I was wondering if anyone had seen some exceptionally good layout design in presenting a variety of paintings. My go-to resource so far has been the MOMA, but they are a little cluttered for my taste.

I'm a painter who's building a website portfolio/print shop.

Googling it has resulted in some seriously hideous and chaotic design, and surprisingly Smashingmag doesn't really have any useful articles.

Input on what you like to see in an online gallery would be incredibly appreciated. Cheers!

Edit: Here's what I have so far, if that's useful to anyone. It's mostly CSS with Galleria.

  • have you checked out carbonmade.com?
    – Rahul
    Sep 16, 2010 at 15:46

7 Answers 7


You might have better luck if you Google for photography web sites instead of painting sites, including at Smashingmag. I know that you can't use photography web site designs as is, but it can be a source of inspiration. Here are three links to get you started:


Personally I'm super impressed with Google's own Image Search. They do some clever stuff to align the images so the presentation is always fully justified (this is hard) and it has a continuous scroll. I love the colour filters and the rollover-on-zoom.


Web Designer Depot is quite good. One of the Smashing magazine network site above mentioned


When going for the gallery style, I never really understood why but I really love how the basic Highslide thumbnails works.

When clicked they quickly blow up without reloading the page, but they're fully movable and very unobtrusive unlike the lightbox/modal style which I hate (mostly because they tend to take several seconds for some flashy animation effect and you never know where to click to get it to stop).

It does have other usability issues though so I've never tried implementing it or something similar. Some aspects I really like is how you can blow up several thumbnails at the same time and drag them around to compare more than one artwork in a bigger format at a time.


Personally, I think deviantart does an excellent job of keeping the interface streamlined and easy to use, while displaying the art well.

Of course, their main focus is displaying massive amounts (>80 million pieces) of artwork as efficiently as possible. Nevertheless, I think that much can be learned from their website on how to do things properly, no matter how much art you have.

  • That's why I have started looking at a gallery-style format. I've noticed that when scanning other users on Deviantart I prefer the thumbnail gallery. Sep 17, 2010 at 2:11

I'd say that the design for the portfolio of an artist needs to allow the artwork to stand out, not compete with it for attention. Subdued colours (shades of gray?), clean and elegant typography would do. I like www.danielfrank.ch

  • That's why I'm hesitating to even use a gallery-style format at all. But the endless scrolling down to new pictures isn't terribly suited to how people usually read the web: a series of quick scans of the top half of the page. Sep 17, 2010 at 2:10

I personally like the simple websites of artists Wawi Navarroza (photographer) and Josh Keyes (paintings). Of course, their work is awesome, so that helps a lot. ;)

Wawi Navarroza uses the Stacey CMS (very simple and elegant, just PHP, no database), and Josh Keyes I think just uses plain HTML!

I've also written my own PHP CMS for own art portfolio - it is neatly presented, even if I do say so myself. :)

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