ResourcesDisclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you buy something we get a small commission at no extra cost to you(learn more)
The free blogging service Tumblr is a popular choice for artists. Tumblr offers a way to connect with fans, show off your work, and build a following around your art.
Some people even use Tumblr as their own personal portfolio while others use it for critiques. Really it’s a network that can be used for all of this and so much more!
If you’re an artist looking to get on Tumblr then you’ll need a great theme.
These are my top picks for the best free Tumblr themes tailor-made for artists. Whether you’re using Tumblr as a public portfolio or a personal sketchbook, all of these themes can work very well for all types of artwork.
With a simple design and a very basic grid-like page structure you can’t get simpler than Square.
Perhaps the easiest theme to mesh with any artist’s style, Square is designed to look just like a portfolio. That means you can run this with your own Tumblr blog or use it as a public portfolio of work.
Note the main theme page is all in Japanese but you can see a live demo here. That includes some pretty nice animation effects along with the sleek minimalist design.
Check it out if you’re looking for a clean design without too many extra features.
Illustfolio 4 is the fourth incarnation of the Illustfolio theme. All of these versions have totally different layouts, features, and styles.
The developer doesn’t offer as much support for older versions so it’s always a good idea to stick with the newest one. And really, Illustfolio 4 is just superb.
If you take a look at the demo page on GitHub you can get a feel for how Illustfolio looks in your browser. It supports custom image sizes and all the post types you expect from the Tumblr platform.
Really this is one of the cleanest portfolio-styled Tumblr themes out there. And it comes at the incredible price of $0.
Now if you want to dig into the code you can browse Illustfolio’s source on GitHub since it’s released for free. You’ll also find a link to the documentation explaining how to install & customize the theme on any Tumblr blog.
Also might like Illustfolio 3 if you’re okay going with the older version. It does have a different design and it might be closer to what you’re looking for.
Illustfolio 3 also has its own demo page if you want to check that out to compare.
Both are great, both are very unique. My personal vote is for the newest v4 theme and I’m eagerly awaiting the Illustfolio 5 release.
When it comes to launching your art portfolio online there’s a lot of options. Many artists go with Tumblr because it handles your web hosting and you don’t need to pay for the service.
If you’re one of those artists who wants to run your whole portfolio on Tumblr then Maverick is a theme you should check out.
In fact, I’d say this is one of the best portfolio-style themes in the entire list.
You can add custom tags near the top of the page to sort your posts by categories(ex: illustration, character design, environments). The default layout lets you pick a custom header image and the layout itself focuses heavily on the content.
Easy to search, easy to navigate, and easy to browse images.
The perfect design for sharing your work online with art directors & freelance clients.
The variable grid design of Sugar feels a lot more expansive than other themes.
That’s because each post includes a small snippet along with the post headline right underneath the image. It’s a bit easier to browse this way since people can skim your posts and see what you’re writing about.
I’d recommend Sugar more for artists who want to use Tumblr as a blog. It can work as a portfolio but there are many better options for that.
Now this is what I’d call a brilliant art portfolio theme.
Candice runs on a single column layout so everything flows right down the page. You can structure the content however you want whether it’s in a grid or a list of content.
The side navigation menu slides into view with a sleek animation breathing some life into the design.
The best selling points have to be the custom header sections, plenty of space in the nav for links, and a real website “feel” to the whole design. Not to mention customizable fonts with 600+ typefaces from Google Fonts to look through.
Weird name, great theme. That’s the gist of Ten Toes which offers a very simple approach to theming your Tumblr blog.
On the demo page you’ll find a huge masonry grid with custom thumbnails and custom text. The side menu stays fixed while scrolling down the page so visitors can quickly access tag links or any other pages you setup.
My only complaint is that the design can feel a little too simple.
But there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s certainly worth some attention if you’ve never worked with a custom theme before.
Prestige offers a wide range of custom settings from typography to color choices, grid spacing, and even the overall sidebar layout.
In many ways Prestige feels like so many other themes in this list. It’s very basic, focuses mostly on the artwork/content, and keeps a small sidebar off to the side with easily accessible links.
I only recommend this because it might be worth using if you like the overall look. Granted this does look like many other themes but Prestige also has its own style that might strike you in just the right way.
Castle places a lot of emphasis on color and spacing.
This is a nice change from all the blank white page layouts you typically find in the Tumblr themes section.
With Castle you can quickly add your own custom logo and even custom typography into the page. The sidebar has its own color scheme along with an editable background color to match whatever style you like.
I definitely recommend this for a Tumblr portfolio page or even a blog.
But take some time to think over your design before putting it up live.
Last but certainly not least is the ultra simple Pation.
Again this places a heavy focus on the one area you care about: the content. Visitors can quickly skim the page for images they like and click to see more.
Pation supports slideshows with multi-image posts along with custom background colors or patterns. You can change the entire layout from dark to light with just a few clicks.
I wouldn’t personally recommend this for a full portfolio page but I do think it’d work well for blogging.
And with a few tweaks you could get this theme working with any style. Really that’s the case with most of these themes, so if you’re just getting into Tumblr or want to update your existing page then you can’t go wrong with anything here.