Web hosting for graduating studio arts students

I was asked by a member of our faculty to speak with a group of graduating studio arts majors who are interested in having an electronic presence on the web to either serve as an online gallery or as an electronic portfolio of their works for future employers. This post is a list of the resources I used in the presentation.

In a pre-session meeting, it was established that all of these students wanted the freedom to configure a professional site that allowed them to employ their artistic talents, so the cookie-cutter web hosting solutions were out. We did have a brief discussion on the merits and challenges of an image hosting site such as Flickr for those folks who seek to make a living from their art and would therefore be protective of their intellectual property rights.


Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this process will be finding a name for their domain! Which brings us to step one…

1. Find and register a domain name

With the popularity of the web booming and cybersquatters snapping up as many obvious domain names as possible, it can be frustrating to find an available name that is easy to remember and conveys your marketing message. So, expect to spend some time exploring and re-exploring naming schemes. As artists, it may be easier for you than most to view your domain name with a creative eye.

I’ve listed a few name registration sites, but it is always good to shop around. The price for a domain name can run from as low as $8 to as high as $35 annually. As with magazine subscriptions, better deals can be had if you register your site for a longer period of time.

Keep in mind that this process may be combined with the next step, find and subscribe to a web host, as some name registrars also offer web hosting services. This may reduce your costs, or at least simplify the process somewhat. Each of the vendors below provides hosting services, but with a great range of pricing schemes.

(Legal caveat: These links are for reference only. I do not make any guarantees or assumptions about their pricing or quality of service!)

2. Find and subscribe to a web host

After registering a domain name, the next step is to find and subscribe to a web hosting service. As mentioned above, many name registrars also providing hosting. But which services/features should you look for?

At a minimum, I recommend the following:

  • – Full e-mail service (some hosts just provide incoming mail service and require you to use your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP’s) SMTP server to send e-mail.
  • – 1 GB of network storage – This should provide adequate space for most artist’s needs, unless your site is extremely rich in multimedia.
  • – 10 GB of bandwidth – This means the amount of traffic that goes to and comes from your site. As you grow in popularity, and based on the size of your multimedia elements, it is best to start with this bandwidth knowing that you can always upgrade should you need to.
  • – PHP and mySQL – for hosting blogs and other interactive site features. Most hosts now provide this by default but check to be sure.
  • – Multimedia support – Flash, Real Player, streaming audio/video

Another feature often found as part of a hosting service is a neat management tool called CPanel. My host, HasWeb, provides CPanel which allows me to configure the various components of my site. But even better is a tool they integrate with CPanel called Fantastico.

Fantastico allows you to add other web services such as blogs, photo galleries, shopping cart functions, and much more. This is a boon for those who do not have either the time or the inclination to get tech heavy (although it is always good to have a technical awareness!).


Blogs

One alternative to hosting your own site right off the bat is to use blogging technology to present yourself. There are a number of free blog hosting sites out there which can be employed to serve as your electronic portfolio, either by themselves or in conjunction with other resources, such as Flickr.

I’ve listed a few of the more popular blog hosting services below.


Web development Resources

I have developed a tutorial on creating webpages at Plymouth State University using their resources. It is a work in progress, but may prove useful as you begin the process of creating your very own web presence.

Good luck!

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