Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Who's online :: Online galleries for all.

Based on my last post, I thought I'd do a quick wrap up of the online art galleries that I know of. In this post I'm really just talking about those 'Online galleries for all' - the spaces where anyone can sell their art online.

Etsy - This is probably the leader. Etsy is an online community of artists and crafters. Anything hand-made can be bought and sold on Etsy. Born just 2 years ago, over 1,000,000 items have now been sold here. So yup, it's pretty big.

Etsy allows anyone to set up there own shop quickly and easily, wherever you are. It is probably one of the most beautiful websites I've ever seen. It offers users the ability to search for art and crafts by category, colour, location and a whole lot of other unique ways.

Their distribution model is similar to ebay or amazon - They don't need a warehouse to store all the artwork. Instead, the artist ships directly to the buyer once a sale is made. This means there's no limits to the amount of items they can have for sale.

Made It - Made it is the local version of Etsy, and specializes in Australian work. It is nowhere near as big as Etsy, but then again is a lot younger.

Made offers items for sale in a lot of categories, including art, clothing, homewheres, jewellery and lots more. From purely an art perspective, there isn't a lot of work on Made It just yet.

Redbubble - Another local mob, this time in Fitzroy, redbubble is another up and coming art community that seems to be doing well. Redbubble allows you to upload your images and designs, and redbubble takes care of the printing. As an artist you can upload images for cards, wall hangings and even T-Shirts.

Most of the artwork for sale here is Photography based. But there isn't anything to stop artists and illustrators selling their work here. As a buyer, the service is very good, and they even give you different framing options that you can choose from.

With a membership base of over 10,000, the redbubble community is off to a strong start.

Deviant Art - Deviant Art claims to be the biggest art community online. I don't really know a lot about it, and it seems to be a little overwhelming when you visit the site. But by the looks of it, artists can upload and sell there work through Deviant Art. There seems to be a huge amount of art here, including tonnes of manga stuff.

Artflock - Artflock is another online gallery that allows anyone to upload and sell their art, this one based out of the UK. It is a nice looking site, and seems to be a good way for any artist to sell their work. Mostly 'On the wall' type art here.

The only problem with artflock is that most of the art here is crap. Even the most popular art on artflock is generally mediocre.

But all in all, these sites have been done well. I think Etsy and redbubble are the two that stand out for me.

A few thoughts on these types of sites:
  • All of them allow artists to be "Global Microbrands" and sell their stuff to the whole world. That's a good thing for independent artists everywhere.
  • By allowing anyone to add their artwork, without restriction, you are bound to get a lot of bad artwork in there. Which is why the rating systems on these sites are so important, to bring the best artwork to the surface.
  • These are big sites, with many people working on them. There's a lot of time and effort gone into all of these. Not the 'one man band' operations that I had in mind for my business.
  • The sites that nurture their communities are the ones that will do well. That's one of the reason why I think Etsy and redbubble stand out from this crowd.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on these websites. And If there are any that I have missed out, let me know.


The Painted Sky said...

Lost in a giant ocean.

How not to be just a speck in a sea of online artists?..... The problem with selling art online ( from the artist's perspective ), is that usually artists go it alone, or add themselves to massive online galleries.

I think the smart way is via a tight group or collective of like-minded individuals. A good example is ;
Using collective strength and pooling resources this small group of artists help each other bring people in.

A completely different phenomenon is all those artists involved in "painting a day" art. Numbering into the hundreds now, a smart group of "daily painters" set themselves apart by setting up The Daily Painters Guild ;

This allowed them to advertise in art magazines etc.

The rest languish in lists of hundreds :

The good thing about each group is that you get a lot of info on each artist, the ability to buy + links to their sites. By pooling together, like minded artists not only help themselves, but others in their group.

Liss said...

Ive found polariods on Deviant art that I really like, but hesitated to buy them because the Artist gets so little money. To me it felt like was just giving deviart most of the money. I like the idea of supporting up and coming artists...but what is the point if they will only end up getting 33cents (or something minuscule like that) of the total sale price.

redbubble...havent shopped there yet.

Made it...shopped there butthe site is still geting up and running. I liek that it is local

Etsy...shopped there alot!! and love it.

I think if your following a model like Etsy or Madeit, then you must have a really well functioning site. Ive heard alot of complaints about madeit still having bugs it their system. For example just look at the quality of the images when resized.

Ed Lea said...

Hi - Ed here from ArtFlock.com.

Thanks for the mention (especially amongst such great company!)

One of the issues I have battled with throughout the short life of ArtFlock is which artwork should be allowed on the site?

I have not yet answered this question so I am allowing all artwork. This approach has surprised me as the work that is selling does not necessarily come under what some class as "good art".

I just want to give all artists a platform to promote and sell their work. What do other artists think about this approach, should ArtFlock.com regulate artwork being added?

Ben Rowe said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

Jim - I actually came across Justin Clayton's painting a day site, and thought it was a nice idea - didn;t realise that it was a collective. Must check out artdorks too.

I agree with you too Liss, artists need to get a decent cut out of this. After all, they provide all the content.

Ed - I'm wrapt that you've read the post.

You're right, everyone has very different views as to what good art is, so it is difficult to turn away some art. And my own personal view of good art is different to a lot of others, so don't worry too much about my comment ;)

I'm not suggesting that you regulate the work ... that takes away from the 'Long-tail' nature of your business.

What you do need to do though is ensure that users are exposed to good art on their first impression. That's why the human powered 'Hand picked items' on the homes page of Etsy works well.

Ed Lea said...

The point you raise is a very valid one. Does having a gallery that can stock an infinite amount of work equal more sales? I'd say there is a balance. I agree that Etsy's hand picked work is a good idea and I have a hand picked feature on the way (different to Etsy's though - artists are hand picked rather than individual work).

Quality of work is also the reason I introduced ratings - although I suspect some artists keep voting for their own work!

I'll keep you posted on progress... it's early days yet!

Any feedback from visitors is always welcome - good or bad :)

Jason Nixx said...

Its a sad day when selling art turns into a monye making business and less about someone with passion who wants to support and artists' career. But then again i guess this has been going on since the big times of Saatchi http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/ , and even locally with people like Savill and Gould. A gallery director said once, opening a gallery is a 15 yr process, the first 5 yrs you get totally ignored, the next you get noticed and reviewed and the next you do very well. Of course most gallery close in the first tiring slow 5 yrs.

Ed : You really should regulate and cull your artist/artwork list on the site, some of them are really shockingly bad. The worse crime someone can do to a person who thinks he can do art but obviously has no tallent is to 'let it be'.

Selling /buying art online is a tough one ... is it really a positive step forward? or a bastardazation of the art world/market?

Ed Lea said...

@Jason Nixx

Artists on ArtFlock.com don't have to sell their work if they don't want to - they can just put it up there to share.

I want to support peoples passion, that's why I set up ArtFlock in the first place. The best way I can do this is to help them promote and sell their work. I think selling online is a great way to reach new audiences and to discover new work.

I agree there are quality issues - but who am I to judge?

Ben Rowe said...

Jason, I'm not sure I agree with you entirely there. Can't someone be passionate about their art, and still be be able to sell some of it too?

The expression, one man's trash is another man's treasure, also springs to mind.

I know for a fact that you'd all hate the long-stitch tapestries on my nana's walls ... but they're her take on good art.

I think that Artflock and other sites represent a real democratisation of art, rather than a bastardisation. There may be a fair amount of bad art, but should we really be stopping people from creating it?

Jason said...

ed: .. well its your site , of course you have to judge, you're the only one who can. Its the same with rental spaces (this could be another form of gallery you might want to look at)e.g. Brunswick Street Gallery, Red Gallery, Chalk House (Sydney), etc. Red Gallery when it first started had a board of artist, art teachers and the director who would sit down and look at the submissions to see who would get the space, even though they were paying for it. BSG basically advertised and said if you pay 30 bucks you get to be in our final year show. Read http://markcritic.artsblogs.com/blog/blog.asp?entryId=71941#comments

Ben: yes, we should stop people creating bad art, this notion of letting everyone just do what they want to is getting out of hand in the art world, to the point where buyers are supporting really bad art because they don't know any better. Gone are the days when we used to get really critical reviews of exhibitions in the papers and art teachers who would tell their students up front that they should maybe look into another course.

That expression is a terrible one to be used in the art world. Then again I hate Del Katryn Barton's work http://www.kwgallery.com/exhibitions/0509_dkb/index.html
but she just sold a work she painted out less than 10 yrs ago at auction for over 100k

Ed Lea said...

Hi Jason,
If I had moderated work that was posted to ArtFlock.com I would have lost half of my sales! I think taste is a very personal thing and when you're dealing with the internet you can afford to cater for everybody's taste. I do agree with you though and I am taking steps to bring "quality" artwork to the front. Picking the "quality" artwork will be done by a mix of my personal (and other moderators) selection but also by visitors to the site who can rate all artwork themselves. That way it isn't just down to one person's taste alone.

I am a firm believer in allowing people to express themselves creatively though - I don't believe that it should ever be discouraged. If anything it gets more people interested in art and craft which can only be a good thing.

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