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When Art.com announced that it was creating a new website—Sistino.com—to sell contemporary prints by members of ArtistRising, I thought it would be a great opportunity. But now that Sistino’s here, I’m not so sure.
You see, before Sistino, artists could sell prints on Art.com with the potential to have their work seen by millions of potential buyers. On a new site, however, there’s no way that these artists will get the same amount exposure that Art.com gave them. Apparently the goal is to get new traffic that’s better suited for the type of art that Sistino carries, so I guess only time will tell.
In the meantime, here’s my review of the features Sistino offers.
When I looked through the Sistino website itself, I was pleased with the design. It’s fairly simple, but nice, and never gets too cluttered even though there’s a lot of artwork on it.
The first thing that I wanted to see changed, however, was the “featured artist” sections at the bottom of the home page. Rotating several artists through each day would be pretty easy to implement, and extra exposure for the artists wouldn’t hurt either.
When I got around to searching for art, I was immediately impressed. Sistino’s search interface is the best I’ve seen for an art site, and combines the ease of browsing with a targeted search process.
For instance, if you click one of the subjects on the left side of Sistino‘s home page, you’ll be presented with all the artwork related to that subject. But you’re also continually given options to narrow down your search—just choose a medium, style, or any number of keywords presented at the top of the page.
By adding and removing extra search parameters, art buyers can adjust their searches on the fly and make it easier to browse more artwork in a shorter amount of time.
Sistino’s color search tool was pretty nice too. Pick from a full spectrum of RGB colors and Sistino will display artwork that perfectly matches the color you chose. Actually, it’s probably a little too picky, because a lot of the time you’ll get a message saying, “no matches,” along with a page of Sistino’s best-selling prints.
Adding an adjustable level of precision would solve the problem, though. That way people who want to match an exact shade of green could, while others who just like greens in general could widen their search a little bit.
When it came to actually browsing through the images, I almost always liked the ability to mouse over the thumbnails and bring up a larger picture and more information. The only times I didn’t like this feature were when it happened by accident (several times), and the preview images got in the way.
That was just a slight annoyance, of course, and it didn’t bother me nearly as much as a few other things on the site. My biggest issue? The spelling and grammatical errors in a LOT of the artist statements and biographies.
I’m not sure whether to blame the artists themselves (let’s face it, most artists aren’t writers) or Sistino for not hiring a part-time editor to fix the mistakes. Honestly, it would probably be easiest for everyone if Sistino took the initiative and offered some kind of editing service for the artists.
The other thing that disappointed me about Sistino was the small number of original works for sale There were only 164 last I checked, and some of them. . . Well, let’s just say I wasn’t completely impressed with the quality overall.
There’s a lot of good art at Sistino, don’t get me wrong—I liked quite a few of the prints I saw. But my opinion the original art wasn’t enough to keep me coming back. You might think differently, though, so go check it out yourself.
Of course if you can’t see the website at all, it’s pretty hard to have an opinion on the art. For any Mac/Safari users who are experiencing this problem, make sure you’re running Safari 2.0. This might actually mean upgrading operating systems, since Apple sometimes bundles Safari updates along with the OS.
When I was discussing the Safari issue with Barbara Gnos, Director of Marketing at Art.com, she mentioned a few ways that ArtistRising members can stay informed.
One is an ArtistRising blog starting up in the next few months, although she didn’t make it any more specific than that.
There’s also another discussion session planned for tomorrow with several members of the Sistino and ArtistRising management teams. If you’re one of the many artists who feel like there’s not enough support trickling down from the top levels of Sistino, ArtistRising, and Art.com, make sure to join in on the chat. It’s March 8th at noon, PST, in the ArtistRising Forum.
Or if you need help whenever, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and you should get a response within 24-48 hours.
And as always, feel free to contact me if you’d like to share any of your experiences with ArtistRising, Sistino, or Art.com.