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How to Get the Best Benefits of an Online Art Gallery


[Editor’s Note:] Visual artists these days have problems… First-class problems. With so many places to sell their art, choosing the best online art gallery is a challenge. And, online galleries are just one of the many options artists have to get their work to market.

At times, it’s a daunting landscape to navigate. Here are the first options artists have for distributing their artwork:

  • Direct patronage / Individuals
  • Galleries / Dealers
  • Online galleries / social media
  • Institutions / Corporations
  • Fairs / Shows / Auctions
  • Open studio/home shows

If you follow me, you know I am a huge advocate for direct patronage. I think it is the key to securing your career and long-term financial success. Being a realist, I know artists need other distribution sources to fill in the gaps and get all their work sold. Online galleries are an excellent way to diversify. They offer a multitude of options for artists.

John R MathToday, we are fortunate to have a guest post from John R. Math. He is the gallery director of the Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery.

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Domination of the Online Art Gallery

Online art galleries have taken over the art world, altering the business model for small to medium-sized art galleries.  Online art galleries are here to stay, and artists should learn how to use them to market and sell their art.

There are several types of online galleries, and using them has numerous benefits for the artist.

Print on Demand Online Art Galleries

These galleries provide a profile page followed by pages for the artist’s artworks.  The gallery acts as a “go-between” for the buyer and the artist.  They print the artist’s work for the purchaser, which is how they make their money.

Online Art Galleries that Market and Sell Art

This type of gallery sells the artist’s art and collects a percentage of each sale (much like a brick and mortar gallery).  They do a lot of marketing and promotion to bring traffic to their website.

Online Art Competition Galleries

For an artist’s work to appear on these sites, it goes through a judging process. Often the selection of art is the result of a themed art competition.

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Online art galleries (in any form) provide artists with low cost and varied exhibition opportunities not available in the past. “Bricks and Mortar” art galleries have built-in overhead and expenses that make them less able to compete with online art galleries regarding artist entry fees and exhibition costs.

Online galleries offer ease of submitting and managing electronic files versus physically shipping entire works. Using online galleries is both a time-saving and cost-effective for the artist.  Matting and framing, shipping, and storing are no longer issues.

The internet offers broad international exposure to artists who compete, win, and exhibit their artwork.  This exposure can be tapped into by both “bricks and mortar” and online galleries. It is critical for any gallery that has artist partners to make full use of available marketing opportunities.

Choosing the Right Online Gallery

When selecting a gallery, be sure to ask about their overall marketing program.  Online galleries tend to have digital marketing expertise as their entire world is electronic, but not all galleries are the same.  As an artist, you want broad and quality coverage for your work.  What is your desired market?  While the whole world is available to you, partnering with an online art gallery that caters to those who like your art is essential.

Our gallery, Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery, is an art competition gallery. We conduct monthly themed online art competitions and art exhibitions. The higher an artist places in the art competitions each month, the more publicity and promotion the artist receives.

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Artist’s work featured on the Light Space Time site is exposed to an average of 70,000 visitors and 225,000 page views each month.  The winning artists are promoted through art event sites, a 1,000+ press release distribution program, and a listing on the website Artsy.net. Artsy.net averages 2,000,000 visitors a month.

Our website has many articles for art marketing and promoting art on the internet. For more information on the gallery, their art competitions, and their art marketing articles, go to https://www.lightspacetime.art.

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Tags

art marketing, art sales, John Math, lightspacetime.art, online art gallery


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  1. After a decade of being on Fine Art America and renewing to open a pixels store, I think I will pull the plug on them. No sales, but the worst thing is hearing artists finding out they sold their work without paying commissions. Also, word of warning, integrating them into your standalone site means they take over and drive all your traffic to their site. Who knows how many uncompensated sales I have had through them.?

    1. Helena, I’m sorry you have come to this conclusion. I’ve not heard from any artist complaining about FAA making sales without compensating the artist. It seems a far-fetched theory to me. That’s because, without the integrity of a fair compensation system, any such site would soon lose all its members. FAA has been successful for a very long time. With more than 100,000 artists represented, there are bound to be misunderstanding and problems that get spun in different ways. I seriously doubt it is in anyway not fairly compensating its artist members. Regarding embedding FAA on one’s site, it’s true, your visitors do go to FAA when they purchase. That’s the tradeoff for the print-on-demand service.

  2. I have been with FAA for several years and have been very satisfied. I sell quite well there and love not having to print, package, mail, etc. I have also had several licensing agreements from people who have seen my work there.

  3. I have also been on FAA for some time with minimal success. However, may be worth noting that photography is not my full-time profession, so that may well play into it. Getting yourself seen and known is the key, I’m sure. It is NOT “build it and they will come”. My marketing is limited to social media and business cards, as that’s what time permits.

    1. Brett, you hit the nail on the head. Artists cannot expect any online gallery, including FAA, to drive traffic to them. It’s a sheer financial and numerical impossibility. I think online and physical galleries have their place in helping artists get their work to market. However, I believe they should be secondary to the primary activity of developing direct patronage. Having your own group of enthused loyal fans who buy from you directly is the only way to control your career and sustain it for the long run.

  4. I’ve been on FineArtAmerica for a number of years now. I haven’t done a lot of marleting to send people to my pages there but I have had the pleasure of having people find me and purchase prints, cards, tote bags, and mugs through the site. I’ve also had a couple of people ask to purchase one of my original paintings by finding me on their site. They take no commission when that happens and it’s up to me to close the sale and ship the art. I’ve been very pleased with my association with them.

  5. Hi Helena et al

    Helena, I am the Community Manager on FAA. I have to say I was saddened by your post above but have to point out a couple of things, if I may.

    Firstly you say you have been on the site a decade but I see you starting in 2014. I also see you only have just over 500 visits in all that time which means you are not advertising your own work at all.

    FAA is purely a print site, not an agency. A brilliant print site, but just a print site. It in no way promises to market your work. It does show your work off to your best advantage as a portfolio gallery so you can use it to present your work to potential buyers. It does give you powerful tools (and I see you are a premium member so you have all of them) to market your own work. Banners, PDF catalogs, email campaigns ability, etc. These tools are at your disposal and free of charge. FAA does not put them to use for you. It is the artist’s responsibility to take advantage of the tools. We find our top sellers use them regularly with great results.

    As to the atrocious (and yes, that is a strong word for a strong insinuation) accusation that FAA sells and do not pay its artists. It would go out of business in a flash if that was true. It is not true. In any way, shape or form. There is even no minimum payout as there are on some companies and FAA EVEN pays the Paypal costs to have money paid in!

    If you contact me through Tech Support or in the discussions area on FAA I will be glad to give you marketing tips that I give others.

    I apologize to the site owner for butting in but felt I had to say something after being shown this post and the above comment.

    Regards

    Abbie

    1. Dear Abbie, Thank you for taking your time to reply to Helena. I appreciate your passion and offer to help her with marketing. I also appreciate your defending your company’s honor and agree with you that selling an artist’s work without compensating them is a quick road to ruins for any site that provides fulfillment.

  6. Barney,

    Great topic, getting the most out of a virtual gallery does involve some homework.
    Virtual gallery and artist marketing goals are somewhat at odds though, with galleries depending more on site discovery and artists needing eyes on their works.

    Overall visitor and page view counts might be impressive but those are group stats that do not apply to individuals. Most galleries do not have an interest in or even an ability to parse out and share site traffic info for individual works. This somewhat hampers evaluating directed ad campaigns. After all you would not have your own website without some analytics, why should it be any different for works in a virtual gallery?

    Of course galleries should not be expected to promote individual works. But sites with clumsy search engines or inadequate taxonomies leave potential collectors inundated with search returns. Those sites that will not share buyer info scuttle any options for expanding direct patronage.

    While virtual galleries cannot be a singular marketing tool, understanding exactly what the commission will and will not buy is well worth the effort and tempers expectations accordingly.

  7. I need a print on demand site to even be in the game. But the research I have been doing on these sites, don’t offer strong enough security for the artwork of the individual artist. As I see it laws need to change before these sites can actually be safe enough to use. And the laws need to cover free memberships as well as paid members. I hope things change enough, so I can feel my art is actually secured to the max. Until then it’s not for me.

    1. No one likes it when something they create is knocked off. It’s painful and can cost you money. I’m not sure what kind of security you are talking about that would satisfy you. If your art is popular, knockoff artists can find ways to copy it no matter what kind of security a website offers. My advice is to not worry about things you can’t control and that might not ever happen to keep you from getting your work into the world. Even if it does happen, the likelihood is the sales made of your work would be to those who would never buy your art from your distribution channels.

  8. I had no idea that the art world is being taken over by online art galleries. I thought an online class would be pointless. But if online galleries are doing great, then online classes should work really well.

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