The Online Art Search

If you missed part I, you can get that here.

If you’re selling or planning on selling with an online storefront like Etsy or Red Bubble (or the myriad of others), it’s worth a look to do a search on their site to see what’s going to come up when regular Joe or Judy go searching for their perfect one of a kind Christmas gifts.

Do they end up with a selection of amazing search results or a bunch of juvenile crap that sends them looking elsewhere?

I did a very unscientific search on Etsy vs. Storenvy for similar criteria:

  • search “Christmas/Holiday”
  • search under the categories:
    • fine art
    • illustration
    • comics
    • jewellery

Those are the categories of the majority of my clients – I wanted to see what came up when I searched with those terms.

I searched 2 “one of a kinds” (Etsy & Storenvy), and 2 “PODs” (Fine Art America & Zazzle).

Here’s what I found:


No category selection – just “Christmas”:

  • Storenvy had the only front page listing of art cards available.
  • Fine Art America was heavy on religious Christmas imagery.
  • Etsy was mostly craft and DIY craft supplies and Zazzle was all POD ornaments.

“Christmas” + “Fine Art”

Christmas > “Painting” or “Art” Category selected:

  • Etsy had the most variety of items listed – downloads, originals, craft, prints, ornaments and 3d objects.
  • Storenvy has a “Designer Toys” sub-category within art that are well-represented on the front page of search.
  • Fine Art America had… more religious art.
  • Zazzle was a disappointment – it was a lot of very unoriginal, mass-produced, catalogue customizable products. Ugh.
  • Notice that we’re getting results now that aren’t necessarily “Christmas” themed, but are being promoted as “gifts for Christmas/holidays”. This is where proper tagging of your art will increase the chances of your pieces showing up in search results.

“Christmas” + “Illustration”

Okay, so Storenvy is the only one that had an “Illustration” category – and no one had a “Comic or Cartoon” category (cry)…



It’s interesting that 2 of the most popular listings (I’ve selected all the Storenvy listings to sort by “most popular) are advertisements for original caricature and portrait commissions.

“Christmas” + “Jewellery”

Zazzle doesn’t have a jewellery category – but did you know you can sell custom skateboard decks on Zazzle? ME NEITHER!

  • Etsy had the best selection of jewellery. Think about tagging and writing copy that is “person specific” – popular jewellery items were titled “Grandma” and “For Mom” and that kind of thing. It doesn’t mean it has to be – but it definitely can hone in on your item for a shopper if it’s got a relation-specific twist.
  • Storenvy was all about the miniature. Totally cute, very specific market.
  • Fine Art America has a jewellery category, which is weird because it’s a POD shop. It’s images of jewels. Weird. Not useful… or maybe it is. For someone.


Etsy has been in the game longer, has more choice and is definitely appealing to a much wider audience.

This may not be the best news though because it means that you’re items are competing with a larger pool of artists in a much more diluted marketplace.

Storenvy has a younger, more pop culture influence. With the toy and illustration category – plus all the comics and mini items on the site, there’s an anime, comic con aesthetic to the site which may appeal more to the illustrator and comic book maker as opposed to the fine art painter.

Fine Art America is all art, all the time. There’s a lot of competition for eye balls and although there is a lot more pop culture and illustration on there than I showed, the general feel of the site is more conservative “fine artist”.

Zazzle’s kinda weird. I like some of the products that they offer, but it seems unlikely that you would be discovered on their site through search. It’s much more suitable as a “direct to” site for special one off items with your images on them.

Over all when selling for Christmas or holidays the key is in tagging and getting your items favourited and liked by a bunch of people. Tag it properly so that it can be searched by item and category. Tag it for who you think it’s for – “Dad”, “Dad gift”, “Gift for Dad”, Father’s Day Gift, Father’s Day, Gift, Father GIFT…. see what I’m doing there?

It’s tagging your item for the most possible hits based not he search combinations or organic search.

I think it’s worthwhile to look at Red Bubble and Society6 for print options too – especially if you’re a younger, pop culture, illustrator or comic artist.

If you’ve had experiences working with any of these storefronts around the holiday time – leave a comment on the Facebook page.


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