Art Websites That Help Artists Be Recognized
Newer artists are constantly seeking ways to be seen. An art website can help but knowing which will help you the most is important.
I first wish to give a set criteria by which one must set in order to determine a direction to follow. As I write I will mention a few reputable sites pointing out strengths and weaknesses of each I have found.
Definition Of An Art Website For This Article
For the sake of this article an art website is defined as a site that is operated by someone other than you. This third party allows art listings, images, and forum access for communication with other users.
This is not an online art gallery for personal use that you the artist own and operate.
Friendly Location For Users Is A Must For An Art Website
First the site must be friendly to its users. All will have terms of service and rules, nevertheless there must be flexibility. This flexibility allows users to make the space their home away from home.
An example of how to run users away in a very bad format can be seen at artistforum.com. This location is relatively new.
I discovered the site is a spin off from owners of woodworking sites. In preparing for this article I joined and it definitely was not a friendly location.
Users should be allowed to share material, write, post images, and form community. There are others who have mastered this principle and have succeeded in their endeavors due to it.
Linking To And From The Art Website Must Be Allowed To Some Degree
Each forum will treat links a little differently. Much will be determined by the business format that they employ.
Artpal for example works at a social level and links exist pointing to their site. One can also help others sell their artwork and benefit from it. The concept at its core is well done.
Deviant Art on the other hand works within a similar capacity but also has a forum where artists can help other artists. It provides a critical education base where users share knowledge.
Here the forum is treated with similar rules that you find across many forums. If this ability exists within the platform be sure to partake within this function to build a friend base and network.
Art Websites Always Cost Something, Know Their Cut Of The Sale
If you sell art through an art website it is important to know how much of the cut they will take. After all you are using their art platform and providing access to the public, so expect to pay something.
This becomes very important to identify when selling art prints or other low cost items. Volume is of necessity in order to remain sustainable.
Once you know this up front you can factor in this additional cost into the price and accommodate for it. This is a simple function to work with, just be sure that it is fair to both sides you and them.
Art Websites Intellectual Rights To Property
Pay very close attention to any additional rules or regulations the art website may have pertaining to intellectual property rights. These rules can bend, and sometimes break the deal.
You the artist should always be in full control of your artwork. This is until it is sold and then becomes the property of a new owner.
At no time should your rights be taken from you because you are listing your artwork on their website. Believe it or not there are nightmare stories with corporate brands where artists have had their work hijacked.
If it can happen in locations like those, it can happen anywhere.
The art website should actively help their users defend their right and protect their users while growing your art audience. Here is where a strong forum community can also be of aid protecting each other.
Here is where better funded and larger art websites like artsy.net can help. There can be more rules than smaller organizations, but you can be better protected.
Should Artist Use An Art Website?
It is quite common for new artists to use a third party art website. I will say this is better than using social media. Why is this the case?
Social media creates a questionable atmosphere. It also is very insular and prevents serp listings from picking up your material. Here art websites outperform socials.
You are attempting to piggyback the hard work that their developers have placed into their brand and rankings to sell your artwork. The only possible downside to this is any internal walls they may have constructed.
An example of an internal wall can be seen in Etsy. Their systems prefer to require users to advertise in order to be seen unless a seller achieves higher ranking. They call this “trust”.
Etsy has many problems, so many that I would personally use a place like artsy or artpal over them. Their algorithm is horrible, and the advertising is like a paywall to be seen.
No matter which of these you may choose to become involved in do not reside there forever. These are beginning points to use as a stepping stone for further development.
Do not be afraid to be apart of more than one location. As long as the art website is reputable it will have enough volume of users to help you be seen. Avoid small and close minded operations like artistforum I mentioned earlier.
What Problems Surround Art Websites?
The key problem with art websites is that you do not own them thus your brand and name is somewhat controlled. How is it controlled?
This is a business aspect where you should be able to set your own terms and conditions, art return policies, sale policies, and other factors.
When you sign up with these sites you surrender certain liberties to their design and terms. Building an art business from scratch can be tricky.
Beyond this there is one other major factor that hurts you. If you do not own an online art gallery then you should solve this now. You lose time that should be spend building your brand, not theirs.
Every post on social media, every link you give, every time you mention your art being at their location is promoting their brand. That should all be pointing to your online gallery that you own, not theirs.
This problem for new artists is common. You can solve this with time once you have your personal platform built. Even with your online gallery you can still choose to use these third party art websites.
When you offer a business card to a prospective customer or a potential store that may display your art, do you want to point them to artpal?
No you do not want to do this. The url on your business card should be to an art gallery you own online. It is about professionalism.
Each tool can have its purpose and uses. Be sure to keep the right tools at play for the right job to be performed. Do not allow yourself to be misused, misrepresented, nor misrepresent yourself in the wrong way.
Benefits Of An Art Website
The benefit of a third party art website is greater visibility. Each will have an audience that they have invested in obtaining. Obviously, there will be some carry over from one to the other.
It is a quick way to gain some visibility. The flip side to this is that they are not the be all end all solution for any artist. It is a starting point that provides an affordable option.
While you can get a jump start, your art business model must be able to grow you out of these locations as quickly as possible.
Have I Attempted To Use Art Websites And What Are My Professional Thoughts?
I have used a couple different art website platforms in the past. I personally hated each and every one. I say this because I have technical abilities that not everyone has.
I can code and create my own web platform with ease. Using a third party platform felt like being stuck in a sand box. This is really my biggest complaint aside from someone losing valuable time cultivating their own platform.
If you need these third party systems then use them. I strongly suggest that every independent artist or creative begin learning marketing as soon as possible.
Too few realize that the best platform they possess is often within their local communities. Growing an online presence becomes an extension of this. To become popular online requires a lot of time.
The time factor is your greatest enemy. Generating revenue can be done easily locally. Generating an income is more challenging. Time though cannot be replaced once lost.
Invest your time wisely into areas that will help you long term and grow your art business. Avoid pitfalls that will make you recreate your platform later down the road.