How to Display Your Art on the Web

How to display your art on the web



Who this is for: This is intended as a rough guide for illustrators, gallery artists, cartoonists, comics artists, concept artists and other visual artists who want to present a professional representation of their work on the web. If you’re just putting up your stuff for the benefit of your friends, do what you want, it doesn’t matter. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to have your art seen by art directors, publishers, gallery owners, webcomics readers, reviewers and prospective buyers, how you present it can make a big difference in how it’s viewed and received.

Why did I write this? In the past several years, and particularly in the last few as I’ve worked on lines and colors, I have seen hundreds (if not thousands) of artist’s web sites. So many of them are so badly arranged, poorly designed, ill-conceived and horribly implemented that it has started to make me crazy. If you’re read much of this blog, you’ll know how much I love this stuff, and how much I would desparately like artists of all kinds to succeed in doing a good job of making their work visible on the web.

The original post that prompted this grew out of this frustration with the apparent desire on the part of artists to drive visitors away from their sites in droves. My repeated encounters with mind-numbingly bad artists’ web sites eventually resulted in my snarky, but well-received article, How Not to Display Your Artwork on the Web.

The response to the article was, and continues to be, emphatic, and frequently includes requests for more information. Those requests prompted this series of follow-up articles. If you haven’t read the original post, I reccomend that you read it first and then come back to this one.


What do I know? This is simply the opinions (read that word carefully) of one person. However, I do have some qualifications to be knowledgeable about this topic. I’ve been on the web since 1994, several years before most people even knew the web existed. For most of that time (12 years) I’ve worked as a professional web site designer. (When I started doing web site design we actually had to put some effort into convincing companies that a web site was a worthwhile investment, and that the internet wasn’t just a fad for geeks that would fade out in a couple of years.) In 1995 I created Argon Zark!, the first long-form (comic book style) comic for the web, and one of the earliest webcomics of any kind.

I do not hold myself up as a paragon of design and usability. I’ve designed my share of bad sites, with navigation problems and usability issues and, due to the realities of graphic design (time, budget restraints, and the wishes, demands, desires and delusions of clients), I will continue to do so to some extent in the future; but I have tried to benefit from my mistakes and I have learned a thing or two (or three, or twenty) over the years.

This is a work in progress. I envision this as a series of eight to ten articles on individual topics, perhaps more. As time allows, I’ll continue to edit, revise and add to these pages in an attempt to make them more useful.

This series of articles is intended to he helpful. I don’t proffer it as definitive or set in stone. If you disagree, write a comment and give everyone the benefit of your own ideas or helpful suggestions.

67 Replies to “How to Display Your Art on the Web”

  1. I’m so glad that Flash is going away! It was a real pain to sit through all animations with music over and over during simple navigation steps. Plus, a lot of artists didn’t realize that Flash was not indexable for SE…

  2. In this life we rarely have the opportunity to share ideas, and yes, emotions, in communication with people such as yourself. As an 80 year old who taught art for the past 50 years and only closed shop this month – regretfully, I am especially appreciative of your erudite contributions. Had I followed your directions years ago perhaps the path would have led to personal success as a fine artist. Instead, I chose to teach and earn money for the children. My work is sometimes really good, most often rather ordinary. I don’t think the muse works well when you put all your energies and creativity into the stimulation of others ages 6 through adult! I hate when people give me that ” It’s never too late B.S. ” – because it is too late to do much now other than sell an occasional work. I will miss the students and am not socially viable in the younger, practicing local art community. So you see, your blog work is exceptionally valuable to me and I want to thank you for your efforts, to wish you every good fortune and to reinforce the knowledge that what you do is most meaningful to others.

  3. Thank you for your comments, Linda. I’m pleased to know you find Lines and Colors rewarding and are appreciative of the work I put into it. It means a lot to me to know I’m making a positive contribution to others’ enjoyment of art.

    However, I would think that the effort you’ve put into directly sharing your skills an expertise with your students over time has had a much more dramatic impact on their appreciation of art than the small effect someone like myself could have with a blog. 50 years of teaching art is not a small accomplishment.

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