EDITOR’S NOTE: Prices and information below may be out of date.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.
ArtFire.com is a unique online marketplace for artists, crafters, and makers of handmade items from around the world. Whether you want to sell fine art, jewelry, handmade books, or any number of things, ArtFire.com has a place for you.
As I explored ArtFire I was continually (and pleasantly) surprised at all the good things they’re doing for their artists—but what surprised me even more is that so much of what they offer is free!
I can’t say that ArtFire is the perfect online marketplace for artists, but I DO think you’ll be interested in what they have to offer. . . so please, read on!
Pricing and features
ArtFire is completely free to join with no listing fees or selling fees of any kind. However, there’s also an option to upgrade from the Basic account to a Verified, or “Pro” account for $12/month.
All members, whether Basic or Verified, get to create their own “Studio” page on ArtFire.com. This is where they can list their artwork, link to social networking sites or other online galleries where their artwork is displayed, and do a number of other things. Each artist’s Studio is basically a website with lots of options, except it’s located on ArtFire.com, not on an individual domain.
Artists can customize their Studio by choosing a color theme, changing layout options, adding a banner, and uploading a photo of themselves or their logo.
In addition to having their artwork listed in their Studio, artists also get exposure throughout ArtFire.com, in various artwork categories and occasionally even on the home page.
ArtFire also offers internal advertising options for anyone who wants to pay a little extra each week to make SURE they get exposure.
These promotional ads cost anywhere from $2.50 per week for placement on the sub-category pages of ArtFire, to $10 per week for placement on top-level category pages (i.e., the ones that get the most traffic).
Of course, if you’re a Verified member you might not need that extra boost. Artists with Verified accounts get preferred placement in the search results ahead of ArtFire’s Basic members, as well as more images per items, more item categories, more Studio customization options, and a lot of other little perks which probably make the idea of upgrading your account rather appealing.
Honestly, there are so many things that both Basic and Verified members get, that there’s no way I can cover them all in one review. Let’s just say that it’s a lot, and while I have my doubts that ALL of the features listed by ArtFire are important (or helpful) to artists, I’m sure that many of them are.
Design and layout
Unfortunately, ArtFire falls down on the job when it comes to the design and layout of their website. Speaking both as a former designer and as someone who just enjoys clean, organized, well-balanced websites, their pages are simply NOT that appealing to look at.
In fact, when I first started surfing around ArtFire.com, my expectations were rather low, because their design doesn’t seem planned out or well-executed.
It’s a little disappointing. . . I know that the services they offer are at a level much higher than their design. So in my opinion, their design needs to improve.
A few things I didn’t like about the design:
First off, there isn’t enough enough consistency from page to page. Links are different colors, lines are different thicknesses, etc. Even the large white H1 header on each page isn’t consistent. Sometimes it floats above the baseline of background image, sometimes it doesn’t. All those little things add up.
ArtFire also has too small (or sometimes non-existent) margins. When a page is so crowded that the edges of different things touch, the overall design suffers – and ArtFire’s pages are generally too crowded or very empty with way too much white space.
Finally, the main color scheme just doesn’t seem to work. ArtFire’s navigation bar on the home page and many supporting pages is an orange/peach color (a fire color, presumably) but they’ve paired it with various maroon-red fonts, blue links, and even occasional greens.
It just seems a bit thrown together at times.
Now, one GOOD thing about ArtFire’s design is that the main category pages (Handmade, Design, Supplies, Media, Vintage, and Fine Art) are fairly consistent, and make excellent use of their own individual color schemes.
Overall, I feel that those category pages are much better than the rest of the site. Each artist’s Studio pages can be customized as well, so some of those look nice too.
Finding and buying art
For visitors to ArtFire, finding art is pretty easy. There’s a good number of artwork thumbnails visible on the home page if you just want to browse, and those main category pages that I mentioned just a second ago are easily accessible as well.
You can drill down deeper into each category, and there are literally hundreds and hundreds of sub-categories to explore.
Searching for art is simple—the search bar is right at the top of the page—and once you’ve hit “Enter” you can modify your search for more advanced terms.
ArtFire also does something very clever, and offers various “shopping methods” to give buyers several ways to look around. You can browse by color, search for gift items only, or look at things on sale.
Obviously, ArtFire is a large website, so there’s a good chance that buyers will almost have too MANY choices, but that’s often to be expected.
Is it worth it to join?
My designer half says “No” but another part of me loves all the features that ArtFire offers (and the $0 price).
I think if you join ArtFire you’ll just have to do so with the knowledge that your artwork isn’t going to be set on a pedestal, or hung on pristine whilte walls. At least, not for now. The ArtFire marketplace is crowded, and there’s a lot going on.
Maybe that’s perfect for your art. . . maybe it’s not. :) It really depends on your style.
Either way, don’t just take my word for it. I highly encourage you to head on over to ArtFire.com and check things out for yourself.
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