Could the Web Be the Answer for Struggling Artists?

by Susan Brewer (

Copyright © 1996 Susan Brewer. All rights reserved.

I suppose I should make my point up front—I'm a photo-illustrator. As one of those stereotypical, "struggling-to-get-noticed" artists, and having heard a bit about "The Grand Internet," I wanted to check out just what the Net offered as an artist's market.

Armed with my little black book of URLs I'd collected from magazines, and positioned behind the shoulder of an Internet-friendly friend, I was introduced to THE WEB. All I could think was, "Wow! This has got to be the place for me." Then and there, I had my grinning friend search for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) I could call my own little home on the Web.

So, modem in hand, I used my computer & phone line to dial-up to my new account for the first time and, thanks to much advice from those wiser in the area than myself, I downloaded the software necessary to get me started on creating my "art site dream." I have to say, it was like getting great new toys, but with vicious assembly required. I began by using the Netscape option to view source code (and view I did) from every site I came upon, to help me get acquainted with the "HTML thing." If I'd only known about things such as PageMill then, I don't suppose it would have taken the month of learning curve, but with much trial and error, I completed four simple pages of images and writings. My newfound way to self-publish (to a worldwide audience, no less) was the centerpiece silver platter. I mean, how could I beat having my work immediately accessible to I-net surfers around the globe? Since that time a year ago, I've opted to take this as my route in gaining exposure as a serious artist.

As it stands, there's an array of opportunities for new artists on the Internet, or, I should say, artists new to the Internet. What follows are some of my recommendations for getting started.

The Art Deadlines List

This is a truly valuable source for artists, on the Web or not, which announces, of course, deadlines on competitions, call for entries, jobs, fellowships, etc. (and I do mean et cetera). At this site, you can find the Web version, as well as information on subscription rates for the extended list, which includes 200-300 items per month.


Digital Zone's Design House, for example, accepts info from artists & related services, and provides a link to your Web site. This site has been on the Web for a while, and is well put together. I have also found quite a few "artist registries" on the Web, commonly charging for "full service" Web design of your site. If you are going to pay anyone for setup, I'd suggest seeking out a good, independent Web site developer/development firm. In other words, I wasn't impressed by the design of the "registry sites," but you definitely should list your URL with the specialty databases.

Online Galleries

These are around every corner on the Web, but if you are interested in this avenue, you can find seemingly good ones. The Internet Gallery, like the registries I located, charges for "full service" Web design although, from the look of this site, I don't think you would be disappointed. This online gallery acts as an ISP by offering network access (by login) and a search option. Most online galleries will take a submission (by requirements) for display at no cost to the artist. The Internet Gallery, however, is a good option if you don't already have a server and Web site set up. Just check a search engine like Lycos for a long listing of gallery sites.

Usenet Groups

A backbone of the Internet. With access to a news server, you can find two main artist-related groups through the "newsgroup" link on the WebCrawler Select Arts & Entertainment site. Posts within these groups should, at the very least, help you get in touch with other Internet users, but wherever there is an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) listing, please read it. I suggest also reading over existing threads before attempting to reply to posts.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, as far as artists' resources on the Web go. Whether you've been marketing your work for years by traditional means, or whether you've just decided to dig out the work you've been stashing away, the Internet is a means of contact and marketing that is well worth the investment. Many recognized names in contemporary art, as well as emerging artists of every medium, are beginning to utilize the potential of the Web. So, what are you waiting around for?

Susan Brewer is a photo-illustrator, and a displaced entity in northern Mississippi. Most recently, her work was "sited" in the art review at Pleiades: A Women's Internet Resource.