The Whitney Biennial and the Armory Show are upon us again, but not everyone can default on a student loan in exchange for a few hours with good art. Luckily, though, there's a growing trend in art that makes it possible to have museum quality experiences without leaving home.
Every artist now — even ones in the biggest shows — has a beautifully-designed online portfolio for fans and curators alike. Creative thinkers big and small know the web is the best way to get their work out there, so it makes sense that personal websites function as mini-retrospectives, curated by the artists themselves. And because these are some of the best creative minds we have, their websites are pretty stunning.
Of course, not everybody's art translates to the web. For artists like Rómulo Celdrán, whose work involves confronting the viewer with giant versions of household objects, a website hardly serves as an immersive experience. An oversized ice cube tray doesn't foster quite the same response in a digital photo as it does when it's dwarfing your very existence. But for many artists whose work is digital in nature, websites serve as a non-disruptive way to get their art out to the public.
Here's a look at six artists whose sites are works of art:
1. Brock Davis
Since Brock Davis' photography rose to fame through Instagram, Vine and Tumblr, it makes sense that his work thrives online. Davis' photos feature a unique — often hilarious — perspective on everyday things and his photos' simplicity and beauty set them apart.
The best part of Davis' site is that its seemingly endless — he jumped on the 365-day challenge bandwagon, and the fruits of his labor are a lot better than your Instagram feed. Basically, it's an infinite museum.
2. Henry Hargreaves
While Davis' work is creative for sheer creativity's sake, Henry Hargreaves' packs a cultural commentary that's hard to miss, and it's especially potent on the shareable web.
The artist largely focuses on food. You've probably been wowed by his "No Seconds" project, featuring photos of the last meals of death row inmates, but Hargreaves' portfolio offers hours of additional culinary entertainment, from "The Bacon Alphabet," to "Burning Calories," to his series of "Deep-Fried Gadgets." The result is a deep meditation on the meaning of "overconsumption."
3. Lauren McCarthy
But not all digital art is photography; a lot of the most creative online artists use coding skills to subtly dissect the ideas behind the human interactions the Internet has laid bare. Lauren McCarthy's work is digitally based, but her executions are so rooted in real life that case studies are the best ways to capture them.
From the iPhone app that lets friends oversee your online dates to the "Happiness Hat" that administers pain when its wearer isn't smiling, McCarthy's site offers hours of social commentary that will help you relate to your digital self.
4. Ji Lee
The unfortunate reality of being an artist, digital or otherwise, is that it doesn't really pay the bills. That's why it's so satisfying to see a portfolio like Ji Lee's with professional work that lives up to the quality of his personal stuff. He was creative director of the Google Creative Lab and is currently a communications designer at Facebook
His "About" section explains that these facets of his life only complement one another: "Ideas are nothing, doing is everything." It's a mantra for millennial artists everywhere.
5. Mike Lacher
Creative, prolific people tend to hang out with other creative, prolific people, and one great thing about viewing art online is that it allows viewers to physically peruse those connections as if they were curated for them. Lee lists numerous friends and colleagues on his site, and those friends and colleagues do the same.
Stumble through enough of those six degrees and you'll find yourself getting lost in Mike Lacher's comedy-driven, satirical oeuvre. Though you might know him for his essay, "I'm Comic Sans, Asshole," Lacher's site hosts all types of interactive digital media. Have fun Geocities-ing your favorite (or least favorite) sites, then hang out in Plato's Man Cave for a while.
6. Bobby Doherty
Photographer Bobby Doherty's website is a great example of how the user experience functions as curator in digital portfolios. Clicking through the 1, 2 and 3 allows you to view Doherty's graphic, colorful photography in his own recommended order, culminating with his contact info. Because if there's one thing all artists — digital and otherwise — must now do well, it's self-promote.