Friday, February 21, 2014

First Impressions

Kate Dardine

Your website is often the first introduction prospective buyers or galleries have to your work. As your mother probably told you, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

As a marketing consultant, I work with aspiring professional photographers and artists; however, the first part of this article will pertain mainly to artists who create on paper, canvas, board, etc. 
Through my job, I spend a lot of time “meeting” artists through their websites. Within 30 seconds I form an opinion about whether the artist is a professional or an amateur by the quality of the digital images displayed on the website.  No matter how “good” the work might be, if I see blurry images, images out of square, images with obvious color-casts or “flat” color, images that were taken with a flash (especially if a flash was used on a piece framed under glass!), images that show a partial frame  – my first impression is that this artist is not ready to present his or her work.  If I feel this way, imagine how a gallerist will feel – or a prospective buyer.

Take a minute to visit your website and look at the images through the eyes of a buyer.  Are the colors clear? Are the images sharp? Are they in square? Do they just show the image, or can you see the easel or the wall or the kitchen in the background? Are you Proud of what you see?  If not, take action NOW!

So, let’s talk about your images first. If yours have any of the problems I mentioned above, your first job is to replace them with quality images.  If you’ve had art copy done by Fine Print Imaging, you can call us and request jpegs  sized for the web. The cost to do that is just $5.  If you are putting up images that you are not planning on having prints made from, then you can either hire a local photographer who is well versed in copying artwork OR, with a little preparation and a decent digital point and shoot camera, you can do it yourself – watch this video to learn how to shoot your own artwork for web upload.

Once you’ve got a good, sharp image, you’ll need to crop out any unwanted background in the photo. There are several free online software programs that allow you to resize, color-correct, sharpen and crop. Try (you download onto your computer) or (online editing).
Good! Now you’ve got some mighty fine looking images to put on your website. So, let’s look at your website.  Many of the “entry level” websites I view look just like that – entry level. They are hard to navigate, or look like they haven’t been updated in years.  Or they are so “flash” heavy that they take forever to load. Or they look like they are more suited to selling car parts than fine art.
These days, you don’t have to spend $$$$$$ to set up a decent website, learn html or hire someone to do that for you. There are some great “template” sites out there and if you can upload an image to facebook or use “Word”, you can have a great looking website for a small monthly fee.  My personal favorite is Fine Art Studio Online. They have hosted my website for years and just keep getting better. With the ability to send out a bulk e-newsletter, blog, change images, sell directly to the customer using PayPal, integrate with all the social media sites, have a direct domain name, background SEO and more – this site has much to offer.  Plus, you get a free 2 month trial just by clicking here.

There are other sites that have other strengths, so I advise you to check them out.  Try,, or (if you are a photographer) .  I’m sure there are others out there – if you know of an easy to use, professional looking template site for artists or photographers, feel free to post a link in the comments section!

Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 20 years. She is currently Marketing Director at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints.Her website is