The Internet is home to innumerable cool websites, most of which are free to use. As the computer pervades almost every aspect of life in the United States, few off-line pursuits have been as threatened as the lifestyle of a visual artist. Artists face an escalating threat from the Internet in that the rise of the computer has developed and propagated new forms of visual art, threatening to make traditional visual art obsolete. While there are many websites for visual artists, including art-themed social networks, no site works as hard to present and develop art careers of contemporary artists like Art.net.
Art.net is a gallery for professional artists and it is entirely free to visit. As a virtual gallery, Art.net has a distinctly anti-commercial feel to it. The site won a lawsuit against the state of New York over freedom of speech issues in part because as a non-commercial website, it did not have a way to authenticate visitors’ ages! The purpose of Art.net is not to sell artwork; it is to display artwork and provide a common platform for artists to share ideas as they improve their proficiency in their medium of choice.
Currently, there are over 450 artists who have virtual galleries on Art.net and just as humor is subjective, so too is art. While many of the artists on Art.net have embraced some form of digital art, most use their virtual gallery space to present images of physical projects that exist in the real world. Art.net is a great site to spend hours carefully combing through the works of artists that you might not have a chance to see elsewhere. While many of the artists do have galleries or studios, most of the artists on Art.net do not have standing showings in the real world like they do on this site. Browsing through the virtual galleries can open your mind and expose you to some great new artists.
Art.net is not preoccupied with any form of ecommerce, which sets it apart from sites like DeviantArt. What Art.net offers art enthusiasts is incredible access to the artists you see when you visit the site. Art.net provides each artist with a mailbox and most every artist’s gallery includes a direct link to e-mail them through the site. Art.net in no way restricts its users from contacting artists to make offers on any pieces an artist has presented.
If you are on the other side of the creative process, Art.net offers a decent level of exposure to artists at a very reasonable price. Because the site is entirely nonprofit, a $60/year membership fee is charged to keep the servers running. In exchange, you get seemingly unending storage space for your art and a platform that has been running since 1994!
There are many individual artists’ websites, but there is no multi-artist platform on the Internet so concerned with the pure creation and presentation of art as Art.net. That commitment makes Art.net exceptionally cool.
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