Monday, 16 January 2012

Artists' websites revisited

Last May 2011 I wrote a review of websites out there that artists can show off their work to the rest of the world, and published it here on this blog. And I added a short follow up a couple of months ago, particularly to report improvements - or otherwise. Recent events have provoked me into having another look.

New sites seem to be proliferating at the moment. Amongst these is glossom - a site that allows you to build things called "collections" that are sort of photomontages. It really is quite fun, and there are a lot of people using it - especially photographers it seems - although I'm not quite sure of the point, I think in some ways it is what it is for no other reason than to allow you to show off stuff to people - it doesn't have much of a commercial side that I can see, and I don't think I have received a single hit from it. Oh. I lie, I just checked, there have been a couple. But it is free, it's easy and it's a hell of a lot more fun than many other arts websites.

Another is World Artist Catalogue - which says about itself: "World Artist Catalogue offers all artists a means to present their works, providing potential purchasers, galleries and connoisseurs with useful information." Which is ok I guess. It seems alight, but not especially exciting. Since uploading stuff there I have had no referrals from the site, and I can't say it got me excited with the way it works - which is confusing. You get to upload three artworks for free, then pay for anything else you upload and then - here's its USP - you can auction your work online. This costs though - 5€ per work. I don't know how successful this approach is, I haven't go around to trying to auction something yet, but as a commitment to helping everyone reading this I'll invest 5€ soon and report back.

Artists Wanted is another animal altogether, and one I am not 100% comfortable with. It has absolutely nothing to do with ArtWanted (see the last review) which I like, and is, it seems, just limited to a series of online competitions. Endless emails keep coming from these guys asking me to enter into online competitions, of various sorts and credibility. Your work seems to disappear onto a site called Anyway, I find the whole thing very confusing and am less than convinced of its value.

Then there are a number of sites that have recently popped up charging significant amounts for uploading work. wants a minimum 10$ a month (for up to 30 images), up to 30$ a month (unlimited images) for their site. I honestly cannot see the point: hosting your own website and having full control is cheaper than this (often free if you do it as a blog)and I cannot see what the return would be. To me this kind of site feels like the growing number of exploitative sites, galleries and organisations that have been set up to drain money from the banks of artists - a group of people not renowned for either their wealth or their financial acumen.

I have also recently received invitations to upload my work to a new french art websites: Pears Gallery - which seems a well designed site attempting to show work in a 3D kind of format. But again this seems like a site designed just to take money from artists. They want 19€ a month, and offer no more than many other gallery sites that do this stuff for nothing. I emailed them too, to ask why it would be worth my while compared to some international sites like FineArtAmerica or BlueCanvas - but got no reply. I can't say I'm impressed. But have tried a number of other french art sites and they are so universally bad it is no surprise that these Pears people can make a living from the non English-speaking world. I won't bother listing them - life's too short.

Another site I've recently come across (well, they emailed me) is FoundMyself which distinguishes itself by having a terrible name, at least. It seems ok, is free, and is currently being "redesigned" (so they say). There's nothing wrong with this site, but, er.. I don't think it's needed! But you never know, let's see how it improves. they currently have a button on their website asking for site improvement suggestions - so feel free to go there and give them some good ideas.

A new issue that I am dealing with amongst this is a vast array of sites that seem to have come into existence for artists that i am not sure what they are for -both in english and french. Forums, sites related to competitions, sites related to forums etc. I get SO MANY mailings, am spammed by so many different "arty" services and sites i wish I knew what they were all for and why. While on this subject i should mention Deviant Art which some people claim to like. I can't say I do myself - it's an ugly site that uses art to sell products. Most of which seem to be produced by teenage boys. I briefly had a space on Deviant Art a year or two ago and got SO spammed as a result I removed my listing. To be fair, I did get an apology.

As for updates to previous websites, I did that in November and can add only the following: ArtWanted continue to work to improve, while AbsoluteArts (who from now on will be known as "AbsoluteIdiots" and I'm so cross with them I'm not giving them a link) are so incompetent they can't take your money when you pay for a renewal, nor can be bothered to read your emails when you try to sort things out. I decided that any business that acted so incompetently was not worthy of my custom, and wasn't fit to sell my work.

My favourite sites

So after all this I have decided the thing to do is to list my top ten favourite artists' websites:

1. Art Break because it's simple and it works

2. Blue Canvas because it does more, and offers lots for free

3. Art Wanted because it does more, and offers lots more - but isn't free

4. Fine Art America as good as Blue Canvas in many ways

5. London Art an excellent London-focussed site that is free - but takes a healthy commission on sales

6. Saatchi's great except a little clunky, and too focussed on competitions - and slower than some other sites

7. Wooloo a great site for finding out about opportunities - the gallery bit sometimes feels like a sideline

8. Celeste Network focussed on the Celeste Prize, but it has a nice feel, and a busy community

9. Glossom as mentioned above, a fun new entrant

10. PicassoMio - a spanish site that functions well, but doing everything in two languages gets a bit tedious

Please feel free to add comments on any of these or other artists' sites I haven't mentioned.

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