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An Artist's Story: Valerie Kent

by Moshe Mikanovsky on 4/8/2010 12:34:49 PM

This article is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

A few months ago, while my blogging days were still in their initial steps, I had taken my two oldest daughters to Richmond Hill, our neighbor city, for a quick tour of their Artists Open Studio Tour. During the tour we met a very special lady – Valerie Kent, the president of the group, a Canadian landscape artist and art teacher in her soul.  

Following some of the online advice I read for networking, introducing oneself, and what I would call “schmoozing”, I started talking with Valerie about the group, about the possibility of becoming a member, and then gave her my business card. This is all while my daughters are admiring her artwork.

A few weeks followed and Valerie contacted me, impressed with all the online technology I had setup for my art promotion. She asked me if I could help her with her own site and getting on top of the social media wagon. Of course, I was happy to oblige.

After a bit more time had passed by, Valerie was finally ready to initiate her website redesign. But, she wanted to stay within the budget she had in mind and also wanted something she will be able to extend later by herself.

I decided to go with the approach of showing her some of the options with the existing sites out there. In the beginning we started with my list of 66+ sites for artists, but that was way too overwhelming, so I narrowed it down to 3 options – FolioTwist, FineArtStudioOnline, and

These are quite different from each other, but they all had these advantages:

-          Quick setup time

-          Affordable initial setup and ongoing maintenance cost

-          Out-of-the-box, yet configurable, user interfaces and themes

-          Ability to expand in the future to add an online store

-          Ability for Valerie to take over and maintain her own site

After some review and deliberation, and comparing the available functions, look, feel, and prices, Valerie decided to go with FineArtStudioOnline (FASO). One factor that really helped this decision was that FASO provides 60 days free trial where we can build the entire site and it's completely operational, with no obligation.

One of the main reasons Valerie was looking to rebuild her site was the level of professionalism she needed to achieve online. Valerie had her own domain and website for more than 13 years already, quite long time for an artist, and she got to a point that she felt her site was not up to par any longer with current trends. I noticed a few things with the old design, such as hard to navigate menus, confusing galleries, no titles, sizes, medium, or prices on any of the artworks, and more. Valerie felt that art institutions and collectors were not taking her seriously, because she neglected to take her website seriously. She felt she was losing both credibility and business.  She was extremely excited to start working on the new site.

We have gone through several stages of defining the look-and-feel, defining the main menu, creating the collections and the artwork within them, importing information about all the seminars and courses Valerie is giving in the next year, as well as art tours she is leading in Europe, and much more.



Once the site was ready, Valerie submitted a quick email to 3,000 of her contacts which she collected throughout the years, asking them to review the new site and give her feedback. The results were wonderful! People love the new site, and within the first couple of days Valerie sold 2 paintings and had one person interested in attending her trip to Tuscany.

I think this is quite amazing result in such a short time. Since then, Valerie started writing her blog, and is planning many more updates, including a news letter, ability to purchase directly from the site, and more.

It is also important to note here how happy we were with FASO and their customer services. They helped us promptly and diligently with every request we had, and I am sure this will continue with all their other efforts, like marketing and improving the system.

And the bottom line is, that now Valerie achieved her goal, in short time and within budget, and she has a website she is proud of! So check out her site, and send her a note, she would love to hear from you.




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Topics: art websites

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Loading comments...

Carole Rodrigue
Hi Moshe, how is she doing today with her new site? Have you received any feedback from her since then? And that was wonderfully nice of you to help her too. Way to go!

Michael Cardosa
I can honestly say, as someone who has been in the high tech world since it was low tech. I'm very impressed with the quality of the sites, ease of development, functionality and the speed and quality of the tech support at FASO. I recommend the service to artists I know all the time.

Helen Horn Musser
Wonderful article for us. Thank you Moshe

Helen Horn Musser
Clint offers much more than just a FASO website; an artist has opportunities to hear master painters views on many things.

Charlotte Herczfeld
Moshe, so good of you to help her, and of course her site looks very good!

My experience is from the other end, not being well known, and I'm absolutely positive that the professional look of my FASO site has helped raise my credibility as a pro, and as everyone else, I'm thrilled by being able to update it whenever I want to, and the excellent quality of the images.

Moshe, good to read your opinion, from the techie side of things.

Moshe Mikanovsky
Thank you everyone for the kind comments.

Carole, please read the last part of the post again. It was missing in the original posting - sorry for that - and in it I wrote about her announcement to part of her mailing list, and some of the great instant results she achieved.


Natasha Isenhour
I cannot agree more that the FASO sites are incredibly user friendly! Updates are quick and easy and the support staff blows me away. Questions are answered promptly and they are willing to jump in there and fix some things for you. I have had a website many years but it became neglected because of the necessity of going through a webmaster to update. FASO ended the pain of that and now my site is updated daily. I agree that letting a site sit idol and be outdated looks bad for your professionalism.

Michael Cardosa
I thought the posting ended rather abruptly the first time I read it!

Carole Rodrigue
Thank you Moshe! That is a wonderful ending and I'm excited for her! I love reading stuff like this.

Jill Banks
I keep toying with the idea of switching to FASO but am still unsure exactly what I will gain... and figure this is the audience to let me know. I developed my own site using iWeb on the Mac and can update it quite easily. I also have a successful blog (many visitors, loyal followers, generated sales, etc.) created on The enewsletter capability is intriguing ... but honestly I can't tell that the FASO newsletters are that easy to format well. Are they? Is there anything you've wanted to do with your FASO sites that you couldn't? How has it impacted traffic to your site ... separate from the traffic you generated yourself?
Any critiques of my site are welcome, too.
Thanks for your guidance.


I wonder how you get it all done. Very helpful information.

Sharon Weaver
I have an artist friend who wants to do the same thing. Was it difficult to change her domain over to FASO? I wasn't sure how to tell her to do that.

Moshe Mikanovsky
Carole - thank you. I would love to write more stories like that. As a matter of fact, Valerie is full with stories about her paintings, who bought them and how, places she painted in, and even a story about some lost paintings to Hurricane Katrina in a gallery at New Orleans. I am encouraging her to write these as little stories on her blog. She is also a great story teller!

Jill - I should give other people here to comment on your questions, I am sure they already have much more insight on this. For my personal website I use... Notepad. Really. I just wrote it in simple HTML, few Javascripts and PHP, but nothing very fancy. Since I host it with a friend who has a hosting company, I have full control over it... Same with my blog which I use Wordpress, the version I host myself (again, full control over it).
One thing I can note already is that until I started blogging, I missed all the Marketing that is so needed in order to get you visible. And a lot of what FASO does for you has to do with marketing.
Also, as a Software Developer, I would say that if you are comfortable with the way you do it, that's fine, but for most people, that it is not their cup of tea, its just better to give it to someone who is the expert. And FASO is definitely expert on this.

Delilah - thank you. I sometime think I don't do enough! I wish I would sell more, that's one thing for sure... but I am working towards that too.

Sharon - not at all, it was very simple. There are simple instructions on FASO on how to do it, and she will also have to contact her domain provider to tell them where to route it to (based on info you will get from FASO) but it is very simple process.


Sharon Weaver
Thanks Moshe. I will let her know that your domain name changes over easily to FASO.

Deber Klein
I enjoyed your post today, and agree that FASO is indeed wonderful and user friendly. I'm stubborn and like to do things for myself; I tried other hosts before, and they couldn't compare to the ease and convenience of FASO.
I also went on your site to read "my list of 66 sites for artists". Oh my gosh! This is going to take some time!
Anyway, I thought you deserved a great big thank you. So...


Deber Klein

Carol Schmauder
You are very kind to help Valerie with her site. I have been very happy with the ease of using FASO. I checked out Valerie's site and it looks great, as does her art work.

Barb Stachow
I've been considering changing my website for a little while too. I'll go check FASO out. Thanks for the article

Angela Baumgartner
Thanks Moshe for your article- and narrowing it down to keep it from being overwhelming. I'll check out your recommendations!

Gina Buzby
Thank you for sharing all of this information. I am glad Valerie chose FASO!

Michael Cardosa
Hi Sharon,

I can tell you from experience it took no time at all to point my URL to the FASO site and I had the majority of the site up and running within 30 to 45 minutes. I know I've said this before but the tech support people at FASO are fast and great!


Diane Tasselmyer
It looks great and so professional.

I have one question? what are the prices on the artwork?

Michael Cardosa
OK, a question that seems to pop up all the time with artists I know and it has here in some of the comments. Prices on the website yes or no?

I know there probably good reasons for both but my feeling are that if someone is interested in your art while they are viewing it why loose that possible collector because they have no clue what the piece sells for or force them to take another step to find out. I'm sure many people are familiar with the books "Chicken Soup for the Soul". I've had the occasion to meet Jack Canfield several times as well as Mark Victor Hanson and those two gentlemen are probably the best marketers I've ever met in my life! Their theory, if someone comes up to your site, sell them something and preferably before they leave sell them something else! Not having prices defeats that whole concept and I can't really think of a better one that keeps the pricing off. As long as you keep your prices consistent, web, gallery, shows, why not help people to get to a buying decision easier and faster.


Wonderful article! I certainly learned quite a bit. Thank you for sharing!


Sharon Weaver
Opps! Now you have the ending. Much better with the end of the article and great results.

Diane Tasselmyer
I am with you on "YES" put the prices on the art work.
I cannot understand why someone, or should I say, "most people" would not put them on.
People just lose interest when they have to make a contact and then possibly respond by saying the price was too high.

sue Martin
Thank you for the introduction to Valerie and her work. I enjoyed visiting the site. It's very clean, easy to navigate, and her blog posts promise to be very interesting and well written. It's always fun to see what others are doing with similar templates.

Michael Cardosa

The extra contact is pretty much my point. They are there, they are interested and hopefully, they want to buy. Why put up road blocks?


Helen Horn Musser
Micheal, I'm not sure what this is all about; must have missed somthing; can you elaborate?

Tuva Stephens
I totally agree to list the prices on the artwork. I don't want people to email me asking or calling me for prices. I believe Clint had that item on the 11 Essentials of a Website. Sometimes I just visit a website to see what the price ranges are.

I LOVE FASO! Just try to think of a question that the support team can not answer! You an not do it! I even had one person on the support team call me because I had lost sleep because of a security risk that I though I had. How's that for help!

Tuva Stephens
I also find the template for creating the newsletters great! I am in the process of getting our co-op gallery, Court Square Arts, a website through FASO.

Michael Cardosa

Since we were on the subject of websites I asked the question of whether to include prices with the paintings or not. I'm for it to create more of a buying opportunity but I know a lot of people are not and I was asking for opinions any possible reasons.


Charlotte Herczfeld
Michael, I'm for prices, it makes it so much easier for the customers, and therefore also to me. Just had a show, and a few people clearly had made up their minds before stepping into the venue, and just checked how the painting looked IRL, before grabbing me to close the sale.

So, yes, I proudly show all the world that my work is still available for a low cost, as I'm still an emerging artist. My pricerange is good for this time and place. Working on changing that. My reasoning now is to get my art out there, and let it speak for itself and generate a larger 'tribe', and it is working! "I saw one of your paintings at my friend's, and I just must have one too!" (Then the friend gets a note telling them they get a discount on the next painting they buy, as they've done the marketing for me.)

Openness, transparency, clarity -- those works for me regarding prices. It builds trust, too. Where I live, there's a law that anything in a display window must have clearly visible prices, and my site is my virtual display window, so applying the same principles work well.

Carol Schmauder
I'm in agreement with you Charlotte. I think if people see a piece they like they want to know what it costs. I would hate to lose a sale because someone didn't have time to track me down and ask the cost of the painting.

Moshe Mikanovsky
Thank you everyone for the great comments and discussion.

I am also in agreement that showing your prices is a great practice. Funny enough, my own art site doesn't show prices (yet), and Valerie's neither. With Valerie the plan was to first launch the new site, and later on to add more information such as prices etc, so this will come soon.
With my own site, well, I always had in mind to put the prices, but the problem was - how much to charge.... the same old problem of starting artists... Anyway, that will come soon too :-)
The licensed art its an easier item to price, because its priced by the manufacture...

Thanks again for the great feedback

Valerie Kent
I am definitely surprised and delighted by the interest that was generated by Moshe's lucid analysis of how we went about doing the website. I think for a while I spent more time with him on line than he got to spend with his family. It was all encompassing because I was determined to get it renewed. I have a lot of thanks to get out there, lots and lots. My thanks to Moshe without whom I would not have discovered this fabulous option and I am not shy to tell you, I am delighted with the results. I go to my site just to admire it.
However, just to be fair, for many many years Ron Brown, a wonderful kind soul was the webmaster of my previous site and he did a great job. Time, the elusive master of us all, stole his ability to update, and me to send information. He too did wonderful work. Thank you Ron.
Thank you Moshe. Thank you FASO. Kudos to all.
Now I am learning too, all the time. In fact, I have not commented here previously because I did not know the comments were here. I read the article and thought that was it.
Thank you everyone so much for commenting and it really refocuses me. I do need to blog more and to try out the newsletter option. There is new information but I have not had a chance to send it.
I do not know if you have ever torn a ligament? It is not a recommended activity. I am perfecting the wobbly dobbly way of locomotion. I hear it takes quite a while to heal but I discovered heat the other day so it has improved (or I just like the heat).
Yes, to putting the prices on the paintings. I think this can be done and because of the need for consistency, I could also use a more organized approach to my sales and better records. I benefitted greatly from having Moshe and his ability to organize me and the site. I am a work in progress myself and my techno-learning curve is a bit wonky as yet. The one aspect that I feel may work in my favor is that the will and the motivation are strong. Let us rudely yank me from my complacency and techno stupor and let me become the "dancing queen" of social networking. Your concern and your insightful comments are the music to my dances.

Claudia Cohen
Great article! I am a little on the fence about prices as my bronze cost change, and I AM afraid of scaring them off too soon. But perhaps I should reconsider... Nice site...

Valerie Kent
Thank you Claudia. It is a real question about posting prices. The old prices stay out there forever and if the price point seems overwhelming to some, it may seem underwhelming to others. Those who may like the work would not be impressed if it were priced too low and therefore, would not be quite as "important" as the expensive work.


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