Introduction: What is an Artist Website Builder?
What is the best website builder for artists? For those exploring and expressing themselves in visual media – the ideal way to be noticed was to mount an exhibition in a public place such as a gallery or a community centre.
However, many artists have been putting up websites to feature and sell their work online. A growing number of them uses website builders to create hubs where they can accept commissions or auction off specific pieces and collections. Given this demand, people need to know what are the best website builders for artists.
But is there such a thing as a free artist website builder? You’d be surprised to see the number of choices available. Besides regular site builders, which offer layouts and templates specifically for creatives, premium and free artist website builders were specifically created for the online community.
Of course, no two site builders are alike. We recognise that it can be challenging for artists to decide which artist website builder works best for them. In which case, we take the guesswork out of this and present a fairly comprehensive list of the best website builders for artists.
Read through this article because we're also giving you ideas on the best free website builder for artists.
Our Pick List for the Best Website Builder for Artists:
We made a shortlist of the five best website builder for artists based on their capabilities, priceline, and overall benefits to users.
- Squarespace – Best website builder for artists selling your work online
- Format – Best artist website builder for sole portfolio building
- Smugmug – Best artist website builder looking for bare-bones simplicity
- Pixpa – Best artist website builder for gallery functionality
- Zenfolio – Best website builder for artists looking for an extensive site without coding
We recommend that you read further down for the best free website builder for artists if you want to reduce expenses.
Before we go into more detail for each of these platforms you are probably wondering how we chose our top picks for best website builder for artists.
Here's How to Choose the Best Website Builder for Artists:
Before selecting an artist website builder and/or host for your creative portfolio, ask yourself first:
- What do I intend to show on my website? For visual artists, will the portfolio include scanned prints, photos of freestanding or built-in-place sculptures, or collections of photography? Knowing exactly what you want to display helps determine the kind of layout that you will need for the site and the level of interaction for anyone visiting it.
- Which visitors do I want on my website? Is your site a place where fellow artists can come in and collaborate, or is it strictly a virtual exhibition hall for your work where you’d like art patrons, curators, and collectors to visit? This will figure in selecting the best website builder for artists.
- Am I planning to do anything beyond simply holding virtual exhibitions with my website? Some artists simply need a showplace for their work, and the best free website builder for artists should suffice. But, as mentioned above, many also need a place where clients and patrons can interact with them for commissions or the purchase of existing pieces. Ask yourself which one you’ll need.
- What criteria should I be looking at when choosing an artist website builder? As with any site builder, take into consideration the following:
- Ease of Use: Is the artist site builder tough or simple to use? Do you need to have coding knowledge to use it?
- Features and Flexibility: The best website builder for artists are packed with features such as themes and templates, hosting, backups, third-party apps integration, and migration.
- SEO and Mobility: What tools does the artist site builder have to improve your search engine rankings?
- eCommerce Tools: How powerful are its sales and marketing features if any?
- Support and Resources: If you need help or assistance using the artist site builder, is support available?
- Pricing: How affordable is it?
The best website builder for artists in detail:
Squarespace ranks high among creatives because of its elegant, polished look of its templates that call to mind a brochure for a high-level artistic event like the Venice Biennale or a spectacularly well-produced arts culture magazine. The fact that Squarespace is eCommerce-ready (it is, after all, one of the favourite platforms of those building online stores) enables artists to make a living off their work or through commissions and virtual gallery walkthroughs.
We do, however, have a couple of issues regarding Squarespace: one, its site builder isn’t very intuitive, and users need time to learn how to use it; and two, it’s among the pricier site builder options as its range is between $12 and $40 monthly and doesn’t offer a free edition.
If you're interested in free artist website builders, check out our section on the best free website builder for artists below.
Pros and Cons of Squarespace:
- Exquisite selection of templates for artistic use;
- Ecommerce functionality enables users to sell both works and services (commissions);
- Easily swap templates for a custom look;
- Users have access to the source files
- Definitely not for artists on a tight budget as it sets you back between $12-40 monthly;
- Not very user friendly as the builder isn’t very intuitive;
- No preview function, so it’s hard to review your site before going live;
- Layouts aren’t very flexible.
What is it best for?
As one of the best website builder for artists, Squarespace is ideal for artists selling their work online, but particularly those who want a clean, sophisticated, and minimalist look for their sites that don’t detract from their work.
However, this option can be pricey to some. Get to know the best free website builder for artists in this article.
Need to build a portfolio with an art website builder fast? That’s where Format comes in. Created with artists and designers in mind, this contender for best website builder for artists offers responsive templates to create a stunning, attention-grabbing portfolio. Users are also spoilt for choice when choosing fonts and layouts, but Format tends to fall flat when it comes to options for building interactive forms, and it’s pretty challenging to arrange elements when you use one of their pre-built templates. Still, it’s very reasonably priced for a premium product: just $6 to $12 a month, as a matter of fact! Format’s entry-level subscription plan allows users to create up to fifteen pages, display up to 100 images, and put three items up for sale.
The Pro plan – a great buy if you ask us – allows you to have an unlimited number of pages, store up to 1,000 images, and sell up to 20 products.
If you want a cost-friendly option, you can get a hold of the best free website builder for artists.
Read our section on free artist website builders below.
Pros and Cons of Format:
- Wide choice of highly-intuitive web templates;
- Specifically created for creatives;
- Easy to use and has its own onboarding process and tutorials;
- Basic but effective functionality for blogs and eCommerce.
- Layouts are fairly rigid, and it’s a challenge to place elements;
- No free plan for the budget-constrained;
- Limited options for building online forms and custom pages
What is it best for?
If you just need to make an artist website for portfolio-building, Format is an excellent choice among the best website builder for artists options.
Shutterbugs rejoice! Smugmug – what legacy photo-hosting platform Flickr eventually became – was specifically created for professional photographers and photography enthusiasts. The cool part about Smugmug is its photography-specific third-party app integrations, including Adobe Lightroom. Also, you get unlimited storage for both photos and videos and eCommerce functionality if you’re selling your work.
We aren’t keen on the fact that it doesn’t offer many options for displaying your wares for a photography site builder – its gallery layouts are somewhat limited in that context. Price-wise, it’s also reasonable with subscription prices starting at $7 monthly, but those who want the eCommerce feature have to spring $27 a month as it is part of the more advanced Portfolio plan.
Don't worry about having to spend that much on a website. You can check out your free artist website builder options. Read through this section on the best free website builder for artists.
Smugmug Pros and Cons:
- Specifically created for photographers;
- Extensive array of photography-specific apps;
- Enables users to sell their work online;
- Unlimited storage
- No blogging function
- Can be challenging to use
- No free plan offered
- Layouts have limited flexibility
What is it best for?
If you want a photography website that is bare-bones simple, Smugmug would be the platform for you. However, it may not suit you if you want additional functionality such as a blog.
Are you looking to save? You can also consider free artist website builders, but bear in mind that they have limited functionality. Check out our section on the best free website builder for artists below.
Pixpa has been touted as a more flexible alternative to platforms like Smugmug, but it’s a platform that caters to a whole spectrum of creative types and not just photographers. While the layouts tend to be on the rigid side, the platform UI is actually straightforward to use once you get used to it.
Pixpa also offers some of the most visually stunning templates in the industry, along with a host of functions that include being able to add IPTC metadata to your images (a vital thing for SEO), image editing capabilities, image compression control, and templates for guest galleries. It doesn’t come for free, but you can try the platform out for fifteen days, then opt to pay $7 monthly for their Start subscription plan.
Pixpa Pros and Cons:
- Elegant-looking page templates;
- Allows for the inclusion of IPTC metadata;
- Varied functionality for image hosting and editing, blogging, and eCommerce;
- Rigid layouts;
- No free plan;
- Editorial UI isn’t very intuitive
What is it best for?
Pixpa’s guest gallery function is great for photographers, artists, and creative agencies who need their clients to go over proofs without having to dig through their entire portfolio online.
Like Smugmug and PhotoShelter, Zenfolio is a photography-centric site-building platform. However, the difference lies in the fact that Zenfolio is, essentially, easier to use with its more intuitive editor – and it’s quite an eCommerce-savvy platform, making it an ideal choice for agency work, particularly for professional photographers, graphic designers, and advertising agencies. However, we’re talking about basic functionality here; the issue we have with Zenfolio is that it’s great as an all-in photography tool, but it hardly ever goes beyond basic functionality. But you have to admit that it does offer bang for your buck: the $10 Pro plan offers payment processing, watermarking, as well as marketing functionality – not a bad deal, we think.
Zenfolio Pros and Cons:
- Guest galleries enable clients to see and comment on proofs before signing off;
- Extensive eCommerce functionality;
- Blogging function is built-in;
- Mid-tier plans offer extensive functionality
- While the builder is easy enough to use, users do not get a proper onboarding process to show them all the capabilities of the platform;
- Limited flexibility in terms of templates;
- Tools are not optimised for eCommerce or design
What is it best for?
Zenfolio is great for photographers who want an extensive site but have little to no knowledge of coding. It’s easy enough to use and, if you’re not hankering for anything more advanced, it works fine.
Best Free Website Builders for Artists:
All five of the programmes we presented in this review are premium services, some of which are beyond the budget of student artists and small-scale artistic endeavours. But some old standbys in the site-building scene offer free artist website builder options:
- Wix, the granddaddy of free artist website builders, offers numerous layouts to suit the needs of portfolio builders along with ample functionality;
- Ucraft is another interesting option: it’s the only site builder that allows users to connect their domain names for free, along with numerous design elements that help users create more vivid and complex sites;
- WordPress.com is, of course, a classic standby if you want to add a blogging element to your website.
Note, however, that free artist website builders usually have minimal functionality, and in-site ads will be peppered throughout your pages. But if you feel that these won’t hamper your creative stride, then they are certainly worth considering.
Conclusion and Recommendation: What is the best website builder for artists?
All five of the artist site builders discussed in this review have so much to offer creatives, but we would recommend Squarespace if it were up to us. While it isn’t the easiest platform to use, it’s actually the one that will enable users to show off their work to the very best level. Its eCommerce capabilities allow users to make a tidy living off their work.
Along with the programmes and apps featured in this review, there is a whole world of potential options for the best website builders for artists. We recommend that you keep an eye out and be sure to shop around to see what different platforms have to offer. We also invite you to try out the best free website builder for artists if your demands aren't that high.
What free artist website builder do you recommend?
If you'd like to try the best free website builder for artists, choose Wix. Aside from art-focused themes and templates, the platform offers a free forever plan. You will have zero expenses, but need to live with ads and limits on functionality.
Which would you recommend in terms of app integrations?
That would be a toss-up between Squarespace and Smugmug. The former offers a diverse 3,000 integrations through its Squarespace Extensions online marketplace, while the latter presents a veritable treasure trove of photography-specific applications to work with.
That’s all for now:
If you've read our article on the Best Website Builder for Artists, we are grateful. Remember always to keep abreast of the latest developments on website builders, eCommerce, and other articles, such as the ones below;
- Squarespace Pricing and Review
- Weebly vs Squarespace
- BigCartel Reviews
- SmugMug Review
- Our 5 Best Website Builder for Musicians
Not only the best tea/coffee maker on the team Sophie keeps the many marketing projects flowing ensuring completion on time. Skilled across multiple marketing skill areas Sophie is our all rounder and a great asset to the team. Sophie is a website building trainer and tech writer who takes pride in helping small businesses and startups build their websites and launch their eCommerce platforms. Sophie is also the practical joker of the team and always wears a smile on her face. In her spare time she likes to spend her time with family. She loves going on holidays and spending time with friends.