ArtBistro.com is a fairly new online community for artists and designers that offers much more than you’d expect from a typical internet gallery or art forum.
Yes, at ArtBistro you can display your art, and there IS a discussion forum—but you’ll also find a decent number of “How-to” articles, a plethora of news stories (mostly art-related, with some culture and tech stories thrown in), a list of job openings for artists, a shop, and even a video section.
So after browsing around ArtBistro for a several hours, here’s my complete take on it:
ArtBistro’s design & layout
Let’s be honest: social networks and online communities are rarely known for their good design. They’d rather cram in a little more content than look pretty.
MySpace is probably the chief offender when it comes to usability and aesthetics, but as I wrote this review I was hard-pressed to come up with even one great-looking online community. (Virb would be my top choice, I suppose.)
All that to say, when I looked at ArtBistro I wasn’t really expecting too much.
It has a fun logo and an OK layout, which is better than most. It’s still a little crowded at times, but other than that it was pretty good.
I will pick on ArtBistro’s top menu (which displays a whopping twelve tabs) and is rather confusing for a first-time visitor.
For example, the tab marked “Tools” actually contains reviews of art products, and the sections marked “Education” and “Become an Artist” are similar enough that they could easily be combined.
In my opinion, the focus on informational content is what really gives ArtBistro a chance to stand out from other social networks for artists.
Currently, ArtBistro has 18 featured writers (most are artists or professionals in an art-related field) who are responsible for many of the articles on the site.
The quality of the articles was mixed—I found some good “How-to” articles and some that were just so-so. . . along with a lot of blog-style posts and newsy posts.
Videos on ArtBistro
ArtBistro lets you embed videos from YouTube and other video-hosting sites to share with the community, which I thought was a pretty cool feature.
If you wanted to post a work-in-progress, for instance, you could get real-time feedback from other artists. Or, like the majority of the videos I found, you can just show off your creations and see what people think.
The job board
The ArtBistro job board might be of more interest to designers and freelancers than fine artists, but I think it’s a nice addition no matter what.
ArtBistro automatically shows recently listed “art” jobs in your area, plus you can search for jobs everywhere (or post 5 free job listings of your own).
Since ArtBistro is owned by Monster.com, you’re not limited to art jobs, either. Search for “food” in the jobs section and you’ll find open positions anywhere from Taco Bell to the Department of Agriculture.
Forum and galleries
The ArtBistro forum seemed fairly active for a site that’s only one year old. I found a lot of non-art discussions, so it really is a social community, and not entirely about art.
When I went browsing for artwork, I found that ArtBistro’s gallery sections were well-laid out and easy to navigate.
They’re not set up for selling art, necessarily, but that’s not really their purpose either. ArtBistro is primarily a networking and portfolio site, not a place to sell art.
My personal preference would be larger thumbnails in the galleries, even if that meant fewer images on the screen, but of course that’s just a matter of opinion.
There’s definitely a lot going on at ArtBistro for artists. A little refinement here and there (especially in the top-level menu) wouldn’t hurt, but I also know that some of the issues I found are probably just growing pains.
If you’ve got a little extra time today, why not head on over and check out ArtBistro.com for yourself? Who knows—you might even find some things I missed. :)
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