Fine Art America: What It Is and Isn't
As a solo small business owner, it is sometimes hard to compete against giants like Amazon and Fine Art America (FAA) when it comes to selling fine art prints, art décor, and wall art. Fine Art America is what is known as a print on demand online store and art marketplace representing "hundreds of thousands" of artists while making millions and millions of cheap art prints for sale. Fine Art America seems like a great choice for artists because the artist does not play any role in the fulfillment of the order; however, that is a terrible business decision for artists and results in exceptionally bad products for the consumer. FAA makes prints of artists' work onto a variety of gimmicky products, like these eco-friendly PVC Yoga mats, most of which are of very low quality and manufactured using the cheapest materials. While this may seem great for artists, it objectively makes fine art look bad and is a poor choice for you, the consumer. There are many alternatives to Fine Art America.
An Alternative to Fine Art America
The number one problem in choosing a print on demand option like Fine Art America is that the art is of low quality using cheap materials where the artist has no say in the finished product. This is the opposite of "fine art" where the artist is directly involved in the creation of the prints and where the materials are chosen directly by the artist themselves. Additionally, in the case of fine art photography prints, what differentiates a cheap print from a fine art print, aside from the hand-crafted materials, is the fact that the artist works directly with the buyer to ensure that the final results meet the specifications of the artist and the demands of the consumer / buyer. Lastly, a look at the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition of fine art helps us even further here. It defines fine art as: "art requiring fine skill that is concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects." I would not call printing photos onto cheap bath towels "fine art" - would you?
Fine Art America Reviews
I am sure that there are a few folks that have made purchases through Fine Art America that have been happy with their purchases; however, a quick scan of their reviews on Trustpilot reveals that there are common gaps between what the buyer thought they were getting versus what they actually received, for example:
"The fact that they use highly reflective glass was awful. I can’t put the lights on in my room without it reflecting in the glass or when the sun comes through my window, it’s all reflected in the glass. Even at Michael’s or Aarons Bros. framing they offer you nonreflective glass as an option..."
As a fine art photographer who takes pride in the end results of my work, the finished print, as well as my reputation with you, my customer, I am very transparent about the different photo art mediums I offer to you, laying out the pros and cons of each. A common problem with framed photo prints is that they reflect a great deal of light, as the above reviewer found out after wasting a lot of their hard-earned money. This is why my best print offering uses a high quality acrylic material known as TruLife, which blocks 99% of UV radiation, offers scratch resistance, and reduces glare significantly. While choosing to use this cuts deeply into my profits, I find it to be worth it for you, the buyer of my fine art prints. Testimonials from my fine art buyers offers proof that when the artist stays directly involved in the print process, the results will be exceptional.
Are Prints from Fine Art America Good?
Look, I have many photographer friends who use Fine Art America as their fulfillment vendor to sell prints - many of whom have great success in doing so. I highly respect those photographers and I am sure that at least a few of their buyers are happy with the end product they received; however, I am personally not able to give up quality control over my fine art prints, which is why I work directly with my print lab on every single order to ensure that the highest quality standards are met - to my specifications - for customer satisfaction. When I make a mistake with one of my prints, my lab helps me fix it so that the highest quality results are achieved. Additionally, I'm supporting another small local American business in the process as opposed to one of the many overseas factories that Fine Art America uses to create their products. Lastly, I happily work directly with you, my buyer, to ensure that the work you purchase meets your design needs.
Where Can I Buy High Quality Fine Art Prints?
It is my opinion that you should buy landscape and nature photography art prints directly from artists' websites. Artists that sell through their websites directly have the most attention to detail, a focus on customer satisfaction, and have put in the work and meticulous research to ensure that you, the buyer, get a high quality hand-made product that is made to last. Additionally, you'll want to pay close attention to the level of experience the photographer has in making prints and see if they have any genuine reviews of their artwork on their website. While I think you should purchase fine art prints from one of the best Colorado Nature and Landscape photographers, I believe that a high tide raises all boats, so I'm not afraid to offer you some vetted alternatives if you don't particularly care for my artwork (that's totally OK). I can highly recommend the following photographers to you as also being known to sell high-end fine art prints:
Jack Brauer, Kane Engelbert, Jennifer Renwick, TJ Thorne, Aaron Reed, Scott Smorra, and Max Foster.
I would much rather you bought a print from one of these excellent photographers than from Fine Art America.
Should Photographers Sell Prints on Fine Art America?
As I said, many photographers I am friends with sell their artwork on Fine Art American; however, I am not aware of a single one of them that makes a living doing it and most of them have been lukewarm about the arrangement. Typically the response I get when I ask them how they like working with FAA is, "it's OK." I don't think you will find selling your photography art on Fine Art America satisfying if you value ensuring that the final product meets your high quality standards or if you want to make a living selling your fine art prints as a photographer. While the convenience of just uploading your artwork to Fine Art America and letting them do all the hard work may sound appealing, a little research will prove that they charge higher than they should for very cheap products while forcing the photographer to set their prices above and beyond the already high price to make any profit. Lastly, since FAA represents hundreds of thousands of photographers and sells millions of products, it seems unlikely that your work will be seen or noticed by your target customer base. How we create our art is what differentiates us in an already crowded marketplace for fine art landscape photography prints - so why not take full control of that process?
What Alternatives are there to Fine Art America for Photographers?
If you want full control over how your fine art prints are sold, created, and shipped to your customer, there are a few options other than FAA that you can look into. While marketplaces like Saatchi Art, YellowKorner, and Lumas Photo Art are reputable alternatives to Fine Art America, I highly encourage photographers to put in the necessary hard work to create, maintain, and update a fine art print website. Countless options exist, but the most popular seem to be WideRange Galleries, Art Storefronts, Smugmug, Photoshelter, Zenfolio, or a do-it-yourself style using Wix or Squarespace. Out of all of these, if you are like me and want full control over the entire ordering process for your customers, there are only a few of these options that make any sense - with WideRange Galleries being at the top of the list, followed by Photoshelter and then a Wix / Squarespace site. Art Storefronts, Smugmug, and Zenfolio all take commissions from every sale and neither Art Storefronts nor Smugmug allow for self-fulfillment - this is very bad. It means you have no control over the end result of your fine art photography prints and your customer gets to find out in a surprise if its any good. Also, take it from me on this one but Zenfolio is just plain terrible - I used them for 7 years!
If you are a serious photographer that wants to sell fine art prints, your first stop should be to contact Jack Brauer from WideRange Galleries, and let him know that Matt Payne sent you. You can also take a look at my landscape photography website comparison table below for more information.
How Much Should Photography Prints Cost?
Obviously this is a personal question for every artist; however, my belief is that art should be made available to everyone, not just people that own luxury yachts and private jets! While I would love to sell my work and make it so that anyone on Earth can afford it, I can't bring myself to skimp on quality; but, I have found some ways to offer my fine art nature and landscape photography prints in a variety of mediums to provide options for almost every budget. When pricing landscape photography artwork, a number of factors should be considered, including the cost of our equipment (my camera alone cost over $4,000), our website, insurance for our business and gear, our vehicles, travel expenses, and most importantly our knowledge and expertise and other factors that differentiate us as artists. For me personally, I think the fact that my artwork was created while climbing the highest mountains in Colorado significantly differentiates my work and I should be compensated well for that. After this, the raw cost of materials should be factored in. If you have been doing your math up to this point you may begin to realize that high quality art should cost significantly more than the cheap prints made by Fine Art America. Lastly, it is hard to put a price on customer service and personalized dedication to ensuring that the end fine art print is made to a high standard.
In Conclusion - Fine Art America
While many art buyers may be perfectly content with the artwork they purchase from places like Amazon, Fine Art America, or another cheap print on demand marketplace, those looking for the highest quality fine art prints should seek it elsewhere. By working directly with an artist that values customer service, attention to detail, and uses only the highest quality print materials, you can rest assured that your fine art nature print will last a lifetime while serving as a statement piece for your home. Additionally, I would encourage medical offices and hospitals buying artwork to consider the same variables - would you rather work directly with an artist that cares or are you willing to gamble on quality while cutting costs? The choice is yours.