Wordpress users, I need recommendations for a illustrator portfolio friendly theme.



  • I know some of you are wordpress users on this forum. I consider switching from Squarespace to WP, but a bit overwelmed with where to start. I have experience of buidling custom WP website before (like 7, 8 years ago), and I know a bit of html and css. But I do not want to spend a lot of time to fiddle with the website. Does anyone have a good tips on where to start?

    • What theme do you use (or use it as the starting point)?
    • Do you use any sort of visual builder plugin?
    • Are there any paid themes that cover well on the illustrator portfolio use case, which are not too expensive to purchase? (There are lists after lists on google serach results, it is a bit overwelme to decide what is actually worth of trying out. SO I thought I'd ask this question here for personal experience instead).


  • @xin-li I use Semplice. It was $99 USD at the time but I went ahead and purchased it for when I would be ready to put a portfolio together. Even in its basic form it looks really clean. It can be kind of clunky to use, but at least I don't have to worry too much about it.


  • Pro

    @xin-li I really like the visual builder Elementor, it's so easy to use. However if you don't need that level of customization, there are many portfolio themes that would do just fine. Try googling something like "best free portfolio wordpress themes 2020"



  • @xin-li I wouldn't have purchased semplice now, of course. When I had an income things like that seemed reasonable. What is your budget? Are there any portfolio websites you want to emulate? I thought you worked in design/ux so it is possible you have high standards...



  • Wordpress is really overwhelming, I have worked with it professionally as a designer/developer for several years and it's such a pain even if you know your way around it, so I totally understand! The key I think is just finding something that is good enough and working within its boundaries.

    There's a good one called Salient on themeforest: https://themeforest.net/item/salient-responsive-multipurpose-theme/4363266. It'll cost you $60. Note: You do NOT need any of the extra support options, just the regular license is good enough.

    If you go to that link, you can click on the "Live Preview" button and see a whole bunch of examples that they've set up.

    For a real-world example: an illustrator using Salient for her site is Rovina Cai: https://www.rovinacai.com/

    I used it for a while for my own site and I really liked it. It would be my theme of choice, but I ultimately decided to use a different option because of a variety of reasons not at all related to my illustration portfolio.

    You can also browse around themeforest to see if there's anything else there that catches your eye. Here's a link to themes under the "Wordpress Portfolio Themes" category. There are a lot of themes at a variety of price points. Generally the quality you'll find there is going to be better than just googling or looking in the Wordpress theme browser and you can see ratings, reviews, etc.

    Let us know what you ultimately decide on!



  • @carolinedrawing I am currently testing out the same squarespace theme as this site: http://www.isabellearsenault.com
    I like how the gallery displays- which is probably one of the most important thing for a illustration portfolio site. But there are some UX issues annoys me, I could probably digg around to find a way to tweak it. But I also feel like squarespace is more rigid than WP as I remembered (from 2012). Plus, I want to switch to a platform where I do not have to pay a monthly fee to keep a simple website up running.

    @NessIllustration thank you so much. I tried that search term. It was still a bit too overwelming 😂, especially for my brain at this crazy time. I will check out Visual bilder Elementor.

    @robgale thank you. very good point about themeforest - someone has narrow down a bit option for me. I will digg in there a bit 🙂


  • Pro

    @xin-li Do you use Photoshop? Because if you have any Creative Cloud subscription, it comes with free Adobe Portfolio, a portfolio builder. I mention this because the Squarespace theme you mention looks a lot like available Adobe Portfolio themes: Rose, Matthias or Stardust. If your objective is to cut costs and you already have Photoshop, this could be a great free alternative and it's so easy to build your portfolio in minutes with them.



  • @NessIllustration I am having a photographer subscription for Adobe CC (which means I have access to Photoshop and lightroom) I will check if I have the access to adobe portfolio themes. Thank you for the tip.


  • Pro

    @xin-li I'm on the Photography plan too, and Adobe Portfolio is included 🙂 That's what I used for my website! I still LOVE building websites from scratch in Wordpress, but for the simple portfolio that I needed, it wasn't worth the time commitment, or paying for the hosting.


  • SVS OG

    This is great advice! Thank guys! I was thinking of using WordPress as well, since I have had one of their free blogs for years. (I don't update as much as I should anymore.) Does it require a great deal of knowledge to set up a paid WP site? I really have almost none, and I'm already pretty slow at drawing, so I don't really want to have to pick up that specialty!

    If WP is too complex, it's good to know that the PS ones are included even in the Photography plan.


  • SVS OG

    @xin-li I just subscribed to the adobe photography plan too! However, you’ll need to provide your own domain so I’m planning to buy mine from GoDaddy soon. It only costs around $1.50 usd per year for the first 2 years with GoDaddy. After I’ve done that, all I have to do is to connect that domain with my Adobe And I’ll begin building my own portfolio from there.



  • @xin-li What specifically is it you're looking to Wordpress to do for you that's more than you're getting right now?



  • @jdubz it is a mix. I want to cut back budget (WP is cheaper to run than squarespace). I also find squarespace is quite limiting in terms of enbeding a gallery display within a page layout. Maybe it is that I do not completely understand how things work in SS, but I can not see the possibility of customzing gallery bock very much in square space, no matter what template I use use.



  • @xin-li Ah gotcha. Yeah that makes sense. Wordpress can sometimes be a hammer when you need a lightbulb, but what you're saying about customization is not something you'll get with SquareSpace unless you spend more and then you'd need to know how to code in a more expansive gallery.

    The capability comes in I think on the Business tier, but they don't help you do it - it's more like you now CAN but you have to figure it out on your own 🙂

    What I might do instead of looking for a theme with a gallery is look for a basic free theme that is simple, elegant and easy to use, and then pay for a premium gallery plugin on Codecanyon for like $20. I bet you can find an elegant theme to handle the content that will like really nice that doesn't have a lot of bells or whistles. Then the separate gallery will give you way more options for displaying images than the theme itself ever would. Just looking quickly here's one that seems to have a ton of layout options and could literally plug into any theme.


  • Pro

    @Nyrryl-Cadiz If I may suggest, Nyrryl, GoDaddy is actually not a site I recommend to get domains. They have a seemingly cheap deal to start, but what they don't tell you is at the cart stage they try to sell you a privacy/security add-on which is much more expensive. They say it's to keep you anonymous and prevent your personal information to be entered into the domain name registry, which is public and for all to see. Basically if you don't get their privacy add-on, they'll sell your info to whoever and you'll start receiving a ton of spam calls. Other domain services don't charge you the extra but they still keep you anonymous and don't sell your info! I recommend Google Domains or Namecheap, both are inexpensive ans safe to use. No hidden costs and the price doesn't go up after the first 2 years!

    I also heard that you can get a domain directly with Adobe Portfolio. It's one of the options listed when you go to the domains section in the settings, but I didn't actually test that out since I already had my own. If they're not more expensive, it might be worth to get your domain with them since their system to connect an outside domain to the portfolio is kind of confusing and complicated. They use techy terms and it's not user friendly. I actually had to look up video tutorials to figure out how to do it. So if you can avoid that and get your domain with them, might be better.

    Edit: I looked it up, Adobe Portfolio partnered with NameCheap to enable their easy domain buy and connect system: https://help.myportfolio.com/hc/en-us/articles/360037978074



  • @jdubz I think this is probably what I need. Thank you so much for the tips.


  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration hi! Thank you so much for letting me know. Good thing I still haven’t purchased from GoDaddy. Price-wise, Namecheap was my second choice but now that you’ve mentioned Godaddy’s security issue, I think I’ll go with Namecheap instead. Thanks again!



  • I'll recommend Google as the best place to get domains - this is primarily because no one is trying to SELL you anything. All these other providers want to sell you stuff that goes with the domain names, like private registration to hide your identity, for an additional fee. They also all have an intro deal than then rates up after the first renewal.

    Google is the normal price for domains all the time, you click on what you want, you buy it, and it comes with private registration automatically. No sales emails or rate ups or anything. In my opinion it's just the hassle free way to go.


  • SVS OG

    @jdubz they’re still a bit pricey tho



  • Not many places are less than $12 when it's retail. I did notice namecheap is now giving away domain privacy. So if they kept doing that, you'd save a few bucks a year definitely.

    I can't believe Godaddy wants $18 a year now, which seems like a pretty steep incline from the previous few years.

    If you have anything with network solutions - get it outta there. There's a special place in hell for those gougers.


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