Fine Art America: A Short Opinion Piece

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 5.37.01 PMI’m a professional photographer who has had a pro account at Fine Art America since December, 2011. Here’s a link to my artist website on Fine Art America: Since December 2011 I’ve made a total of sixteen sales, the lowest being $.25 for a post card and the highest being $177. The average is between $25-50 per sale. These kinds of sales are dismal to say the least, but I kept my account open because the sales at least covered the yearly membership fee. Additionally, I was hoping that having my photography on the site would provide additional exposure.

This year however, I’ve let my membership lapse because it really doesn’t seem to add or diminish my exposure, considering there are free options in having my photography seen out there, a Facebook fan page being one. The exposure isn’t really there, mainly because the vast majority of users at Fine Art America are artists themselves, and the ratio of artists to fine art collectors (i.e. buyers) seems to be very low.

I saw a post once that listed an artist’s sales at Fine Art America as if printed directly from the website. The report shows multiple sales every day, and income in the thousands. In no way or form do I buy that as genuine. I have hundreds of friends on Fine Art America, fellow photographers and painters who are well known in the artist community, as well as known photographers who have shot National Geographic level work. Neither myself, nor these hundreds of artists have ever seen these kinds of sales on Fine Art America from our work. We had a good laugh and proposed a toast to the artist who posted his income report from Fine Art America as “in the thousands” and “earning at least $1,000 every month”, because he’s apparently at the very apex of his game. None of us other photographers can come even close to those earnings from Fine Art America every month. We must be doing everything wrong, and we invite this artist to enlighten us on how to achieve his level of success.

Aside from that, Fine Art America’s pricing scheme is actually very flawed and unequally balanced towards company over artist earnings. The artists set their own markup for each item, granted, but the artist must keep his markup extremely low in order to make a sale, because Fine Art America’s share of the sale is already set at or above the maximum a buyer will pay. For example, if an artist sets a markup of only $5 for an 8×10 canvas print, Fine Art America’s sales price for that print will be $52. That’s a $47 markup for Fine Art America. That means the artist earns roughly 10% of the sale, if that. The problem is that a buyer will rarely pay $52 for an 8×10 canvas print. Fine Art America needs to change their pricing scheme, not only to be more fair to the artists who do the majority of the work, but also to help the artist increase sales. Granted, Fine Art America does handle the printing and shipping to the client (at the buyer’s expense of course), but compared to the photographer’s portion of the work in getting to a location to shoot, oftentimes in remote back country and/or foreign countries, editing the work, and the often extensive work of simply uploading and pricing the print on Fine Art America’s own website, their time of printing and shipping pales in comparison.

For this reason, starting this year I will no longer be upgrading my account on Fine Art America yearly. I hope others follow suit until FAA changes this method of doing business in order to improve fairness towards artists.


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