Category: Selling Your Art

Zibbet Looks Promising



zentao.com trademark logoZibbet (www.zibbet.com) looks promising. I very much look forward to October, 2008, when they are due to launch.

What is zibbet? Another Australian start-up, but, unlike RedBubble (…which, in my opinion, is one of the very best public artist communities on the Net that couples social networking with art and merchandise sales) zibbet will focus on PROMOTING AND SELLING ART…or so they say.

According to Jonathon Peacock, CEO of Zibbet Pty Ltd, categories will include:

  1. Paintings
  2. Photography
  3. Drawings
  4. Mixed Media
  5. Digital Art
  6. Prints
  7. Jewelry
  8. Ceramics and Pottery
  9. Glass Art
  10. Sculptures
  11. Other Handmade Items

Features and Benefits will include:

  • Member accounts/shops will be FREE.
  • Member shop appearance will be fully customizable, with the ability to include a photo, a bio, and even YouTube videos of your choice.
  • When a member names their shop, that shop will receive a personalized web address.
  • Zibbet will handle all payments on your behalf and will forward you your earning in the first week of every month for the previous months earnings. (Zibbet retains a 20% commission of your asking price.)
  • Members will be provided with detailed shop statistics, such as number of visits, number of times each individual item has been viewed, how many people have added a member as a ‘favorite seller’, and how many people have added a member’s item to their ‘wish list’.
  • Members will set their own prices, of which zibbet receives their 20% commission.
  • Shoppers will have the option to make a private treaty offer for an advertised work which the member can accept, decline, or counter.

Says Jonathon: “We know a thing or 2 about marketing online and offline. Considering our main income is from people SELLING their artwork, driving buyers to the site is our number 1 priority.”

Sounds good to me so far. I guess we’ll see in October. 😀


Giclee Fine Art Printing – Finerworks.com verses Imagekind.com


zentao.com trademark logoComparing two online giclee fine art Print-On-Demand shops for artists and photographers — Finerworks and Imagekind.


THE BASICS

Both Finerworks and Imagekind run on .asp architecture. The difference in their web interfaces is considerable, though. While Imagekind’s seems straight-forward and easy, its failures are notorious. Lots of server failures, thumbnails not showing up, gallery problems, uploader issues, deletion problems (and the resulting copyright infringement issues)…to name the tip of the iceberg, problems which are not addressed in a timely, efficient manner. (See extensive documentation on Imagekind’s forum or ask Revad at www.revad.com, a programmer who has extensive insider knowledge of the flaws and gremlins that persist even today.) Finerworks requires a little more effort from its artists (watch the tutorial). But, so far, for me, (I’m loading big .TIFs) the experience has been flawless, with extremely pleasing results.

Both Imagekind and Finerworks use state-of-the-art Epson printers.

Both Imagekind and Finerworks use museum quality archival substrates.

Imagekind offers framing (farming it out to framing shops for fulfillment); Finerworks doesn’t.


PLUSES AND MINUSES FOR IMAGEKIND

The plus side of Imagekind

  • They have a BIG web presence, and it’s going to get bigger since now Cafepress owns them.
  • Their print quality is excellent.
  • They have a pretty open, uncensored forum for their artists, refreshing in a day when most online enterprises quash any negative member feedback. (How long this will last since Cafepress took ownership remains to be seen.)

The downside of Imagekind:

  • You will struggle to get your images printed at sizes you want on the substrates you designate IF you are an artist who likes to control those aspects (I am.). Their “container” sizes are hostile to anything not “standard” and are set in concrete. So, if you want your print exactly this by this in inches/millemeters, plan to put white borders around your work so it prints inside the container sizes, then EMAIL care@imagekind.com and warn them that, yes, you want the PRINT AREA at X by X size.
  • Imagekind drop-shipping is specifically designed for Imagekind promotion, and does nothing at all for the artist whose work is being drop-shipped. When Imagekind drop ships, the packages are smothered in Imagekind stickers, customer incentives to purchase more printing and framing from Imagekind (not from you, the artist whose print they shipped), customer incentives to become art sellers themselves at Imagekind, ad infinum, ad nauseum.
  • Imagekind promises a lot, but doesn’t quite deliver in the area of artist promotion. A “platinum” or “pro” membership nets you a monthly or yearly bill with no perks except more space. The Platinum or Pro member artist gets no special benefits on their website or a place in Imagekind’s marketing strategies. In fact, Imagekind is big on marketing themselves…to Flickr users and to artists who want to sell prints, not to art buyers. In fact, Imagekind’s main focus seems to be selling themselves to anyone wanting to print and/or sell photos and art. Their focus is not selling prints to art buyers…except, perhaps, their “old masters” and “classical artists” print run remainders.
  • Imagekind’s website design seems specifically tailored to try to siphon off an artist’s customers during the shopping and purchase fulfillment process.
  • Imagekind’s shopping cart is not exactly user-friendly.
  • Imagekind’s search engine is, plain and simple, B-A-D…but, then, Finerworks doesn’t have one, so…no comparison.
  • Some of Imagekind’s advertising is misleading…to both buyers and sellers.
  • Imagekind is big on marketing themselves through their artists, but not good at reciprocating. “No follow” is their rule for off-site links leading to an artist’s personal website…which is totally bogus because the major search engine’s no follow rule only applies to paid-for advertising. So Imagekind is doing the no-follow strictly as a self-serving function to the detriment of their artist members. In other words, everything can point to Imagekind, but Imagekind won’t point to an artist member, contributing to that member artist’s web presence. Reciprocal linking is specifically denied in Imagekind’s web programming.



PLUSES AND MINUSES FOR FINERWORKS

The plus marks for Finerworks are:

  • Excellent print quality.
  • Artists have complete print size and substrate control. Your art is printed at the size you choose and at the DPI you set, not resized to fit convenient “containers.”
  • White label drop shipping from Finerworks is good for the artst: When Finerworks drop ships, the works look like they come directly from the artist, not from Finerworks.
  • Finerworks doesn’t attempt to siphon off your customer to other products and artists like Imagekind does.
  • Finerworks DOES NOT SELL “classics.” In other words, at Finerworks, unlike Imagekind, you aren’t competing with cheap remainders of Van Gogh, Degas, Ansel Adams, Warhol, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Dali…sold at clearance sale prices from big art publisher syndicates.
  • Your personal Finerworks‘ website and gallery is your own, not a cluttered page of branded advertising for the venue.

The down side:

  • There is no real way of finding an artist and their work on Finerworks…except to laboriously click through the members listings, page by page. No search engine to speak of…but, then, Imagekind’s search engine is a notorious DOG, so they both fail there.
  • Finerworks doesn’t have the big “face” or “presence.” It isn’t well known…yet. Instead of 50,000 artists, it only has a couple of hundred members. I hope that changes. I think Finerworks provides things in ways Imagekind doesn’t, and Imagekind provides things Finerworks doesn’t.



While I presently use them both, I look forward to seeing each becoming better and better. Each could be leaders in the online art world to benefit both artists and art buyers.


PROMOTION: It’s Presentation & Proliferation…with a Plan.

zentao trademark and logoOne of the members of NakedGenius mentioned that he just wasn’t any good at presentation. And many artists fail right at that point in their self-promotion. They didn’t study design and presentation. They aren’t marketers. They “do art.” But, as any gallery owner can tell you, if the art isn’t lighted right, presented in the right circumstance, and surrounded by a complimentary setting, it ain’t gonna show itself well.

Ed Kinnally's presentation designed by DLKeur

Now collectors can spot a good work, a valuable work, even when it’s stacked in some dark corner somewhere. Their eye “knows;” their hand reaches, their negotiations in mind, their wallet ready. But that’s a skilled eye and mind — not your target customer for prints, cards, and t-shirts at RedBubble, not your calendar and cup buyer at Zazzle, not your t-shirt buyer at Spreadshirt, and certainly not your high-priced giclee buyer at ImageKind — no, not, never on this last.

So how to sell to the world?

Can you do it with a website that may focus on one image on its front page? Not in my opinion. Can you do it by splattering your efforts across an infinite communication and presentation media like the Internet, from facebook to MySpace to eBay to art.com and more? Not if you want to keep your sanity, you can’t.

One way — the hard way — is to get your chosen venues — a handful like RedBubble, ImageKind, Zazzle, Spreadshirt and others which are very good at what they do — ranked on the world stage, the limelight focused on you. To do that, you have employ the members of the venue to promote that venue (Notice I said PROMOTE THAT VENUE) worldwide, getting traffic to that venue. Then, in order to reap some benefit, you have to promote yourself within that venue so you “rank well on the inside” — this last a difficult thing at best. However, the benefits of getting the VENUE (RedBubble, Zazzle, Spreadshirt, Imagekind.) to become a household word is that people won’t be afraid to shop there. That’s number one priority if you plan on selling through that venue.

So then what? If you can’t get yourself “featured” at the venue, how can you reap the benefits of all the traffic being generated by membership advertising the venue itself? It’s all in the PRESENTATION, and PLANNING, then EXECUTING THE PROLIFERATION of that PRESENTATION.

  • Presentation has to be exciting, impeccably presented, well-planned, and stimulate potential buyers to pull out their wallet.
  • Proliferation of that presentation must effectively return a profit on the money you invest, that return immediately reinvested in further effective PROMOTION.

DLKeur's art presentation at NakedGenius.com

Then, because the VENUE is “trusted” by consumers, the fact that you sell there when they specifically come looking for your work on your website, allows them to feel comfortable pushing the BUY THIS button.

Now, onto some nitty gritty about getting your presentation out there — HOW: Build yourself flyers, business cards, a catalog. Gather a mailing list of local, regional, national and international shops, gather a mailing list of individuals who might be interested in your work, offer incentives to LOOK — important that — incentives to LOOK, place advertisements in magazines where you’ll gain some following — small and large — get featured in an article, get your art featured, give cards and cheap, small prints away…there are a hoard of methods and mechanisms. Job number one, though, is make your PRESENTATION effective so that, WHEN it’s seen, it GRABS. Does yours?

Here are some samples:

Tim Stringer's presentation, design by DLKeur

Nick Fuller's presentation, design by artist DLKeur


Yep, the ImageKind.com ads are going, going, gone

zentao trademark and logoYou might or might not notice, but I’m removing all IK links from zentao.com, nakedgenius.com, zentao7.com, dlkeur.com, jam session, and some fifteen other websites where I have them loaded.   I’ve also pulled all my references to them in my paid advertising.

Why?

Because I can’t sanction them in good conscience until and unless they get their issues resolved.

What issues?  Read on.

Because I got lambasted by their failure, my customers suffered…and me too.  And IK didn’t even bother to offer to help me out of the fix.

Because there is a complete lack of regard for client satisfaction, because their website is broken and remains unfixed, because some very suspicious preferential treatment is going on over there which I’ve known about for some time.  And it is only getting worse.  Added to that, they blame other’s websites for issues that are theirs.  And they have refused to fix their very broken website, offering fluff-bunny excuses and begging for patience.  Well, I’ve been patient since May.  It is now mid-October, and still nothing has been fixed.  In fact, we have LESS usability than we had when I signed up in, what was it, February or April, somewhere like that?  Shareasale, the affiliate program, isn’t reporting hits accurately, ImageKind isn’t reporting hits correctly either.  So…until and unless it gets repaired, I’ll use them for their services, but I cannot recommend them as a valid and viable marketplace for artists. 

ImageKind is superior at printing, matting, framing, shipping, and have an excellent returns policy, but only if your art buyer can get to your art, isn’t diverted, doesn’t have their browser stall by IK’s sluggish server, and they can figure out the shopping cart.  In short, IK’s web application sucks.  And their editorial policies concerning whose art gets good billing is less than optimal — very much an “in-house” clique.  It’s a young company, so…maybe next year I can legitimately say, yes, IK is now a top notch place to have your art on display.  But not yet.

 So who will I recommend?  I recommend lulu.com for books and zazzle.com for calendars and redbubble for prints, t-shirts, and cards.  And if you want an excellent, excellent interface and wonderful interaction between artists world-wide, RedBubble.com is The Place.  Oh, yes, there’s still some politics, but not the extreme politicizing of who gets promoted you find on IK.  And as far as I can see, there aren’t a whole bunch of DMC brown-nosers and clappy-hand fluff-bunnies handing out rah-rah BS.  So, come on over to redbubble.  It’s FREE and has UNLIMITED UPLOADS.


Art Buyers Are Usually Not Artists.


zentao trademark and logoThere is, as usual, a discussion going on somewhere that catalyzes me to speak out.  But I can’t speak out, because to speak out would, in fact, be off-topic to the post, a big no-no on this particular forum.  A question was raised, and, despite what I consider the obvious, the go-rah-go team and hungry entrepreneur are, of course, pitching it. 

Artists:  who is your buyer?  An art aficionado, right?  That would be:

  • a collector
  • an investor
  • a spontaneous purchaser
  • someone decorating
  • someone looking for a gift
  • …and so on.

Who is NOT your customer?

Other artists on the Net, especially those who are selling artwork themselves.

So why are you signing up for all these various art communities who aren’t really anything more than artists sharing online gallery space?  For ranking?  Okay.  Good reason…within reason, but paying for space that isn’t geared (PAY ATTENTION TO THAT WORD: GEARED)…ahem….so paying for space on a website that is geared toward attracting ARTISTS and ISN’T GEARED toward drawing ART CONSUMERS is wasting your money. 

Now, I am both an artist and a collector, so I’m an exception to the rule, but, be honest with yourself, are most? 

No. 

Take a clue, then.   (…And, no, I won’t fill in the blanks with names.  Just use the measure and rule when analyzing a website, and you’ll be 100 meters ahead in the game right out the start gate.)





I’ve Got A New Favorite…RedBubble

zentao trademark and logoThanks to artist Stacy Lee, I have a new “art place” that’s gotta be the slickest thing going on the Net.  It’s called RedBubble.com  I’m just poking around there, but, A, it’s one of the slickest pieces of coding I’ve seen, it allows the artist choices on what to sell, and it has a great interactive interface that’s completely user intuitive and easy to navigate no matter where you are.  This is good for the artist and the consumer, because easy and fast means less hassle.  I haven’t tried their shopping cart, yet, but I’m betting it’s just as slick. 

 I know a few sites that could take lessons by studying it.  I don’t know about the quality of their products, but I hear that they are above average, maybe not up to IK’s level, but, for a middle-ground alternative, and for a WONDERFUL community experience and ease, this one is super.  Now if we could get FTP upload, some paper choices, some more framing and matting options, and calendars….

Despite those lacks, though, RedBubble looks to be one of my happier hang-outs.