Creating and storing an online portfolio of your arts and crafts design is easy and free using Artist Front. Plus, Artist Front is used to submit your application to many different arts and crafts contests and competitions.
Finding Out About Artist Front
When you go to the Artist Front home page, the left-hand side is set up for artists and crafters; the right for the organizers of the contests and competitions. To find out more about Artist Front, click the How It Works hot link. This page gives you info on how much free web space you can access (15 MB - you can buy more if need be) and other basic information.
The good thing about using Artist Front is that not only are you able to create a free online portfolio but you can also search for contests and competitions to enter that you may not have already been aware of.
Now you might be thinking - what's in it for Artist Front? Well, they get paid by the contests and competition organizers listing their event. Then the organizers have income coming in from the various artist and crafter applications. For example, while it costs nothing to set up any Artist Front account, it costs $40 to enter the NICHE competition.
If you haven't yet gotten around to setting up your own informational or e-commerce website, at least you'll have online exposure through Artist Front. Plus if you have an online marketplace storefront such as Etsy or a blog, you can store items for sale on Artist Front.
Read through the four numbered items and when you are done click Sign Up to set up your Artist Front account.
Signing Up at Artist Front
There are 11 fields asking for information about your arts and crafts business. Read through and fill out the fields.
You don't need to come up with any promotional copy about your arts and crafts business here so this should be easy peasy. However, your user name can't contain any spaces. Read and if you do, select I Agree to the User Agreement. Select Sign Up. You should receive a welcome message, press the enter my account button.
Navigating Artist Front
The top menu bar contains four options: My Portfolio, Art Contests, File Manager and Message Board. On the far left there are four additional selections: Options, Help, Contact Us, and Help.
To get started, select Options. This gives you access to user, browser and account options. Each selection is pretty self-explanatory. Click through each to become familiar with what you can do. You probably don't need to make any changes right now - but do so if you deem it necessary and get ready to upload your portfolio!
Evaluating Your Portfolio
The meat and potato value of this website for you is making your arts and crafts portfolio available for interested buyers and contest organizers. Remember that you should have the highest quality images available for viewing and submission to contests and competitions.
Hiring a Professional Photographer
One burning question I get from all my new arts and crafts clients is the 'should I hire a photographer?' query. Taking high-quality images of any type of artwork and especially small items such as jewelry requires equipment that can tend to be expensive.
While point and shoot digital cameras may suffice for web images, you just aren't going to get the quality you need for submission to contests that have very specific qualifiers for images.
But beyond that, lighting is just as key as having a good camera and lens. I am simply horrified when I read articles about artists and crafters laying out their products in their backyards in clear plastic tubs to take advantage of direct sunlight.
You may eventually get an image that looks pretty good - but it will reek of amateur status. Plus, don't you have better things to do than waste hours trying to get the perfect shot?
That being said, professional photography is expensive and needs advance planning. You can cut your cost by having a bunch of products shot at the same time. Then the photographer should only have to set up once - which will save you studio time and cost.
If you are in a time crunch to submit to a contest, take the best image you can with the equipment you have at hand and hope for the best. Before I laid out the money for my professional studio setup, I have encountered image 'perfect storms' where the planets aligned and I ended up with a fairly high-quality image. To double-check the image looks good in print, send the jpeg (or take your memory card) to Walgreens or the like to have a print made.
The next article in this series continues with uploading images into your Artist Front portfolio.