Images we don't want, from people we don't follow. Pinterest is forcing artists to find new ways to promote and discover exciting art. Is ArtStack a viable alternative?
Similar to Pinterest but focussed only on art, ArtStack seems like the perfect fit for entrepreneurial artists seeking the attention of art enthusiasts, collectors, galleries and other artists.
What is ArtStack?
Artstack is a place to explore new art, scratch with the masters, display your own work and curate, share and comment on any piece of art you admire.
It contains infinite pieces of art of every kind (including video), gathered under one virtual roof.
How to use ArtStack
ArtStack is really simple to use. See an artwork you like? 'Stack' it! This adds the work to your feed.
It's similar to pinning but, unlike Pinterest, you don't need to classify the piece right away. You can curate your stacks later by creating collections and adding more pieces as you discover them. Like Pinterest boards, these can conform to any criteria.
You can also add a work to multiple collections at once. Especially useful when presenting your own work - letting you add work to, say, both "New work" and "Mixed-media".
On Artstack you can:
You can explore the ArtStack site via Trending, Live (recently added) or People (other users), but my favourite feature is "On Show" - a list of exhibitions close to your location including a separate tab for those closing soon so you don't miss out.
I also really like the option to be notified when new works by artists I've stacked are added to the site or when an exhibition opens near me.
Artstack as an online portfolio
ArtStack collections make an ideal showcase for your portfolio. As well as uploading individual artworks, you can also add a headshot, a banner showing your art or collection, and a 140 character bio about yourself in the profile settings.
Unlike the blank information field on Pinterest, ArtStack's labelling system is built with art in mind. As well as tagging pieces with name and creator, you can can add year, exhibition, medium and dimension as well as flagging any copyright issues. You can also add custom tags to make the piece searchable inside the site.
Online exhibitions and collections
You could even create your own online exhibition, ordering the works to create interesting juxtapositions.
There are already collections for exhibitions and art fairs, such as the Vienna Fair and the Frieze Art Fair and some museums and galleries have their own ArtStack pages. (Serpentine Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Va&A in London, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía museums in Spain, to name but a few.)
Social media for artists and art-lovers
ArtStack has the basic social media functions you would expect: Share via Email, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, (with some extra sharing options if you sign up using Facebook); link your Instagram account (Instagram posts tagged #ArtStack it will automatically appear in your stacks). Yet ArtStack feels a bit different to other social media sites.
Maybe it's the classy, European flavour with its sleek black and white interface which makes the artwork pop.
Or maybe it's the impeccable credentials of its founders: Ezra Konvitz and James Lindon both have M.A.'s in art history and both have worked in the art world - Konvitz at the Serpentine Gallery and Lindon as an art dealer. (The third founder, Alex Gezelius, has a background in venture capital.)
Which leads me to the question...
Is Artstack too elite?
ArtStack is certainly never going to have the mass appeal of Pinterest.
Pinterest is a department store on the main street. ArtStack is an exclusive gallery in the classy side street.
The upside, your work is not competing for attention with cupcakes and cats. The downside, Joe Public will not find your work by chance.
ArtStack is a platform with much less noise. And we all know it's getting harder and harder to get visibility on bigger platforms that do everything.
Should artists use Artstack?
So should you try ArtStack to promote your art? My answer is, "Why not?"
There's no substitute for owning real estate in the form of your own website, but one thing is certain: early adopters on any platform have it a lot easier to establish a following. Waiting for everyone else's validation, just makes it harder to get noticed if the platform takes of massively.
That said, the ArtStack platform feels a little incomplete. As if it's missing an indefinable but vital something. As one user said to me, 'I don't know exactly what to do with it.'
Whether ArtStack will endure and continue to grow is anyone's guess in the fickle, rapidly-changing world of digital media and social sharing we live in. So like all social media platforms, investing time in ArtStack is a gamble. But for artists looking to increase their audience, it's almost certainly one worth taking.