Evolution of The Online Handmade Industry

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The Online Handmade Industry is booming. And it will continue to do so as to more and more artists and artisans search for new and better ways to present their works to the buying public. In the years B.C. (Before Computers) the sale of art products, crafts, and visual arts were confined to such megalithic venues as art shows and exhibits, craft fairs, bazaars and even school events and community clubs. Of course, many of these mediums are still highly regarded as completely legitimate methods for use in the presentation of art and art products. Logistical barriers sometimes prevented the right artist from connecting with the right buyer. It was difficult for an artist to gain recognition and visibility.

The implications of the blossoming digital age had become apparent and the scope of the developing market drove entrepreneurs to position themselves for this new era.

So, in the midst of the dot com bubble of the 1990s new computer-based shopping platforms began to surface. Many barriers for consumers to safely shop online had already been broken by traditional retailers through advancing technologies, such as electronic fund transfers and other now commonplace applications. As PC use continued its expansion at the household level a new kind of marketplace had emerged,

What had become an expansion of mail-order and catalog shopping was morphing into a complex presentation system of marketing salable products to the masses. For the weary shopper, the convenience provided by the home computer became the driving force of the popularity of online shopping.

The emergence of online auction sites was becoming a montage of cyber garage sales where the sites would offer just about any salable item to the consumer. Soon to follow were online book stores and classified advertising sites. The ability to maintain a “million item inventory” of products in varying degrees of demand could only be achieved through the digital technologies of the 90s.

As the age of specialization and niche marketing became a necessity, website owners discovered that too much could be just that. The market for handmade and handcrafted products was enormous and demand for unique and one of a kind arts and crafts became the driving force behind the Online Handmade Industry.

New websites began to appear with limited product categories…limited to: the product must be handmade or handcrafted by the seller. So, into the fold came many different types of artists, artisans, and crafters who would proudly display their creative abilities to the public on multi-vendor websites that supported a large number of artist operated stores. The development of the multicart shopping cart system made it easy for a buyer to shop in many stores and then checkout and pay for all of their selections at the end of the shopping trip. Talk about convenience.

The growth of the Online Handmade Industry had become remarkable. Many forces influenced its success including the simple economic premise of supply and demand. A wavering world economy had driven many to explore markets that would aid them financially and the popularity of buying and selling handmade and handcrafted art products solidified the niche. Handmade artists represent a significant group who aspires to embrace the marketplace and actually turn a profit while doing so.

As the Online Handmade Industry continued to evolve, it is not without dissent. Artists attempting to rank with high visibility on various handmade websites have spoken out about what other products are competing for visibility and have complained that many items being sold as handmade are really not. The presence of re-sellers, who buy items that are not handmade, have made their way into the shops the artisans compete with. This has been fodder for some steamy debates and suggests that is there a way for artists to compete with artists.

Juried art exhibitions have been around since ancient Greece, and are frequently utilized today to limit the number of pieces in a show, as well as control the quality being presented. A non-juried site generally accepts artists and their listings at face value as long as they conform to the website’s rules…

A juried art site, on the other hand, will preview an artist’s work and products prior to allowing the work to be displayed online and offered for sale. The process is generally a simple one, in that artists submit digital images of products or other works they want to be considered. A “jury” of qualified experts examines the photos and grades them according to quality and visual presentation. Jurying artists and artwork provide a benefit to both the artist and their buyer. A juried art site protects the integrity of the site, its artisans and their consumers, who will enjoy a consistent level of quality products.

The Online Handmade Industry will continue to move forward with increasingly specialized website marketplaces and will focus on increased demands of consumers. The focus on quality and presentation will be increasingly crucial to artisans who will require efficient marketing venues.

Dennis Speer is the Founder of Across The Earth Emporium by Artisans. http://www.ateea.com/

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