2 Mar 2010
What should artists learn from Boundless Gallery closing down?
Yesterday, one of the online galleries that sold original art since 2003, Boundless Gallery, had to close its virtual doors. The company is still there, and are doing their best to wrap up things nicely to all their sellers and buyers, but the site is not operational any longer.
Both EmptyEasel and Fine Art Views have wrote about it yesterday, quoting the reasons for Boundless Gallery shutting down, but more over, offering specials discounts for Boundless Gallery’s sellers to join their own services, FolioTwist (by EmptyEasel) and FineArtStudioOnline (by Fine Art Views). I was very impressed and command both generosity, as well as camaraderie that both owners showed in their blogs as well as on Twitter:
One thing in particular that came to mind while reading through this, was what should artists learn from that? And where is the future of Content Management Systems (CMS) for artists?
While we’re very sad by the loss of such an innovative art service, closings such as this illustrate why we have always recommended that artists control their own online web site. It’s somewhat risky to rely totally on another site for the bulk of your online presence. The site could close down (as in this case), change their business model, change their design, or customer targeting. Similarly relying on free services to provide you with an online presence can be risky too. If you’re not paying for the service (as in the case of something like Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, etc), then you are not truly a customer, and you have virtually no sway with the company.We’ve always felt that artists should own their own domain name and host their own website as the hub of their online marketing. Then other sites become “spokes” designed to promote your artwork and drive people back to your main website, your “hub.”
I can’t agree more on this statement – like any other business, putting your assets in someone else’s basket creates a liability or risk, and to be successful, you have to weigh the risk and mitigate it. The Internet, for the non-technical, can be very overwhelming, and creating the proper online presence takes time and efforts, and yes, it also cost money, if you want to do it right. But here is what I found missing from both posts, and I am bringing it up not to bash them (which is definitely not my intention) but to see how this can enhance the next generation of CMS systems for artists. And the point is simple – both systems offered by FolioTwist and FASO have the same inherited issue that Boundless Gallery had. Both are not Open Source systems, and are controlled by their perspective companies. That means that if (God forbid!) they will decide to close shop, the same thing will happen to their clients!
To better illustrate this, consider the difference between WordPress and Blogger. Although WordPress has their hosted solution, WordPress.com, they also support the Open Source of the WordPress platform, available for anyone to be downloaded from WordPress.org. Once you download it, you can install it on any host provider, and configure it any way you want. You do not have to be a Software Developer to use it. It is a full CMS system to build pretty nice blogs and websites. On the other hand, a blog on Blogger is hosted by Blogger (which is actually Google). If for any reason Google will decide to turn the plug off – it will be off for the entire Blogger community. Note: Blogger does have the FTP option, which allow you to transfer your Blogger’s blog from their site to your site, but they recently decided to discontinue it, and they discourage anyone from using it, so in essence, it doesn’t exist any longer. Moreover, it illustrates the control they have over all Blogger’s users. If WordPress will decide to close shop, anyone who has the framework hosted on their own server, will be able to continue hosting and using it, and even change and enhance it with no interruption.
Now, there are very good reasons for each type of service, based on the companies’ business model. I am not going to delve into this here. Similarly, FolioTwist and FineArtStudioOnline are in business to be successful, help their clients, the artists, and also build a viable and successful businesses.
So how does the artist mitigate the risk of loosing overnight his or her main “hub”?
I believe that the main requirement is to make sure that a site that host your main website will be able to guarantee continuity. That could be in the form of Export and Import options, from one platform to another one. Or it could be in the form of a Backup and Restore options, with basic or extended CMS management functionality. Another option can be to package the CMS application and sell it like any other software package. And of course, there is the option to make it available for all…
For the artist, there is of course the option to go with a dedicated site designer and development company who will build a site from scratch. This option is usually more expensive, both the initial setup and maintenance in the long run. But, it reduces the risk of relying on a service provider. Even when going this route, it is imperative that you receive regular backups of your sites, so if the site developer cease to exist, you can take the backup package and find another developer who will be able to help you quickly.
I would love to hear what you think about it, and if you have other suggestions and insights.
- EmptyEasel’s Why Boundless Gallery Closed Down
- Fine Art View’s Boundless Gallery Closes, What’s Next and a Special Offer from FASO
- Art Is Broken: Boundless Gallery closing – what does this mean for artists, galleries, and collectors?
- List of 66+ websites for artists to build online presence now includes more than 120, minus Boundless Gallery