It wasn’t long after meeting each other during a Master Gardener class that Taos glass artist, Susanne Pinkham, began working with me to transform the branding and web design for her beautiful glass artwork at Half Moon Studio.

During our initial conversation Susanne explained she had tried the DIY route, taking a web design course at a local college, but still felt overwhelmed with the technology. She finally concluded she needed to hire a professional WordPress designer to obtain professional results. Susanne was clear she needed a creative, responsive redesign for her outdated site. She also expressed a desire for a “true marketing site,” possibly with e-commerce capability that would enable her to reach a wider audience.

taos-artist-website-before-after-design

Before and After shots of the Half Moon Studio website.

After talking with Susanne it was clear that in order to market her work, we needed to focus specifically on who she was creating it for, so we did some Clarity Sessions together, meeting on a weekly basis to research, ask questions to discover why she does what she does and hone in on her unique audience.

Clients frequently want to bypass this step, thinking it will save them money and development time. But the research phase is critical to the success of any website because it lays a strong foundation for the entire design process. All to often web designers put the cart before the horse, jumping into a WordPress web design without throughly understanding the specific problems the final website should be solving.

All too often web designers put the cart before the horse, jumping into a WordPress web design without throughly understanding the specific problems the final website should be solving.

Half Moon Studio did not have a tag line or logo when we started, so the clarity work we did together was helpful in revealing the main motivation behind her favorite pieces: all of them were created in the spirit of fun and beauty.

The more we dug into the motivations her ideal client had when purchasing her playful pieces, it became clear that after a long day at work or feeling the weight of the current events in the world, bringing happy, colorful, bright glass pieces into one’s home makes it easier to shift the mind’s focus toward beauty. The play light and color shining through a room opens the door for self-care, joy and harmony. And since some of her most popular projects have an architectural component–custom glass inserts for garden gates and tiles for kitchens, bathrooms and floors–it was important to position her as an artist whose work often combines both form and function. 

It didn’t take long for Susanne to craft a simple, straightforward tagline that quickly sums up what she does and why she does it: Glass for Function, Beauty and Fun!

It’s a great tagline because it’s clear and simple. Within just a few seconds of hitting Susanne’s homepage, viewers can quickly orient themselves and understand if they’ve found the right person and have landed in the right place.

With her personal vision, purpose and audience specifically defined, creating a logo for Susanne was a very smooth process. A huge benefit of taking the time to think through a clients’ business story is the impact the work has on all phases of creative development. Instead of throwing darts at colors and typefaces and relying solely on personal preferences which may or may not be appropriate for a particular product and audience, both my client and I have solid data to draw upon, which increases productivity and speeds up development!

As a web designer with a deep love for fine art and the artists who often struggle to connect with the right audience, I set aside time for projects like this, offering the clarity/strategizing component at a special discount for New Mexico artists.

A website, on its own, is not going to increase your sales.

One thing that is so important to understand before crafting a targeted online portfolio is: A website, on its own, is not going to increase your sales. Which is why it’s so important to identify the sweet spot where what you create intersects a real need, problem, or a desire your audience has. But identifying your audience is only the first step. Carving out time to converse and connect with your audience is paramount for the success of most businesses.

The fact that many artists feel a sense of “ewww” when it comes to selling their work–something that is so personal and often vulnerable–isn’t lost on me. But people won’t stumble across your brilliant work if you don’t have a strategy for exposing it to the world.

For any artist, my recommendation is to be playful and open when venturing into selling territory. “Marketing” ceases to be a dirty, uncreative and stifling word if we keep our compass pointed toward bringing beauty to the people who benefit from purchasing it. Art has the power to transform our mind states and the environment we live in. When we see this for what it is, it becomes very clear that art has the power to transform the world.

Visit Half Moon Studio now!

 

Taos web designer Susan J PrestonCreative Director, Susan J. Preston, began freelancing as a web designer in Washington, DC in 1996. Her design has appeared in animations, webinars, presentations for The Pew Foundation, iovation, Bloomberg BNA, Eli Lilly and The Discovery Channel. Since 2010 she has resided in Santa Fe & Taos, New Mexico, creating websites for creative professionals and entrepreneurs with a focus on clear and effective visual communication which clearly communicates and inspires audience engagement.

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