The Best Online Resources for Visual Artists

The Best Online Resources for Visual Artists

the best online resources for visual artists


Each week I write a brand new article for members of our three wonderful art groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, and The Artist Hangout. This week we take a deep dive into the hidden world of Google. Many people are unaware that Google have a major arts and culture program and they offer more than being just a search engine. Google is one of the best resources out there for artists and designers and not just to learn new techniques and skills, but to access a range of tools to use in your own creative processes too. 

Welcome to the hidden Google!

Google and Art…

Last week we took a look at the range of educational and training resources available from the largest social networks. This week we explore Google and we come to the conclusion that it really isn’t just a search engine at all, it could be the real key to better understanding how to market your art online and it could also offer you a way to learn new skills for free.

From search engine optimisation to creating successful paid ads, these are the skills that an artist needs today. As I said last week, independent artist have so many roles to play other than being an artist and learning new skills is more vital than ever if we are to compete in the 21st Century world of art. Art buyers are out there, we just have to convince them that our art is worth their time and of course their money. 

One thing I learned early on in my art career was that you have to reach out to people, they don’t just turn up or buy work, as an artist your primary job is to offer what people want, and also what people don’t realise they want. We need to be prepared with skills that are often difficult to learn and we can’t rely on a single sales channel, we have to know that multiple sales channels exist, how to use them, and realise that being an artist is as much about forming relationships as anything else. 

As artists we have to make sure that we devote enough time for creativity and it is so important to keep abreast of what is happening in the art world, but it is also so important to have a good understanding of art history too. Art history can teach us about the importance of collectors and what those collectors will be looking for. 

I have always maintained that the best approach for me anyway is to build my own relationships with my own clients. Print on demand is great as a secondary market but with so much competition for eyes on the art, it is rare for an artist to sustain a living from a casual set of often infrequent buyers they will likely never get to know. An artist needs to own his or her own client lists, master the art of becoming visible online and offline, and forge a bond where your collectors become your greatest advocate. 100 life long collectors are much more valuable than a thousand life time print sales. To get to this position we have to learn the business of art and not just how to paint and draw or how to be creative in other ways. 

Whenever we want to learn new stuff we inevitably turn immediately to the internet but the problem here is that the internet is just so huge and not everything that has ever been written appears on the first few pages of Google. The upshot of this is that we really do tend to miss out on some really great content and some of the best resources. 

Often the best place to start searching for something related to the arts isn’t by using a traditional search engine at all but looking toward the programs and resources those social media and search engine companies offer. This is where we start learning the 21st Century skills we really need. 

google arts and culture


If you want arts and culture then Google Arts & Culture is one of the best websites out there for finding out pretty much anything about the arts, oh, and culture. Formerly known as the Google Art Project, Google Arts and Culture is an online platform where the public can access high-resolution images of artworks that are located in the platforms partner museums.

The project was originally launched back in 2011 through the Google Cultural Institute in partnership with 17 international museums including the Tate Gallery in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Uffizi in Florence. In 2012, Google expanded the platform and signed agreements with 151 museums from 40-countries and now features more than 32,000 artworks from 46 museums and more of the partner museums will be joining. 

The platform is more than a simple art related search engine though as it also allows you to virtually tour partner museums’ galleries where virtual visitors can explore physical artworks and curate their own collection of work. If you have ever use Google Street View then the technology used for the virtual tours will be familiar as you take a meander through some of the world’s finest galleries and museums without leaving home. Not only will taking tours and exposing your mind to work you have never seen before give you an idea of why people love the art they love, you will inevitably find something within each of the works that will influence your own work. 

Want to know something that really is mind-blowing? Each of the featured partner museums chose one artwork to be captured as a gigapixel image. Forget 4K ultra HD, these images are over 1-billion pixels in size. Whilst that is staggering there are images that run at 365 gigapixels plus elsewhere online. You can view a 365 gigapixel image of Mont Blanc right here and to give you a little idea just how big that photo would print out at it would cover a soccer pitch if you had a printer that could print that size of work at 300dpi.

The gigapixel images provided through Google Arts and Culture whilst not quite as large as the one of Mont Blanc, are still way more than you would be taking with your smartphone camera or traditional camera come to that. The detail is phenomenal. Getting up closer than you would by visiting the physical gallery will go some way to showing you the techniques which were used at the time. 

The virtual street view style tours will suck you in for hours as you walk through each of the represented galleries and then pause to take a closer view of some of the works on display. There are tens of thousands of works which have been captured and each comes with contextualised information about the artist and the work. It’s right here that you will also be able to read about the artworks history for many of the pieces on display. This is not only interesting but it will give you an idea of what galleries and museums look for when they describe artworks, that’s another valuable skill you have to have today. 

Once you have found a piece you have fallen in love with you can start curating your own collection. You can compile any number of images from any of the partner museums and save specific views of the artwork creating your own virtual exhibition and you can then share your own curated collection with others. 

This feature also has huge educational potential allowing those learning about art history the opportunity to become a curator. If you owned a museum or gallery which pieces would you curate and include? Here’s your opportunity to show the world your taste in the arts!

There are other educational tools which are also available, and a huge array of resources for teachers and learners including video. Some of the museums have also included guided tours. 

If you are a regular at any museum of gallery then you will be familiar with the educational resources they offer as you tour each museum and especially where you are tasked with seeking out particular artistic styles. That kind of activity is also available on the platform and most of these resources also provide links to learn even more. 

Amongst the great content available there are plenty of resources and features that will hook any art lover in for days at a time. You can take a peek inside the studios of famous artists here  or read a spotlight feature of Douglas Coupland at Vancouver Gallery here which are  just two examples of the outstanding art related content to be found. 

Google Arts and Culture can be found here but you can also download the app to your smartphone or tablet from the Apple App Store or from the Google Play store. 

The app is truly outstanding and also offers features not available on the website, in the USA for example you can see if your likeness has featured in any famous artworks by uploading a selfie. Google’s AI will match your photo against thousands of portraits found in galleries around the world and it looks for similarities in facial features.  The platform then tells you as a percentage how similar you are to the person in the portrait, the results are fun and often surprising. Whilst it is not available outside of the USA for now, those familiar with Virtual Private Networks and setting up a US based location might be able to try it out, outside of the US. 

I mentioned the Google Cultural Institute earlier and this is where the Arts and Culture platform originates, but taking a look at the institutes own home page will give you some idea as to the lengths that Google have gone too to provide the platform. You can read more about the Google Cultural Institute right here


garden party wild animal art by mark Taylor


Scholarly Google… 

There is a whole other world beyond Google’s search engine and I am always surprised whenever I have conversations with friends that they are mostly unaware of the range of services that Google provide. 

One such service which has a great fit with their Arts and Culture platform is Google Scholar which can be found right here.  

The Scholar platform looks and feels just like the main search platform for Google so users will immediately get the hang of using it. If you are studying anything related to the arts though and need to carry out any research based activities then this is the platform you need. 

The platform has been designed to allow you to search for all scholarly literature from a single place, explore related works, citations, publications, and authors, and provides links to complete documents where they are available. Whilst it is really useful for studying art history, the platform is used by many to find literature and documentation from a range of disciplines.

Scholar rates documents in the same way that professional researchers do, weighing the full text of each document, where it was published and who it was written by as well as how often and how recently the documents have been cited. 

Trends…

Of course we don’t always have the luxury of time to learn new things because sometimes as artists we have to both create the work and then we have to market it. One of the most frequently used aspects of Google which I use to look out for new art trends is Google’s Trends platform which can be found right here

The platform gives you a real in-depth insight into what the world is currently searching for on Googles main search engine and it also allows you to look at historic searches too. 

Exploring Google Trends throws up some interesting snippets of what the world is looking for at any given moment in real-time and it indicates which search terms are rising and which are falling. This is really useful if you have a website as you may want to factor in relevant search terms on your site, and if you are about to create a piece of art you can find out from historic search trends where it might fit in and then optimise your marketing strategy by including relevant search trends in the description and in the title of your artwork. 

To get the most out of the platform you will need to take a little time understanding how best to use it and as with most services that Google provide there are plenty of official resources to help you understand how to use it to get the best results. There are specific training lessons on using trends right here.  

If you want to improve your search results there is a 20-minute lesson that takes you beyond the basics of using trends to inform your trends searches. The lesson can be found here. There are many other lessons available too.

Journalism…

You don’t have to be a journalist to take advantage of another resource that Google offer which is the Google News Initiative. So often I have said on this site that one of the best ways to sell art is to utilise the art of storytelling and Google can help here too. 

You can find the Training Centre for the Google News Initiative right here

As I said, you don’t have to be a journalist to get some benefit from the news initiative, if you have a blog or use social media for marketing you will find this resource really valuable. There are lessons about using YouTube as a research and reporting tool, and there are lessons around monetising your publications that show you how to open new digital revenue streams and how best to optimise your content for use online. 

Multimedia storytelling has become somewhat of a buzz over the past couple of years. The way we engage with news and social media has been changing for a while and as I have written many times, if people become engaged with the story they are more likely to buy the product, they are also more likely to become collectors.

Google has a course available that will help you to take your audience to the heart of the story with some 8 lessons which will take you around 89 minutes to work through. You will find a range of resources which are dynamic and interactive, and the courses use a range of Google’s tools such as the Google Crisis Map, Google Fusion Tables, Google Media Alerts, and Google Maps. 

You can take the course right here

Books…

Google also offer a range of books which are searchable and you can browse books online. If the book is out of copyright or the publisher has given Google permission, you will be able to see a preview of the book and in many cases the full text. Those books in the public domain can then be downloaded as a PDF. 

There are plenty of books which cover the arts, design and I managed to find a couple of useful marketing books with some great little nuggets of information within, I will identify the best ones in a future article!

You can find Google Books right here.  

Taking Notes…

With so many resources available for visual artists on Google you might want to also take a few notes. Google Keep is a way to save your thoughts and ideas wherever you are. You can take notes, add audio and photos, and if you are accessing Google Keep on a smartphone then you can even set location based reminders. The platform also offers some collaboration so if you have a shopping list, family members can add to that list in real time rather than phoning or texting you to remind you to pick up donuts and coffee, as if you would ever forget the coffee!

You can find out more right here.  

Google fonts


The Art of the Font!

With all that learning under our belts we can now move on to being a little more creative. Anyone who produces artwork which includes typography will know that fonts can be expensive especially if you are using them for commercial purposes. Google it seems have you covered here too and you can visit the Google Font website right here.  

There is literally a font family for every conceivable project you may be tasked with completing and you can refine the font search to include Sans Serif, Serif, Display, Handwriting and Monospace fonts, and then refine further by setting the thickness, slant, and width. 

The real beauty of using Google Fonts is that firstly they have been curated so only the very best fonts get a place on the service, and secondly they are all Open Source even for commercial purposes. You can download them to your computer and tablet devices. There’s also a handy FAQ which you can read here.  

If you want to explore typographic culture and discover fonts which you can use in your next project it is worth also taking a look through Google Design which you can find right here.  

There’s plenty of news and articles related to design and typography and you can also read the latest edition of the Google Design newsletter right here.  

There is also a library where you will find a collection of case studies, profiles and practical guides and there are podcasts and videos available too. You can view that library right here.  


Google Design


Other Google stuff!

Last week we covered using Think with Google which you can find here,  to find insights about data and a huge range of learning resources to create better marketing campaigns for selling your art, but there are so many resources on Google that as an artist you will find them incredibly valuable. 

Google My Business is something else that you really need to consider as an artist or small business owner. Essentially this gives businesses a free listing on the first page of Google’s search results and on Google Maps. 

I have been using this service for a while and have found a number of new customers and a couple of collectors from using it so it is definitely worth doing. Your listing appears whenever people search for your business or businesses like yours, so having your listing appear on the front page or on Google maps will definitely give you the edge. 

The service is free and all you have to do is sign up. Once you have done this you can download the accompanying app to your smartphone or tablet and keep your listing updated. You will need to verify your business address and the process is very simple, just request a postcard with a code and when you receive it, head over to the link provided and enter the code. You can find out more by visiting this link.  

Bing provide a similar service which you can find more about right here.  Again this follows a similar 3-step process to get your business listed and best of all it’s also a free service.

Other Languages…

As independent artists it has never been easier to sell work in a global market place. Many of my collectors are located around the world and not just in the UK, but sometimes communicating effectively especially when you don’t speak each other’s language can be challenging. 

Again, Google comes to the rescue. Google Input Tools which you can find here is a tool that allows you to communicate in over 80 languages. It also integrates with other Google services such as search, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Translate, and YouTube, so you can have a global presence and back it up by being able to respond to everyone pretty much regardless of where they are from. The world is incredibly small!

Storage...

Google Drive is another tool which can prove invaluable to artists and even the free plan offers 15 GB of free storage which allows you to store your files online and be able to access them from any device which is capable of connecting to Google’s cloud.

You can find out more about Google Drive right here.  

Google is huge and the range of services they provide can offer businesses and educators resources that many didn’t realise existed. They do so much in the education space with schools, colleges, and universities and in May 2018 they even extended the range of educational tools for home schoolers. You can read more about that right here.  

So Google it seems is a hotbed of advice and useful tools for artists whether it is to store their work in the cloud or learn about marketing or art history, or virtually visiting a museum on the other side of the world. The projects and services I have written about today are really just the tip of the iceberg and there are more sitting under the surface. As I find more I will keep you updated on this site and will provide you with the links to find the very best resources.

Facebook Update for our Groups…

If you were online last weekend you will have noticed that I posted about some of the changes happening within Facebook and specifically within Facebook’s Groups. A new feature has started to be rolled out which allows group admins to set up online learning modules directly within each Facebook group. Regular readers will know that my plan has been to set up an art education based group which offers online learning opportunities not just to study art, but the business of art too. 

I had been holding back eagerly waiting for the new feature to roll out and have been busy working on creating some starter units to include in each of the two groups (The Artists Exchange and The Artist Hangout) where the feature is already available. I will be making those units available once the new group (yet to be titled!) is fully set up but we may have to wait a little while longer whilst Facebook roll out the changes to include new groups too. 

The learning will be freely available but there may come a time if the units are a success where we may also offer a more premium learning experience too for those who wish to participate in larger and more complex art education and art business units. I will keep you updated with progress and as we get closer to launching the first units I will bring you more details on this site and on my Facebook business page.

There will be another page added to this site which supports those units that I make available in the groups. I’m working through the specific details and engaging with lots of people at the moment and there is some really exciting stuff coming up. 

The new group will be a closed community and membership will be by invitation only initially while we test out the units, but if there is something that you would specifically like to learn about then please do feel free to add a comment below and let me know! 

I am also a qualified teacher of further education and have created numerous courses in the past and I managed to pick up a Royal award for one of them, specifically with the intention of helping people from the most disadvantaged areas of society. So I am excited to be able to start bringing these new art related units of learning to Facebook for everyone to enjoy and maybe learn a little too!


wild art by Mark Taylor


Vacation!

Remember that I will be taking a two-week vacation so won’t be around much over the next two weeks although I intend to log on to Facebook and Twitter and will keep you all updated with anything I find of interest along the UKs Jurassic coast!

You can find the details of where to find me and my art while I’m not writing for those two weeks below, yes, below this line and the bit that no one ever reads! If anyone wants to practice selling art then please feel free to share my work while I’m away, that would be muchly appreciated!

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger who specialises in abstracts, landscapes, and seascapes. My work is sold in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada including The Great Frame Up, Framing and Art Centre, and Deck the Walls and you can also buy from Fine Art America or my Pixels site here: https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com  

I also offer some works directly and periodically through select retailers and these works also come signed with a certificate of authenticity. Please do get in touch if there are any pieces you are interested in owning. I’m not currently taking on any new commissions for artwork as I am focusing on some specific events and projects but I can usually hook you up with other artists who might be able to provide you with the art that you need. 

You can also follow me on Facebook at: https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia and on Twitter @beechhouseart

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or just buy me a coffee so I can keep on writing hopefully useful articles for you, you can do so at https://gofundme.com/mark-Taylor-beechhouse-Media 

There’s no obligation to donate but in time I hope to remove adverts from the site entirely and create more pages which focus on and support even more independent visual artists.

Happy Creating and see you all very soon!

Mark

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