I was searching around on Bing the other day for Fine Art America because they’ve been doing some tweaking of the site code and changing their name to Pixels from Fine Art America lately and it seems that Google is fine with the change but Bing is not indexing the new site.
Anyway, long story short, I noticed one of the top “related searches” was “Fine Art America is it legit?”.
I figured I could answer that. I’ve been selling on Fine Art America and Pixels since June of 2011. In that time frame I’ve sold about 800 pieces of artwork. It took a while to get my name out there to start selling. First I had to figure out that artwork doesn’t sell itself and there are thousands of other artists wanting to sell their work also. It takes a lot of effort to stand out from the crowd.
It starts with doing first class work, of course, but then it takes time and marketing to get noticed and to have your work viewed by customers. Just uploading and waiting for sales doesn’t work.
Basically Fine Art America and Pixels is a database of artwork that is printed on demand. It allows the artist to offer their artworks via digital files which can be purchased by customers in a dizzying array of prints, matted artwork, framed artwork, metal prints, canvases and a variety of products.
The majority of the artwork and variation is handled by a firm in High Point, North Carolina called Graphik Dimensions Ltd. They have been servicing the art world for over 30 years and provide outstanding printing, framing and shipping services for Fine Art America and Pixels. I’ve bought a lot of my own prints, metal prints and framed art for shows via my own FAA store (www.edwardfielding.com) and the quality has always been top notch.
The products have been more of a mixed bag as the tote bags, cell phone cases, t-shirts and pillows come from a variety of subcontracted vendors. I don’t think the quality has been as consistent. Fine Art America found an amazing partner when they initially started working with Graphik Dimensions. The product expansion is new so I’m sure eventually the kinks will be worked out with the new product suppliers.
I can understand an artist approaching the site or any site with caution. There are so many of these POD type sites popping up everyday and you don’t know who to trust with your electronic files.
But I’ve found working with Fine Art America that they are very transparent with the artists. You have full access to sales reports, balance sheets and the pay outs have always been on time.
Sometimes new artists don’t understand the time it takes for a sale to clear. Because Fine Art America and Pixels have a 30 day money back guarantee on all products, the artist is not paid until after this period has passed and they might have to wait a bit longer because the payments are processed once a month on the 15th.
On the buyers side, there is the 30 day money back guarantee so you are protected. As a print and framed art buyer from Fine Art America and Pixels myself, I’ve found that every order I’ve placed has been perfect or they have redone it to my satisfaction. Expect for a tote bag I ordered which came printed wrong and the replacement bag took about 30 days to arrive. This was during Christmas and the tote bag vendor subcontracted by FAA seemed a bit over their head with the rush of holiday orders. Hopefully this will be better next Christmas season.
Fine Art America runs a efficient operation which keeps the costs down and allows the artists to keep more profits then they would at other POD sites. The downside of this approach is the customer service staff seems overwhelmed and slow to respond. If you have a customer service concern you are most likely to have to wait 12 hours or so for a response and don’t expect to here back from them on the weekend. Other sites have live customer service chat windows, but they also have investor money to pay for it.
So in summary….
Is Fine Art America and Pixels legit? Yes. It is a real company and real art transactions occur every day. Artist upload their work and market themselves to bring in buyers. Buyers can buy purchase a wide array of printed work, framed artwork, canvases and more. Part of the profit goes to Fine Art America/Pixels but the majority goes to supporting the actual artist.
The artists can upload 25 or less images for free or pay $30 a year for unlimited uploads. The payments to artists are made after the 30 day guarantee in case any returns are made. Personally I’ve only had maybe 1% returns.
Is the Satisfaction Guarantee legit? Yes, I’ve used it myself. When a metal print I ordered for a show was off color, they mailed me a new one. When a tote bag I ordered had a printing error, they mailed me a new one.
Problems? The company operates like a small family business. There are thousands of participating artists, subcontractors that number in the hundreds of employees but the head office is run with a small staff of less than 10, so you do run into problems with the site being quirky now an then but it keeps things running cost effectively which means more money in the artist pockets instead of going to pay for overhead.
Rip Off? I’ve seen a few online rants about Fine Art America or Pixels being a rip off but typically its because of one of the following:
1. The “artist” posts bad work and expects it to sell by magic (i.e. they don’t do any marketing).
2. The artist is an unstable mental person who gets into some beef with forum moderators or feels in someway slighted. So they are out for revenge.
3. They are trying to rip off FAA/Pixels. The typical scam is when a con-artists opens an account and then using a fake credit card to order a bunch of their own artwork. They think that FAA/Pixels is going to pay them immediately and then when they realize they won’t get paid for these fake orders they go crazy online.
From the buyers standpoint I can’t imagine any cries of “rip-off” because the return policy is so liberal. You have 30 days to decide if the artwork matches your sofa or not.
For me the top reasons have been:
1. Easy to use interface
2. Transparency of the sales information
3. Variety of museum quality printing and framing choices I can offer my customers
4. Ability to create my own branded storefront – http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/
5. Helpful artist members
Places for improvement would be in beefing up the customer service staff and promoting the artists more.
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