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Today is a sad day for the online art community, as a well-known internet art gallery is shutting its doors for good.

BoundlessGallery.com, a website which has been connecting buyers and sellers of fine art since 2003, now displays a simple home page with this message:

“The Store is Closed

On March 1, 2010 BoundlessGallery.com and partner sites TheArtistFinder.com, bgabstractart.com, bganimalart.com, bgfantasyart.com, bgimpressionistart.com, bglandscapeart.com, bgnudeart.com, bgreligiousart.com, and bgsurrealart.com ceased operation.

Orders placed on BoundlessGallery.com prior to this date will either be filled by the artists or will be refunded to the customer as soon as possible.

We would like to thank you for your support and hope you will continue to purchase original art.

BoundlessGallery.com users, if you have outstanding orders or need to access your account for any reason please click here or use the Sign In link…”

Perhaps more shocking than this sudden announcement is the fact that BoundlessGallery’s artists were only notified about the upcoming closure last week—doubly unfortunate for artists who were depending solely on Boundless Gallery for their online representation.

So why did Boundless Gallery close? And where do their artists go from here? This is what I’ve found out so far. . .

Why BoundlessGallery.com closed down:

According to the email sent from Peter Gregory (who is the Boundless Gallery co-founder and owner) to all Boundless artists last week, the primary issues were limited finances and a bad economy for art.

Here’s a copy of that message:

“We have decided to close BoundlessGallery.com (and all associated and subordinate websites) because the business model doesn’t make sense on today’s internet. We are no longer accepting new members or renewal payments. Any orders placed between now and February 29th, 2010, will be honored and will be paid as normal. Depending on demand, we will be shutting our doors for good in the middle of March. If you own a website name (URL) through us, we will be happy to transfer control of that name to you.

Since the “Great Recession” started, BoundlessGallery.com has been losing money. The art market as a whole is off 50 to 80%. The lack of sales have squeezed our high-end service, because there are less high-end sales. As a culture, we have decide that people are mostly unwilling to pay a subscription fee for a premium service on the internet. The combination of these factors mean that there is great stress on businesses like BoundlessGallery.com. We have decide that we don’t want to lose money for the next several years while the art market recovers.

For many years we have tried very hard to win your trust and provide a website that was worthy of your time and efforts. Thank you to all of our artist partners and the people who have trusted us enough to buy art from us. The company is not insolvent and you can still count on us to help you complete all sales transactions and we will pay all our our bills on time.

Life is short and sticking with a failed business model is for fools. We all have other things to do and more exciting horizons to search for. Thanks again for your time, trust and support over the years.”

Obviously, times have been tough for everyone, and no less so for companies in the fine art sector—but tough enough to close down completely and put over 900 artists out in the cold?

If you look back over the past few years, it’s easy to see that BoundlessGallery has been making some fairly radical changes in an attempt to stay ahead of the recession—perhaps the most notable was their shift from strictly commission-based fees, to a yearly fee PLUS a small commission.

Artists could choose between three different yearly fees: $60, $120, and $240.

At the $60 level, the artist would pay 10% commission on any sales. At $120, they paid 5%. At $240, the artist paid no commission percentage at all. This was a big dip downward from the flat 25% commission that Boundless used before.

For some artists, this change in pricing meant that they paid less fees overall. For many others, however, I must assume that it meant paying more, or the same.

I also assume that BoundlessGallery went over the numbers beforehand and made sure that this pricing structure brought in more income than the previous one—it would have been foolish not to. Even so, it seems that these changes weren’t enough to make BG profitable over the long run.

So where do BoundlessGallery artists go from here?

There are countless art websites similar to Boundless Gallery—the difficulty for each artist is in deciding which ones will be the best for them. EmptyEasel has written about numerous options in the past, so please, check out our archives if you’re looking for options.

I also have a solution of my own that may interest some of you.

Let me start by saying that I was very surprised and saddened when I first heard the news that BoundlessGallery would be shutting down.

BG was around long before EmptyEasel came on the scene three years ago, and for some time they even supported EE through a mutually beneficial advertising partnership which I was proud to be a part of.

In light of that long-standing relationship, my business partner and I would like to offer all BoundlessGallery artists 3 free months at foliotwist.

We realize that foliotwist is a fundamentally different solution for artists (each foliotwist artist has their own personal website, instead of being a part of a group website) but we wanted to do something for those of you who need a place to go and had so little time to prepare.

There’s no catch—if you’re a BoundlessGallery artist and you want to sign-up, we’ll give you a website for free, for 3 months. We’ll even buy your domain name for you if you don’t already have one, and do everything we can to make the switch as painless as possible.

I would also encourage any other website/gallery providers out there to consider doing something similar. It’s tough enough to get your art online in the first place. . . let’s make it easy for them to get back online, and soon.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

There may finally be some light on the horizon for BoundlessGallery artists. . . in an email that went out from BoundlessGallery HQ last week, the company offered the following olive branch to its (former) members:

"We are very happy to announce that Artspan.com has agreed to take on any BoundlessGallery.com artist and honor the value of the time remaining on your Boundless Gallery. . . read more

If you're looking for something else. . .
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