New online portfolio

I have been spending a lot of time lately working on WordPress to become more familiar with the site. I’m really pleased, I’ve absorbed a lot of information and now feel very comfortable navigating the dashboard and suchlike. There are advantages to a wordpress blog, but by hell, don’t let anyone tell you there’s no drawbacks! For starters, it’s a lot easier to make an attractive site on blogger. Every other feature on wordpress costs you money (none of bloggers do) and there are major limitations in how much you can customise the free site. Even changing the fonts will cost you! Having said that, the galleries are beautiful and clean, which is precisely why I’m building an online art portfolio on a wordpress site. I really need to sort out my art gallery, it’s cumbersome and difficult to update and generally drives me mad here. Uploading an image as a post does not update my gallery page, conversely, updating my gallery page here gives no notification so no one’s aware there’s new content unless I write a blog post about it. Frustrating double handling and what it all means is that I’m chronically behind in keeping my gallery up to date.

I’m particularly keen to develop my face painting business as I love it to bits, and I just can’t keep directing people here, there’s too much going on. I am slightly flirting with the notion of dismantling this site into it’s constituent parts – mental health, general news, art and so on, making them independent blogs with perhaps a master blog linking them all together and updating weekly on any activity in the others. I know many wonderful readers cannot keep up with the volume! On the other hand, I know many love the daily post and would be irritated to have to trek about and follow a collection of blogs instead of get all the input easily in the one place. Posting everything on facebook would help though. So I’ll think about it. There’s upsides and downsides. If I kept the layouts clean and simple it might actually make things easier to find.

So, an online portfolio. Well, after the initial flush of enthusiasm I have realised how much work this will take. I need to re-photograph or scan most of my work as the images I’ve been using are frankly terrible. The watermark needs to be small, tasteful, and consistent. All work needs to be titled, sized, priced, and have a useful description. Ye gods. That’s weeks of work alone. What am I in for? I was tempted partway to abandon the whole thing and just upload the lot to pinterest. But one of the things that really makes a portfolio special is a few words from the artist – what they like, why they made it that way, their inspiration. Sometimes artists love an aura of mystery about their work, if they write something it’s in incomprehensible and usually patronising, gibberish. I’ve been to enough art galleries to know that once you’ve read one of those unhelpful little plaques, you’ve read them all. I’ve a guts full of work that is ‘challenging the dominant paradigm’, ‘inverting’, ‘juxtaposing’, ‘discoursing’, ‘refuting stereotypes’, ‘critically examining traditions’ and all the other palaver that makes me want to pull my eyebrows out. I like descriptions that are clean, to the point, understandable by a layman, and if they’re a bit poetic too, I’ll give a big, happy sigh of delight. 

So, my test blog is looking fantastic! Clean lines, great menu system, the front page updates with any new content. It’s damn exciting. I have a three-fold menu structure – you can look at art by themes eg. all art of any type involving tree spirits, or by medium, eg all acrylic painted works, or by scrolling through thumbnails of all artwork loaded on the site. Here’s the really tricky, clever bit though. No matter how you get to it, you are only ever loading the same page. That means if a work that is listed under say, Inks, also under Cats, and under Asian style paintings because it fits all three categories, happens to sell, I update the one page only. That’s very important! Otherwise you can forget to update duplicate pages and frustrate buyers. The gallery options that come with the blog are gorgeous but I’m not using them as they won’t allow me to do this. I have to upload the image again for each gallery it is used in. Duplicates are trouble when running a blog! I really do not want to be forced to have each artwork in one gallery only, it will make looking for a particular work much more difficult for users. So, I’m a little bit excited about it all. A professional looking portfolio and one stop shop for images of my art sounds awesome. I can integrate back and forth easily, in the test site the ‘blog’ tab takes you straight here. I wish I had about 40 more hours in my day, darn it!

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