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Image Galleries on Your Portfolio Website

Image Galleries on Your Portfolio Website

Graphic Courtesy of Rabbitine, Flickr

Thomas James | Escape from Illustration Island

Ok, so now we get to the juicy part.

The Image Gallery

For obvious reasons, the gallery is usually the section of a portfolio website that an Illustrator gives the most attention to. After all, this is where you get to show off your babies. As pointed out in Part 1 of this series, however, too much focus on this part of your site at the expense of a neglected overall design just might prevent anyone from ever making it as far as your gallery. So, the key is to nurture every aspect of your portfolio website with equal amounts of attention and care. It might help to think of your site as the frame that houses your art, in that you want it to show your work in the best possible light.

Razzle Dazzle Don’t

Remember when I mentioned in Part 1 that you want your site to be clean, clear, and easy to navigate? Well, the same principal applies here. I implore you to avoid the temptation to adorn your gallery with clever tricks and special effects. Again, this will only distract, and perhaps annoy, the potential client who is viewing your work. Let the Illustrations speak for themselves.

Another mistake that you want to be aware of is a complicated user interface. You don’t want your audience to have to figure out how to leave one image or get to the next. The idea is to make everything as simple as possible. The only thing your visitor should be focusing on is how amazing your work is.

What To Include:

I recently wrote a post called Selecting Images for Your Portfolio, so I won’t rehash that here, but the main point I want to highlight is that less is more. Just include your best work. Don’t give the Art Director any reason to leave feeling underwhelmed.

In addition, be sure to upload the smallest file size possible while still retaining visual quality. This will allow for fast page load times to cater to the pesky short attention span of your audience. Let’s face it. In this day and age, people just don’t have a tolerance for slow page loads.

Consistency or Variety?

This happens to be another point of debate in the Illustration community.

Most people will emphatically tell you that you must present a consistent style so that potential clients know what they’re going to get if they hire you for a particular project. I agree with this for the most part. That being said, I have seen enough people achieve success while working in a wide range of styles and mediums to know that there is still something to be said for being a jack-of-all-trades (such as Stefan Bucher). If you choose this more treacherous path, however, you should still try to inject enough of yourself into your work to project a unified artistic vision. This is obviously a lot more difficult to master, and some artists even choose to work under different names in order to explore multiple styles (Nate Williams also works as Alexander Blue, for example).

You’ll need to make this choice for yourself. Just remember that the goal is to get Art Directors to hire you for a project because you’re the best fit, and the best way to do that is to present a unique identity as a creator. They do need to be able to have some idea of what they’re in for.

Don’t Worry. This Can Still Be Fun.

I hope I haven’t taken all of the joy out of your portfolio experience by approaching this topic from such an analytical standpoint, but these things really do make a difference when your site is just one floating buoy in a sea of Illustrators fighting for attention. And, you can keep these things in mind and still inject emotion, humor, and inspiration into the gallery of your finest work by giving the Illustrations a safe place to shine.

Next: Your About Page

← Last: Site Design

Do you agree with these concepts? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

This article is part 2 of the series entitled “7 Elements of an Effective Portfolio Website,” which aims to encourage Illustrators to consider some crucial features when building or refining their portfolio websites.

You can find the rest of the series here.

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