What is the best approach to make a portfolio website for an artist?
Any of these methods?
- Using a template and customising? (Problem: most templates are product driven)
- Use a CMS -> which one would be useful for a portfolio?
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There's a few targeted products out there aimed at photographers and artists, both free and commercial. Take a look around - I'm sure quite a few of the photography ones would also suit many artists.
For instance http://www.mosaicglobe.com/
The problem with most templates is they so often look like templates, and they'll need customising if you want to do any restrictions on saving images from your site.
Any question that asks "What is the best approach to..." depends on the technical skills of the user. Is the artist technically saavy? In other words, could the artist log in to a site, upload files through web interface (or use ftp) and manage or edit the files? If so, then I would recommended WordPress as a platform. I've used it on many personal and client sites. Go to wordpress.com for the hosted version, or download a self-hosted version from wordpress.org. There are some great themes (both paid and free) for the platform. Specifically, check out a theme called "PhotoPress". It's great for photography or art sites.
If the artist can't (or doesn't want to) manage their own CMS, look at carbonmade.com for portfolio. I've heard good things about from the art community and it has a lot options so that the sites don't look "template-y".