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Artist websites. They are one of the most important tools an artist has in order to make their work visible these days. A...

Posted on May 14, 2016

Artist websites. They are one of the most important tools an artist has in order to make their work visible these days. A website is also an important tool when it comes to showing curators, gallerists, and potential clients that you are a professional artist, that you are serious about your work, and in turn, that they should take it seriously too.

At Studio Sixty Six, we have found several of our artists through their artist websites, and we continue to scour the Internet for new, exciting emerging Canadian artists to include in our upcoming exhibition programmes. Through our experience, we have developed a list of tips for artists on how to best present their work on their artist website.

When it comes to designing your artist website, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

// BASIC STRUCTURE + CONTENT.

Artist websites typically follow a certain structure and they usually include the following pages:

  • About / Bio. This is the page where the visitor to your website will get a sense of who you are as an artist. It should include a short biographical paragraph, an artist statement, and a link to your artistic C.V. Some artists do not put a link to their C.V., but this is important information for galleries, collectors, and art competitions.
  • Portfolio (A.K.A. the MOST important page on your website). The portfolio page should be a curated collection of your work that best represent your practice and how you want to be seen as an artist. The images should be high-res and look professional (there is nothing more off-putting than looking at poorly photographed artworks).
  • Contact. This is the page where an interested visitor – say a curator, gallerist, or collector – will go to get in touch with you about your work. Avoid using a generic contact form. Be sure to inlcude a couple of different ways visitors can get in touch with you, like your email address and any other relevant points of contact, such as links to your social media pages – you want to make it easy for visitors to communicate with you.

  • // DESIGN.

    The design of your website should reflect your work. Generally speaking, it should highlight and emphasize your work and not distract a visitor. Try using a clean, modern template without loud colours (for example, white is a popular choice in web design circles for 2016-2017), and limit yourself to 1-2 font choices.

    // USABILITY.

    Make sure that your website navigation is clear and usable. Visitors to your website should be able to figure out how to use the navigation within 3-seconds or else they might navigate away from your page. Stick to a simple navigation menu that is horizontal or vertical that will appear in the same place on all of your pages.

    Another usability feature to keep in mind is your portfolio page. It is up to you on how you would like to set up this page, but make sure that if you are using a thumbnail-to-lightbox viewer, slideshow gallery, or a horizontal-scroll plugin that your users will be able to figure out how to use them easily and that they can easily find their way back to your websites.

    // OTHER TIPS.

  • Be sure to make your website mobile-friendly! More and more web-users are using mobile devices to look at websites, so this is a very important feature to consider when thinking about your own artist website.
  • Do highlight your new work on your website! It will help to contextualize you and your practice and give a sense of what you are currently working on.
  • Sometimes it is helpful to have a 1-2 lines or a short paragraph describing an artistic project or series. This information will help curators, gallerists, and collectors understand and contextualize your work.

  • // WHAT TO AVOID.

  • Any design elements that will shift focus from your work.
  • Avoid any website elements that use Adobe Flash. It is not mobile-friendly, and Adobe recently stopped suporting this software.
  • Do not include older work on your website if it does not reflect your professional practice (e.g. early student work, works in progress, etc).
  • Keep the content on your website relatively brief – do not present visitors with an information overload!

  • In summary, your artist website should be a professional online space that puts your best foot forward, it should reflect your practice and your artworks. When you’re designing your site, have fun and make sure that it is something that you are happy with – the most important part is that you have taken that first step into the World Wide Web, and you will find that it will open your work to entirely new audiences.


    Written by Danuta Sierhuis

    Want to start an art collection but are unsure where to start? It is repeatedly said that starting an art collection can be...

    Posted on April 30, 2016

    Want to start an art collection but are unsure where to start?

    It is repeatedly said that starting an art collection can be intimidating and just a bit scary for those who are new to the art world. This has a lot to do with the perception that the art world is a place for those “already in the know,” a place not for the everyday person. However, in our experience, the art world is full of people who want to share and talk about their art with those who admire their work!

    To us, the basics of starting an art collection really has to do with engaging with art by going to galleries and asking a million questions of the artists and gallerists before committing to purchasing an artwork. As important as it is to learn about the art world itself, it is more important that you have a connection to the work that you want to add to your collection.

    The following are some quick tips and suggestions on how to start an art collection of your very own and building a connection to artworks:

  • Go to galleries. Go to vernissages. Find your local galleries and go and visit them. These are the best places to look when you are not sure where to find artists’ work. Go to as many galleries and exhibitions as you can (Ottawa has lots!) to whet your visual palette and to get a sense of what kind of aesthetics you are drawn to.
    Also, talk to the gallerists in your local gallery if you have questions about an artist, exhibition, or really just don’t know where to start in your quest for finding art to build your collection. Gallerists are there to help you with these sorts of questions and can often point you in the direction of a variety artworks that will suit your taste.

  • Dante-Penman-Castle-Bureaucracy
  • Know your budget. Starting out, you really should have an idea of how much money you are willing to commit to buying art. Even if you are limited to a very small budget, there are artworks out there that will be within your price range.
    A good way to start an art collection (without breaking the bank) is to collect emerging artists. Emerging artists are just at the beginning of their careers and their work is typically more affordable than more established artists – not to mention that collecting work by emerging artists is also a great way to nurture their talent!

  • Natalie-Bruvels-France
  • Let yourself enjoy what you enjoy. Don’t question your tastes There is no such thing as the “right art” to buy when it comes to starting a collection of your very own. Your personal taste should dictate the art that you collect. Ask yourself: What colours am I drawn to? What genres? What kind of textures? What kind of shapes? What kind of media? These questions can be answered after some research by going to galleries, searching the web, and speaking to gallerists, artists, and friends/family. The most important thing is that you LOVE the artworks that you collect. An artwork must speak to you in some way for you to feel confident about the purchase.
  • Let the pieces in your collection speak to one another. Over time, your art collection will grow and you may start to notice trends in the kinds of artworks that you have collected – be it a similar colour palette, tone, or subject matter. This will also give you a stronger sense of your aesthetic inclinations.

  • Daniel-Moisan-Cell
  • Have FUN. This is probably the most important piece of of advice we can give you. Have fun exploring the art world, meeting new people, seeing new things. Get excited about art in new ways by just exploring and you will build an art collection that you will cherish for the rest of your life!


  • For more tips on art collecting, stop by Studio Sixty Six to chat and see how we can help you find your first/next artwork!

    Written by Danuta Sierhuis

    IN THE BEGINNING Memory and nostalgic place in Gabriela Avila-Yiptong's abstracted landscapes EXHIBITION: Thursday April 14 –...

    Posted on April 27, 2016

    IN THE BEGINNING

    Memory and nostalgic place in Gabriela Avila-Yiptong’s abstracted landscapes

    EXHIBITION: Thursday April 14 – Saturday May 21

    http://studiosixtysix.ca/blogs/exhibitions/78842823-gabriela-avila-yiptong-in-the-beginning-apr-14-may-21-2016

    In the Beginning maps the upturned geography of places that aren’t entirely real, wavering between the uncertain allusions of memory and the certainty of ground. Transferring vague impressions of tropical Mauritius from photographic artefacts, into dripping vespers and errant line, Gabriela Avila-Yiptong paints scenes of a rootless land, an idea space—land as it cannot be translated across memory or language. Place is no more a certainty than it is a soft impression of nostalgia, interpreted and misconstrued through recollection. Contours alternately fade into mist, or appear prominent and topographical—the latter alluding to Avila-Yiptong’s earlier works, such as her series Tectonic Gastronomy, where land is deconstructed into its geological layers.

    Fictional topographies of Mauritius are created out of the negative space where the borders and margins of earth decompose. The behaviour of the earth becomes reflective of the permeability of memory: processes that take millennia to create new land are compacted into an instant, where the ground is present for a moment, and just as simply disappears. Mountain ranges become ancient seafloors. Islands erupt out of ancient volcanic action. Avila-Yiptong emphasises the contrasts between the photographic and impressionistic memories that she manipulates—at the same time, indicating to a sense of longing for the unknown, the untenable. 95% Remains Undiscovered appears submerged in dark liquid, bleeding at its horizon—a photograph undergoing chemical transformation, the disappearing certainty of an event that is sinking into the void, an ecological depth that remains unattainable.

    The greater part of In the Beginning is communicated through subtlety and introspection. Spaces are fluid, temporary, cloudy—a sense of a half-shut, dreamy eye in Just Barely, or the physical recoil to the temperature of Sweaty Sunburn Weather. When Avila-Yiptong works on a larger scale, the murkiness of her spaces becomes overwhelming, immersing the viewer beyond a separation between the person and space—the viewer enters and becomes a part of the land. The fickle temperament of light as it falls, sometimes uncertainly, in inverted rays or stray glares—as in Inverse Glare, Memory Block or Foggy Memory—emphasises the alternating immensity and density of the scenes. A sense of the uncanny is heavy in Studying for the Trip; and Extraterrestrial, where nuclear colour auras seem to radiate in an alien time. Creating these experiences through the use of large, dominant colour fields, Avila-Yiptong conveys a hint of the alienation of the self, as it explores a planet that should feel familiar, but is always growing absent.

    The humidity Avila-Yiptong paints into her atmospheres creates a sensation of “old place”—an ancient world that is revisioned with a contemporary lightness, as in I feel small, smaller than a drip. In the Beginning resolves with a greater sense of clarity in the triptych The Dream ft. Paved Fluid, where Avila-Yiptong seems to return to a topographic expression that feels more resonant with real places. All of the transient moments depicted in fragments, seem to culminate towards a destination, drawn out in a pathway, a horizon—perhaps a familiar or reassuring sense of place and belonging in the midst of uncertainty.

    Written by Lital Khaikin.

    Interview with Shelby Dawn Smith for Different Every Time (Mar. 11 - Apr. 9 2016) What is your earliest memory of art? I’ve...

    Posted on March 21, 2016

    Interview with Shelby Dawn Smith for Different Every Time (Mar. 11 - Apr. 9 2016)


    What is your earliest memory of art?

    I’ve always been artistic, and I also always have loved cats. I used to draw and paint lots of things involving cats, including comics and watercolour portraits. My favourite drawing that I ever did and possibly the earliest that I remember is a pencil drawing on a piece of scrap paper on which I wrote “cat tree” and made a line drawing of a tree that had cat-faces in the place of leaves. It is now framed and displayed in my living room.

    How did this memory inspire you?

    I found the cat tree drawing a couple of years ago when I was visiting my family during a winter break from university. At the time, I was struggling to find my own particular artistic style or approach. Finding the drawing helped me to embrace the freedom of a childlike state of mind when creating art, something that is still greatly influential in the art that I make to this day. In my practice, I always try to approach making art like playing a game.

    When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

    I probably always wanted to be an artist, though I never really thought of it as a viable career path. When I was younger, I used to think I wanted to be a doctor or a veterinarian, then late in high school I thought about how I could make a practical career out of art, like medical illustration or art therapy. When it came time to decide on University, I had applied for Biology, Bio Med, and Fine Arts programs, and finally chose art. That was the moment when I finally really knew that I wanted to be an artist. This was cemented in one of my fourth year class where one my professors, Andrew Wright, insisted that we start calling ourselves “artists” — to say simply “I am an artist” when someone asks what you do.

    Your greatest influence(s) (non-art)?

    This is difficult for me to answer because I am the type of person who sees nearly everything as a type of art. I like crafts, knick-knacks, and all things kitsch — the things that are often considered “low” art if they are described as art at all. I sometimes like to include non-art materials into my artwork. Music is a great influence, and I am particularly found of punk, hardcore, emo, and indie music. The different moods that certain songs can put me in can significantly impact the art that I produce, so that is something with which I experiment. The rhythms can also influence speed and type of mark-making.

    Your greatest influence(s) (art)?

    To name a few: Cy Twombly, Fiona Rae, Mike Kelley, and Jennifer Lefort.

    Cy Twombly is influential because of his strong use of line and the juvenile, free approach he brings to art. He embraced the scribble and made it art, and that is something that was immensely important for a number of artists after him, myself included.

    Fiona Rae has excellent compositions, and I am enamoured with her wide vocabulary of mark-making. She likes to combine various contrasting marks and shapes, and creates these absolutely dreamlike paintings, inspiring some of my work with visual “binaries.”

    Mike Kelley’s art is just over the top with kitsch and pop culture. He brought low-art to the high-art stage, and made some truly fun and interesting pieces. I, too, am enamoured with kitsch and low-art, and like to show this by incorporating pop colours and non-traditional mediums and objects into my work.

    Jennifer Lefort, whom I have actually never met despite her teaching at the University of Ottawa and being from the area, is another artist whom I admire. She explores dualities and binaries in her work, and blurring of the boundaries between them — something that I also attempt to work with in my practice. I love how her paintings are successful across the great variety of scales in which she works. Her paintings are also just very fun to look at.

    What all of these artist have in common is a sense of playfulness, and perhaps even rebellion, that runs directly though their art.

    What is the most indispensable item in your studio?

    My drop sheet and large box of clean rags, as I am extremely messy when I paint. It is not uncommon for me to be mopping up paint puddles, or hopping into the shower because I have covered myself near head-to-toe in paint.

    SplatteredShelby-Studio-1How do you start a painting?

    Every painting is different. Sometimes I mix some acrylic with water in a cup and spill it onto the canvas, other times I draw a circle. Still other times I take some spray paint and just start going at it. Always changing things up is very important to me. I do my best to keep art something that is fresh, fun, and innovative so I don’t bore myself.

    How do you know when a painting is “finished"?

    It’s hard to explain, but I somehow just know. There are a number of minor factors that influence a general feeling that a work is complete. It is when my eye moves all over the piece, rather than settling in just one place. It is when I feel that I have reached enough variety in the piece. It is simply when I feel that I don’t want to touch it anymore. Once I feel at peace, then I know. And even then, sometimes I change my mind and revisit the painting later.

    If not yourself, which artist would you be and why (living or dead)?

    I think it would probably be fun to be one of those hugely successful artists like Damien Hirst or Mike Kelley for a few days, but I am not sure if I would want to permanently switch places with anyone.

    Do you collect anything?

    I collect clothing tags — this started in high school when I had started to collection intending to use them for a mosaic style art piece, though I have yet to ever do that. I also collect beer bottle caps, which I started collecting in university, and had a similar idea in mind that I have yet to follow through with. I am planning on trying to do somemore collage and mixed media works soon, so maybe some of these collections might make their way into those.

    Shelby-Troll-Collection-1

    My favourite collection though is a collection of strange, quirky, and sometimes ugly figurines, toys, and other objects, either handmade or mass-produced. Some of these items include a hand-made glass bottle-stop shaped like a clown head, a couple of trolldolls, a matinee clown puppet, a broken figurine of a small girl wearing a “Miss March” sash, two very creepy happy and sad pig figurines, and a poorly-thought-out children’s toy that opens its mouth to sing notes in a scale when you press its belly, then after a few minutes of being left alone says “good night” in an extremely creepy voice. I like to keep some of them around my studio for inspiration.

    What is art to you?

    Simply put, art is everything.

    What are your plans for your future artistic practice?

    I plan to keep trying new things and exploring new possibilities, all while still having fun. I have a few larger canvases that I would like to try to tackle soon. I also want to dive a bit further into mixed media and do some collages with some of the items that I have collected over the years. I plan to keep working on my photography project “Tint Patterns” and figure out how I would like to display those pieces. For those who are unfamiliar with the project, “Tint Patterns” is a series of photographs of serendipitous patterns that have formed as a result of dispensing tint, or colourant, into a can of paint. I will definitely continue to share my process along the way.


    Thanks, Shelby! Here are some of Shelby’s “Tint Patterns”: green-tint-1rose-white-black-tint-2reddish-tintCatch Shelby’s exhibition DIFFERENT EVERY TIME at Studio Sixty Six from March 11 - April 9, 2016

    Shelby’s website is: http://www.shelbydawnsmith.com/

    DIFFERENT EVERY TIME, featuring Shelby Dawn Smith opens this Friday, 5pm! More info:...

    Posted on March 07, 2016

    DIFFERENT EVERY TIME, featuring Shelby Dawn Smith opens this Friday, 5pm!
    More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1091132004264773/

    About

    Studio Sixty Six is an emerging artist gallery located at 858 Bank Street, Suite 101, in the Glebe. This is our official blog, where we share what's happening at the gallery, as well as in the broader fine art and design communities of Ottawa.

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