Creating an online presence…

In this current climate of concern over sustainability both economic and environmentally ethical, we are told by our betters, and discuss with our peers, the need to reduce our carbon footprints

This “footprint” being the impact we have left or will eventually leave behind on our fragile atmosphere, oceans, land-borne environments and the varied ecosystems within.

This “footprint”, representing our individual mark on the world, is now a commonly understood sign, or signifier if you will… and therefore transferable in concept, a concept which will be at the heart of this seminar.

Today’s session* will look at actively increasing just such a footprint; the footprint of your impact on that ever more immersive online environment, the internet.

Your “internet footprint” if you will.

*this post was originally used as notes to teach as session called “Creating an Online Presence” as part of the reading week seminars at the Hull School of Art & Design – Wednesday 26th October, 2011 (since then it has been ran again this time, two sessions on October 31, 2012).

1 –

  • Okay, so WHY develop an online presence at all?

Well, the benefits could be seen as an opportunity…

  •  to communicate with others.
  •  to nurture a national/international market and or recognition for your work.
  •  to utilise the impressive storage and archiving capabilities of the net.

but more than anything…

  •  because it is the second decade of the 21st century and no longer 1983, and this (the internet) is where a significant amount of the work of business relating to my field (illustration/design) is done

Not all, it has to be said, but a good percentage.

In the most basic terms, WHAT can we do with our work/ideas on the internet?

  • Present your work? Show a Portfolio?
  • Discuss your work and your processes with others.
  • …and perhaps even review others work that relates to your own field.


  • By placing your work on the internet and utilising the unique organisational tools and search capabilities** of the medium with regards to your work you may enable potential clients and interested groups who might never have seen your work, find your work.

2 –

  • Search Engines… or Relevancy Engines

**For example Google‘s unique PageRank technology “a technology that determines the “importance” of a webpage by looking at what other pages link to it, as well as other data. Today [Google] use more than 200 signals, including (but not exclusively) PageRank, to order/rank websites, and [Google] update these algorithms on a weekly basis. For example… personalized search results based on your web history and location.” (quote taken from link)

This should NOT to be confused with Metadata, the use of which to determine search optimisation has (it seems) been pretty much abandoned by search engine technology due to its abuse by commercial and (in particular) pornographic sites in the nineties – Here is a link to a brief note on MetaTags, MetaContent and MetaData in general…

So, predominantly we are going to be looking at Bespoke Websites, Portfolio Sites, (we)Blogs including microblogging (Twitter) and other Social Networking sites, and online discussion forums and promotional tools.

3 –

So, first up…

  • Websites.

If you want to take a look at some interesting websites (thinking about presentation rather than content) check out The Favourite Website Awards site.

YOUR website can be as elaborate or as simple as you like.

In its simplest form it can act as a simple Business Card on the Net, a single page listing your product/service and your contact details.

My old Single Page Web Presence – There wasn’t much to it… an animated gif created in Photoshop, that had a bit about me, my contacts and a rotating sequence of several images of my work. – Much like THIS example.

Had you seen mine… You may have also noticed the cunningly placed “Still Under Construction” banner that leads you to think a more elaborate site is in development… which it isn’t/wasn’t. But its the thought that counts right?

…these days ‘one pagers” are the chic way to go it seems with several expansions on the simple stripped down site page available.

If you fancy something more elaborate or utilitarian think about a simple classic Multi Page Websites

Of course with a Bespoke Website comes the monetary outlay

– Having someone design AND build your website for you – COST (it might be two separate costs).

– Buying the Domain name or hosting it – COST.

– Maintaining it, transferring it to a new domain, getting someone to update it for you… – COST.

(I did a quick search as I wrote this and found various guides to companies Pricing Structures for building “bespoke” websites

But there are alternatives… especially for those of you with a computer of your own and a little software savvy… For example you might want to try…

A Drag & Drop Website Builder, one of the best I’ve seen/used being Wix, in which I built this –

4 –

  • Portfolio Sites.

Sites designed purely to showcase your work/images/illustrations/films, etc.

As with other websites you can have a Bespoke Portfolio Site designed for you (for a COST), such as this showcasing the work of – Illustrator and Concept artist – Jake Parker –

and again there are alternatives that cost nothing…

Such as this great Free Online/Community Portfolio Site – Coroflot

Deviantart – Adam Hughes

Here is a link to more Examples of online portfolio sites…

5 –

  • Image/Idea Theft and Copyright

“But Hey!” I hear you ask, “If I put my stuff on the internet won’t people pinch my ideas and images to use or claim as there own?”

The short answer is (not particularly comfortingly)… “Yes”.

“Yes, But…”

But… apart from a few cases here and there mostly these “internet image thefts” will be committed by kids and students who at worst will use your image as a screen wallpaper or as the basis for a bad tattoo, do your really consider this small infraction as so much of a threat to your artistic integrity and income as to cut yourself off from one of the most incredibly versatile gateways to a wider marketplace, one that potentially includes genuine buyers and collaborators in every known country on the planet?

You might stop some unseen, ultimately noise-some little oik nicking your art for his Role-playing blog, but you would also be shooting yourself in the foot and with-holding your art from being seen by those you want to sell it to.

Check out Internet Artists fear number 4 on here and the response – “Won’t people steal my art?”:

You might also want to get your head around a basic understanding of copyright and your rights as a creator of works… And remember where you live when looking at this – As with many things the United States operates differently to the rest of the world.

Poormans’ Copyright (the act of posting postdated envelopes of your work to yourself – still recommended by the British Copyright Council here in the UK) though long advised as a way of securing ownership/copyright, is outdated and outpaced (and mostly not upheld) in international law; lawyers (slippery bastards) could claim you had simply posted unsealed postdated envelopes to yourself and put the work in later date etc.

ACID (ANTI COPYING IN DESIGN) has organised/developed “protective” products for your work/intellectual property that has in turn helped pay for legal costs of several cases over the years since its inception.

But strangely, perhaps actually putting your work on a legitimate Portfolio site that digitally dates your work as it is submitted might just be the protection you need…

Going beyond this understanding you might want to consider

Creative Commons – – The Creative Commons organisation attempts to bridge the gap between existing copyright law and the needs of contemporary internet usage and educational needs in this information age. Providing a basic infrastructure via a set of copyright licenses and tools that work within the protective boundries of the “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates, allowing creatives and creators to eshew their given right to law protected ownership and give works up into the Public Domain. – Deviantart gives you this option at the bottom of their deviation submission page.

UPDATE 30/04/13 ___________________________

Prior to the 29th of April, 2013, this post read…

{You may also, if you are brave enough want to take a look at and get involved in the campaign against the dark cousin or flip side of the Creative Commons coin, The Orphan Works Bill (which though being sought passage in the US only at the moment, will certainly effect the international marketplace soon after its passing there) – – Google and Microsoft want Corporations and Web users to use your images for free… they support this, and the Government see it as yet another viable revenue stream.}

On that day, this happened…

Photographers’ anger at law change over ‘Orphan Works’ – report by Dave Lee Technology reporter, BBC News.

I really thought it would be the US that toppled to this first, but no… it was our short-sighted money-grabbing, creativity-challenged leaders.

You should BE AWARE of this legislation and all it entails as a few years down the line as amendments happen to this bill it may begin to erode your rights to earn fully from your own work. [ed 30/04/13]


For more info on UK Copyright take a look here – click the Information tab at the top of the page and then the Information Sheets and/or Links tabs at the bottom of the page. Or take a look here –

For what that’s worth now obviously… [ed 30/04/13]

Oh, and an aside… for you writers out there, hoping someday to publish your work in physical print… The internet counts as publishing… Some publishers may ask for exclusive publishing rights to a work, posting it in your DeviantArt scraps pages still counts I’m afraid and may cause people not to want to pick up THAT particular piece… Publish and be damned I say! You can always write another – It might just improve your writing to do so.

Right… so, back to the main program…

6 –

  • Blogs or Web Logs, Vlogs…

…or the regularly updated online journals or diaries created by individuals covering a vast array of subjects, discussion and content.

For visual creatives this can be a great way to show new stuff you are excited about to an audience quickly and easily (blogging is not much more difficult than emailing yourself, the hardest part is find your “voice”), its also a great way to organise your creative output..

As for the written art of discussing your work and your thoughts and the benefits of “keeping a diary” see this excellent blog post by Maria Popova looking at Virginia Woolfe’s attitude to the art.

…or if Virginia Woolfe seems a little to ephemeral, how about this post looking at Geoff Maslen’s opinions on blogging, scholarship and academia.

As well as this example you see before you – and the related project blog sites I’ve created and linked to – check out some other artists blogs

  1. hesir –
  2. Guy Davis’ Blog
  3. and Becky Cloonan’s Blog for example…


“If you are going to put art on both why not just have a portfolio site, or just a blog?” I hear you ask…

Well, they can show different things.

A portfolio site, for the most part shows finished work

…it is something a none artist/creative can handle and understand. Potential clients and their proxys such as Authors/writers, Company Directors, Account Managers, HR departments etc will look at finished work and (hopefully) say “YES! Hire them, I want sixteen book covers that look as good as that one there!!!”.
A blog however, in particular a creatives blog, can show process; and the other type of client (and more importantly, collaborator) such as Art Directors, Graphic Designers, Creative Directors, Art Dept Heads, and simply, just other creatives… well, via a creative blog might get a feel if they can work WITH you. It can be an important distinction to make.

Others Blog Sites?

WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Weebly etc.

7 –

Then there are:

  • your Moving Image Channels and galleries…

Youtube, Vimeo, Vine and Twitch – This last one is definitely worth you gamers checking out (thanks Paul).

8 –

  • Social Networking Sites

Facebook –

Facebook – Hull Art –


Twitter –!/hesir

Wreckamovie – Project Forum –

Art Communities – ImagineFX –

MySpace –

Music 1 –

Music 2 –

Music 3 –

Bringing it all together – Flavors –

All logos/marques used in good faith and with no intention other than their recognition and advocacy

9 –

  • So…? This Online Presence? …Does it actually work?

Again, simply put… that depends on you and your ability to commit time*** to it… if you can then undoubtedly. Yes.

Below is a project I would not have had the opportunity to contribute to without having my work online and an online presence and a will to actively engage with it…

Fables For JapanG. Sleightholme – Contributor

***Committing time to your online media – You need to make sure any blogs, portfolios and Twitter feeds and even static websites are updated as often as you can, blogs and other sites have the ability to be interconnected, allowing you to update several feeds/media/sites at once by uploading a single post…

For example, every time my Apophenia Inc. blog is updated a notification of a new post is sent to my FaceBook profile page and a link to my Twitter feed…

The other real benefit of this online marketing of you as a Brand if you will, is the fact that its quantifiable and trackable

It is possible to not only tell how many people have looked at your work, but where they are, how often they returned and by extension of their own trackable data whether they are buyers or enthusiasts of technology, you can even see how they stumbled across your site… Below is the Statistics Data Page for my Blog, on it you can see the search terms used by users that led them to my site, the number of daily views and other data that proves footfall through my site.

A Poster (as great as the art form might be) or an add in Yellow Pages cannot tell you this…

10 –


So once you have this magical online presence, and you are Tweeting and Posting regularly and spinning all your social media plates…  does it end there?

Well the answer is plainly no…

The “real world”… meatspace, IRL, whatever you want to call it still has it’s benefits regarding self promotion.

  • Business cards, or postcards are still really useful, and these days much easier to get hold of from the reasonably priced Rail Station/Terminus card “design and dispense” machines, through to the companies that do offers whereby you can get a pack of 200 cards of your own design sent to you simply by paying for the packing/postage cost only – Check out for example. You can always put your Portfolios URL address on the business card.
  • A hard copy Portfolio – some clients still like to flick through a portfolio on the desk in front of them… I still maintain two, a short A2 portfolio that is updated with new work leaning towards the market I’m interested in that month and a large (thicker/more pages) that shows the full extent of my abilities and design/creative history.

I might well discuss portfolio building and presentation at some point later on in another post, but it is a subject in itself with many differing opinions and conventions (some set by non-creatives, so beware), so not today.

  • Word of Mouth – Simply talking to others that have an internet presence or who are avid forum users can have a benefit. Typing in a search for “Hull”, “Games”, “Design” a few months back into the search bar, Google flagged this link.

That bit of promotion was sent out into the digital world not by me, but by someone who I had spoken to at a party about the project I was working on… they found my work online and passed it around (§)… and why not? Let other people promote your work.

(§) This can of course be a problem… remember. Anything you put on the internet can be cut an pasted and used in a kangaroo court against you… don’t hqave a pop at you clients or your boss, or even the job you are currently working on… 1 – You’ll look like an unprofessional ass, and 2 – it may well get back to the person who WAS going to pay you. – Be smart.

And by extension, don’t post work in progress that is not yet in the public domain, at least  without the express permission of your client… That way New Suits for court appearance lie… as well as reduced client lists.

  • Mutual Client/Creative Benefit 

That said, many of my clients understand that the work I do for them is both the promotional material I use to get my next gig as well as potentially promotional material for them.

Blog posts about my creative process on these Theatre posters and flyers for example (if made with this double agenda in mind) are a simple, alternative  and free (for the client at least) method of promotion (some people just don’t have the time it seems to do their own).

You may find that some entities are that poor at promotion that even a simple post about an event on a blog puts you higher up the internet rankings than the events official media… Who knew?!

11 –

I guess this then brings us to Networking, Creative Groups and Meetups .

HumberMUD (now defunct) and Undercurrent now sadly both seemingly defunct (but I hear tell of a new one in the wings – one with more talking, useful networking and friendly booze, than nibbles fundraising and constitution writing).

Hull Digital –

Many of these groups have an online presence of their own or a portfolio/contact list area online.

Creative Groups like:

Hull Urban Sketchers – Photos of the Work and The Facebook Group Page Forum & Sign Up

also have a fixed internet presence, despite being, creatively speaking, very traditional in essence.

12 –

Summing Up.

So… what are my recommendations (and remember these are MY recommendations based on my good and bad experiences).
1 – Get a portfolio site (I’d recommend CoroFlot). Get a clean looking one that you will happily show potential clients (DeviantArt is okay, and the guys on there give great feedback, but you do see a lot of badly drawn M<anga on blue line paper by somewhat obsessive 14 year olds, you might want to distance yourself from that – unless of course their dollar is your market).

2 – Start a creative blog (I’d recommend WordPress), and post to it regularly, show us how and why you do stuff, make it useful to other creatives, whether they are just starting out or seasoned professionals.

3 – Don’t be afraid of social networking, Twitter (which I’ve found particularly useful) is a great way for YOU to keep on top of what’s going on out there in your own field, as well as meet professionals who can help you… but REMEMBER, don’t be an idiot… In ‘meatspace” you are as good as your last job, on the internet, you are as good/useful/annoying/”spam-like” as your last idiotic post. – UNFOLLOW

4 – Ever more useful Promotional tools, whether a simple showreel on YouTube or (the much slicker and more professional looking – for the time being – Vimeo) or something fun like this

I attached mine to my e-mail.

…and a related post looking at how some of look at technology in the classroom can be found HERE:

~ by hesir on October 26, 2011.

One Response to “Creating an online presence…”

  1. […] If you don’t believe me look! I actually advocate the practice! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: