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Goodbye Myartspace OR Oops! Your online presence just vanished

by Brian Sherwin on 1/22/2012 8:12:49 PM

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 Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

I worked for a social art site -- Myartspace (MAS). I was their Senior Editor for several years -- and a founding member of their Management Team. Social networking sites, in general, can be very helpful for gaining exposure online -- and Myartspace did help artists receive recognition. However, I have always said that one must be careful in how they spread themselves out online, if you will. An online empire can vanish over night -- along with a portion of your online presence. The social art site you know and love today may not be here tomorrow -- consider that when planning your art marketing efforts.


The owners of Myartspace recently decided to pull the plug on the project -- which means they pulled the plug on any artist who put in hours of work building a presence on MAS. We all know that a website can close. Unfortunately, Myartspace did not warn their membership -- they technically were not obligated to offer a warning due to their terms of service (TOS) agreement. Fair enough. That said, the decision to close abruptly has angered more than a few artists and fans of the Myartspace community -- so much so that some artists have contacted me with questions (for several years I was kind of like the Tom *think Myspace* of -- a 'figurehead' of the community).


I can understand why people who enjoyed Myartspace are angry even though I know the TOS agreement made it very clear that the site could be taken down without warning -- that is a standard of TOS agreements in general. Imagine the surprise of waking up to discover that you lost all of your art contacts on a social networking site that you had invested time in. In addition to that, imagine losing images of your art -- that you assumed would continue to be safely hosted -- that can't be replaced. Again, I understand the frustration -- the anger -- but I also realize that there is a lesson to be learned from the closing of Myartspace.


The lesson is a cruelly simple one -- if you are going to market your art online, make sure to keep physical records of your art contacts and images. In other words, keep a dossier of important art-related contacts written down in a notebook -- keep photographs of your art that you can use to upload later if data is lost. Learn this lesson -- some of the Myartspace members who have contacted me have lost several years worth of contacts (fellow artists, art collectors, art dealers and so on) and images -- all because they failed to keep their own records.


The owners of the art sites we love often have the best intentions -- they want to give something back to the art community in general. That said, when the journey is over -- it is over... a website can close for a variety of reasons at any time -- and you don't want to be left empty handed. had over 80,000 members -- that is a lot of empty hands if the majority of those members failed to keep data/records offsite.


In addition to keeping physical records -- I'm certain that some of those artists are kicking themselves in the head for not having their own website (especially one with a unique domain name) and newsletter. The closing of Myartspace teaches us why it is so important to have more control over our art marketing efforts online. Point blank -- you really can't blame the owners of Myartspace for doing what they felt they had to do. I'm not blaming the artists for the position they are in -- however, one could suggest that they should have sought to establish a unique presence online -- or at least widened the scope of their online art marketing efforts.


Keep in mind that you can experience the same career setback with social networking websites that appear to be 'alive and well' on face value. Take Myspace for example -- I once had a group of 50,000+ artists on there. It was extremely useful, at the time, for spurring debate and sharing ideas about art. I had Facebook as well -- but at that time it was restricted to college students. I wanted a wider audience -- so I thought Myspace was the place to be. My how times change...


The art group I had on Myspace is useless today -- the profiles of the members who were once active in the group are just reminders of the past... digital tombstones of a bygone era in social networking. The art group I managed on Myspace suffered from the mass exodus to Facebook after Facebook opened its doors to the general public. The irony being that Facebook is doing some of the same things Myspace did that resulted in pushing people away. Another BIG social networking empire may be on the horizon. You just never know.


I use Facebook knowing that in the future their online empire may eventually crumble. Point blank -- you can't always rely on your online presence. That is why I keep a physical notebook of important contacts that I've made. I do the same with other social networking websites -- and I strongly urge that YOU do the same. The closing of Myartspace has been a hard lesson for many -- learn from it. I know I have.


In closing, I must admit that I will miss I was a key player in helping to establish the website -- and I can tell you that everyone behind the site made personal and professional sacrifices to help spearhead the project. It was one of the first social art sites of its kind to build partnerships with international art fairs such as SCOPE Art Show and Aqua Art Miami. It was also one of the first social art sites to place focus on brick and mortar exhibit spaces -- having had exhibits in Manhattan and at one point a gallery in Palo Alto. It offered an annual free to enter $16,000 art scholarship competition for college art students worldwide. I learned a lot from those experiences -- and from the artists, art dealers and organizers I met while working as Senior Editor. Goodbye Myartspace.


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin

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Topics: advice for artists | art marketing | art websites | Brian Sherwin | FineArtViews | social networking | Think Tank 

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People should see what they can recover from the wayback machine archive of the site if anything.

Also, wonder when/ if they stopped taking premium subscriptions. Never looked at the terms of service but would be surprised if the site could just shut down premium subscribers without returning money pro rata particularly if they were taking subscriptions recently.

the lesson IS get your own site.
If your going to PAY to put your art on a website.... make it be your own website. That gives you much more control and avoids dealing with someone else's terms of service.
If you think sites like Myartspace, and Deviant art and such have some networking value.... then put a few on for free to establish a presence. But the goal should be to get them to your own website.
Just like with facebook and twitter... the goal is to get them to your site where the best of your work and complete info is located.

Amy Guidry
@samthor- exactly! Drive that traffic to your own website. That's what is going to increase your SEO ranking anyway, rather than just aiding all these other sites. They are great to have as a reference to your work as I believe everyone has their preferred method to follow you. However, the ultimate goal should be to visit your website where they can view all of your work, purchase, etc.

Vivian Gladden
I have lost two websites this way. I had an AOL website for year and then was notified by friends that it was gone. They had deleted all the sites without warning. Then I got a free Microsoft Office site that I really liked, then they took away tech support and I had login issues that they could not resolve through emails to India. I now have a paid site. Through Microsoft I got my own domain name and had it transferred to my new site. I have learned that nothing is ever permanent, but I have all my files on my computer and backed up elsewhere.

What concerns me most about this is that a site called ArtWanted has started contacting Myartspace artists. That is how I found out Myartspace had closed.

ArtWanted sent out a message addressing the closing and invited Myartspace artists to join their community. My guess is that ArtWanted bought all the emails Myartspace had.

It is ANNOYING. First I lose my images without warning. Then some other company invites me to upload my images on their site. BOGUS.

Myartspace is lame for closing without warning and ArtWanted is lame for buying the email list. That is a no, no for any serious company. Myartspace was a site for fine art. ArtWanted is more about fan art and fantasy art. The two sites had little in common. LAME.

jack white

I'm sitting here with a smile on my face. In the mid 90ies, we were on 11 HOT Art Websites. One was and claimed 4 million hits a day. We were front and center just waiting for the money to roll in.

One site was called All of them let us on for free. I can't remember the other names. We worked our tails off scanning and uploading images. Back then we didn't have digital. I was concerned we would sell more art than we could produce.

Ten of companies closed without warning and in less than a year after opening. At least we had our own Websites.

One company is still open. We were placed on their site for free. It's been a dozen years and Senkarik is still up on their site and we have not sold one item. They are Art Exchange, which is rich from selling artists their program. They sell very little art, but they take a lot of money from artists looking for an online market place.

I realized there is no quick mass way to market art. It's still done one painting at a time. We do well with our sites, but not much any other online place. Mikki has between 2,000 and 2,500 reader of her blog, but they are mostly artists wanting painting secrets.

We are on Facebook...the vote is still out how much help that will be. Right now we are flooded with artists becoming friends. I want collectors.


Sharon Weaver
I have always kept my art photos but am wondering what else to backup. You say to save all the contacts but should I also make copies of my newsletters? Would my email be effected? I just recently signed up for an outside backup so if my computer goes everything is saved. Would that help in this case? Thanks for reminding all of us to be prepared.

Brian Sherwin
Jack -- I'm surprised the sites you mentioned offered free space. I've been told horror stories about early art sites and pricing per page.

Artwell was the first art site I was on -- or I should say, the first to really catch my attention. That was back in the mid to late 90s.

Sharon -- I'd make copies of everything if I were you. For example, I keep hard copies of every article I post. As for Myartspace -- yep... the artists who had various types of messaging with them lost access to that as well. My guess is that they refunded their Premium members.

Chaz -- To be honest... I was shocked that they closed without warning. But again, they had every right to do so based on their terms.

jack white

We were some of the first artists on these sites. They needed samples to sell others. The minute I found a new site we reached out. We were the first of a dozen free on Art Exchange. Since then they have become rich selling artist. It's a sad case.

We have two back up hard drives. We also have a backup system with Norton. We did that when we learned CDs fade, the same as 4.5 trans.


Brian Sherwin
I've been finding a lot of "What happened to" type of questions on Yahoo questions, WetCanvas and other sources. I really do feel bad for the artists who got caught up in the closing. But again, there is a lesson to learn here.

Carol Schmauder
Thanks for the post, Brian. Frankly I am surprised when artists don't keep their own records where they can get their hands on them. I keep records of my customers and my art work.

It is sad for those that didn't keep records to lose all that info.

George DeChiara
Good point Brian! From almost the begging of getting on facebook I've been trying to get my fans to sign up for my newsletter and go to my website. FB, twitter and all those other sites are just that, another site. They aren't my site, I don't have a lot of control over how my images are displayed or how things are laid out, they do.

Donald Fox
It's hard to imagine anyone doing anything on a computer, online or otherwise, without backing it up. Like Jack, I had work on several sites for years for free. The sites were new and offered free space for a limited time to new subscribers. These people were grandfathered onto the sites after they started selling space. Eventually both sites went south. Anyway, good advice to always keep tabs on all work and contacts.

Brian Sherwin
Donald -- I think people just get comfortable... and then slack off on keeping records. I've known writers who have lost entire chapters due to their computer crashing. Glad Jack mentioned CDs as well... a lot of people forget that those discs do not last forever.

As for images I'd suggest digital copies BUT also have physical photographs and slides... slides for general documentation. Note: the shelf-life of slides will depend on how you store them. I've observed slides that are 50 years old that are still in excellent quality. Again, storage is key.

tom weinkle

Excellent article. Great lesson about downloading info regularly and not depending COMPLETELY on others. No matter how big, or how stable, nothing is forever. Understanding that is being prudent. Things change, businesses get sold, plugs get pulled, disasters and accidents strike.

I like what Jack White's first comment said too. Being online and out there is important, but we do have to analyze where our meaningful contacts and sales come from. I am a believer in online presence for sure, but 25 years of design business has also tattooed into my mind never to put all your eggs in one basket.

NASA has redundant systems, we have to have them also, but ot more than we can handle ourselves.

Thank you!

Marsha Hamby Savage
Very good and timely article. I find it odd, too, that artists would not save to a backup all photos and documents. I will be going to FB and phsyically keeping a record of contact information.

I love Jack's comment about wanting collectors. Yes, yes, yes! It is so difficult to determine the value of the contacts when they are mostly artists. But, artists are some of the best collectors of other artist work. So, we need to market where the "collectors" are.

Marian Fortunati
This article is a good reminder to all of us, Brian. Thanks.

I'm sure all of us have kicked ourselves when our computer crashes and we haven't backed up our data somewhere. (hmmmmm... when was the last time I did that??)

I've also not been convinced that the cloud or some remote storage device is the answer. But not backing up isn't really a wise chance.

I wonder how many FASO users have used the export features of the website. Although you can't get images, you CAN export all of your art information into a format that can be imported into a personal database. You can also print out all of your newsletter contacts which is a good thing to do if you occasionally clean up your mailing list.

Unfortunately it's just another thing to do and most of us are already packed to the gills with things to do.

But.... consider the alternatives... ugly for sure.

Thanks for your reminder!

That's all fine and good that they weren't required to contact people, BUT, it would have been the kind thing to do. If given the choice between kindly letting people know and maybe saying, "hey, it's been great, but we're shutting down" or just pulling the rug out with no explanation, well, I would choose the nice way. I have all my stuff backed up, but it's still rude to saynothing and pull the site regardless of TOS. It's just a crappy way to do business. It isn't like they didn't have the capability to send a mass email. In the real world, this is called "burning bridges"

Brian Sherwin
Stephanie -- I agree with you... just pointing out that technically they did not have to do that -- which is probably why they didn't. We all need to remember that -- Facebook, Twitter, you name it... could all be gone tomorrow.

That said, I know of other art sites like Myartspace that have pulled the plug AND gave fair warning. Thus, I understand why people are frustrated. I would have been frustrated as well had I lost a lot of images.

An artist contacted me just a few days ago wanting to know what happened and why I did nothing to stop it. I had to explain to her that I no longer worked for them -- though they did still have me listed as Senior Editor (my name is good for branding. Ego, ego ego. ;p ). She regretted having not saved a screen shot of the interview I had with her. Luckily, I was able to find a copy.

And yes... it is sad that they burned bridges with so many artists considering that they had become a bridge builder over the years. I put a lot of time and effort into helping to establish Myartspace... so I'll admit that when I found out it closed.... well... it hurt.

Stephen Rybacki
Thanks for the article Brian.

FYI to all myartspace premium members, I was a member cut off on my subscription. I contacted Brian Skiba by phone and email, he said that premium members would receive a pro rated refund.

Below is his email response (Jan 9th 2012):


The myartspace website was taken down on January 3rd for maintenance.

Whether we bring the site back up or not remains a consideration, but the firm and the site are insolvent, and we have exhausted our investments in the site.

Once we settle through the dust, we will devise a plan for approximately 40 people to have partial retunds on their premium membership. Most premium members pay monthly, and those payments are terminated as of the end of

We will be contacting the premium members shortly.

Kind Regards,

Brian Sherwin
Stephen -- Did you receive the refund? I do wish they had offered a warning before pulling the plug -- that would have reduced some of the confusion. At the least... it would have offered members a chance to back up their images offsite. A lot of people assumed I was still Senior Editor because they had me listed as such... thus, I know that people are extremely frustrated.

Stephen Rybacki
I have not been contacted in regards to any refund yet. I will give them some more time before I start asking questions again.

Fortunately, all my images and galleries were backed up. My largest loss was the fact that I have put out 800 business cards over the past two years with the website link to advertise my online galleries. This was my main use for the premium membership, its was a very quick and easy hook for my clients to gain interest in my work. I'm sad to have to move on...but thankful for what the website did give me.

This is news to me. I just went to log on to myartspace, and here I am !!! No worries, although I lost my images due to a divorce and my son not using the usb correctly, I am on other sites. (yes, Facebook is one of them) I also keep records and info on "real" paper in notebooks. =) I am hoping to have an individual website as well. Take care --- Tom

Brian Sherwin
Tom -- In hindsight, I recall that I lost a few images as well. I remember I had an image or two of my daughter stored on my MAS account... from when she was just a few days old. Same situation as you... her mom and I split several years ago and it will be difficult -- if not impossible -- to replace those images. Tough lesson.

Brian --- Yes, isn't life full of tough lessons !!! Live and learn, a day at a time.

It's funny - and also very telling - that I am just now learning that MyArtSpace went bust. Yes, I had work on there. But, no, it was not my only online presence. I am posted on every site I can fine, from ETSY to Facebook, and also have my own space. I would never even think of NOT backing up may data, which is done automatically because I have Time Machine on Mac OS. Everyday, it makes a copy of my hard drive onto an external removable portable 2T drive. I also back up my images using DVD's and CD's. One should go to GREAT lengths to make sure you don't lose your data and images. However, I also need to point out that I have lost data in the past (1996) and frankly, I recovered just fine. If you think about it, all you are losing in such a tragedy are words. There really isn't anything on my computer that would devastate me is I lost it. SO, even if you do lose your data, it isn't the end of the world! LOL!


jack white


We lost 1,500 collectors information. That was a serious blow to our marketing. Eventually we were able to find about 300 names and addresses. Your buyer list is golden. They are saving us in these tough times.


Brian Sherwin
Allen -- The problem is that some artists assume that sites like Myartspace are here to stay -- or that they will receive some form of warning before the 'plug is pulled'. That is not always the case... Myartspace proved that. I suppose the main point of this article is to not assume anything about the websites we use. And yes, the main focus (online at least) should be on your personal website in the first place. :)

Brian Sherwin
Jack -- And I bet you keep online copies AND physical copies of that list now. :)

That is another thing to consider... just as a website may vanish -- your computer can 'fry'. The stability of discs can degrade over time... as can 'memory sticks'. Anything within the digital realm, if you will, can be lost. A handful of New York galleries and artists just learned that from the Sandy flooding.

Having a physical copy -- be it a printed out list of collectors or copies of photographed artwork -- is always a good thing.

Derek B
I was going to myartspace to bring up a years old portfolio that had document photos that I lost apparently. I would wonder if there a stash of all thoæs files somewhere.

Brian Sherwin
Derek -- It may be somewhere... but I no longer have access to anything. I wonder if you could use Wayback to find it?


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