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Etsy and Art

Etsy and Art

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Published by Ian Bertram
Summarises discussions in an Etsy forum about how Etsy might improve its promotion of art.
Summarises discussions in an Etsy forum about how Etsy might improve its promotion of art.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Ian Bertram on Jan 22, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/28/2012

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Etsy and Art
There are probably thousands of fine artists on Etsy. Some are doing well, but Isuspect that most are not. The sheer scale of Etsy places it in a good position tomaximise the benefit of having those artists on board, but there is little sign thatthey understand this, or if they do that they are willing to do anything about it.
What would you like Etsy to do to better promote the artistsalready here and to exert maximum leverage in the wider on-lineart market? Let us have your comments in this thread.
Not all responses agreed with the premise.
Would not help much if Etsy promoted fine art more. People don’t buy fine artthrough the internet.Being pulled out of the generic search will kill sales, not help them. People oftenlook for a certain theme not a specific item.Etsy is not the place for people who are primarily art buyers. It attracts peoplewho like to have a variety of handmade things in their home. Putting art off toanother category will not draw in collectors. For the particular way this site is setup, and the type of demographic it draws, putting art in a completely separatecategory will reduce views and potential sales for artists.
Most did agreed with the premise however.
People buy all sorts of things on-line at quite high prices without seeing them.ETSY is promoting this to artists as a place to sell art. If they believe that to bepossible then they should be doing all they can to make it happen. The site offersa venue promoted to a limited extent externally, but largely by referrals. Fine Artis almost entirely missing from those promotional efforts. Since Etsy is very busypromoting other areas of the website and items in general, they need to make itall inclusive and broaden the depth of what they are advertising for sale.Etsy's problem is to cater for the 'naive' buyer who doesn't have a deepknowledge of the art world but knows they want a nice picture for the wall at thesame time as enabling those with more specialist knowledge to look in depth andaccurately.While it would be nice if buyers briefed themselves about what they are buying,we know from consumer advice organisations that they rarely do and as buyersmaker BIG mistakes. Ety's job, and through them the vendors here, is to helpthem avoid such mistakes as far as possible because mistakes leave unhappypeople, regardless of who made it. They have to make the customer (that’s us)side of the relationship as easy as possible and equally easy across the board.The job for the seller (that’s also us) is to present their own products as well aspossible once found and with support from Etsy maximise their chances of beingfound.The internet reaches those who have never been in a gallery, never will go into agallery and those who might have been in a gallery and found the experience tobe less than satisfactory. This is why clarity and truth in advertising of art arehugely important here on Etsy. If buyers are not familiar with normal artterminology then we need to be crystal clear about what we are selling. We can't just invent terms willy nilly though, we have to explain. That is an area whereEtsy can make a huge contribution - an art buyers guide to terms would bewonderful - but we don't lose the duty of care ourselves.It is precisely because Etsy has such a reach into a market that would neverconsider going into a gallery that is has such a huge potential. The untapped
 
potential of these 'naive' buyers is huge. You don't need an enormously deeppocket to collect good quality original art.If Etsy meets its part of the bargain then the market will sort out the wheat fromthe chaff. The opinion of individuals will be relatively unimportant - including theopinions of Etsy staff who at the moment heavily bias what art coverage itprovides towards illustration and typographical posters, both minor players in theart world as a whole.If Etsy doesn't want fine art, and there is some evidence to suggest that is thecase, then they should be up front about it and the artists among us can go andfind another venue more sympathetic to our particular requirements rather thanwasting money in the wrong place.If Etsy doesn't step up to the mark soon someone else will pick up the business,especially in the slot below Artnet and the equivalents, which will surely emergenow Artnet has proved the concept works. The way Amazon is expanding it couldwell be them through their Marketplace.
Bottom line...Etsy needs to appreciate and support ART for ART's sake,not as a branch of home décor.
The value of diversity 
The issue for us is the aggregated audience we have on Etsy. There are plenty of other sites selling art, but they simply don't have enough viewers yet. Somerequire ridiculous commissions or terms of service.Etsy offers the opportunity of greater visibility. With enough cross pollination,there is opportunity for success. That's why on a site and not restricting it to onlyArt (of any kind) is vital. That doesn't preclude working on search terms, taggingand categories.Detailed suggestions fall into three groups.
‘Cultural’ changes
o
Hire some people who know the topic
o
Encourage more ETSY blog posts and behind the scenespictures/editorials from artists
o
More tweets/facebook posts under Etsy name on specific artists ortypes of art available.
o
include more art in the finds emails, blog posts, FP, etc
o
regularly include artists as ‘Featured Seller’ 
o
start a Fine Art Newsletter.
o
widen the scope of art covered where it happens. There is more to artthan illustration or home décor.
o
Etsy currently markets art in a limited way through home decor typelinks (Etsy Finds, Discovery Guides, etc.) Need to market separately tocollectors.
o
Etsy may not be best venue to sell larger pieces. Could offer smallerpieces as ‘hookbut current policies prohibit or discourage linkselsewhere. Change of heart by Etsy could draw in more artists withexisting contacts and make the idea of collecting art moremainstream.
o
Deal with serious under-representation of art on the Home page and inEtsy Finds.
o
Accept art based treasuries on the front page instead of insisting onmixture of objects all the time. Would encourage creation of all-art
 
treasuries by others. At present we never see a treasury on the frontpage that is exclusively fine art, but regularly see exclusively craftbased ones.
o
Regular features about specific categories/styles/mediums in art
o
Ditto about etsy artists with shows elsewhere would encouragereciprocation and galleries might see site in more positive light.
o
Blog posts that actually represent what is being sold on etsy
o
one of the items in "Community Events" to focus on terminology forfine art collectors. Teach people what we wish they knew about fine artand help buyers understand that anyone can be an art collector. Maybean interview with Lisa Hunt, author of "the Intrepid Art Collector," abook about how to get started on an art collection without spending afortune.
o
I want to see some original fine art instruction in Etsy Labs. Whenpeople try to create fine art, they may be inspired to buy some whenthey find it isn't as easy as it looks to create beautiful fine art.
o
an art buyers guide to terms
More substantial promotional activity 
o
Support for studio visits
o
Work to change perception of the site by non-users as "a place wherechicks sell hair bows".
o
Provide a tool to allow treasuries to be embedded in blog posts likeYouTube videos
o
a properly curated physical show selected from Etsy artists.
o
Support for B&M shows by Etsy artists – via Teams grants?
o
showcase and major representations such as major stores, TV shows,celebrities, etc, purchasing and/or selling etsyans artwork
o
Having reputable curators or arts writers do articles.
o
Promote idea of art on Etsy as being affordable to almost everyone bycutting out the middle man
o
Cross-marketing with sites like 20x200 – with focus on Etsy artists noton Etsy as a whole.
Changes to design and structure of the site
o
We should not be thinking of the present Etsy with some tweaking. Thefront page could easily have all the possible ways of looking on it,INCLUDING the option to search the whole site, plus buttons to searchby category (Art, Handmade, Vintage, Supplies) as well as the choicesnow available under 'Discover' and all the category searches too.
o
categories under Art are laughable - they demonstrate a level of ignorance and confusion that gives no confidence that the site ownersunderstand what they are selling. Restructuring the categories tobetter match the various media would be a huge improvement. Oneexample is misspelling of collagraph, which has been there since atleast 2005, but they won’t change it. Consequently anyone lookingwith the correct spelling misses out those who have gone along withEtsy's ignorance - and vice versa. If you put in both you lose a tagbecause Etsy can't spell!
o
Address print/printmaking/reproduction question properly.
o
A specific category for art in the top left hand area (discover) Home +Garden includes art but based on art as décor, not in its own right.

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