Artwork Archive has a new and very cool feature that I think is worth telling you about. It is a very clever way of creating an online portfolio, or gallery, connected with your own art works database. It connects your database of art works, clients and shows, with your website and could save you quite a bit of time.
What is Artwork Archive?
Artwork Archive is an online, subscription based, database service for artists, galleries and collectors. I use it as an artist, but I imagine the other versions work pretty similar to what I am used to. When you have an account with them you can simply enter every art work you create or collect into the cloud-based database. It is not public, of course, it is a database for your own use and kept secure, private and backed-up on their servers.
I find it the best solution for my art database. Contrary to many database programs, this is totally made for art works, and so has all the right bits and boxes ready and waiting. You can fill in all the obvious things such as size, medium, framed size, extra notes, sales info (and a client database!), show history, submission history and of course images.
I submit my work to open exhibitions regularly and via Artwork Archive I can keep track of which pieces I submitted when and were. With a click of a button you can see where your works are or where they have been. Because the whole database is on their servers you can access it anywhere at any time from any device. So if anyone ever asks you the price for that piece, and you don't know for sure, all you have to do is check your database on your device.
(they have slightly changed the look of things since but it generally still works the same)
Your Public Profile on Artwork Archive
Artwork Artwork also features a 'Public Profile'. This is an optional public web page on the internet. For each art work in your database you can tick a box to make it visible on your public page (if you choose to have one). In the settings you can choose which bits of information you want to make public. For example you can choose to show prices, or not, you can choose to show sizes, collections, notes or any other info you like. I generally do not use the public page, as I have my own website. But it can be very handy to have another presence on the internet, or to use it for clients and galleries, or it can even function as your main website. With your public page you also get a 'about me' page, a news page (like a mini blog), a messaging system and social media sharing buttons. Not bad at all!
Just to show you, here is my 'Public Page' made especially for you.
So if you don't have a website, this is a great step to getting your work online and use it as a portfolio, available all the time and everywhere.
The Public Profile features a wonderful way to show your work; their image gallery feature is incredibly functional for artists.
Most Image Galleries Lack Features
Most popular website builders such as Weebly, Wix or WordPress offer a basic image gallery function. You see a lot of thumbnail images in a grid and when you click one you get a pop up with a caption. That is basically what most image galleries offer. And for artists it is very limiting.
I have spend way too many hours trying to find the perfect image gallery plugin for my website. I have not found it yet but am currently using the nicest I could find (Envira).
But as artists we don't just want a pop up that shows the image larger with a one-line caption under it. We might want to add a little text with each art work, sharing where our inspiration came from, or where it has been exhibited or what techniques and materials were used. We also want to show additional images such as a close up detail or another angle. We might want to add a button for people to make an enquiry or perhaps even buy it. And we might want a link to the brick-and-mortar gallery that deals with our sales. We want each piece to have its own url so we can easily link to it. A simple pop-up gallery cannot do any of this.
I have tried to offer some more information for each piece in my online shop. Ideally I merge the popup gallery and shop together but I can't, so at the moment I still have both. I know it's not ideal.
Some website builders are better at pop-up galleries than others (Faso, Squarespace) but the majority lacks anything above and beyond a basic pop-up gallery.
Artwork Archive’s image gallery offers a lot more!
Embed your Public Profile on your own Website
Artwork Archive have recently added a cool new feature to the public profile function. You can now embed the whole public portfolio into your own website.
Now why do I think this is a brilliant move? Because there is a gap in the market for a decent image gallery for websites.
Artwork Archive's Image Gallery Offers a Lot
And this is why I think that Artwork Archive's idea is so brilliant. You can now integrate a gallery on your website that does almost all of the things I want. And it is connected to your database (which is private) so that when you finish an artwork you only have to upload it once in order to serve your database as well as your website’s image gallery.
In Artwork Archive's gallery pages (embedded into your site or not) you can add an 'enquire' button, a 'share' button and 'buy now' button (which should then link to your shop page, like on this page). You can add additional images. You can add a description and write the story of the piece. Each piece gets its own page (to which you can link).
I made a page on my website just to show you how it looks. Here is my public profile page on Artwork Archive, embedded into my own website:
With Embedding You Get Best of Both Worlds
When Artwork Archive moved beyond being a database service I was a bit sceptical. I just wanted them to focus on and improve upon what they were doing: providing a good and secure database. But I do like this new idea they've taken on.
There are already lots of place where you can show a portfolio of your work and I am generally not a fan. It is always better to have your art on your own site, not on someone else's site. But with the embed function you can have the best of both worlds.
As the whole gallery is connected to your database it will always be up to date (if you update your database your gallery pages will get updated at the same time). Whenever you sell a piece and you update your database, your website will automatically show a 'sold' sign. Any exhibition info you can choose to include will automatically update. It could save a bit of time....
You can also choose to show certain collections only. If you choose to make ‘collections’ public you have the option to just embed a certain collection. This way, if you have organised your collections the right way, you can make a gallery page with just landscapes or just portraits. It you choose to show collections, it will only show the collections that have public pieces in it. So if you haven’t made any of your pieces in the collection ‘sketches’ public, then this collection will not show on the public profile.
I usually put an art work in a collection with the creation date (“2018”) and sometimes in an exhibition collection (“Catto Gallery Show”). So if I make that piece ‘public’ then then those collections will show, but only with the pieces I've made public in it. If I wanted to organise it nicely, I could make a collection for ‘portraits’, ‘lace’, and ‘sketches’ for example. I can then embed just the ‘portraits' on one page of my website, and the ‘sketches’ on another.
Not Quite Perfect Yet
It isn't perfect though. Although I like the way Artwork Archive is thinking, the gallery embed function is not brilliant just yet. But it could be.
For example in the embedded gallery you get the dreaded pop-up again, although this time it is after you've been taken to the art work's own page. So at least the pop-up is just a little extra on top of the single artwork's page where all the info is already shown.
On the public page on Artwork Archive, when you click the image on the page, you are taken to a nice white screen with the artwork enlarged, a full screen option etc. In the embedded version, this function does not work and all you get is a basic pop-up. And that pop up is not optimised and won't resize on a small screen. That is a shame.
But at least each art work has its own page and you still get a decent sized image, a clean design, enough space for text and additional facts, buttons for buying and enquiries etc.
There is no 'back to main gallery' link (yet) (click the artists' name to go back) and the 'Other Work from Sophie Ploeg' at the bottom of the page cannot be turned on or off.
But surely these are teething problems. I like what I've seen so far and hope that it will only get better in the future.
So if you are looking for an image gallery feature for your website, or you you don't have a website yet, you could consider using Artwork Archive to show off your best pieces while keeping track of all your work in their database system.
More info and examples here:
If you are not signed up with Artwork Archive then consider using this link to get 20% off your first year. Even if you 're not into the gallery feature I believe it is the best database system for my artwork.
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