How Important are Online Art Sales?

Today, many artists need multiple ways to earn income for their business, including selling online. ABI spoke with Eric Sparre, founder of Artspan and Jewelspan, about the impact of online sales and how artists can get started.


sample artist websites


ABI:  How has the nature of shopping changed the world of selling art?

ES:  Online art sales are increasing at a rate of 25% per year, according to Bloomberg News, indicating a growing acceptance of online art offerings. I believe individual artists are seeing increasing sales through their own websites and through ecommerce platforms like Etsy, Saatchi, and Artspan/Jewelspan. At Artspan, our artists saw a doubling of sales for 2013 over 2012.


ABI:  How has this affected the traditional gallery model?

ES:  Galleries are doing fine at the high end. Collectors appreciate the kind of insight and reassurance they can bring. For emerging artists, galleries are seeing a lessening of their role.  Web sales, art fairs and other independent exhibits are increasingly important.


Cindy Miller art website


ABI:  What is the best way for artists to present themselves?

ES:  An individual professional branded website is absolutely critical. It should be well-designed and easy for visitors to navigate. Artists use the websites to showcase their work to collectors and to galleries. And many use them to sell work.


ABI:  What are the different types of websites that artists can take advantage
of to sell online?

ES:  There are 3 kinds of websites. The first are ecommerce driven – examples are Etsy and SaatchiOnline. With these sites, the artists have individual profiles, but the profiles are not suitable to promote the individual artist to collectors or galleries. The second type is the generic template website provider – examples are Weebly, Squarespace and Wix. They do not offer a product specific to the needs of artists. The third type of website provider focuses on artists and artwork. Examples are FASO, Foliolink, Foliosnap and of course Artspan and Jewelspan.


Starkes art website


We think we are number one – we have been doing this for almost 15 years and our member websites are very advanced, easy-to-manage and fully customizable. They have all the features artists need including social media options and settings, email marketing tools, and an optional seamless shopping cart with an automatic tax calculator covering 7,000 tax jurisdictions in North America. We also offer prints-on-demand where the buyer can mat and frame a print right on the artist website. This feature is increasingly popular and allows buyers to begin to collect an artist’s work at a lower price point than that required for buying an original piece.



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  1. I have had an artists website on Artspan for 10 years and have never sold a piece of art. My stats are very low. Only 40-50 people a month visit my site. Few of my images are picked up by Google and I am being push out by an Etsy crafter with the same name. Artspan gives mean online portfolio and that’s it. I would like to see some stats on sales from Artspan but they do not share that data. I think artists have a right to know how many sales are actually generated through the site monthly.

    • Thanks for your comment, Julie. Have you spent considerable time and energy driving traffic to your own website there? Did you use social media marketing, email marketing, create backlinks, etc.? Any website platform that hosts websites is not responsible for bringing visitors. That’s up to the artist. It is one of the biggest challenges as well. That would be the case with Artspan as well.

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