WordPress and its themes have been ruling the web for years. The CMS itself is stable, has unlimited flexibility, and is supported by hundreds of plugins, themes, and addons. It’s no wonder it powers a significant portion of the web. We will be looking at 30 of those themes today. Specifically, we feature the best WordPress themes for artists, photographers, and anyone for whom imagery is everything.
There are hundreds of great quality WordPress themes for artists out there right now. Some are premium and some are free. We have spent many, many hours scouring the internet and testing the best of the bunch to deliver what we think are the 30 best WordPress portfolio themes.
If you are a creative, run an art gallery or photo gallery, designer of jewellery, of clothes, crafts, own a museum or theatre, or want to show off your work in a portfolio, any of these artist WordPress themes would suit.
If you’re looking for other types of WordPress templates, CollectiveRay has you covered - check out our WordPress themes menu.
While we use the term artists here, that is purely for readability. We mean the term to include photographers, graphic designers, artists, and creatives of all kinds. If imagery is at the heart of what you do, we include you too!
Why artists need a portfolio website
Artists, like most creatives, need to get their work out there to be recognized, appreciated, critiqued, and sold. If nobody knows you exist, your career is going to be a short and impoverished one.
A portfolio website could change all that.
Not all that long ago, if you were an artist you would need a sponsor and a gallery to become known. All that has changed. With the web and social media now ruling the world, you can create your very own gallery and promote it yourself.
You don’t need a benefactor. You don’t need a benevolent gallery owner. You no longer need that lucky break the movies love to portray. You could buy and build your very own online portfolio theme for less than it costs to buy a few canvas and some oil paint.
This guide will show you how.
What we look for in a WordPress theme
We look for several things in any WordPress theme we recommend.
First, we consider the ease of use, flexibility, and stability of the theme. After all, there is no point recommending a WordPress theme that only a skilled developer could use!
Second, we look at how the theme addresses the needs of the niche in question. For artists and creatives, we consider what part imagery plays in the theme. How the theme allows those images to shine.
How distracting (or not) other page elements are and what display options there are to arrange pages.
If the theme has Lightbox or other image effects all the better. If the theme also supports WooCommerce and the many hundreds of WordPress plugins that can make a website shine, even better!
Support for one of a number of popular page builder plugins would be ideal, it should make your life much easier.
Finally, every WordPress theme has to be fully responsive so it works on any device so anyone can view it. We want as many people as possible to be able to appreciate your work.
All of the themes in this list deliver on the main criteria above. Some will support WooCommerce and the vast majority will work seamlessly with the many other WordPress plugins we like to use.
21 Best WordPress themes for artists
Let's start with our favourite WordPress theme for artists. When possible, we will provide a link to an actual demo of the site in use so that you can see for yourself what the end result could look like.
1. Divi - Photographer and Art Gallery themes
We can't start this roundup without mentioning our favourite WordPress theme for artists. It isn’t just us who think Divi is superb. More than 683,000 people have chosen this template as their choice for powering their website.
It is one of the most flexible WordPress themes on the market and it is sometimes difficult to rein in our enthusiasm enough to remain impartial.
Divi is a WordPress ecosystem that includes hundreds of page templates, homepage layouts, its own page builder and support for many types of plugins. It also supports WooCommerce so if you wanted to sell your work as well as display it, you could with a Divi theme.
Click the below image to check out the demo of Art Gallery:
Features of Divi include:
- Extremely powerful WordPress template system
- Focused on being easy to use
- Flexible page builder with drag and drop
- Many professional quality ready-made page templates
- Responsive and accessible design
- Compatible with WooCommerce and other plugins
For those who might also be interested, Divi has featured often in our theme reviews and we have also created a Beaver Builder vs Divi comparison to help you decide which is best for your needs, and finally a comparison between Divi vs Elementor.
We've also partnered with Elegant Themes to give our audience a special 10% discount only until May 2021
Astra is another of those best WordPress themes we feature a lot.
It’s more than just a WordPress theme for artists, more a theme ecosystem with everything built-in. The Astra Artist demo is the template we are showcasing today as it is designed specifically for showcasing art.
It’s a powerful template that looks thoroughly professional. It is modern, has a pleasing layout, good use of space and imagery, attractive fonts and colours and delivers an appearance you would expect from a WordPress theme many times its price.
- Very attractive Artist theme
- Optimized code with no jQuery for faster loading
- Powerful layout options with a massive range of options
- WooCommerce compatible
- Comes with good documentation and 24/7 support
3. Fargo - Clean WordPress template for artists
As an artist, you are presenting your collections as a gallery to showcase your abilities.
The way you display your artwork is going to make the real difference as to how many sales you can achieve or how much attention you get. The Fargo WordPress theme is one way to deliver a great visitor experience.
Fargo is marketed as a wedding template theme but could easily be used by artists, graphic designers, photographers and other visual creatives for portfolios or just to showcase their work.
It’s a visually stunning theme with minimal copy and page elements that allow the images to take centre stage.
The Fargo WordPress theme for artists is top class.
It includes dynamic transitions, support for multiple image sizes, a built-in style manager to define your brand within the theme and support for WooCommerce and a range of other WordPress plugins.
Features of Fargo include:
- Flexible template with nice layouts
- Designs that allow imagery to stand out
- Good page balance with minimal distractions
- Responsive and accessible design
- Great theme support
4. Stockholm – Photography template with clean design
Stockholm from Qode Interactive mimics the characteristics of the country it is named for with a clean, crisp design.
The theme allows photographers or artists to showcase their work with minimal interruption but also has content blocks to add supporting content, calls to action, and anything else you might need.
The design is light, has excellent use of white space, a crisp font, minimalist navigation, and a range of portfolio and blog layout types.
This theme comes with 42 demo designs, all the necessary tools, and plugins to get everything working and the ability to integrate a store within the site. It actually features a number of premium plugins such as Slider Revolution and Layer Slider included for free.
Features of Stockholm include:
- Excellent design for artists and photographers
- 42 different concepts to choose from
- Clean, crisp design
- Slider Revolution, store, block, wish lists, and other features
- Great font and layout options
- Various page templates
Kalium is another flexible WordPress theme that could work exceptionally well for artists and photographers.
Like Stockholm, it’s a light, clean design that allows imagery to shine with little distraction once you’re past the header. There are a range of design options within the theme and we think the Photography option is great.
The page loads quickly despite having lots of images, the masonry layout works well on any device and the minimalist layout is very much of the moment. There are options to add text, page elements, and other features should you need them but we think this version works well.
Kalium is a premium template costing $60.
For that, you get a very flexible WordPress theme with a wide range of layout options, page features, design and font customizations, store integration, video, audio, and just about every feature you could want on a page.
Kalium features include:
- Clean, flexible web design for artists
- A multitude of extra on-page features if you need them
- Minimalist navigation and content
- Huge library of supported plugins and addons
- Excellent support and documentation
- Free bundled version of Slider Revolution
- Several page templates and homepage layouts
Crevision is a ThemeForest template that has both a dark and a light option.
Both offer a very modern take on the studio or portfolio theme for artists that works on all screen sizes. The boxed layout works well in keeping the eye trained on the imagery while offering flexibility in terms of layout.
This theme for artists comes with a range of page designs, several portfolio layouts, and unlimited fonts and colour options. There are a range of layouts included within the theme and it is compatible with most WordPress plugins. Support is very highly rated too which is an added bonus.
While an older design on the marketplace, it is one that has stood the test of time and has been positively received. Well worth checking out!
Highlights of Crevision:
- Clean boxed layout for showcasing your work
- Wide range of colours, fonts and design options
- Dark and light versions both look excellent
- Compatible with most WordPress plugins
- Responsive and accessible
- Custom Post Types and page templates
Core is a photography theme with a superb horizontal scroll design.
It stands out from the crowd thanks to the mirror effect under each image and the fact it works on the horizontal and not the usual vertical. This won’t sit well with everyone but looks exceptional in the right circumstances.
If you don’t like this layout, there are other, more traditional, layouts available with Core.
This is another WordPress theme for artists with predesigned light and dark versions. There is also a very effective video portfolio, a clean and accessible blog design and a very simple contact page.
Core costs a very reasonable $39 and comes with an array of page layouts, plugin support, good documentation and compatibility with most versions of WordPress. Like Crevision, this is an older design but is another that eclipses most newer themes which is why we include it here.
- Very attractive WordPress theme for artists
- Horizontal scroll is a real attention grabber
- Compatibility with lots of plugins
- Built-in shortcode support and generator
- Compatibility with custom navigation and sidebars
Art can be presented in many ways but to make your presentation stand out from the rest, the ExhibitA theme for artists is a good choice. It is designed to showcase an art gallery but can be used for so much more than that.
ExhibitA gallery plugins can assist you with showcasing your artwork along with plugins like Cherry Testimonials will help viewers with the reviews and finding your best work. It is a very flexible design that could be tweaked for almost any use.
At $75, ExhibitA is decent value for money too!
ExhibitA highlights include:
- Drag and drop page builder
- Multiple page layout options
- Support for standard and custom widgets
- Designed with page speed and SEO in mind
- Full support
Coastline boasts a genuinely unique layout which would be ideal for any artist or photographer who wants to stand out. The main layout is minimal with imagery taking centre stage and side navigation ensuring visitors never get lost.
It’s a heritage design with modern features and we think it has a warm and comfortable look and feel. The site loads quickly and has a range of layout options should the default not work for you. It is also compatible with Jetpack and a range of WordPress plugins should you want to use them.
Coastline costs $49 and comes with a year of updates and support.
- Genuinely unique design built around imagery
- Fast loading page with responsive navigation
- Heady mix of heritage and modernity
- Compatibility with WordPress plugins
- Responsive and accessible
Regular visitors to CollectiveRay will know there are a few WordPress templates we are real fans of.
OceanWP is one of them.
For artists, we recommend the Photography WordPress theme. It is very attractive, has a superb layout with parallax elements, and offers the flexibility to design your own layout as you please.
The demo site ticks all the right boxes with great use of space, nice fonts, minimal navigation, several premade pages and the ability to make your images sing.
OceanWP is free to use but has premium options from $31 that include the Photography WordPress theme. That is great value considering what’s on offer!
OceanWP Photography offers:
- Image, centric design with lots of cool features
- Elementor page builder widgets
- Lots of plugins, including WooCommerce
- Fast page loading
- Excellent support and documentation
11. Neve - Artist
Neve is another of our favourite WordPress theme for artists.
It’s another fully-featured WordPress template with a ton of options, is easy to use, and has plenty of layouts and designs to choose from. For this piece, we have selected the Neve Artist layout. It is a classic example of how we expect a gallery to look and feel and delivers exactly what a visitor would want to see.
Neve is a very strong WordPress theme for artists with a clean feel and modern design.
The WordPress theme is feature-packed but is also light and fast loading. It has its own page builder but is also compatible with Elementor, Beaver Builder, and others. This provides almost limitless potential for customization which just adds to the goodness of using Neve.
Neve is a premium WordPress theme but delivers so much for the money. Not only do you get a fully functional WordPress theme but also the backing of a team of developers and customer support too.
Reasons to buy Neve:
- Lightweight but feature-rich WordPress theme for artists
- Attractive default design with limitless customization potential
- Dozens of alternative site demos and page templates if you don’t like Artist
- Support for most WordPress plugins and page builders
- Built for speed
Adios is another ThemeForest template we recommend if you’re an artist or photographer. It comes with several layouts, all of which showcase imagery very competently indeed. We particularly like the Split Screen Demo as it strikes a balance between images and content and could be tweaked to suit any requirement.
All Adios layouts feature clean design, great use of white space, nice fonts, and a very calming feel.
It is compatible with both the Elementor page builder and WP Bakery page builder which makes working with the WordPress theme simple. Adios also supports Gutenberg, Google Fonts, and most WordPress templates.
At just $59, you get a lot of design for your money. Even the default designs are of a quality high enough to be able to represent an artist with minimal configuration.
- Clean, modern design with imagery at the forefront
- Drag and drop support from Elementor and WP Bakery page builder
- Still updated even four years after release
- Video tutorials and good documentation
- Built with page speed in mind
Salvatoro is a simple yet efficient item designed to exhibit your artwork with various layouts.
You could highlight and express your art in the way you desire, customize every minute detail on the page to try and achieve an original look with the many included tools and features.
The demo layout uses a mosaic configuration that lends itself well to imagery. Other layouts are available but we think the demo with its minimal navigation and content is perfect for showcasing art or photography.
With the Cherry Project portfolio management system built-in, you have a powerful tool to create and display your projects with a wide range of options.
- Selection of portfolio-style layouts
- Clean, simple design that let images sing
- Attractive fonts and colour schemes
- Custom widgets
- Cherry Sidebar and Projects
If you are looking for something that needs to look brave and bold, you need to check out Underwood. It’s a Bootstrap WordPress theme with attitude yet could be tuned to suit any kind of artist or artwork.
This WordPress theme comes with three unique layouts and nine custom post formats which widens your options. Simple navigation, modern fonts and minimal copy means your imagery remains front and centre, whatever layout you choose.
Built-in eCommerce support, SEO plugin and seven customizable contact forms provide the freedom to present yourself and your work in a bold way.
The Underwood WordPress theme includes:
- The Bootstrap framework
- Clean, modern design
- Great use of image blocks and page elements
- Different layout options, all built around imagery
- WooCommerce compatible
15. Proxima - WordPress magazine theme
Proxima is a WordPress magazine theme designed to combine the look and feel of an online publication with the ability to showcase images. It comes with a responsive layout that works on all devices, clean design, minimal page content, and excellent loading times.
With the ad-friendly layout and five unique ad banner widgets, you have everything you need to showcase your work and perhaps earn money while you’re doing it.
It isn’t all about ad revenue though, there is enough flexibility here to deliver a portfolio theme site specific to your needs, which is why it’s in our list of the 30 Best WordPress themes for artists.
- Magazine style layouts
- Custom headers, sidebars and backgrounds
- Different blog and page layout options
- The Hybrid Core framework with support for child themes
- Designed with page speed at its core
16. Hatch - Flexible photo and artist portfolio WordPress theme
Hatch is a photo and artist portfolio WordPress theme. It has a clean design with image and content blocks, good use of white space, nice modern fonts and the contemporary look we expect from a creative website.
Like Proxima, Hatch is built on the Hybrid Core framework which is simple to use and can be extended with child themes. While the provided WordPress theme looks amazing, were you to change your mind later, all you will need to do is implement another child theme rather than rebuild your site.
- Built on the Hybrid Core framework
- Customizable with different layouts and colour options
- Responsive and accessible
- Lightbox friendly to make images really stand out
- Compatible with popular WordPress plugins like Gravity Forms
17. Innovation - Strong imagery, ideal for artists
Innovation is another great theme focused around imagery. It is of particular use when imagery is central to the services or products on offer.
The theme is light, well balanced, includes lots of element blocks, space for content, and a range of page layouts that can be tweaked and customised for your own use. We like this WordPress theme for its flexibility.
It could easily be a pure portfolio theme or a promotional website for a photography studio or an art gallery.
Innovation comes in two flavours, a free version and an Extend version which can be bought for $59.99.
Features of Innovation include:
- Flexible design with lots of customization options
- Allows images to be front and centre
- Straightforward page builder
- Slider and other image elements
- Responsive and accessible design
Revolution Pro from Studiopress is an artist-inspired WordPress theme ideal for image-heavy websites. It’s a simple monochrome design with a strong image leaning with image boxes, content boxes, lots of white space and excellent flow throughout the page.
Studiopress themes are coded for speed and stability and deliver fast load times when optimized. This template comes with multiple layout options, colour and font options and the backing of the very powerful Genesis Framework.
Highlights of Revolution Pro:
- Built using the Genesis Framework
- Attractive monochrome design
- Multiple layout and page element options
- Responsive and translation-ready
- Includes Atomic Blocks, Genesis eNews and WPForms Lite
Elegance Pro is another Studiopress theme and is definitely worth a place in this list. It’s a very elegant theme, so it is well named.
Like Revolution Pro, it is also monochrome and showcases imagery above everything else. It has a historical feel but is definitely of the now and is an excellent example of good design.
Elegance Pro also uses the Genesis Framework, offering a flexible but very powerful base from which to build a unique and free-flowing website to showcase your work.
Features of Elegance Pro include:
- Built using the Genesis Framework
- Beautiful monochrome design
- Clean and uses white space well
- Multiple layouts and page elements
- Loads quickly
GeneratePress is another firm favourite of us here at CollectiveRay. For the 30 Best WordPress themes for artists, we are using the Charge demo from the collection.
It’s an easy to use WordPress portfolio theme design with a boxed layout, bold background colour and lighter image boxes. It’s a simple design trick but very effective at making images stand out.
The design is purposely simple with a single main page layout and single pages with images at the top. This allows you to showcase your work simply and effectively with the minimum of distraction.
Charge uses colour, font, and layout well to deliver a great looking website.
- A simple portfolio theme website backed by GeneratePress
- Purposely understated design that lets images shine
- Great use of colour and fonts, which can be customized
- Elementor page builder or Beaver Builder compatibility
- Responsive and eCommerce ready
GeneratePress Imprint is a minimalist WordPress theme that is very contemporary. It uses minimal content, minimal navigation, and no distractions whatsoever. It could easily be integrated into an existing brand of left as is to showcase your work.
As this is a GeneratePress theme, you have a selection of other child themes to choose from, excellent support, access to a range of plugins, page features, page builder support for Elementor, or Beaver Builder for easy construction.
Imprint definitely deserves its place on this list!
GeneratePress Imprint includes:
- Minimalist portfolio website built for GeneratePress
- No on-page distractions to make images shine
- Modern mosaic layout that works exceptionally well on any screen size
- Responsive and fast loading
- Page builder integration: Elementor or Beaver Builder compatibility
Free WordPress Themes for Artists
Free WordPress themes have come a long way in the past decade or so. They now offer a viable alternative to premium themes. Usually, the compromise is a lack of support and documentation rather than on-page features. They won’t have newer or more advanced features but are a viable way to get started.
If you know your way around WordPress or know someone who does, a free WordPress theme can be customized to make as much an impact as a premium one.
Here are what we think are some of the best free WordPress themes for artists, photographers, and other creatives.
Ignis is the perfect example of why WordPress rules the web.
This is a free theme yet looks better than many premium alternatives. It’s another simple design with a contemporary layout, lots of white space, good use of strong fonts, and a clear intent to showcase images.
The theme is compatible with current versions of WordPress and delivers a professional-looking experience for no money down. Along with excellent design and creative flair, this is definitely a free WordPress theme worth checking out.
Freedom is a free WordPress theme from ThemeGrill who have a reputation for delivering solid designs. Freedom has both a free and premium version, both use a grid layout with minimal navigation, simple layouts, and considered typography to deliver an experience you would expect to pay money for.
The theme is easy to use, responsive, and can be tweaked as much or as little as you like. It should also be compatible with the majority of WordPress plugins too.
Hamilton is a new WordPress theme that delivers an unfussy page where images are front and centre. It uses white space well, has hidden navigation, good use of fonts and page space, and works well on most devices.
The layout also has a dark version if you would prefer to be cutting edge and will work with most WordPress plugins, Google Fonts, Jetpack and all the other extensions you could want.
Free Exhibition is a unique and modern design with a responsive user interface that is compatible with all common browsers. It’s a clean design with minimal distractions and a contemporary feel. Ideal for portfolios or showcasing art.
The sample design works very well, yet different designs are available with this template. Standards are high, especially for a free WordPress theme and there is little compromise in the value you get.
With flexible menu capability, SEO optimization, and customizable options, you are looking at a free and easy solution for your artist portfolio theme requirements.
PinBin from Colorlib is a playful design that uses colour and imagery very well to create interest. The blend of background and mosaic layout work well together drawing the eye directly to the images. A Pinterest-inspired design with lightweight coding is more than sufficient for showcasing your work.
With showing images as the central concept, this theme has been developed around images. PinBin is suited for graphic designers, photographers, artists who give more importance to images than text.
6. Shapely – One Page Website
Shapely is another free WordPress theme from Colorlib. It delivers pixel perfect design with powerful and versatile functionality and is one of the best free WordPress themes around. It has numerous customization options, great use of colour and fonts, good page layout, fast loading and everything you look for in a theme.
At first glance, you wouldn’t even know this is a free WordPress theme, which illustrates just how good it is!
Nasio is a new free WordPress theme released this year. It’s a minimal theme that highlights images with supporting content blocks and page elements. It has been designed deliberately to be simple, attractive and load quickly.
It’s another free theme that won’t look it once you’re done. The coding is clean, there are multiple layout options and with a little CSS knowledge, you could turn Nasio into something truly unique!
8. Talon - Slideshow theme ideal for artist websites
Talon is a great free theme built to provide a powerful slideshow. At first glance, it looks like a business site but you could easily customize the layout to suit a portfolio. We like Talon because of the typography, layout, clean design, and minimalist navigation.
The use of white space is also worthy of note.
The code looks clean, pages load quickly even when multiple images are featured. There is a range of content blocks and the usual customization options that come with WordPress. All in all, this is a solid free theme.
9. X-Portfolio- Designed specifically for artists and photographers
X-Portfolio is a responsive theme designed specifically for artists or photographers. It’s a simple mosaic layout with minimal page elements, little page content and subtle navigation.
With dedicated portfolio plug-ins, full-width display, image gallery, and info, you have everything you need to create and present a portfolio in literally no time.
How to build and launch your portfolio website
If you have never launched a website before, or have never bought a website theme, you may be wondering what to do next.
Don’t worry as we have you covered. This next part of the 30 Best WordPress themes for artists covers the mechanics of setting up a website, installing one of these fantastic themes, and getting everything up and running.
You don’t have to be a developer or have extensive WordPress experience to use one of these themes. It will help if you spend a little time learning how a website is put together and how WordPress works but you can also figure it out as you go along.
As a creative, you’re in a great position. It is usually at this point that we would talk about deciding on a niche, performing audience, and competitor analysis and deciding on a CMS to use as the backbone of your website.
You don’t have to worry about any of that.
You already know what your niche is, who your target audience is, and who your competitors are. As you’re reading this, you have already decided that WordPress is the CMS to use. Good choice!
The rest of the process is relatively simple too.
You need to:
- Plan your website and how it will look.
- Buy a domain name and web hosting.
- Set up WordPress on your hosting.
- Install one of the themes we have recommended.
- Build your website and make it look amazing.
- Build your portfolio.
- Promote your site on social media.
We are going to walk you through the entire process.
1. Plan your website
Planning is the least interesting aspect of building a website but it is arguably the most important. Your plan informs the WordPress theme you buy, the pages you build, the images you use, the font choice, colour, layout, structure and so much more!
Your plan doesn’t need to be too detailed.
Ideally, it would include the colour and font you want to use, a list of the images you want to include, and a structure.
Website structure is all about ease of navigation and having a coherent order to things. It helps visitors navigate your site easily and provides straightforward navigation for them to explore your work.
There are no set rules for a structure but the simpler the better. The fewer navigation options a visitor sees and the more logical they are, the easier it will be for them to find their way around.
For example, you could create categories for landscapes, portraits, still life, oil, photography, or whatever you need. Each would have a link in your main navigation so visitors could access them. As long as every category can be easily found and explored, your structure should work fine.
Finally, you need to sort your work so your best pieces are on the homepage and prominently positioned on each category page. Scoring your work won’t come easy but you may have some good ideas of what pieces you are most proud of. Use those on your home page and at the top of any category pages.
2. Buy a domain name and web hosting
We suggest buying your domain name and web hosting from the same provider. It makes life and billing so much easier and means you can let the hosting provider link the domain name to the hosting for you, which is one less thing to worry about.
A domain is the website name. Our website name is www.collectiveray.com. Yours can be whatever you like, within reason. Hosting is the server space you install your website on that allows the general public to access it from the internet. You need both for your website to work properly.
Domain naming is probably the most difficult challenge you face. Most of the good names have gone so you may have to be creative. You could use your actual name of course, which may be available depending on how popular it is. You may already have a pen name or business name. If so, use that.
If not, consider the following good practice advice for domain names:
- Make it memorable.
- Use a common keyword where possible.
- Avoid hyphens and special characters
- Use a Top Level Domain (.com, .org, .net etc.)
There are hundreds of web hosts out there. For your first foray into the world of being a webmaster, we suggest going with one of the more established hosts. Their services will be more mature, more streamlined and more supportive. Customer service should also be helpful enough to get you through any issues.
As with any purchase, read reviews, check pricing and compare the market. Don’t forget to compare the price of both domain and hosting as they each will need renewing annually or biannually depending on the plan you go for.
As for our recommendation, we'd suggest opting for InMotion hosting, who we host with, and have been with for several years. We've also got a 47% discount in May 2021 - click here to learn more.
3. Set up WordPress
Many web hosts use software installers to provide a range of applications you might find useful. If you selected a host that used Softalicious or an alternative, this will make WordPress setup very straightforward.
Here’s how to set up your WordPress CMS:
- Log into your web host using the login provided in your confirmation email.
- Navigate to CPanel or other back-end system.
- Look for software installation, Softalicious, Fantastico or Installatron.
- Select the option from the control panel and select WordPress when you can.
- Select to install WordPress on your hosting plan.
- Give the installation a name, add the URL, admin username, password, email and select the language.
- Let the installer work its magic.
- Record the login, any database name and the URL. A screenshot should suffice.
- Log into your WordPress installation. Usually the www.DOMAINNAME.com/wp-admin.
- Take a look around the WordPress dashboard to familiarise yourself with how it looks and feels.
You have now installed WordPress. If you were to enter your www.domainname.com address into a browser, you should see a basic landing page with a sample post saying Hello World!
If you don’t yet see the page, your host may still be setting the name up behind the scenes. This can often take up to 24 hours. It won’t stop you being able to build your website but it may stop you being able to use the domain name to access the website as your visitors might.
4. Install one of the themes we have recommended
Installing a WordPress theme is quite straightforward too. If you have made it this far, nothing else you’re going to have to do to get your website up and running should faze you!
If you have checked out your new site as a visitor would, you will see a very plain theme with not much going on. Let’s change that. If you have bought or selected a free theme from the list above, now would be a good time to install it.
Here’s how to install one of the artist portfolio themes:
- Purchase and download or download a free theme to your computer.
- Decompress the file you downloaded until you have a main folder that contains a THEMENAME.zip file. THEMENAME will be the name of the theme you have.
- Select Appearance from the left menu in the WordPress dashboard.
- Select Themes and Add New.
- Select Upload Theme, Choose File and select the THEMENAME.zip file.
- Select Install and let WordPress upload and install it.
- Select Activate once you see the theme appear in the list.
Now if you visit your website as a visitor would, you should see a different design. It will still be basic as we haven’t built any of your site yet. However, you should now see your new theme instead of the old one.
5. Build your website
Now the framework of your website is complete, we need to fill it out a little. You will need some basic pages to make your website work for your audience and then build your portfolio.
If you use a page builder such as Elementor, your work is going to be much easier.
A WordPress website for artists will be all about the imagery but you still need a few core pages to ensure you deliver everything your audience needs.
You should create:
- A homepage
- An about page
- A contact page
- A privacy page
The homepage is the page your visitors land on when they type the domain name into their browser. This is your most important page and you’re going to need to spend a lot of time perfecting it.
The about page is where you give a little background of yourself and tell your story. This is another incredibly important page as people want to know the person behind the art.
The contact page is another critical page. This is where you make yourself contactable to visitors. It can include a web form but should always include your email, links to your social media and perhaps a phone number.
Finally, the privacy page. These are mandatory in some regions but good practice everywhere. You definitely need one if you are planning to use WooCommerce or other eCommerce plugin to sell your work.
To create a new page in WordPress:
- Select Pages from the left menu in your WordPress dashboard.
- Select Add New.
- Give your page a title.
- Fill out the blocks in the main content area of the page.
- Select Publish in the top right once done.
This is the process you will use throughout your website to create new pages whether they are these basic pages or the portfolio elements of the site.
Now you have some pages up, there are a couple of WordPress settings you can change to make the website perform as visitors would expect. These are minor but important changes so let us take care of them now.
- Select Settings from the left menu of your WordPress dashboard.
- Select General.
- Add the website name where you see Site Title.
- Add a Tagline if you have one.
- Make sure the URL is correct in WordPress Address and Site Address.
- Make sure the email address is correct in Email Address.
- Select a Date and a Time format.
- Select Save Changes.
- Select Permalink Settings from the menu and select the Post name setting.
- Select Save Changes.
- Select Reading from the Settings menu on the left.
- Select ‘A static page’ at the top and select the homepage you created where you see Homepage.
- Select a Posts page if you are using a blog.
- Make sure the Search Engine visibility box is unchecked.
- Select Save Changes.
These are small but very important changes to help ensure your website works for users. Now we can move on to building the portfolio section.
6. Building your portfolio
This is probably the most time-consuming part of building your website as it will take a while to decide on a layout, colours and images.
Every WordPress theme does things slightly differently so it is impossible to provide an exact step-by-step guide. Instead, we will offer general guidance to building the portfolio.
First, you need to refer back to your plan and create a new WordPress page for each category in your website structure. Name each page after the category you planned and build out the page using the page builder within the theme or by hand if you prefer.
Remember to place your best work at the top and work your way down the page.
Repeat this process for every category or portfolio page you want to create.
Now you have all your pages, we need to build the navigation.
- Select Appearance from the left menu of your WordPress dashboard.
- Select Menus from the submenu.
- Select ‘Create a New Menu’ at the top of the page.
- Give it a meaningful name like Main Nav or something.
- Add all the pages you have created from the Pages box on the left. They should appear in the Menu Structure pane on the right.
- Drag and drop each page into the correct order.
- Select Save Menu when done.
- Select the Manage Locations tab at the top of the page.
- Select your navigation as the Primary Menu in the selection. You can also add it to Top Menu and/or Sliding Menu too if you like. This will depend on what your theme supports.
- Select Save Changes.
- Open the Settings menu for your WordPress theme and make sure your new menu is also selected as the main navigation.
Now if you visit your website in your browser, you should see your new menu at the top and be able to follow each option to the category page you created.
You can take your website much further if you want to. Follow the advice in How to Start a Blog as many of the tasks such as setting up, securing, speeding up and maintaining a blog are identical to what you would want to do on your portfolio site.
7. Promote your site on social media
A portfolio website isn’t much good if nobody knows it exists. Let us change that with some social media promotion.
First, you will need to add your social media accounts to the website theme. There should be a setting for that within Theme Settings. Add all of your social media to that so people can follow you directly from your website.
Then create posts to share on all your social media accounts announcing the arrival of your new website!
Keep promoting as much as you can, refer to How to Start a Blog for more information on social media promotion.
How do I make an art portfolio for my website?
You can create an art portfolio for your website in less than an hour. You will need to install WordPress, create some pages, sort your artwork into categories and place them on category pages on your website. It’s a rewarding process that should result in a working portfolio.
What are the best websites for artists?
You can opt for a platform like Wix, SquareSpace or Weebly but you don’t get full control over your site. In our opinion, you would be much better off paying for your own hosting and doing some of the work yourself. It is very rewarding, you get to know how a website is constructed and have full control over how it looks. If anything goes wrong with it, you should have a much better idea of how to fix it seeing as you built it!
Which social media is best for artists?
Image-based social media is best for artists. Pinterest, Behance, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and so on. Twitter can also be useful for linking to your work or for announcements. If you can create videos showing your work or how you work, TikTok and YouTube can also be excellent social networks for creatives.
How do I get my artwork noticed online?
Having your own website is the beginning of getting your artwork noticed online. Other methods include social media promotion, creating guest pieces, selling on Etsy, showcasing on DeviantArt or other gallery platforms, making friends with other artists and cross-promoting each other’s work and from Search Engine Optimisation.
With all the best WordPress themes for artists discussed here, you have plenty of choice to find the right design for your needs. Some of those listed cost money while others are free. All provide a solid foundation from which to build your online presence and make yourself known as an artist.
We won’t pretend that there isn’t a learning curve here but we think it is a reasonable one. We have taught people from all walks of life how to install WordPress and set up a website and we have no doubt you could do it too!
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