This year, the art world moved online, as everyone from The National Portrait Gallery to the Musée d’Orsay, The Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Uffizi Gallery, offered virtual tours to people from around the globe. Meanwhile, individual photographers and artists of all genres took the time at home to revamp their business, open online stores, organize their archives, and re-edit their websites.
2020 reminded us of the importance of building a solid online presence, whether you’re selling prints or showcasing your portfolio to potential clients. Building an artist website has also never been easier for photographers; while custom websites once cost upwards of $3,000, fresh and modern website builders like Artspan and Wix have since made creating an online portfolio easy and affordable.
These days, you can make a professional photography or artist website for less than $10 per month, without any experience in coding required, and launch a store and start selling your work in a matter of hours. We’ve reviewed and compared nine popular website builders for artists to help you choose the right fit for you, based on your budget and preferences.
Artspan was created for artists by artists, so it’s a great all-in-one solution for creatives. Artspan is also unique in the sense that it’s not just a web builder; it’s also a Marketplace, similar to Etsy or Fine Art America. As a result, your work is more discoverable; collectors and clients can browse your site directly, or they can find you while searching the Marketplace. On top of that, all Artspan packages include eCommerce features, meaning they offer eCommerce sites for far less than you’re likely to find elsewhere.
What artists love about Artspan: eCommerce features.
“The biggest factor in my decision to go with Artspan was the ability of customers to order prints, which would be shipped directly to them,” the digital, photo-based artist Cheryl Eng says.
The customer sizes, mats and frames the work. Important to her is the time saved by not having to package and ship herself.
This print feature works hand-in-hand with Artspan’s newly-developed Augmented Reality (AR) Live Preview feature. Visitors can ‘view’ your work – at scale – in their own homes, before buying. The feature works seamlessly on mobile and tablets, where many buyers browse.
“Another reason I chose Artspan is that they have different levels to choose from, as well as templates that looked elegant and professional,” Eng continues. “They also offer videos that walked me through getting started. I still wanted to play with settings and such, just because that’s how my brain works, but if I got stuck, it was easy to find instructions.”
Pricing: $9.92/month for the Basic package; $16.58/month for the Professional Artist website package; $24.92/month for the Pro Plus Artist website package. Free 30-day trial.
Fine Art Studio Online (FASO) is similar to Artspan in the sense that it was made specifically for artists. All plans include a listing in the FASO Artist Directory, Free Monthly Contest Entry, and more. FASO also offers members an array of marketing tools to boost their sales and increase their brand presence.
What artists love about FASO: Newsletter services.
“I needed a tool that allowed for regular updates of my site, as I update new content – paintings and class information – weekly. And I also needed something that was affordable, beautifully crafted, and fit the model of a studio business,” painter Kimberly Santini explains.
“FASO’s platform addressed my needs, while adding other benefits like newsletter services and seamless email capture, along with easy template upgrades at an affordable price. The Gold Plan best manages my imagery needs, allows me to promote workshops, and integrates eCommerce.” All FASO plans include automatic email marketing and email newsletters, while Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans have eCommerce included.
Pricing: $12/month for the Intro plan; $19/month for the Silver plan; $26/month for the Gold plan; $40/month for the Platinum plan. 30-day free trial.
Format is a leading name in the photography world, but their easy-to-use website builder appeals to artists of all genres. They have tons of templates to choose from (with literally thousands of variations), and you don’t need any coding experience to get started.
What artists love about Format: Easy customization.
“I love the ability to achieve a custom look and feel with changes to the custom pages and typography,” the photographer Anthony Smith tells us. “I want to have a custom feel to my site, but I don’t want the process of building it and keeping it up-to-date to take up too much time. I’m working off a stock template but have been able to make enough changes that I feel like my site is unique.
“The integration of a store is also great. Everything is self-contained within the Format backend. I’m not having to rely on any other service to keep track of orders. They think of everything a creative will need to present their brand digitally.”
Format also has a magazine, chock-full of resources, articles, and videos, bringing together a wider community of photography and art enthusiasts. “I love how involved Format is with the creative community,” the photographer and moving image artist Sophie Huntley says. “It’s not just a website provider; Format has also given my work exposure across their platforms.”
Pricing: $12/month (billed annually) for the Pro plan, $18/month (billed annually) for the Pro Plus plan; $25/month (billed annually) for the Unlimited plan. Free 14-day trial.
Squarespace is a popular choice among creative entrepreneurs because they make building a website easy and intuitive. With a vast range of award-winning templates, eCommerce options, email campaign and social tools, Squarespace offers just about everything you could need – without eating up all your time.
What artists love about Squarespace: Ease of use.
“I chose Squarespace because it’s intuitive and incredibly easy to use,” illustrator and graphic designer Carmen Deñó tells us. “There’s also a vast array of well-designed templates that are easily customizable. When I initially set out to build my website, the idea of coding was definitely intimidating, but in using Squarespace to build my site, I didn’t need previous coding knowledge. That was a game-changer.
“What I like the most about my website today is its cleanliness and easy navigation. It also displays well on mobile, which is important. For me personally, the biggest benefit has been customization; I was able to modify anything from typography to the tiny icon that displays on a browser tab for my website.”
Pricing: $12/month (paid annually) for the Personal plan; $18/month (paid annually) for the Business plan; $25/month (paid annually) for the Basic Commerce Plan; $40/month (paid annually) for the Pro Commerce Plan. 14-day free trial.
Art Storefronts offers everything from domain names to product pages to print-on-demand services, and it also comes with a daily marketing plan and a team to help you along the way. Essentially, it’s both a website builder and a marketing product; for that reason, it’s pricier than some of the other web builders listed here, but for many, it’s worth the investment.
What artists love about Art Storefronts: Augmented Reality.
Along with Artspan, Art Storefronts is one of the very few website builders to offer this feature specifically to artists. “This feature/tool makes me stand out from the competition and was the icing on the cake for me,” abstract painter Temi Ayodeji tells us.
“I learned about ASF through Instagram, and it just seemed too good to be true. Anyway, I spoke to the agent, and upon seeing that they had their own printing companies they worked with, I was sold. I must admit, I did research the printing companies and was blown away by the quality of their prints.
“I built my website myself, to my specifications. It’s all me and not the ‘image’ of someone else. Being a mom who homeschools a special needs child while starting a business and building a site from scratch, I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished.”
Pricing: Varies, but includes a one-time activation fee of $999 and monthly hosting fees from $44/month. You can contact them for a demo and pricing information.
22Slides was founded by Bryan Buchanan, who previously worked as a freelance photographer and designer. They provide elegant, powerful websites for photographers, designers, and other artists. With 22Slides, you can easily mix and match design elements for a unique look outside of traditional premade templates.
What artists love about 22Slides: Customer service.
“My favorite thing about 22Slides is that you can have a completely different template for each page,” the photographer Brian Flaherty says. “For photographers, in particular, this gives you the flexibility to have different layouts for different projects and galleries. I also like that 22slides is a pretty small operation and the few people who run it are very responsive to unique requests for help.
“They even did some quick custom coding to change how my image captions appeared on the site. Overall, I find 22Slides easy to use and tweak. It’s flexible and gives lots of options, and the customer support is great.” This is where 22Slides shines; they’re a smaller company, and they spend a lot of one-on-one time with their clients.
Pricing: $10/month. Free for 30 days.
While they don’t cater exclusively to artists, Wix has tons of tools available for creatives, from stores and blogs to advanced booking features. Users can choose from more than 500 templates or create their own from scratch for a one-of-a-kind online presence. It might take longer to get used to than something like Squarespace, but it offers almost unlimited creative freedom.
What creatives love about Wix: Creative flexibility.
“I can tell you what I like about Wix in two words: flexibility and possibility,” the multidisciplinary designer Ariel Sun says. “I consider myself pretty quirky, and I’d like my website to reflect that about me in an authentic and creative way.
Pricing: Website plans available for $14/month, $18/month, $23/month, or $39/month; Business & eCommerce Plans available for $23/month, $27/month, $49/month, and custom pricing. Free sites also available. You can try a Wix Premium plan for 14 days, and if you’re not 100% satisfied, you can get your money back.
Built for designers and artists, this portfolio builder offers an array of customizable templates with a fresh, bold look and tons of fonts to choose from. You can use it to build a portfolio, shop, zine, or archive. Plus, you won’t have to pay until your site goes live, so you can tweak it as much as you want in the meantime.
What artists love about Cargo: Video uploads.
Another perk from Cargo? You can upload video directly to your website, without having to embed from elsewhere. “Cargo came highly recommended to me at The Glasgow School of Art, and I found uploading videos onto Cargo much easier than I expected,” the sculptor and environmental artist Blythe Plenderleith tells us.
“There are a great range of layout templates, which are easy to navigate with informative supporting ‘help’ videos to watch and then copy when building your website. Their responses to my queries were very prompt, helpful, and straightforward.”
Pricing: Standard site upgrade is $99 per year or $13 per month; Commerce is an additional $66 per year or $9 per month. Cargo sites are free to try or build.
Like a few of the other builders on this list, OtherPeoplesPixels has portfolio websites designed specifically for artists, and they’ve been doing it since 2005. All OPP websites come with a personal domain name of your choice as well as a professional email account. OPP specializes in portfolio websites, as opposed to storefronts, but you can make anything in your portfolio available for sale.
What artists love about OtherPeoplesPixels: Affordability.
OPP is a small, independent, artist-owned business that offers a nice, easy-to-use product for a reasonable price. “I’m not very tech-savvy, and yet I found OtherPeoplesPixels very user friendly and affordable,” the studio artist Martina Nehrling tells us. “Their tech support is also fast and friendly. It’s meaningful to me that OPP is run by other local creative professionals here in Chicago–for artists by artists.”
Pricing: $16/month for the Standard Plan; $26/month for the Multimedia Plan. 2-week free trial available.
This article was sponsored by Artspan with clear instructions that all opinions be those of the reviewer and not of Artspan. Learn more about Artspan by visiting their website.