuntled or frustrated users won’t give you feedback, they’ll simply leave and not return.

  156. Daniel Todd Avatar
    Daniel Todd

    Hi Charley,

    Enjoyed your sense of humor….as I can relate to all of the above.

    Please Note: I am currently looking for someone to build a High End Gallery site for me. I’ve talked with several guys from India who don’t really comprehend the High End notion. Seems like there cookie cutter guys.

    Would you…do you still build galleries? I’m looking for something like the Stair Sainty Gallery…..If you have time Google Stair Sainty Gallery….it should be the first link. There will be a music intro page. It’s very nice. I’m looking for something along that line.

    Perhaps….If you do not currently do not build sites…you could direct me to someone who can do a stunning high end site.

    Thanks for reading this.


    D. Todd

  157. D Klecan Avatar

    C: I’ve printed this article and given it to a friend, who is a sculptor, and desperate for a website. She hooked up with someone whose sample sites on their website follow every single rule listed above….unbelievable. The sites posted are great for a business but not an artist. I didn’t think anyone could use all your rules in one site. Anyway, I plan to jump in and help her out using your other article as guidance. Thanks for your help. You are a wonderful teacher and mentor!

  158. D-

    Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you found it helpful. Here is a site I recently designed for a well-known sculptor from Delaware, in which I try to follow my own advice. It may be of some interest in terms of usability and design principles: (the similar name is a coincidence- no relation)

  159. thank you one is informed and thus ones work inproved.

  160. Great article…..unfortunately, I don’t think it matters which way one might choose to display art. Many of my friends, as well as myself, have come to the conclusion that if someone wants to purchase an art piece….they will probably need to actually see it in person. A website is good for general observation, but, if someone wants to purchase…unless they have purchased from the visual artist before, they might have to see it, up close.

  161. You might think so, but the experience of the growing number of “painting a day” painters, who have sold hunderds of paintings directly through ebay or their blogs or web sites over the past two years, indicates otherwise.

    Granted these are generally small pieces (often postcard size) at the low end of the price range for original paintings ($100 – $300), but they sell online on th ebasis of posted images (and perhaps with the additional reassuance of comments on the artist’s blog by satisfied buyers).

  162. You forgot one – in spite of everything you do to dissuade them, someone might actually want to read the text on your site. You can deal with these people by displaying everything in 9 point text, preferably in a color that blends indistinguishably into the background, which should preferably be as busy as possible. That way, the ones that don’t go blind go crazy trying to decipher your words of wisdom…

  163. haha what a great read – i dont think this article will date at all

  164. What’s your opinion on SimpleViewer?

    It provides previous, next navigation, set thumbnails that can be clicked through with next arrows instead of doing that annoying scrolling thing. I was thinking of using it for my site. Do you think that the fact that since it’s Flash it might cause some people trouble in viewing the galleries?

  165. I like SimpleViewer. I think it’s one of the best free options for creating an interactive online gallery. The navigation is simple and easy to use, as is the application itself.

    I’m not deterred at all by the intelligent use of Flash. The stats for Flash 7 (required to see SimpleViewer galleries) are above 97% market penetration. Those few users without it would be given a message to upgrade. (And I think most of those machines are probably in the dusty back offices of business, and are not likely to be anyone’s primary machines.)

  166. That’s great to hear. I know very little about coding, so the only other option was to create an html gallery where each image had it’s own page. I guess I can always include a link from the Simple Viewer gallery to an html gallery for those who’re experiencing trouble viewing.

  167. You could, but I actually wouldn’t worry about it because the percentage is so small.

    It is important, though, that your site have a home page with text information readable by search engines.

  168. I do plan to have a splash/home page with links to the various sections. Do links and the Index Page Title get picked up by search engines, or will I have to include plain text in the body of the page?

    By the way, thanks for all the information you’ve been providing. It’s been phenomenally indispensable.

  169. Love this post, it actually had me laughing. I’m glad someone else is annoyed with the unnecessarily long (or just plain unnecessary) flash intros.

  170. After finding this site when I was looking on how to put my art on the web, it really didnt set well it made me think, I might as well continue doing my pictures and just keep putting them in the closet and let them keep building because Ive done
    paintings for years and never displayed anything, but I keep having people tell me I should somehow, besides that its not the money thats kept me going in this adventure anyway, it must be the smiles I get when someone sees my work or recieves something Ive done, I guess my question is if someones stealing alot of your art are any of you actually making anything online displaying it? It would be nice to make something on it but if its going to be nothing but a headache I would rather not display it at all ty

  171. I also was wondering about printing where would a person start with getting prints of his or her work, Ive seen some places to get it done but they want to make 200 to 300 prints at once or nothing at all I dont think I would need that many to start could anyone help here?

  172. Ed,

    If you are getting gratification and feedback from displaying your art, it seems to me that is in itself a worthwhile result of taking the trouble to post it online. Most artists that I know want their art to be seen, even if they go about it the wrong way sometimes.

  173. Tricks and flash and hiding and more tricks…Artist needs to show their art? For what?…Replace the word Artists with Image Makers, that is nearer the truth…Art web sites are mostly commercial places for selling and nothing else…Art on the web doesn’t really exist except in the minds of them that put their so called Art on it…The Art web is an incestuous place with ego driven self gratification as its immediate goal, which it succeeds at by offering free portfolios to unsuspecting individuals who actually believe that someone will ‘discover’ them. The sad truth is the free sites need the contributors to encourage the Google adword placements which gives them cash, and the spiders gather emails so we can all benfit from larger sexual organs offered in the terminal emails one begins to receive once one accepts a ‘free’ web placement. Then of course there is the ‘family’ sales. Where the new artists invite their grandmothers and Uncle’s to visit the site to gain a pat on the back and perhaps sell a painting on the cheap, more self gratification. And so it goes on. However on a positive note, the web provides something to talk about and a handy way of amusing oneself by being cynical….Thanks….George Barry,

  174. Wow, George, you seem to be surprised and dismayed that art is part of commerce (or vice versa), but I think if you look back, even the Sistine Chapel was created for profit. Artists have to eat.

    We all showed our art to our relatives at first, the point is to keep working and graduate from there to a larger audience.

    Yes, the web has its own circuitous economics, but many artists are curretly using it to advantage, finding a wide exposure for their art, whether for gratification or profit, that they might not have access to otherwise.

    Some are even taking the spam you mention, and turning it into subjects for painting.

  175. Nice tips which in some way I tried to implement.please visit when you get time.

  176. I always read these thinking I’m going to see something about my site covered in one of the “don’t do’s” and in the end, I’m relieved that my portfolio design doesn’t employ any of those things common in annoying sites.

    My pet peeve are the right-click disabled, pop up in your face with an insult about not stealing things. I can’t believe people don’t know the variety of functions you can perform with the right click while surfing the web. I actually had someone use my work without reading my terms etc. and told me that because I didn’t right-click disable, that she thought it meant “free to use”.

  177. You got almost all. But you missed one of my personal favourites – pepper the website with links that don’t work; after all, 404 can have deep symbolism.

  178. Great tips, love it very useful information & have scrutinize whole above deployed comments all their are very specific, i am glad & these sort of sounded good to me, to make web sites as user & search engine friendly.

  179. Wonderful article. So many good “Don’ts” that really DO make great sense.

    I’m reworking my own site right now and I’ll keep this article handy as a reference!

  180. nothing like making an error when leaving a comment on a “what not to do” blog!

    My website link is now corrected!

  181. Thanks for tips… I will try this!!!

  182. Thanks for all the tips.
    About navigation with “Next/Previous” etc (instead of pop-up windows the user has to close), am I right in thinking this uses Javascript, and search engines will therefore not be able to find your images? (For that reason, I’m giving visitors a choice of both methods, but worry that is clunky). Also, can you recommend any such navigation scripts that are easily customisable?

  183. Moria, sorry for the delayed response.

    No, unless you’re avoiding the task of simply putting a set of HTML links on each page by using an automated script, a “Next/Previous” navigation does not require JavaScript.

  184. Very funny and superbly imformative. Thankyou, thankyou! I’ve got my blog going (sorry, really excited) and the website will be up at some point in the future. You can bet I’ll be popping back here to go through this checklist.

  185. My pleasure. Glad you found it helpful.

  186. chop-stix Avatar

    I think you’ve done good with this article!! ^-^

  187. Thanks! What a marvelous accident that lead me to your blog! The first thing I did was take the music off my first page! 🙂 Thank-you for your forthright humour and great advice. I have bookmarked this page a will keep it handy as I rework my web site!

  188. As a writer and former Creative Director, I appreciated all your comments. I passed them on to some other freelance writers, fellow members of Working Writers of Wisconsin, and received very positive feedback from those who work with graphic designers.

    Great site!

  189. Charley, I was led to your web site while searching for more information about Rian Hughes. Thank you for providing so much information on your site. In my searches, I’ve been led to your site a number of times and its always a very happy surpise. It must be lovely to share your passion with so many. I love the history of American illustration. What a rich history we have. What a country! I am flabbergasted at the amount of art history, new art, and changing art venues accessible today on the net. It seems to grow and improve weekly. You are a wonderful conduit of information. I am very grateful for the time you take to share. Thanks Charley. Betty.

  190. chop-stix, Barbara, Joel and Betty,

    Thanks for you comments and kind words.

    It’s always gratifying to know that the effort I put into the posts is helpful and nice to hear that it’s appreciated.

  191. Francois van Lille Avatar
    Francois van Lille

    Hi Charley,

    Been a long-time Argon Zark fan (I’m talking ’95 and Headscape days here 😉 and only recently bumped into your world again after unearthing my hardcopy of the first AZ book when unpacking some boxes. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that Argon still continues in his plight to unseat Nastysoft, although updates seem to travel veeerrryyy slowly over PTP…

    With regards the (somewhat dated) rants above, I have found Jeffrey Zeldman’s “A List Apart” to be a very good design oriented source of thoughts and inspiration.
    ALA has also been around for a long time, so chances are this is not news to you.

    Keep up the good work,

  192. Thanks, Francois.

    That is a long time ago that you were reading Argon Zark! (here is the Headscape Hesitator parody of the old Netscape Navigator download page), and yes, the updates come slowly, it takes mea while to write, draw, color, and add the “extras”, but I am still at it.

    Thanks for the mention of A List Apart. You’re right, it is a great resource.

  193. Randal Avatar

    You used way too much sarcasm in this post. That’s all it was. Extremely hard to read through.

  194. Haha, great read. I’m annoyed by pretty much everything on that list, though I am happy to say that I specifically avoided most of them in my recent redesign.

    This does cement for me the idea that I need to get some previous/next buttons going on my gallery, though. Boo.

  195. GREAT article…lol… I’m brazillian and almost every artist’s website here is just as you described! It’s an international norm!

    And..well…I’ll improve my website (and finish the english version), I have to make a few changes there. Thank’s alot!

  196. Great post! I’m sure it’s going to be very useful to lots of artists online.
    I’ve just read this one day after I launched my new web site so after reading this I’m glad that I didn’t do any of the things mentioned here. Phew!

  197. Cool article,

    There are plenty of “how-to” guides on the internet, but I found this post really compelling: I had to read it all, and some remarks will be useful when tweaking with my little wordpress website about illustration. I wish I had some web design skills so I could immediately take some SEO action, but I’ll slowly get there!

  198. I like old school.. Tables and ceills!!! :))

    1. Like steam engines, they still work, they’re just a bit slow (grin).

  199. Very well put!

  200. Time for me to update my whole website (yes all selfcoded html with tables!) and I did use an iframe within my pages with thumbs for my portfolio: the AD can bookmark a particular portfolio page and all thumbs open within that page. Since my own browser is so aged (hoping to update my OS tomorrow, browser to follow) I can only hope that it still works (like a steam engine) in most browsers. Cannot one get around the multiple window-openings by having the ame designated target for all? target=”blankb” or somesuch, and thus ALL will open in the same window, ie no gazillion windows to open and close?

    Anyways, I am glad that I don’t do most of these things, still need to tweak a few. I’ve worried that my site doesn’t have enough bells and whistles but is merely functional, and feel rather relieved after reading this.

    I have to add (after reading all the post and all the comments) that I loved the snark, that I found it easy to read and not hard to keep in one’s mind that these are “NOT” to be done. I’m here via a professional illustrators’ list. (yes, us horrid “commercial” artists like that nasty cheap sellout who painted the Sistine Chapel whom you mentioned!) Thanks for a great post.

  201. Hi,
    I’m having a renewed interest in art and designs, and just thinking of renewing, refreshing and adding things in my portfolio, also thinking of having a website to put them. Your article here really helps in giving some insights! Thanks a lot. Wish me luck on my portfolio website project 🙂
    C ya!

  202. Amusing and full of common sense. A few tips in there for me. Ta!


  203. Thanks Charley,
    As you can see from my website address, your what not to do may well apply to my site. Thankfully, ignorance has spared me from the devilment of javascript and flash pop-ups.
    I think the quote about representing yourself in court get you a f_ _l for an attorney may well apply for “artists” who design their own pages….or cut their own hair. Can I borrow your scissors?- Grant

  204. Thank you Charley (even though I am a bit red-faced at one or two of these but all your points are spot on!)
    The worst sin of all in my book is a website that starts playing music at you, because if you are in the office and surfing the net when you should be working, and the site starts playing March of the Valkyries loudly from your computer, the game is up!!!
    I’m really baffled by the use of Flash that I see all the time. Customers don’t like it. Search Engines don’t like it. So really, who is it for? Pretentious website awards?!
    Thanks again and keep snarking

    1. Thanks. Used properly, Flash is superb at presenting motion graphics and interactive presentations; particularly instructional or educational features that utilize interactivity and animation to display information. It is also still the single most practical way to present video on the web for display across a range of browsers and operating systems. The latter is changing, however, with the increasing popularity of Apple’s iPad, which does not support Flash.

  205. Thank you for the well-written, thought-out post. I am a so-so HTML coder who knows enough to make, at times, a truly horrible site. Fortunately, an online art gallery does not lend itself to all the “features” you mentioned so I’m not totally guilty! And now I have your blog as a reference for my next update. I have added your article’s URL to my blog so others can also benefit. -Diane

  206. Nice Article, Hope to be in touch with you… for upcoming tutorials…

  207. Hilarious! Thanks for the detailed tips and information!! Art is meant to be shared and seen.I will definately apply some of this advice.(I still need to organise myself a website (got lots of silly blogs)

  208. I wish I would have read this before I suggested my blog site. I will now gradually lift my fingers from the keyboard and try to slip out of here as quietly as possible.
    Thanks for this informative piece. I was fooled by your wit, at first I thought I was doing everything right.

  209. Amazing! The most funny thing is the way you wrote those tips, really ironic and sarcastic! I’ll make good use of them since I’m starting my site with some of my work… But like Ruth Park says its just a blog for now

    Congrats for your blog!

  210. Hilarious. Altho many will take the headlines seriously and not as satire. Reminds me of the 1995-era website ‘Buddugly’, where they put to use every dismal feature of HTML/JS. Remember the Netscape BLINK tag? LOL Keep it up.

    1. Thanks. See my mid-90’s take on Netscape’s introduction of frames:

  211. Should artists display prices of work on their websites?

  212. Good morning, Mr. Parker!

    I found you while image-searching for ‘Barge Haulers on the Volga’ by Ilya Repin. This page really jumped out of the left-hand navigation because un-usable web-sites are one of my pet-peeves – HAD to see what you had to say!

    and – I love it!

    Assuming that *all* of one’s visitors are on the bleeding edge of technology and know-how is a sure way to leave both money and traffic on the table.

    ~ Karen

  213. Hi Charley,

    Since mid July last year I am onto what you suggest here. Before I never had a host to put my stuff (visual art from abstract all the way down to illustrative) into the web or better say I didn’t even cope with readily designed tamplates. So, I read yours first of all and implemented it since,literally speaking every word of it. Surprise! Meantime stats rise (44% in April on ranking and visitors affluent on the rise, except one month – you did not say much about that effect. Sure, there are month to go till viability. Still – what now? Are you sure there are even better ways? For now I stick with what I learned here and read it over and over.

  214. Thank you for sharing these great tips. Hope I can implement them all someday 🙂

    ~ Magda

  215. Your site is interesting and helpful for beginner artists like me. The points made about making your work readily accessible on your site are certainly pertinent and make heaps of sense – not only for showcasing/selling art on the web. I hope that I can get to a standard soon when I will be able to make full use of your advice. At the moment I am very much in the learning phase, working from a few ebooks that I have found clear and productive. They might be of interest to any others of your readers who are at my stage. They can be downloaded here.

  216. and whatever you do, use as much sarcasm when ever possible.

  217. Did they already invent a way to protect digital artwork better, soemthing like digimarc 2.0?

  218. This happened to a friend of mine. His artwork was used for a book cover without his permission. Worst part of it, the author claimed it as hers!

  219. do you have any examples of really good art websites?

  220. claudy the artist Avatar
    claudy the artist

    First lesson I learned at my puberty party a zillion years ago is copyright anda brief hey you better not and hope they do! Laa la la laaa laaa

  221. What a refreshing post..It seems that you have indeed seen them all. I wonder if all sites would have the description you all listed if anyone would actually stay on viewing the website. Keeping the suspense and the site visitors guessing may not be too appealing for me. I hope it works on others though.

  222. Karin Jurick sent me to your website. This is the first article I read and I am so very glad I had help with my website. Looks like the geek who helped me knew what he was doing. I think we touched every point you made. Can’t wait to go on and read more.
    PS She sent me here because I am looking for webpages for drawable/paintable nudes. Not porn! Hard to find. I’ll look over your site and hope to find a link to something suitable.

  223. Awesome! I’m glad I never stop reading your posts. Protecting artwork is definitely an issue especially that competition today is unstoppable especially on the web. I will definitely want to try that Flash and JavaScript tricks too so that nobody can steal my images (don’t even think about!). Thanks Charley!

    1. I hope I made it clear that the Flash and JavaScript tricks can be easily circumvented by a screen capture utility.

  224. Nice tricks here Charley. You know I am just a newbie to site creation and the related tasks. Well of course I know how to safety my content. But I agree that artwork should be hidden coz a lot of bad people in this world keep on looking for this next victim. Thanks for your info!

  225. What brilliant pieces of advice! Excellent stuff, I love it 🙂

  226. This is great! Found you through Stumbleupon. So funny and practical I have to sign up to read your blog.
    I sent a link to this page to my tutors. Not just for the practical stuff in this post but for all the useful links to other artists and images for student research. My course is an AB in Fine and Applied Art for mature students and we also have HNC/HND and Foundation courses.
    For myself, I’m trying to build my own site, using a hosted domain name against peer advice. Glad someone smarter can back me up. Thanks.

  227. This had me laughing out loud so many times. Javascript rollovers! Gratuitous flash! Body copy centered and set in Zapfino! Crosshairs for cursors! Dedicated popout windows for images captured with a 4mpx point-and-shoot camera (and unceremoniously watermarked in Calibri)! “About” links that trigger “”! Where is that music coming from?

    1. Thanks. This was done a while ago, so I couldn’t add the advice to be certain your images are on a page for which you must click “Load more” at the bottom; producing — instead of separate pages — a long infinitely scrolling page with individual images that cannot be bookmarked. You wouldn’t want anyone to come back to an image of yours they particularly like without clicking through the entire length of the page again.

  228. Steve Sherman Avatar
    Steve Sherman

    Just stumbled onto this site while doing a Google Image Search for a painting by John William Waterhouse. I’m a consumer, not a producer, of art, but I do want to add a ‘Spot On’ of my own to this post. Of course it applies not only to artists’ websites: far too few web designers understand that the mere availability of a feature is not a requirement to use it.

    Permit me to add, in the spirit of this thread, a sarcastic Don’t of my own: Don’t make it possible to read a comment thread from the beginning without numerous clicks and many meters of scrolling.

    Sarcasm off: this is a superb site. Congratulations.

    PS and FWIW: I prefer to read white text on a black background and have so configured Windows 8. No browser that I’ve seen quite handles it correctly. Chrome inverts images along with the text. Firefox doesn’t, but occasionally fails to display thumbnails at all. One or the other seems to cover all cases, but if it’s up to me, I much prefer seeing images against a black background, so that all the light-gathering ability of my 73-year-old eyes is concentrated on the picture.