I’ve spent the past couple of weeks establishing a new web presence for my illustration portfolio. It’s been a real challenge as I started with a Prosite website hosted with Behance, but then realized that I needed more flexibility with my site than what they offered. It’s a real shame too because Behance does do a lot of things really well, and they make creating a nice web presence pretty simple.
Why use Behance?
There is a free version of Behance as well as a paid, professional version called Prosite. I used both of these formats because, frankly, you don’t really have a choice. Your profile in the free version of the Behance community (and a community is what it is) is where you need to upload and organize all of your portfolio items. From there, you can publish them to your Prosite website, or you can go ahead and enter your professional site and pull the items in from there.
So basically, your default profile in Behance is sort of like a control area. Any changes that you make to your portfolio items there will automatically update in your professional site. The default free Behance presence looks something like this:
This free version isn’t a bad deal at all. Uploading and displaying high resolution artwork is a breeze, and so is the organization of your work. You can choose the cover images for your projects, and you can create customized, cropped thumbnails for those covers, all within the Behance framework. The system also automates the metadata, tagging, and categories for each of your entries, which is great for optimizing your content for the web (although I found it a little annoying that I had to make an entry in every input field, even if I didn’t want to).
The Behance Community
I admit that I didn’t really delve into the community aspect of what Behance offered as much as I probably should have. But I do plan to keep my Behance free profile posted and updated, and I plan to get more involved in the community a little later. But the bottom line is that it works kind of like a merger of LinkedIn and Facebook. You can follow, like (appreciate), and comment on other artist’s artwork. You can fill out a form that will post a nice resume for you, and there is a job bank where you can try to find work. For employers or art directors, this is an obvious place to visit to look for artists, designers, and illustrators. For most artists, this is a huge plus.
Another great feature that Behance ffers is that you can also buy and sell your artwork, and Behance makes that a very simple process. They will simply include a purchase button in the corner of any of the displayed artwork that you’d like to sell. The company that they partner with will handle printing, packaging, and all of the invoicing and collecting of monies for for all the work you sell, if you want them to. If you want to handle all of that yourself, you can do that too.
As far as porfolio display goes, Behance does a great job. I was even able to find a way to display multi-page publications and books that I usually find so hard to display well online. Behance partners with ISSUU to simplify that process, and your pdf files are turned into animated, page-turning slide shows. You can see what that looks like for this Medikin children’s book that I illustrated. Just click the link or the image below to interact with the actual slideshow. You do have to set up an ISSUU account, but I found the service worthwhile.
Why use Prosite (Behance professional paid version)?
Prosite is the paid, professional version of a Behance online presence. This package offers you a whole new way to customize your presence, and a lot of artists do it a lot of different ways. When I tried this out, I thought this was really going to be the ticket for me!
- custom domain
- custom logo and favicon
- add multiple pages
- import your blog from several blogging sites.
- add a feature image as a website header
- control spacing, margins, rules, order of images, and many other design elements with easy to use modules
With all of this, I was able to put together what I thought was a quite nice looking portfolio. You can see that below.
So, what more could I ask for? Right?
Why don’t I don’t use Behance Prosite?
I spent a lot of time setting up my Prosite just the way I wanted it, and I even illustrated a custom header to fit nicely into the space provided. I thought I was all set—until I realized two simple limitations that turned out to be “make or break” items for me.
Features Prosite lacks:
- sub-pages/nested pages
- ability to create a different feature image or “header” for each page
I work in a few different illustration styles and offer services other than illustration, so it was important for me not to have to display all the different illustration styles together. My site would have just looked too cluttered. Prosite worked great for displaying a single illustration style, as you can see above, but beyond that, I was stuck.
Is Behance right for you?
It depends. If you work primarily in one style, it could work out very well for you. If you work in more than one style and would like to have feature images to promote each of those, it’s not going to work out. I suspect that a large majority of illustrators, artists, and designers will do quite well in the Behance/Prosite arena. It just didn’t happen to work for me. Sometime in the near future, I’ll talk about what did.