The Internet has allowed the world of art to expand past the walls of museums, galleries and homes. The individual can be their own curator. They can be exposed to much more than ever before. Gone are the days of the Academy telling people what to like, but a person can decide what art is to them.
Grand Tours of the European Continent are a thing of the past, but a quick perusal of Web 2.0 and Google provide a plethora of images and inspiration. Websites are catering to this need in many ways.
Social media allows people to discover, read and share art on the Internet at a near alarming pace. The Internet is making more than ridiculous video personalities famous. It’s more than about connecting to art, it allows people to connect to the artists in a personal way. Artists can and should use social media to the fullest extent, especially blogging. For the artist it is more than sharing every minute detail of their life, but the essence of their work, where their inspiration comes from and other topics related to their work.
Social networking sites seem to rise and fall in popularity every few years, but some have real staying power by allowing people to adapt and use the site for many different purposes. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be great for artists, but there are more art-specific sites available. Like social networking sites, there are hundreds of options when it comes to art networking sites.
Following are three sites that are helpful and artists use. There are many more, but these have active communities and are contemporary when it comes to art, news and contests.
DeviantArt: “Where ART meets application!”
DeviantArt boasts the largest network of art and users. They claim the ability to browse over 100 million pieces of art and 13 million members. Upon setting their sites on the website a person will see the green hues that are unique to DeviantArt. The color takes away some of the pretentious nature of art and makes it more amateur friendly. On the front page there are upwards of 24 of “recent deviations”. A deviation is a piece of artwork the user, deviant, uploads. From the homepage a person can browse and search deviations, participate in polls and sign up for a free or paid profile. Even with a free membership artists can sell prints of their work.
A deviant profile consists of artwork, deviantID (profile picture), blog and favorites. As a member of DeviantArt you can collect your favorites for others to see and easy access. If you want more customization for your profile go ahead and buy a subscription. At under $5 a month for many it is worth it. Deviants can even go as far as buying ads that show up when people are browsing.
DeviantArt is a fan boy or girls haven. They can see artwork of their obsession in all sorts of mediums. Anime, fanfiction, and original writings, are some of the more non-traditional arts that are rampant on DevianArt. Jewelry and artisan crafts are represented, but not at the same level as other types of art
ARTslant: “The #1 contemporary art network”
Artslant is more commercial than DeviantArt. The ability to buy works is more apparent, but a person must have a paid subscription to sell their works. In keeping with many art based sites Artslant’s appearance is built upon a black and white grid model. Based on appearances Artslant is best suited for three types: working artists, agents and the occasional consumer. A feature that I love about Artslant that I have yet to see on DeviantArt is the exhibitions feature. Here you can see where, when and with whom, the artist has exhibited. While Artslant is the more professional version of DevianArt it does not seem to foster personal connections to the same extent. It is much more a virtual gallery.
Profiles pages are much more streamlined and display less personal information and more what a gallery would be interested in reading. Depending on the artist there is more content, but the option to have as much as DeviantArt is not there.
Artspan: “Contemporary Art”
Artspan can be summed up easily in my mind: a virtual arts and crafts fair. Unlike some of its competitors Artspan caters to even wider realms of artistry: jewelry and crafts. These are represented at the same level as artists and photgraphers. According to their “Quick Facts” Artspan is the #1 ranking for contemporary art by Yahoo and Google. The home page is very similar to that of Artslant, but it offers more information about the website and benefits on the front page. Profiles are standalone websites and customizable. A major drawback of Artspan: it’s going to cost you after the first month.
Of the three websites, I am only a member of DeviantArt, and not a very active member at that. I have been a member for about 6 years and the work posted spans about an 8 year period. I am thinking about joining Artslant as part of the maturing from an art student into an artist, but at this point I won’t be spending money to join Artspan. Considering I hadn’t heard about it until this week I do not think it will be worth my money when the other two sites are free and seem to have more visitors.
In terms of looks, DeviantArt reads like a website, but Artspan and Artslant read more like art magazines on the Internet. When viewing both you have to look around the ads and the gridded content to find some of the better functions. The fact that they remind me of an art magazine is not necessarily a bad thing. It does contribute to a sense of continuity among a genre of work.
Whether an artist chooses to stick with the big three of social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) or venture to the art-specific sites, they can make a world of difference by harnessing the power of the Internet masses.