This is the order of the digital age. Best estimates are that over 100 billion live websites are out there, so finding a quality artisan marketplace may require a degree of resourcefulness on the part of art critics and consumers. And then to find the right art product…good luck!
So, how do the artists and crafters find their way to market? A perfect example is the Online Handmade Industry where there are a number of notable and shoppable sites to explore. The ease in presentation on the web has made it relatively simple to place art works and crafts before the consuming public and hence to the cash register. Electronic advances and the accessibility of the internet have attracted millions of buyers, many who shop exclusively on the WWW. Plus the attraction of the Online Handmade Industry (OHI) depends on art works and crafts to be handmade, thereby guaranteeing a "one of a kind" inventory mentality.
The OHI is not without problems. The handmade aspect in some cases is without warrant and there have been reports of "Re-Sellers" making their way into handmade marketplaces. This practice involves an "artist/seller" purchasing an item elsewhere and then presenting it as handmade, which it is not, on an unsuspecting website. So big is this problem is that a large number of legitimate handmade artists have given up on some of the "Open Exhibition" sites in favor of "Juried" sites. A Juried site, like a Juried Exhibition, maintain a degree of exclusivity by a jury of experts previewing art works by particular artist before they are allowed to place works on the site.
The practice of juried art is beneficial to both the artist and the consumer. The artists benefit by the site maintaining the integrity of the handmade concept and the inherent quality provided by the process, plus the sheer numbers of competing works are restricted by the exclusive design of a juried site. Consumers benefit by knowing the artists they shop have been pre-screened.
The nature and scope of the internet is such that what may be a relevant search result is difficult for the buyer to achieve. Understanding how the search engines work is important but the reality is the average buyer just wants to see what they are looking for. Presence on a Juried site helps accomplish this. Another way to look at this is what I call "Culling the Herd". This is the process of weeding out less desirable elements in whatever your "Herd" consists of.
Juried sites are both inclusive and exclusive. Artisans seek to be included in an exclusive environment, and they do so consciously. A Juried marketplace will send a message of quality and unique value of art products and visual arts. The ultimate benefit is being a part of something special and that will result in increased consumer loyalty and return frequency.
The old cliché "There’s safety in numbers" is not always the case. The successful artist/artisan markets to their market in a manner that is exclusive by design. The bottom line…
Don’t run with the pack!
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