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Art-Exchange.com Brouhaha Still Brewing


Discussion boards such as Wet Canvas serve a great need. The work as a communal watering hole where like-minded folks can gather and share their experiences, knowledge and shared interests.

A four-year running discussion about Art-Exchange.com and its business practices has been raging on Wet Canvas, which is the largest artist discussion board on the Internet. A search for the term "art-exchange" there returns 21 results of different threads or discussions. Nearly all are started by artists asking for help, opinion and firsthand experience with the company.

The primary thread with "Art-Exchange.com…any opinions?" was started in June, 2005 and has more than 100 replies and 7500 views. This is an enormous amount of response and that it continues to stay lively nearly 4 years later shows the amount of interest and angst generated by the company's business tactics. The near universal response has been outrage and anger from the Wet Canvas art community. Discussion boards such as Wet Canvas serve a great need. The work as a communal watering hole where like-minded folks can gather and share their experiences, knowledge and shared interests.

The latest round of posts were started when a poster named David Miller, who introduced himself as the new president of Art-Exchange.com came on to try to defend the company. He was rightly disturbed by a comment that the employees there should be shot. We all know such talk is meaningless hyperbole attempting to portray the level of anger towards the company and its aggressive sales staff. But, on this point I think he has a right to be disturbed. Not so much, or not at all on reasoned explanations of how artists were treated and solicited by his sales staff.

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Needless to say, the response was not pleasant to Mr. Miller's post. A request was put to him to provide artists who would come forth and tell about their positive experience with the company. A suspicious first-time newbie poster named Bill joined the conversation with a kind of passive-aggressive defense of the company. When challenged to prove he was not a shill by providing a Website or some evidence of a real art career, he lamely says he hasn't joined the 2000s yet and has no Internet exposure. He further says he is contemplating working with Art-Exchange.com. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

The discussion of this company is not isolated to just Wet Canvas. You can find strongly held opinions on www.artspan.com and www.artscuttlebutt.com. The later has unfortunately lost many of its older posts when its forum was hit with a hacker attack. It contained some lengthy posts and replies all pointing to artists who had poor experiences dealing with Art-Exchange.com.

There are lessons here. For artists, take the time to perform due diligence when being asked to put up front money for marketing assistance. For companies who have vocal constituents, don't wait years to try and correct a negative perception about the company. In this case for Art-Exchange.com, the ship has sailed and the cow left the barn. Perhaps Mr. Miller can turn the company around, but it will take a long time with an ongoing effort by the company to change its image with the artist community, especially those who participate regularly on discussion boards.

The final lesson is no matter how small or large your company may be, don't take for granted that customer satisfaction is paramount to your long term success. Caveat emptor.

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  1. Dear Mr. Davey

    I have had dealings with Art-exchange.com. One of their reps, Lane Adcock, was extremely positive about my art, and extremely persuasive with eventually convincing me to spend $1000 to market my art on the internet. This was a silly investment on my part and I would never do it again under the same circumstances. But I was raring to go and could afford it at the time. I can’t blame Art-exchange for my decisions as a business person. Having had that as a learning experience I can think of many ways to better spend a $1000 on my art career. You live and learn as you go. There are positives and negatives. Lane got me thinking positively about making it as a professional artist, got me reading art business news, got me reading your book, which brought me to this blog. On the down side… I spent some cash on some useless internet advertising. Now I am having my second show at a great wine store called Bowery and Vine near The New Museum in New York City, and am talking to an independent art consultant about showing at a wonderful furniture store, called Room, in Tribeca near the Soho gallery district.

    You have to make mistakes and get lost a bit while you find your way. I am finding its good to get directions for the trip and accept advice, but the standard way is a good one to learn. The tricky shortcuts are best left to the seasoned travellers who know the roads from personal experience. Trying to go too far too fast can be a costly and slippery slope.

    Thanks as always for your circumspect perspective.
    Brian Lee Boyce
    [email protected]

  2. Just a small but important point Barney.

    WetCanvas is not the largest artist discussion board on the net. The largest, by a very long way, is deviantart.com. Check this compete.com profile http://siteanalytics.compete.com/wetcanvas.com+deviantart.com/ to see what I mean. They had 4.68 MILLION visitors last month compared to WC’s 72k

    One could argue it’s an apple and pear comparison. I tend to view them as each occupying a niche in different parts of the art community and consequently with different sorts of sites and different preoccupations

    Back to the topic of your post – I wonder when Internet sites are going to get their heads around the fact that if they provide a bad service to internet customers then the rebound will keep on bouncing around the internet for years!

    I totally endorse you view about doing due diligence. In my view, the key for artists wanting to make a wise investment is to do some very thorough research by googling names before they sign up to anything

  3. Mr. Davey,

    My name is David Miller I’m director of sales with Art-Exchange.com. I understand we can not change something’s from are past, But your past does not equal the future. What some of these artists needs to realize the reps they are mad at are not even with the company anymore. No one made these artists give them their credit card the artist gave the credit card. There are no guarantees in art sales but what we do promise is to post their work on our website or take them to show with us so we can market their art and get them exposure they might not of have had before we do try to sale art. Also if my company was ripping of artist why are we still in business after 14 years? I liked your article and I will always defend my company as long as I work here

    David Miller
    Director of Sales
    [email protected]

  4. Dear David Miller,

    Sometimes people get bad reputations for whatever reasons. With all that drama aside, my question to you is WHY? Why should I or any other artist pay $1000 dollars to post 50 of our art pieces on your site when we can post UNLIMITED amounts of art on DeviantART.com???? Now, yes I understand paying for the New York Expo and what not fine whatever but to make people pay out the ass for their art to be on a site that no one barely even sees or knows of is ridiculous! I am saying this because I have NEVER heard of your site until just a few weeks ago and I LIVE in hot springs! DeviantART has MILLIONS of views every single month. DeviantART is also one of the most viewed websites, it sits right next to twitter in rank. I have had more luck with getting my art out in the public for FREE with DeviantART then any other resource out there. I pay only 7 dollars for a 3 month sub and that’s just so I can customize my page more.

    So, what’s the point of paying that outragious prices when you can get so much more for completely free and be apart of a strong and growing art community which will get you commissions, watchers, fans, and buyers… I just don’t understand and I wanted to know if you could explain.

    Thank You
    BloodAppleKiss

  5. Art-Exchange.com is a complete scam and anyone giving them their money will lose it with nothing to show for it. They took my artist’s $500 for a purported coffee table book and then said, “Sorry,” they were declaring bankruptcy. Since the artist never received a bankruptcy notice, if indeed they did declare bankruptcy, they also lied to the bankruptcy courts.

    Because other artists have posted on the internet and complained about them, they’ve apparently changed their name, although “art-exchange.com” still has a site. Artists beware. By the way, they’re located in Arkansas so you might want to be especially careful when dealing with any art-related companies located in Arkansas.

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