EDITOR’S NOTE: Prices and information below may be out of date. Since launching our own art website service for artists atFoliotwist.com, we no longer feel unbiased enough to continue updating or reviewing other art website services. Visit the website below for their most recent information.
Ed Lea from ArtistsOnline.org.uk, now Artflock.com, contacted me a few weeks ago and asked that I review his website on EmptyEasel and give him some feedback. (Full disclosure: Artflock is currently an advertiser on EE.)
ArtistsOnline is a site based in the UK which allows artists of all types to upload their work for sale, much like Art.com’s Original Art and Photography website, soon to be ArtistRising.
Some of the things I liked were the options to add events to a calendar. If you have a reception or gallery showing, you can list the dates and times for everyone to see. Also, there’s also an option to list all of the places people can regularly find your artwork, whether it be galleries, stores, or other venues where your work is kept.
Another feature is the Virtual Exhibit, which any member can create, using either their own artwork or other artists. In a V.E. you can group together artwork that you like and keep it for future reference or send to your friends.
Of course, there are a few different levels of membership at ArtistsOnline. The first is Visitor, which is for people who just want to buy art or keep track of their favorite artists by creating their own Virtual Exhibits.
The basic level for artists is the FreeFolio account. It’s free, and you can upload up to 200 images and even sell your work once ArtistOnline confirms your application. There is a commission fee of 25% however, and not all features are available.
With the ProFolio account, you can upload unlimited images, and the commission fee drops to 10%. You’ll also get access to all the features, like the calendar event and artwork locations I mentioned before, as well as a few other perks. A ProFolio account does cost £4.99 per month.
Something else I thought was cool is the ability to upgrade for free if you refer enough users to the site. It works on a system of points per user you refer, so after a certain number you’ll get a free ProFolio membership. I’m not sure how long that lasts, but I assume it’s on a month-by-month basis.
Another thing I found interesting was how ArtistsOnline used a “link cloud” format as one way to search through its artists. This meant that artists with more works available had their names in larger sized fonts, ultimately giving greater recognition to artists that are more involved, or more serious about their work.
There are traditional ways of searching too for artwork too, including keywords (tags), medium, subject, etc. ArtistsOnline also has a rather strange color search tool – it reminds me a little bit of Etsy’s colorfinder but not nearly as cool. Overall it seemed like the search functions are nothing out of the ordinary, but they did their job well enough.
I’d like to see a few changes made, including adding a link to the Virtual Exhibits in the main navigation bar. And, I’m not sure why ArtistsOnline can’t have an option pay its artists by PayPal instead of by check, since they use PayPal to receive the money from the buyer anyway. It would simply lessen the time it takes the artist to get paid, which is always good for business..
I also look forward to a time when artists anywhere can sell their work on ArtistsOnline.org.uk, although I understand some of the logistical problems that will arise from that.
There’s more good stuff, of course, that I just don’t have time to mention – like the ability to comment on artwork, to turn off sales if you’re going on a vacation and can’t be reached, and a few other features.
It also seems like new services are still being added, so I know they’d love to have your feedback on their site as well.
As it is right now, if you’re an artist in the UK, I’d definitely encourage you to try this website out. I don’t think you can really lose since the FreeFolio account is, of course, free – and the commission rate is still very reasonable, at about half of what a traditional gallery would take.
Update: ArtistsOnline.org.uk is unfortunately no longer serving artists. . . after becoming Artflock.com, it shut its doors for good. If you’re interested in EmptyEasel’s own website service for artists, check out Hands Free Artist Websites.
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