EDITOR’S NOTE: Prices and information below may be out of date. Since launching Foliotwist (our sister site which provides artist websites) we no longer feel unbiased enough to continue updating or reviewing other art website services. Visit the website below for their most recent information.
Zatista may be new—it just launched last April—but in terms of design and usability, I think it’s already one of the best places online to buy and sell original artwork.
Founded by Pete Borowsky (formerly of CDNOW and Ebay) Zatista was conceived as a solution to Borowsky’s quest for a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate website where he could find and purchase original, contemporary artwork.
Specifically, the site targets customers looking for original art that they can hang on a wall, like paintings and drawings. There are some exceptions—in the case of photography, digital works and lithographs, editions of fewer than 100 are allowed—but primarily this is a site for original, one-of-a-kind work.
Zatista’s pricing and features
For anyone looking to sell their art on Zatista, the site is pretty straightforward. It’s free to sign up, with a flat commission of 18% when you sell a piece, and there are no upgrade options or premium memberships like you often see on other sites.
And personally, I like the fact that there are no “pay for placement” features on Zatista. It puts the onus on the artist or gallery owner to provide quality images and give accurate and descriptive product information.
After signing up, each seller is given a “store” which they can begin populating with their artwork. The store is basically the artist’s homepage on Zatista, and it displays bio information as well as images of work for sale.
When listing your artwork, there are four steps to follow:
In the first step, you’ll simply describe one of your works of art. Enter the title, choose the type, style, and subject of the piece, and state whether or not it’s framed. You can also enter a detailed description, size information and up to six descriptive tags.
During the second step you’ll upload your main image and four additional images. You’ll also select the two main colors of your artwork using Zatista’s integrated color selection tool. This will help customers find your artwork by color scheme.
Step three is for setting your sale price, shipping price and shipping address, and the final step is where you can review your listing and make any changes necessary.
This process flows logically, but it can be a little time consuming, especially your first time through. When you make a sale, all you need to do is pack and ship the artwork. You’ll receive your payments from Zatista through Paypal.
Design and layout of Zatista.com
Zatista’s design is crisp, easy to navigate and uncluttered; featuring a green, white and gray color palette which is simple and doesn’t interfere with the artwork.
Featured prominently on the home page are a few recently listed items, a navigation bar of art categories, and a large banner advertising Zatista’s “Art Explorer” discovery tool—which I’ll discuss in just a minute.
Since sellers are not allowed to manipulate the design of their storefronts, the entire site has a very unified feel, and makes for an easy shopping experience.
Finding and buying art on Zatista
This is where I think Zatista really shines. . . they understand that the art world can be confusing, so they’ve integrated several tools and lots of information to help make purchasing art a little easier.
For example, the previously mentioned “Art Explorer” tool will display 15 images which can be filtered by mediums like mixed media, painting and photography.
Clicking on any one of those 15 images will add it to the “Items I like” pane on the right hand side of the screen. The original 15 images will then automatically refresh, and similar artwork to the one you’ve selected will be displayed. The more you click, the more similar items are shown.
The system attempts to learn your aesthetic preferences and eventually show you pieces that you really love. It seems to work pretty well, and while it’s not perfect, it’s a fairly simple and enjoyable way to discover new artwork.
Zatista also has an “Art 101” section where users can find articles on topics related to buying and owning original artwork. Subjects range from “Art For Any Budget” to “Hanging Art in 5 Easy Steps” and there’s even an art glossary with information on different mediums and art styles.
I would like to see them add a more exhaustive FAQ section, and perhaps a forum where buyers could interact with each other as well as the artists, but the things they’ve done already to help their customers feel informed and confident shows they’re on the right track so far.
So is it worth signing up for?
As an artist, I think it’s definitely worth it. Zatista’s straightforward design and item-listing process—combined with the fact that it’s free and has a reasonable commission rate—are reason enough to join.
What really sets them apart, though, is the potential for an informed customer base. Just by visiting Zatista.com, customers are learning the process of purchasing art.
The recipe for success for any e-commerce site is to give people a reason to visit the site even when they aren’t looking to buy something. I feel like Zatista understands this part of the business, and although it’s still a new site, I believe it has a bright future ahead of it.
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