Tech Industry

Social-networking site launched for artists

People can post visual art, film, poetry, sculpture, fashion, and more on MyArtInfo, plus chat with other artists and post blogs.

A Canadian publisher and philanthropist has launched a new social-networking site for artists, underlining the growing influence of the Internet in showcasing and selling art.

Louise MacBain said the site, MyArtInfo, could be compared to popular networking site Facebook, and allowed artists to showcase their work, chat with each other online and blog.

"The idea is that it becomes a global platform for people to go and show their art," said MacBain, a wealthy businesswoman who has invested heavily in the arts in Britain in recent years.

"With MyArtInfo people can post for free their art--not only visual art, but performing arts, film, poetry, sculpture, fashion, architecture, and design."

MacBain's company LTB Media has also relaunched artinfo.com, an online guide to art and culture, and a new art sales index that allows users to access auction prices and other records for more than 200,000 artists.

Robert Romiti, who designed MyArtInfo, said it bore similarities to major networking Web sites like YouTube and MySpace.com, but there were also differences.

"MySpace is great, but this is really honing in on art per se. It is not just about meeting people for the sake of meeting people, it is about sharing your skill and seeing what people think about your work."

The site has attracted 810 users from around the world in its first few days, displaying more than 5,000 works.

One of those, Marseille, France-based Aleksandar Zaar, said the site appealed to him because it allowed him to communicate easily with fellow artists.

It also had commercial potential by showcasing art that may not find its way into galleries, he said, although the site's emphasis is more on communication and discussion.

British collector Charles Saatchi launched a Web site last year for art students, which is more geared toward selling art while also allowing for online networking.

"I would say that such sites are a great opportunity for the work of an 'unknown' artist to be seen by a high number of people on the other side of the globe; this can result in new possibilities for the career of an artist," Zaar said.

"I am convinced that more and more artists are using online tools in order to show their work."

While collectors and curators say they rely on the Internet more and more for research, many still insist on seeing a work in the flesh before buying it.

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