The images that are presented on any artist website portfolio page have to be organized, curated and re-sized for the web. The most overlooked item that also belongs on every artist website portfolio page is descriptive TEXT. Tell us in words what we are looking at.
Most artists have more than one group of images to include on their portfolio page. With a WordPress site and the Nextgen Gallery plugin you can organize your work into separate galleries and create an album that acts as a container for your galleries.
When you include text with these images, you are not only informing people, you’re influencing them to click-through to see the entire body of work. You can easily add this text in NextGen Gallery or directly on the portfolio page.
The NextGen Album
There are two types of albums; the extended version that shows a feature thumbnail and a gallery description. The other is the compact version that only shows the thumb.
Your main portfolio page could have an album that contains your all your galleries. If you use the extended version you can write a gallery description that will show next to the thumb. This text is inserted inside the gallery. If you use the compact version that displays only the featured thumbnail, then you need to add some text to the page instead.
The Extended Version
Here, as an example, is Christine Eckerfield’s site using the extended version of the album.
The description is added inside the gallery not on the actual portfolio page. This text is a short artist statement about this body of work and tells people what to expect if they click-through. It’s your job to get them to click-through.
The Compact Version
Here is an example of the compact version.
Rather than use the extended version of the album which stacks the galleries vertically, Liz Sullivan uses the compact album.
The compact album shows only a row of horizontal thumbs and title, without the descriptive text, so Liz wrote about each series of work in paragraphs below. This text, written directly on the page, adds context and frames your work with meaning.
Including text is extremely important! It helps site visitors understand your work and approach to your work. Often it affects their decision on whether or not the click-through and look at the full body of work.
Once a visitor clicks through to view a full body of work they typically see multiple rows of thumbnails that enlarge to full size image. It is important to curate your work and place your strongest work first, starting in the top left corner (that’s the typical starting point for most people).
Remember the descriptive text that I talked about above; include it on the gallery page as well. You may have a longer artist statement about each of your series. In this case you can select or craft one or two sentences to use on the portfolio page with the album and then use the full statement on the gallery image page.
If you craft one or two sentences you can also use it as a meta description for search engines.
Whether you use an artist website portfolio page with an album with all your galleries OR individual gallery pages without an album, it is imperative that you include descriptive text with images. It is our job as artists to inform and educate people about our work, using words.
A picture may be worth a 1000 words but words are worth 1000’s of understandings.