Fine Art America claims to be The World's Largest Art Marketplace and Print-On-Demand Technology Company. They state that they have been helping artists sell wall art, home decor, apparel, and other products since 2006 and are home to hundreds of thousands of artists, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, and iconic brands. In this article, I want to offer my personal opinions about services like Fine Art America. Because so many art consumers are searching for quality fine art prints, they are bound to end up clicking on a link to Fine Art America, where thousands of artists sell their work for surprisingly low prices. But is Fine Art America a place to buy and sell quality fine art?
What Products Does Fine Art America offer?
I think it might be easier to name off what they don't offer. Fine Art America allows artists to sell their art on their website on a commission basis. Artists can sell their work in various products that are arguably not considered "fine art." It is up to the artist to choose what products they sell through Fine Art America. When potential customers click on an artist's artwork, they are presented with product categories. For example, If you click on Wall art, you are then presented with options such as framed prints, canvas prints, metal prints, acrylic prints, art prints, wood prints, and tapestry. That is a wide variety of print options for any artist, but it doesn't end there! There are eight more categories of products, all with numerous sub-products. Let's take a look at the Home Decor category. You now have the option of throw pillows, fleece blankets, duvet covers, shower curtains, and bath towels! Yes, you heard it correctly. You can now own "fine art" shower curtains. It doesn't sound like an archival print medium that you might have seen at the Museum of Modern Art or any other high-end fine art gallery, but Fine Art America makes it possible with a few clicks on your keyboard or mobile phone. In addition to the products I mentioned, Fine Art America offers various other services such as marketing, image licensing, and much more.
What Is "Fine Art"?
I can imagine if you asked 100 artists what fine art is, you might get wildly different opinions. One thing that I think most artists would agree on is that taking pictures and allowing a company to place them on puzzles and tote bags is not "fine art." I am not going to tell people what they can call fine art or not. But putting yoga mats and shower curtains in the same category as a fine art print seems a little silly to me.
How good is the quality of Fine Art America's products?
I feel people should question the quality of a print from a company that offers high-volume print-on-demand services. The biggest problem I see is that the artist has very little control over the creation process of the prints that Fine Art America is selling. There is no communication between the artist and the printmaker. I would be hesitant to spend a large amount of money on artwork that is being produced in this manner.
Is Fine Art America For The Art World?
As a photographer, I know how difficult it is to find a quality printmaker to create high-end prints. For each print size, I make a file that is specifically sized and sharpened for that print. For example, if I print a 12x18 from one of my photos off of my 61-megapixel Sony A7R IV, I first have to size down the image and then sharpen it for that size. For a 60-inch print, I would have to upsize my image because there are not enough pixels in the file to create a large print. There are many ways you can upsize a photo, some of which are pretty terrible. Image sizing and sharpening require great care and are not an automated process. Yet Fine Art America wants the artist to leave it completely up to them to manage this process with just one file. This can only result in subpar prints that negatively affect the photographer and disappoint the customer. Creating mugs, shower curtains, and other novelty-type items from photos and labeling them Fine Art to me is kind of weird and misleading. But to each their own.
Where Can You Get Quality Fine Art Photographic Prints?
Usually, the best place you can get high-end photographic prints is directly from the photographer or the artist. Photographers and artists will have websites that display their work and explain the print-making process. Most of the time, they will offer specific products, such as canvas prints, fine art prints, acrylic prints, etc. The artist will generally offer support and consultation throughout the buying process.