Artists find success on Internet

June 12, 2013 7:09:52 PM PDT
Artists have always struggled to find places to fund or sell their artwork, but the Internet is making that easier. Thanks to a rise in online marketplaces, the days of being a starving artist have become a feast of opportunity.

Oakland artist Shawn HibmaCronan is known for his mobile artwork. Shawn needed thousands of dollars to complete his vision for an old van. So he turned to social funding site Kickstarter.com to raise money.

"The beauty of Kickstarter is that it can expedite the process and really draw in a community of people -- supporters that essentially want to be patrons of the arts, but don't have the privilege to completely fund a project like this, " said HibmaCronan.

HibmanCronan is one of a growing number of artists using the Internet to connect with art lovers. Selling art on the Internet is certainly not new, but the growing number of sites is.

Glen Helfand is with the California College of Arts in San Francisco. He says, "There used to be a network of grants that artists could get to fund projects. I mean way back in the ancient history, galleries might have given artists stipends. Now it's a much tougher game."

Saara Reidsema makes jewelry. "I sell mostly one of a kind or made to order rings, earrings, necklaces," she says.

Reidsema struggled to find a store to sell her goods. Then she found Etsy.com. "It has been amazing," she said.

"Etsy is an online marketplace where you can buy or sell handmade or vintage goods from artists all around the world," said Etsy spokesperson Natalie Schwartz.

Brooklyn-based Etsy was created eight years ago to give artists a place to showcase their work. Today the company boasts 18 million unique items for sale. It just opened a San Francisco office.

Schwartz says, "People are really excited about Etsy here in the Bay Area." The company charges 20 cents to list an item for sale, and takes a 3.5 percent transaction fee when the item sells.

Another online marketplace is taking a different approach. Atlanta-based ScoutMob.com opened up "Shoppe" just over seven months ago. The company showcases local artists on locally-themed websites.

ScoutMob co-founder Michael Tavani says, "It came about as a total experiment. We had a kind of small team of people who initially tested it out, we didn't have huge expectations for it and it really took off."

San Francisco artist Dave Marcoullier sells his carved wood designs on ScoutMob.com.

"Working with ScoutMob really allowed me to reach a national audience, even an international audience," said Marcoullier.

ScoutMob has two million subscribers. It recruits artists and showcases their crafts. ScoutMob pays the artists a wholesale price for art and then sells it at retail prices. Marcoullier says he's been so successful selling online he now does it full time.

"It's a really great feeling to say I am making a living an artist," he said.

Written and Produced by Ken Miguel


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