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A Global Audience: Three Ways to Get Started Online

A GLOBAL AUDIENCE

The Internet offers artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a global audience. While galleries, art fairs and other venues will never go out of style, they all rely on one thing: the physical presence of a buyer in front of a piece of artwork.

With the Web, an artist can simultaneously show their artwork to many prospective buyers—eliminating the need to pack and transport artwork to another location. Artists may simply upload digitized artwork or photographs to their web site without leaving their studio, office or home.

Artists have several choices when it comes to putting their work online. In this article, we will outline those choices, give ballpark pricing and will point out the pros and cons of each. Please note that the sites listed within (with the exception of one of the web designer sites) are simply examples of types of sites/services/products available. We encourage you to use this list as a starting point for researching and finding the solution that's best for you.

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PORTFOLIO-READY WEB SITES

Pros: Easy to set up, manage from anywhere through a web-based interface, minimal expense, no need to learn HTML or programming, customers are already looking to buy art

Cons: Limited customization, unwieldy domain name, non-exclusive (many other artists to choose from at the same site)

If your desire is to get your artwork online as quickly, easily and inexpensively as possible, there are plenty of portfolio-ready web sites that can help you do just that. These sites often have web-based tools that allow you to easily upload digital artwork or photographs into an existing template within their system. As an artist, you don't have to worry about web hosting, domain name registration, or page layout and design. Most portfolio sites, however, are just that—a place to show your work. Few offer online purchasing capabilities.

Portfolio-ready web sites:

  • Portfolios.com
    FOCUS: Showcases artists' work to creative buyers. Includes contact info but no online purchase capabilities.
    PRICE RANGE: Free (Vinyl portfolio package—5 work samples) to $44.95/month (Titanium portfolio package—20 work samples, access to StudioBizKit, more customization)
  • ArtIsLife.com
    FOCUS: Showcases artists' work to art buyers and the general Includes contact info but no online purchase capabilities.
    PRICE RANGE: Membership structure with fees ranging from $115/first year (Level One membership—up to 5 work samples) to $305/first year (Level Three membership—up to 60 work samples, all banner advertisements removed)

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TEMPLATES

Pros: Professionally designed, many layout and design options, inexpensive

Cons: Not exclusive (other people can choose the same template), need basic photo editing and HTML skills and software to customize, need hosting and domain setup

Templates are an affordable way to create an attractive web site. Find a template in a style that suits your work, then purchase the template for a set fee, purchase a membership to a template site, or in some cases (and for a higher price) purchase exclusive rights to a template.

When purchasing a template, keep in mind that you will need access to an HTML editor in order to be able to make changes. Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia Dreamweaver are examples of two web site design and editing programs; free programs like HDS Pad (http://www.hds-pad.com/), Arachnophobia (http://www.arachnoid.com/arachnophilia/../index.html) and Site Master (http://www.qarsoft.com/download.html) are also available.

Template web sites:

  • BoxedArt.com
    FOCUS: Downloadable web site templates, Macromedia Flash templates and logo templates
    PRICE RANGE: $39.95/year for access to all member products; 'limited,' 'exclusive,' and 'custom work' available at additional charges.
  • AllWebCo Design
    FOCUS: Web design company that offers portfolio web site templates. Includes built-in PayPal forms.
    PRICE RANGE: $45-$85 per template.

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WEB DEISGNER

Pros: Customized exactly for your needs and brand, able to grow and change as your business and focus change, you have total control

Cons: More expensive, more time-consuming

Of the three avenues we're discussing today, hiring a web designer is the only way to get a truly unique online presence. A good designer will be able to share and shape your creative vision for your site, suggesting appropriate styles, colors, images and other elements that showcase your work.
Choosing a web designer can be a difficult process. We suggest asking colleagues, friends and family if they've had experience with a particular designer. Many of the best designers don't advertise—they are simply found through referrals.

Web designer web sites:

  • MarketingTool.com
    FOCUS: A listing of web designers throughout the United States, categorized by state, then selectable by city.
  • ZURB
    FOCUS: Building better customer relationships through the use of images, words and technology. ZURB was the original designer of REDIMAT.com PRICE RANGE: Varies based on the complexity of the site.