About Us: The Artspan Story

Eric Sparre - artist and founder of Artspan.com

Eric Sparre
artist and founder of Artspan.com

I wanted to empower artists with full-featured, customizable ecommerce websites that were easy to set up. The sites also needed to be part of an art marketplace allowing the art to be easily found by art buyers.

A word from our founder

Hi, I’m Eric Sparre and I started Artspan to give artists, including myself, affordable and really nice looking websites to market art. For 20 yrs we’ve been the leader in our market. A little background: I was a working artist for quite a few years and in 1994 was commissioned to do a couple of paintings for a gentleman who had just joined Netscape, the first big Internet company. It became clear to me during that visit that the web was going to have a huge impact on everyone, including artists. They could be empowered in ways we could only guess at. At a minimum, they would be a lot less dependent on 3rd parties like galleries and critics. So I paid a developer to build a website. The site was the developer's vision, not mine. For me, it was ugly, and I could do nothing to change it - except call the developer, and that became costly. And, even then, there were millions of art sites so, no traffic.

It was clear that many artists would have the same experience and that’s what shaped the Artspan offering: We would offer templated artist websites. The sites had to be easy to set-up and manage. They had to be independent but also integrated into the Artspan marketplace, an online gallery better able to attract art buyers than any individual website.

We continue to upgrade the sites and add new features, while keeping the sites simple and easy for our artists to use. It’s helped that everyone at Artspan is passionate about art. We are also located between New York and Philadelphia and our home town, Lambertville NJ, is an artist mecca with a long artistic tradition. We set the standard in artist websites. Our tools are easy to use and that’s key. Our artists don’t want to become programmers. Our website packages have many critical features such as Prints-on-Demand which allows buyers to frame and mat art prints. That’s just one example of the important features included in the website packages. The Augmented Reality Live Preview feature is another. It allows buyers to preview art in any location they may want to place it. And there are quite a few others. We also share with our members our marketing knowledge and experience. To sum up, we’re a small company with people who care about art, and we understand the difficulties and frustrations confronting artists. We care about our members. We want them to succeed and we would welcome you and your art.

Artspan through the years

A look at our milestones and achievements so far

Help for artists during Covid-19 pandemic

APR 2020

Artspan waives its commission on all artwork sales (prints and originals) conducted through the art marketplace. Our artist websites continue as always to have zero commissions charged on all sales there

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New feature: AR Live Preview - First websites to include at no cost.

JAN 2020

Artspan proudly becomes the first artist website company to include cross-device Augmented Reality through the “Live Preview” feature. Artists just need to upload a photo and dimensions of the art, and we provide a view of the room with your art previewed perfectly on your customer's walls!

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Upgraded prints-on-demand service

NOV 2019

Artspan launches a newly redesigned prints-on-demand experience on its websites. Fully mobile responsive and closely matching in style the design of your site, making it easier for all buyers to select frame, mat, paper/canvas, for a perfect custom art print every time.

Launch of Artspan Magazine

JUL 2019

Artspan launches a new magazine-style articles area where we are able to present all of our educational and artist community content. Featuring marketing advice, interviews, shows, competitions, and inspirational features, this is the beginning of a new chapter in Artspan's long history of supporting and proudly promoting our artist members.

Browse Magazine 

More control over your domain

FEB 2019

Artspan launches a full-featured DNS manager that allows artists detailed control over their domain names. We still provide full support for handling this kind of thing for you, but now you also have full access to make changes yourself. And now, even if you leave Artspan you can keep your domain with us to avoid any disruption to your website traffic.

Full, Free SSL on all artist websites

JUN 2018

All our artist websites now include 100% free SSL certificates. Almost all other providers charge a special fee for this, but with Artspan we include it in your membership. SSL boosts security and peace-of-mind for buyers, as well as bringing higher visibility to your site on Google.

Free accounts for art buyers, art lovers, and art collectors

JAN 2018

Collectors, buyers, and friends can create a free account at Artspan.com. Now anyone can favorite Artspan artists' work and organize into special private collections. Artspan artists can peruse and comment on the work of other artists (fully moderated by Artspan to prevent spam or abuse). This will help foster an exchange of ideas and inspiration from our international group of Artspan members.

Redesigned and relaunched Artspan marketplace

MAY 2017

Our new marketplace design is built all around the art buyers' experience. Our homepage is a semi-curated collection of the newest and most popular art, and our search features have been expanded to allow browsing "similar" art based on style, color, theme, etc. For the first time, each artist and artwork gets its own dedicated page on artspan.com. Visitors can see clearly which art is for sale as originals and/or prints, and our directories have been improved to make it easier to find artists by category, subject, and medium, as well as artists working in your own local area.

New artist website themes, & even easier customization.

JAN 2017

We have always prided ourselve on making artist websites that are incredibly easy to build and customize. Now, with the launch of our Florence collection of themes, we have focused on putting the artwork images front and center. Fully mobile-friendly and so easy to work with... you can easily try out different styles without having to worry : "will it break". Artspan is the only website provider that allows you to keep all your content and artwork intact while switching themes. In fact, we have members who have been with us for well over 10 years and their sites have constantly evolved with the times, with little or no effort required by the artist.

New art calendar feature

AUG 2016

Artists can now include Google Calendar right in their website pages. This allows you to easily show visitors upcoming events such as gallery openings, as well as details of any workshops or classes you are planning to host Encourage your visitors to subscribe to your calendar, so they always aware of what you are working on, as well as interesting events you will be taking part in.

Exclusive partnership with art materials provider

MAY 2016

Artspan becomes the first artist website provider to team up with a major art supplies company. We are proud to provide exclusive deals to Artspan members through our partner Jerrys Artarama.

Partnership with Juxtapoz Magazine

JAN 2016

Artspan launches a special "Dream Big" contest for artists to feature a full-feature spread in Juxtpoz magazine. This proves to be widely popular with thousands of entries and brought Artspan to a new audience. In addition Artspan creates special websites each month for Juxtapoz's cover artists, in the "Beyond the Cover" series. Visitors are able to explore these incredible artists in much more detail than ever before.

Redesign of Artspan control panel

DEC 2015

Artspan completes a full overhaul of our website control panel. This makes it possible for users on mobile devices to administer their sites. This also includes important enhancements like uploading multiple artwork images together, easier organization of galleries, better social media integration, and many more features.

Artspan upgrades websites to mobile-friendly designs

JUN 2015

As more and more visitors started coming to Artspan using mobile devices, we saw the need to develop a new set of themes. These are fully customizable and work on all display types. We developed these in a way that lets the artist keep their existing content, artowrk, colors, fonts, etc - thereby making the upgrade process involving one-click and completely free of hassle. No other website provider provides technology upgrades like this with no technical effort required by the artist.

Major new features added to our artist websites

AUG 2014
  • New and improved watermark controls for your art. Choose font, style, text, and location of watermark.
  • Improved zoom controls for higher resolution images
  • And... password-protected galleries.

With password-protected galleries you can build private collections of your art. You can use this to provide clients with photography proofs, or to keep some exclusive work hidden from public access.

New and improved control panel

MAY 2014

Artspan launches a brand new control panel built around simplicity. An even easier navigation, better tutorials, marketing resources and ecommerce and statistics reports combine to make Artspan the most full-featured website platform for artists.

Plus: A big price reduction on all website plans.

Artspan introduces 0% artwork commission on websites!

JUNE 2013

Artspan is proud to continue our efforts to support ecommerce sales for artists. To this end, Artspan announces a halt to all commissions being collected from sales of art on all of our artist websites. In addition, due to the large number of transactions over all our sites we have discounted credit card fees - we pass this benefit along to all our sellers. No matter where else you might want to build your website, you will probably be paying more in credit card fees than you would with Artspan.

Launch of jewelspan.com

FEB 2013

Artspan launches a partner website, Jewelspan.com, focused specifically on art jewelers. All of the same great features as Artspan, but organized into different categories and subjects. Artspan websites also now support uploading multiple photos of same piece of artwork to show different views and details of the artwork.

Newly redesigned Art Marketplace

2012

New Artspan marketplace focused more on selling, with product pages for each artwork, and better design alowing browsing Prints and Originals, colors, location, etc. Artspan also expands further into the UK with launch of .co.uk website and sponsorship of The Discerning Eye, a major UK art charity.

Plus: 70 new website design themes, improved email marketing and better website gallery controls!

A big move up to “The Cloud” and new designs and features!

2011

Artspan becomes one of the first website providers to move entirely to cloud-based services for additional power and security, passing on reduced costs to artists. See Artspan interview on NJ Tech weekly

Plus, a brand new set of Design Themes, on-page controls for web design and layout ('what-you-see-is-what-you-get'/WYSYWIG), a blog feature for artists websites, an updated Control Panel, and better tutorials!

Artspan saves hundreds Boundless Gallery artists

2010

With the surprising news that Boundless Gallery would no longer be supporting its artist websites, suddenly almost 800 artists were without a website provider.
The owner of Boundless was unable to support the customers, and reached out to Artspan. We stepped up to the plate, providing a fully free website for the remaining period of their plans. Artspan was able to bring in all the artwork and details from over 800 artists, preserving as much as possible of the original look of their websites, but with a more modern flair and ecommerce as well!

Plus, added new Canvas materials to Prints-on-Demand, a huge systems upgrade for higher speed and a guaranteed >99.99% uptime, new Traffic Statistics reports, and Social Media account integration (auto-post your new art to Facebook etc).

New ecommerce package, and Prints-on-Demand!

2009

A huge year of development where we launched Prints-On-Demand and an easier ecommerce checkout on all our websites. At this time, most websites only had support for clunky paypal buttons, where you are redirected to an outside website to make a purchase. Artspan becomes one of the first website hosts to include a professional end-to-end ecommerce system into ALL of our plans.

Plus, the new Artspan Sales Tax Calculator takes all the worry away from calculating and charging the correct sales taxes.

The features just keep coming!

2008

Artspan launches special portals websites to focus on specific areas of the arts, with dedicated articles, local resources, etc for all kinds of artists.

Artspan also now supports domain purchases in our control panel. This makes everything easier to manage in one place. A free domain name with unlimited email accounts is included in our Professional Plus+ plan. Unlike some other website providers, we do not reserve any rights to your domain name: you are the artist, you are in full control of your online identity. the new Artspan Sales Tax Calculator takes all the worry away from calculating and charging the correct sales taxes.

Plus, a new watermark feature, and huge improvements to SEO on our artist websites.

New designs, and a big leap in traffic

2007

Artspan creates a new set of template designs for artists. Artists can use either a ready-made design or fully customize their own colors, fonts, etc to whatever options they prefer. We also release a new page editor, provide support for Artwork Zoom view, a slideshow feature for member galleries, new artwork directories on artspan.com and better traffic statistics.
In addition, traffic to Artspan websites soars 87% over the previous year.

The early expansion: Growing fast and improving

2003-2006

Artspan grows to over 500 active websites and launches special sites for art galleries and art associations. Features are added including email accounts for all members, contact forms, artist statements, high-resolution images and better designs for all web browsers.

New artwork searches and artist directories

2001-2002

New search features are launched on artspan.com so visitors can easily find art by genre and location, and visitors can browse directly to artists websites. Even today (2020), no other website builders include this feature, so their artists' websites are left stranded with no promotion and no traffic.

The first Artspan cohort!

2000

First 43 individual websites are launched as part of Artspan.com. These sites are hand-coded by Eric. First full-time developer is hired and templated sites are coded and made a part of Artspan.com, a community site intended to bring traffic to the individual artist sites. The artist sites have all the features that sites are expected to have at that point in time, but are easily customizable.

Our mark is made

1999

Eric registers the domain name, Artspan.com, and founds the Company. Starting primarily with local artists, the aim is to provide very easy-to-use websites for artists and to build up a global audience for their art.

The vision begins

1994-1999

In 1994, artist and Artspan founder Eric Sparre visits one of Netscape founders, and begins to really think about what the Internet can do for artists.

In 1995 Eric launches www.portraiture.com. From that otherwise unhappy experience (site was not his design and got no traffic), he understands what an artist website needs. Most important are elegant template designs that can be easily customized and also web traffic (even then there millions of art websites).

The world is still waiting to see your art