I've been a little quiet on social media for the last couple of weeks as I am building myself a new website. A photo of me banging my head against a monitor doesn't make for a good Instagram moment! I have been thinking about upgrading my website for a while - it is a basic Wordpress site that has served me well but I feel like I have out grown it. And seeing as I am resting between jobs (aka unemployed) it seemed like a good time.
I want a site that looks more contemporary, that allows me to display my work in lots of ways, that allows me to sell my work online, that can house a blog and that can 'grow' with me. Oh and I also want it to be a lot easier to use than Wordpress. My research fell into two categories - finding the best set up (site host, e-commerce provider etc) and looking at lots of sites to help me decide how I want mine to look. The first part was easy. I picked Squarespace as it is a one stop shop that is cheaper than other options. It is very easy to use and I can upgrade my basic plan if I need more functionality in the future. The Help section is really good and, if I get stuck, my daughter and her partner having been using it for years for their shop Good Press.
The second part - looking at other people's sites - was very enjoyable as I've seen some great art but it was also a bit surprising. Very, very few of the textile artists have a shop function or even list prices. And yet many of them will list a price when they exhibit work in galleries or at shows and I'm sure are as thrilled as I have been when somebody buys their work. So I wondered why not? Maybe it feels like setting up a shop is too much effort given that the number of sales is always, unfortunately, going to be small? (Which maybe it was before sites like Squarespace made it quite straightforward). Or are we worried that the audience will see us as less serious about our art if we put a price on it? Do we worry that it will be seen as craft rather than art? Are we concerned that viewers will scoff when they see the price of the work?
I hope not. I am deadly serious about my art. It is a passion. An obsession. I am going to continue to make art even if I never sell another piece. But let's get real. Making art costs money - if you add up everything you have spent this year on materials, on submission fees, on postage, on running costs for the space you work in, on your website, etc, etc, how much does it come too? And then there is time. I approach my art with the same professional attitude I use in my day job - my time has value and I want to be rewarded for the investment I make in my art. Being curated into shows is fantastic, thrilling and a big motivator. But somebody liking my work enough to spend money on it - now that is in a different league so why wouldn't I make it as easy as possible to buy?