Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Open Gallery

Do Web Sites Illuminate Unknown Artists?

The New York Times featured an article titled Websites Illuminate Unknown Artists on Monday in its Arts section about ArtistsWanted.org, a website created for the purpose of exposing unknown artists. Anyone can create a portfolio to show off their artwork to the world. To take it a step further, they can enter contests put on by Artists Wanted with some big prizes (i.e., having their artwork on a billboard in Time Square). A contest winner is selected by the Artists Wanted staff from a pool of top contenders who are chosen by popular vote.
Artists Wanted, according to their 'About Us' section, has been around since 2007. Artists Wanted is not alone in their endeavor; Behance has been around since 2006, and deviantART, arguably the most well-known online portfolio site, boasting over 19 million members, has been around since 2000.


There's one major difference between sites like these, and brick-and-mortar galleries: most of these online sites have no selection process. Anyone can sign up and present their portfolio, no matter how good or bad their work may be perceived as. In a gallery, one can't simply come in off the street and hang their artwork on the wall. On the one hand, sites like Artists Wanted can be a good place to get an unknown artist's work out there. On the other hand, how often do you hear of artists getting recognition because of these sites?

Sure, it happens, but the results may be no better than one-in-a-million. In this digital age, more people than ever are discovering their creative edge, and putting the results out for everyone to see.

What do you think? Are open portfolio sites a breath of fresh air from art bureaucracy, or are they a waste of time?

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