Black: It’s Classy and Powerful. . . But it Doesn’t Belong on your Website

By Ariane Goodwin in Art Business Advice > Art Marketing Tips

Artists love black. Love, love, love it. It has class. It engages. It draws you in.

Black is classy. It fairly screams “high end.” It dominates and holds our attention, because, let’s face it, black has power.

And for years and years it has been the color of choice to put behind the crown jewels, or as the backdrop for a brochure, or when framing. . . the list goes on.

But let me tell you, there’s one place where black and all that it stands for will work completely against you and your art:

On your website or art blog.

I know. It’s hard to realize that the Old Order has given way to a New Virtual Reality. In fact, a good many of us haven’t yet caught on to the differences that decide our online fate. And the traditional sacredness of black causes us to make a huge mistake.

So ask yourself this question: What is the most important thing on your website or art blog? Is it:

A. Your domain name?
B. A picture of you working on your art?
C. Your art?
D. Your artist statement?
E. The background color?

Of course, each of these is important in its own way. But without “C. Your art” none of the rest even has a reason to exist. Right?

Which brings us to the first law:

Nothing should upstage your art. That’s the first law of an artist’s website or blog.

Your art is center stage, first and last. Nothing should detract, draw attention away from, or usurp your viewer’s focus on your art. Period. Especially if they might buy it.

If black is engaging, dominant, holds our attention and draws us in, doesn’t it go without saying that a black background trumps your art?

It seems so simple, so logical. But whenever you tread on sacred ground that is also visually emotional, “simple” and “logical” hardly register.

“But my art looks so good against a black background,” you might wail.

But I ask you. . . have you ever been in a gallery with black walls? How would that feel? Wouldn’t it distract—just a bit—from the art?

The second law:

Your website is NOT a gallery.

Unlike gallery walls, a website needs words to deepen your viewer’s connection to you and your art (it’s hard to shake hands and make eye contact on a web page).

Words help to keep your visitor on your website while encouraging them to take action to sign up for something. A newsletter, perhaps; or a free offer, anything so that you can follow up and stay in touch.

But how can you read words on a black background. Ah, yes. . . thundering in, stage left—White Text!

The third law:

Do not make anything hard for your visitor!

And nothing is harder, or more frustrating, than reading white words on a black background. Nothing.

Except, maybe, slow loading images.

In small doses, say a tag line or a headline, you can get away with white on black. It might even be classy. (Heck, I even do it occasionally on my smARTist Career Blog.)

But once you start piling up sentences, let alone entire paragraphs, you start asking the human eye to do an inhuman task. It hurts! So, naturally, people don’t read, or don’t read much. Or don’t read enough.

Me, I just click off as fast as I can. Your art doesn’t stand a chance.

In fact, I have a theory that virtual reality is a hostile environment, biologically speaking. Our eyes are designed to adjust to incremental changes in light from the minute we open our eyes in the morning until we close them at night.

And yet we plunk down in front of that static, unchanging light of a monitor screen, and stare at it for minutes, if not hours, holding our eyes hostage. It makes sense that anything you do to increase the “hostile environment” of your website shortens the time that a visitor will stick around and enjoy your art.

So give up black!

Break free of its seductive power and put the focus back on your amazing art. It’s what the world really wants to see.

For more articles from Ariane Goodwin, please visit


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