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Thoughts on Selling Art Online: Art blogs are a good thing-- seek them!

by Brian Sherwin on 5/14/2011 8:10:58 AM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

In general artists have long had a love/hate relationship with art related press. The exposure that can be offered by an influential art magazine writer or major newspaper art critic is desired-- however, most artists find that those traditional paths of exposure are simply out of reach. Needless to say, through the years I've met thousands of artists who are bitter over the lack of response they have received from traditional press. However, many of those artists have found their own spotlight in the form of art blogs-- specifically art bloggers who focus on exhibit reviews, artist interviews, and critiques-- some of which are just as notable as writers working in print. Thus, I'd like to take some time to discuss art blogs further-- and why I think artists should seek them.


Before I delve deeper into the subject I'd like to reflect on history. I can remember when I first started art blogging. In those early years the traditionalists of the art world, as well as print media, scoffed at the Internet. They felt that the Internet was not a viable addition to press as a whole-- many art writers were ridiculed for their online efforts. Content was King-- and many working in print thought that they had a stranglehold on information and influence. Today content is still King-- but things are very different. Traditional media continues to fade year after year while the art bloggers who spurred this addition to art criticism and art journalism have risen to become influential in their own right.


In recent years the lines of importance have continued to blur. In the recent past print was the only consideration for most artists. That is not the case today-- which is due to the fact that so many artists have learned that a high level of exposure can be gained online. Technically an artist may receive more exposure from pursuing art blogs online than by trudging through the traditional routes of print.


I realize that assumed quality is an issue for some artists-- they want the professional prestige that a review or interview in print by a notable art critic can grant. That said, there are a few things an artist should think about before dismissing art blogs, and other forms of new media for that matter, as a viable means of gaining exposure:


- Art blogs have (fast) international reach that continues to 'grow'. A review written by an art critic in a print art magazines or newspaper may look good on your resume-- however, there is a time gap to consider if exposure is your goal. The information provided in print is hampered by however long it takes for the magazine or paper to be offered to the public. On the other hand, a review written by an art critic who utilizes a blog has instant reach the moment the review is posted online.


A blog article will most likely reach thousands of readers representing several countries while traditional print is still in the early stages of publishing. The blog review, interview, or critique will continue to spread virally long after the pages of the traditional print review, interview, or critique have gathered dust.


- Art blogs have staying power compared to traditional print. As mentioned above-- a blog article will continue to spread virally long after the pages of traditional print have crumpled and gathered dust. This is a lesson that several major media sources have been slow to pick up on-- and are only now rushing to take advantage of. The Internet is not going away-- it will continue to be a stronghold of shared information, so to speak. Thus, the more information-- in the form of articles about you and your art-- that can be found about you online the better. Traditional print is contained to a page-- alternative print, if you will, has no borders.


- Art blogs are on the rise. Again, with each passing year the role and influence of traditional print media continues to fade. Art magazines and newspapers are starting to cut back on specific art writing positions in order to function-- and one could say, to survive. For this reason alone alternative forms of art writing beyond traditional print will continue to rise in popularity and influence.


I'll put it this way-- you may never have your artwork reviewed by art critic Roberta Smith in traditional print-- but you may attract the interest of power art bloggers, such as Paddy Johnson or Hrag Vartanian. Arguably a review by Johnson carries more weight-- at least online-- compared to a review by Smith. In my opinion, as long as an artist is receiving exposure online the assumed importance of the writer does not matter. Getting your name out there is all that matters.


The gatekeepers, if you will, of the art blogosphere are arguably less strict than those of traditional print-- but that may change in time. In other words, a wise artist will take advantage of the changing 'landscape' of art writing while it is still in the stages of discovery and professional acceptance. Content matters-- and artists should be actively seeking their fair share of online content while the 'getting is good', so to speak.


- Accept it. You may not attract the attention of major print art publications-- but that does not mean you should give up on being written about. Seek out art blogs, art-zines, and art newsletters-- such as, that may be interested in featuring your artwork or the opinions you have about art in general. There are thousands of art blogs that have decent traffic-- traffic that you can benefit from if you attract the attention of an art blogger. Furthermore, influential art bloggers are often easier to contact than writers who have influence in traditional print.


Speaking from my experience of writing professionally for various art blogs I can tell you that artists from all walks of life and stages of career have found value in what bloggers, such as myself, can provide as far as exposure is concerned. I've interviewed artists who are virtually unknown and artists who have had their work sell for over a million dollars at auction. These artists may not share artistic direction or financial status, but they all share an acknowledgment of what online exposure, by means of art blogs, can accomplish. They all share a desire for the recognition that the Internet can provide. To put it bluntly-- don't limit yourself to traditional print.


Art writers who utilize a blog format are often actively seeking artists to write about-- especially if the artist has an interesting story or opinion to share. I imagine that the majority of artists desire to be covered by a major art magazine, but until that day comes-- if it comes --the art blogosphere, art newsletters, and art ezines are the next best thing. One could argue that they are the best choice for artists who focus on marketing and selling art online.


In closing, being written about on an art blog can bring a continuous flow of traffic to your artist website for years to come if you include links to your art within the context of what is posted. In other words, an article about your art on an art blog, art-zine, or online art newsletter will most likely be viewed by more people than an article about your art in a magazine. Recognition is just a few clicks away! The times have changed. Take advantage of this new breed of art writers and the form of publishing they embrace. Seek them out!


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin

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Thoughts on Selling Art Online: Find the time to promote your art online-- clock yourself and be creative!

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Topics: art marketing | Brian Sherwin | exposure tips 

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Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA
Very interesting and informative article. I have a couple questions at the end for you too.

Sometimes I wonder about using or writing a Blog, although I do also enjoy expressing my self/thoughts about something through writing.
At times I just cannothelp myself in going to my web site and strait to the Blog to write those thoughts.
But at the same time,I have wondered what the blog is suppose to be all about.
I am fairly new at blogging. It took me awhile to get started on one out of fear, feeling apprehensive about doing one.
I was unsure of what is suppose to be written or expressed or shown on a blog and did not want to look foolish.

I checked out artists blogs out and was very impressed with their blogs and wondered, gosh can I do one as good as what they are doing. I also saw all different ways that artists did their blogs. Some gorgeous one's explaining their art work, giving demonstartions, telling about art exhibits, and showing ther work that may or may not have gotten into the juried they felt about it. Some more interesting than others too. IT depends upon what interests the reader though I guess.

However, I have yet to post a demonstration of my work on my web site or just to get more into telling this or that about an art show..

Goodness knows I have done outdoor art shows for over 30 years and could give out tons of advice and thoughts about doing those...(have been working on a book about outdoor art shows)....or offering downright pastel painting advice telling how I do it in my way.

I am thankful and pleased that FASO published my blog titled "Rejection Hurts." The funny thing about it is that I was afraid no one would read it or comment on it and that it would be rejected. LOL
With that I also learned that FASO KNOWS what interesting Blogs are best to be published. I am glad they found mine to be that.

There are those blogs too that are beyond exceptional!!! They are known as The Blogs To GO TOO.

I do still haev much to learn about blogs and blogging...and do they really get more attention to your web site Brian?

ALSO, Brian...What is the best way to do blogging? About your art work showing photos of your next piece or the piece you are prepsently working on, shows, etc... or just write about your feelings about various art things with topics related to inspiration or marketing, etc... OR try to do it all?????

Wasn't there a movie out some ages ago called "The Blog?" OR something like that?

Thank you again Brian. :)

Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA
Oh, Brian... the other thing I forgot to mention,,,, spelling. I just looked at what I wrote up above and wish I could go back and make a few corrections in one way or another. Grammar or I type so fast at times, that I skip over letters or miss them ..., when writing a blog, I think, Gosh, people might think I do not know how to spell. I do always have my dictionary here beside the computer, believe it or not. LOL

There is no spell check when writing blogs, right?

Betty Pieper
The point I like the most is that people like yourself bring a kind of democratic and eclectic resource to a likewise diverse group. In other words, gatekeeping is flexible and people who can access can be rich or poor. While Jack White
taught us that exposure per se is not sufficient,
it is at least necessary. Blogging apparently makes that possible for more people.

jack white
I'm sure in your area art critics have some meaning, but in our world no one gives a flip what the critics say. I have never had a client say they read what some critic wrote about my work and decided to buy or not to buy. In our world we must make art that connects with folks who will in turn spend their hard earned money to purchase our stuff.

Collectors are not concerned about awards or what someone who has never been successful selling their own work has to say about those who do sell well. Kinkade comes to mind. He in on the New York Stock Exchange, that's how rich he is. Critics hate his work. People love it. Negative press has not slowed him down.

Brian, exposure never sold a piece of art. As one girl wrote, "All you get from exposure is skin cancer." Exposure is the biggest lie in the art world. It's sounds good but exposure has never resulted in sales.

I've done over to 50 television interviews, a minimum of 150 newspaper interviews and scores of magazine articles. Lots of front covers. No way of knowing how many television commercials I have done for shows. Over a 100 I'm confident. Yet all of my sales came one on one with either me or someone selling my art. I never had people saying they saw me on television and wanted to buy my art. They saw the art and wanted to own a piece.

We had our first websites put up in 1995. We first tried newsletters and then switched to blogging. Mikki has about 2,000 daily readers on her blog. Strange though, we don't have people coming to us from the blog wanting to purchase art. They come asking questions. (smile)
Our sales come from people walking into one of our galleries and finding something they can't live without. The blog doesn't drive those sales.

The importance of art critics on our careers is zero. In truth I've never heard of any of those names you mentioned. Until the economy went into the tank we were selling about $400,000 (retail) a year of Mikki's paintings. Not one critic was involved. Just raw marketing 101.

Of course Texas might be different. We are a tad independent. We don't want anyone telling us what to do. We like to drive our own wagons. jack

Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA

Thank you for your honesty.

WOW, so interesting about what you shared.

AND I have often said that Kinkade laughs on his way to the bank. However, he had had some kind of exposure surely. But, it semes he has always been pretty wise in how he presents himself and his work. He knows how to go after the people and the sale and apparently does not give a second thought to critics...or even getting into top art mamgazines and galleries. He does not have to.

I like your way of thinking also Jack. Artists learn much from you without doubt. So thank you for all your contributions on these articles. Mikki is laso lucky to have you. :) and vice-versa of course.

But, I still think publicity or exposure helps also. If one has a solo art show and the gallery does not bother to post news about the solo show on their web site till two days before the show or do any kind of publicity in the local prese, etc.. on the show, then the artist is almost doomed from the start. How do people find out there is a show there? Other than the artist sending out art hsows notices and perhaps posting it on their web site, etc..

Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA
OH my gosh...I sure should have rechecked the above post before I sent it. Please, forgive the errors. I do know better. I just make myself look stupid. LOL

Donna Robillard
I loved reading both viewpoints of Brian and Jack - good thought provoking things from both men.

Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA
So in agreement with you Donna.

George De Chiara
I agree too. Both points of view are interesting. Jack, out of those 2,000 visitors how many do you think are your collectors? I tend to think a lot of artist blogs attract other artists, not necessarily collectors. That's not to say artists don't buy other artists artwork, I just don't think those are the type of artists most blogs attract.

jack white

About 10 percent blog reader are International. I suspect artists. We had someone sign up today from Saudi Arabia. What has stunned us is the odd places we have click to receive the blog. Yesterday a person from Iran. We have two from Iraq. Syria, Israel and Dubai. We also have India, Pakistan, UK, France, England, Germany, South Africa. So many countries I can't name them all. Mikki just said we have a new one from Kenya. The WWW does mean World Wide Web.

Mikki thinks we may have 15 percent that are our collectors. Most reading are artists. When Mikki posted the mixing chart for my double primary pallet we jumped to almost 3,000 with tons of feedback. Others place her link on FaceBook and other social networks.

What works well is when Mikki does a commission and allows the client to see their piece be painted step by step, starting with the pen and ink sketch. They are in love with the art before it arrives. They also see the work involved in making a painting. We make the process so much fun most want to do another commission.

About 10 percent of her blogs are personal. Like when we had to Egyptian Geese walk up near our patio. They now are nesting on our tiny lake. We try to keep the blog personal so those reading will feel like they are part of our family. jack

We do no hard selling in the blogs. Now if they make a mistake and contact us about a painting, you can bet your boots your best boots we will end up taking their money.

Brian Sherwin
Jack, I'm not so sure about your opinion of Thomas Kinkade”s rise. From what I've been told he actually did very well in New York galleries-- it was not until he started marketing his own gallery path that he lost favor, so to speak. The franchise aspect of his marketing strategy turned traditionally inclined art dealers off.

Furthermore, his spots on shows like QVC helped to make him a household name. Having watched some of the spots he had on QVC I know that it was not uncommon for him, or the host, to mention what reviewers had said about his work. They would use it as a 'pump up' to sell prints and other merchandise. So in that sense, exposure did-- and continues to-- work for Kinkade.

Then you have to think about artists such as Andy Warhol. Again, Warhol become a household name in large-part due to press. Your average Joe may not have known why Warhol was important-- but he certainly knew that Warhol was being talked about in the media. Warhol played right into that form of exposure.

My grandmother, may she rest in peace, had little interest in contemporary art-- but she knew who Andy Warhol was because she could remember reading about him and seeing him on commercials. True, that exposure did not make her want to rush out to buy his work-- but it did serve as a point of conversation when talking to others about art of the day.

Then you have artists, such as Chet Zar, who have done well selling prints by utilizing social networking-- blogs, social network sites, and so on. Shepard Fairey is another example of an artist who does well utilizing the Internet and press. In that respect I suppose it depends on the individual artist and how he or she goes about marketing. Some artists will use press to their advantage while others don't.

The opinion of critics, and art collectors for that matter, does matter to some buyers. Look at how well Charles Saatchi pumped the YBAs. Damien Hirst, arguably the most wealthy living artist in the world, would have never reached that point had it not been for Saatchi's press mongering. That is something to consider at least.

Donald Fox
As I understand Brian's article, he's suggesting ways of artists becoming known within the larger art community - alternatives to traditional print media. Correct me if I'm wrong, Brian, but I think you're not talking so much about art marketing in general, i.e. raw sales, as exposure that builds an artist's reputation that extends beyond potential customers. How many people know about Andrew Wyeth compared to those who actually own an original work? It's possible for an artist to make a reasonable living in relative obscurity by selling work of a certain quality. Many would call that success. Other artists may also want wider recognition by a community of peers and those who follow the arts as something more than a commodity.

Brian Sherwin
Sandy, yes-- I do think that being written about by an art blogger, especially one who has a following, can bring more traffic to your website. I consider myself a very small fish in an ocean of art writers-- that said, I know that artists I've interviewed in the past noted an increase in traffic after the interview was posted. Some of those interviews are commented on regularly even though they are half a decade old.

As for your question about what works best for an artist blog-- many artists go the image route. Image post after image post with little else in between. I would think it better to post an image-- but also include text about the piece-- your thoughts behind it. Try to have at least 3 paragraphs of text. Why serve a slice of ham when you can serve a chunk of roast beef? If you are posting image updates-- offer text that further captures the interest of your readers.

By all means-- if you can do it all... do it all. Write about art topics that you find interesting. Offer your thoughts on art issues of the day that you agree with or disagree with. Just so you know, blog posts about copyright, censorship, and other controversial art related topics tend to bring traffic. If you have experienced censorship, for example, write about it. Put yourself in the context of buzzed about topics if you can by offering your experiences on the matter.

Brian Sherwin
Donald, yes-- I'm thinking more about reputation building as a whole. That said, the two-- exposure and marketing-- often walk hand-in-hand. If you have a fan base those individuals will likely share links to articles about you-- and you never know... one of their friends might be a future buyer.

The majority of artists I've known want recognition more than profit-- being written about often, at least in my opinion, is a good way to cultivate recognition, if you will. Especially within the context of the Internet driven age we live in.

As Jack suggests-- you can find recognition without traditional or alternative forms of press. That seems like an uphill battle to me though. You can market art without the backing of press as well. However, I'd say that if you can get press-- go for it.

Also-- do place some focus on regional press if you can. I for one think that is important... both for reputation and marketing.

Brian Sherwin
Jack, you said, "Collectors are not concerned about awards or what someone who has never been successful selling their own work has to say about those who do sell well."

Again, that depends on the collector. Collectors are individuals-- some individuals are impressed with such things while other don't care. I'd say that some collector are very interested in what awards an artist has won.

Think of Sarah Maple-- when she won the Saatchi Online Sensation competition-- or whatever it was called-- the market for her art drastically increased. Furthermore, art dealers were coming to her instead of the other way around. It put her on the art world radar, so to speak.

As for art critics-- you are correct. Most were visual artists who did not 'make it', so to speak. Jerry Saltz, arguably the most successful art critic in the United States, comes to mind. He started out as an artist in Chicago-- but he never made it 'big time' in the mainstream art market. As a writer though-- artists flock for his attention. Why? Because if Jerry Saltz writes about your art dealers and collectors within those circles take notice.

That is because of the reputation Saltz has built as a writer for nearly 3 decades. In that sense, yes-- some collectors do care what an art critic has to say regardless of if he or she was successful or not selling art in the past.

Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA
Thank you Brian for amazing further information about blogging and exposure,etc..... I do so appreciate it.

George De Chiara
Thank you and Mikki for sharing this information! This was much more then I was expecting when I asked. I think it's a good idea to make some of the posts personal, though this is one thing I forget to do. I love the idea with the commissions, hadn't thought about that one.

George De Chiara
Write another comment . . .

Jo Allebach
Thank you all. I too am recently into blogging.
Sandy- thanks for the question if it does any good to be blogging. Thanks for the answers that really helped me a lot.
I am not sure how far my blogging has gone but i have received some comments and really appreciate the things that have been said. I have also already started feeling a real kinship to certain people. I have been inclined to read more blogs too so there are indirect benefits other than the "exposure". So, keep on bloggin' everyone.
Thanks Jack - you say some of the best stuff and I am glad I am on track to put in something personal because my life relates so intimately to my art.

Having your own blog about your art is good to do. But contacting bloggers that have a following is great if they write about you. I used to follow Art News Blog before Dion stopped posting. Back in those days if he wrote about you you would get tons of traffic. The more traffic you can get for your site the better it will rank so get at it!!! Its not the same as being wrote about by a famous critic but the traffic can be just as good.

Carol McIntyre
Just read all of the comments above and enjoyed the content back and forth. I have never thought of blogging as another form of "exposure." Hmmm

Sandy, people love to see the process...they get a peak into the magic of art making. Like Mikki, when I do a commission I post the steps of the painting process - which allows their friends and family to see also - and it will received. Do you have chapters for your book yet?

Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA
That is something I must do on my blog also..showing the painting process. Helps Make it so much more intersting I think. A good idea. Thanks for mentioning it.

LOL..yes, I do have chapters...My problem is that I do not know where to go with it from here.

Betty Pieper
Ah...Jo touches on what I meant in posting that the wise Dutch Uncle (Jack) was back giving the goods about exposure per se. In agreeing with his take on that, one has to ask "WHY DO I PAINT?" and what do I get out of 'exposure'?
If not sales, what? Jo says "indirect benefits"
and she likes the comments, but obviously looks
for better strategies to sell as well.

Carol Schmauder
Thanks for your article, Brian, and thanks to all those that added their opinions. I am one of those artists who has a love/hate relationship with blogging. This whole discussion has given me much to think about.

Brian Sherwin
What about seeking press from well-followed bloggers who happen to focus on art? Have any of you done that? Did you notice a boost in traffic to your website?

I realize 'art bloggers' can be kind of vague-- but within the context of the article I was talking more about bloggers who write art reviews, critiques, and exhibit reviews than artists who blog about their own art. That said, do you any of you have experiences being the topic of a blogger writing about your art?

Brian Sherwin
Exposure on a blog that focuses on art can lead to sold art. Just as being active blogging on your own blog-- and utilizing social media can result in sold art. That said, it can also help with reputation building-- like the whole concept of being a micro-celebrity. Which-- as the Internet continues to expand and root within all aspects of culture... is becoming more important for artists seeking recognition. At least in my opinion. You can bet your bottom dollar that the art collectors of tomorrow are wired today-- and will expect artists to have an online presence.

Sergio Lopez
I was featured on Hi-Fructose's online blog recently which led to a pretty sizeable traffic increase. The article was then reblogged by other blogs which has kept my site traffic at an increased level for a few weeks now. I believe I have gotten a few new sales for the exhibition out of it.

Can anyone tell me where I might be able to find a comprehensive list of the most influential art blogs out there?

Carson Collins
Well, Brian, given what you've done for me, I can hardly disagree, and I do have a blog. My problem (like Andy Warhol's character in Oliver Stone's film, "The Doors", said about the gold telephone that Edie Sedgwick gave him, saying, "With this you can talk to God." Andy (fictionally) replied, "...I have nothing to say." (or more accurately, I, myself, rarely have anything to say). The ART SHOULD SPEAK FOR ITSELF. And I refuse to post my personal drivel just to keep the danm' thing up-to-date.

Brian Sherwin
Sergio -- I'm working on a list of influential blogs-- as well as a larger list project. I should have something posted soon.

Carson -- Then don't. That said, by all means offer thoughts to others who may want to write about you.

As for your own blog-- there is a topic you could hit on... write about how you think the art should speak for itself. A blog post like that would be an interesting read-- at least for me.

In fact, if you want to write an article about how you feel that blogging about your art is a waste of time-- or however you feel about it-- I'd gladly pass that link on. You appear to feel that it is better not to post anything than to force a post, so to speak-- which is a position that many will agree with I'm sure. It might even make for a good guest article on FineArtViews.

I've known you for several years now-- I know you have used social networking and other paths to spread your art. So honestly, if you have a view on the pros and cons of social networking, blogging, and so on-- write about it. Your opinion and experience may be of value to another artist.

June Rollins
Hi Brian,

I value your experience and insights as I have a lot to learn.

I've had my blog for 14 months and make weekly posts. Fifty-two subscribers, very few comments and no sales, but I'm having fun.

I do step-by-step demos on my blog and I believe writing about my process is helping me be a better artist and art teacher.

Happy for the blogging experience. Still looking for ways to increase art sales.


Jo Allebach
June, I agree 100 per cent about blogging.

Brian Sherwin
June -- don't worry about lack of comments. Comments have very little to do with how successful a blog is. Some of the most popular art blogs online at this time receive, at most, 5 to 10 comments per article-- and more often than not there will be 0 comments on most posts. It does not mean the blog is not making an impact.

In fact, I've written blog articles that rank high on specific keyword searches that have very few, if any, comments. Most blog visitors are readers... so remember that. The content of a blog article is king-- not the comments. An article with a lot of comments may not receive the same traffic overall as one that has received just a few.

June Rollins
Brian -- thanks for the info on comments. Encouraging.

Jo -- guess we keep painting and blogging :) both are fun!

Frank Zweegers
Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

I have been blogging since 2006. It has taken me years to become consistent with it. Blogging has really helped me to become better at talking about my art anf what motivates me as an artist. I am always stunned by where the readers come from.

Michael Huffman
It is time that internet artists to get PAID $$

Click it and get it

Click Here!

I have been blogging for a few years now and it's not easy but it get a little easier the more you do it like exercise. I have my daily painters blog Painting of the day where I posst a new painting each day where I post my daily paintings and try to say something about them. This one is hard for me, because I am never sure what to say. Then I have my Art by Delilah blog where I post tips and how to do it stuff this is much easier for me to write about. Any ideas on what to ready to become a better writer?

jack white

I think a well written blog is very helpful. In fact i like them better than newsletters. People log into the blogs and want to receive them. Newsletters can get to be spam and folks will ask you to remove their names.

My mate has about 2,000 people reading her blogs, because she does step by step of her paintings along with a few personal stuff. Like images of the bluebonnets in our yard.

Her blog is


jack white

Oppps, I meant to write Michael.
No excuse for my blunder. Jack

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