Freelance Writer, Ghostwriter for business, finance, technology

freelance writer, finance writer, ghostwriter, copyeditor, freelance editor Sharon Rockey is a freelance writer/ghostwriter for print and on-line media. She writes and edits for business, finance, technology, lifestyle and the arts. Visit her on-line portfolio and contact her for your next project.

    Reprinted from Arts and Entertainment - Mendocino Art Center -- Cover Story

    Moving Art Through Cyberspace

    by Sharon Rockey

    The Digital Age has forged a new frontier for artists, and cyberspace is its marketplace. As any dedicated artist knows, putting your heart and soul into your work doesn't leave time for creative sales strategies. Traditional galleries, showrooms and artist reps have always been the marketing mainstay of the art community. But the fast pace of Internet technology may be changing all that as artists and art collectors converge online with more frequency and ease than ever thought possible.

    Paving the way and setting standards for this new virtual venue are David Heller and Kathy Spiering, two talented people whose names will be familiar to many Mendocino artists and friends. Kathy's art has been displayed in the Stewart/Kummer Gallery, Wilkes Gallery and the William Zimmer Gallery. David and Kathy were formerly the associate publisher and art director for the OutLook, a monthly arts magazine currently out of publication. In February of 1996, the duo launched LeftCoastArt, a website and virtual art gallery that featured quality work by local artists.

    The new venture was built with teamwork and just the right blending of skills. David brings the technical know-how, Kathy's artistic eye oversees all layout and design, and together they collaborate on marketing in all the right places. The website is not only a pleasure to navigate and elegant to see, it's become a cutting-edge model for supporting and networking artists and is beginning to attract art and art patrons from around the world.

    Kathy's art pictured left.

    But is the Internet really a viable place to see and sell art? There is a lot to be said for the experience of walking into a gallery and seeing "live" art on the walls. Up to 100 people may visit a gallery on a good day. However, from an artist's perspective, potential gallery sales pale when compared to LeftCoastArt's online gallery, which may get anywhere from 60 to 1,500 hits a day! The virtual doors open onto desktops all over the globe 24 hours a day, and collectors are exposed to work they could not possibly view in the conventional way. So, high traffic, low overhead and unlimited access give this medium a very promising future for the buying and selling of art.

    "Our objective is to build a network, bringing artists and collectors together and to serve as a support for artists all over the world," said Kathy, curator for the LeftCoastArt gallery. "We've just added four top-notch European artists who had heard about our site halfway around the world. The gallery is building a reputation for displaying one of the largest eclectic collections of contemporary fine arts on the Internet and the word seems to be spreading. In the last 30 days alone, we have been visited by viewers from 56 countries."

    Visitors come to enjoy the spectacular works of over 30 artists whose pieces include oil and acrylic paintings, carvings, sculpture, computer art, photography, jewelry and several other mediums including a few things that defy simple description.

    Works by Mendocino artists include pastels by Julie Higgins, oils and linocuts by Nina Mera, portraits and murals by Gigi Prete, acrylic and steel by Jean Pierre Rives and ceramics by Charles Spillar, to name a few.

    Artists who are web savvy and those with their own websites know that graphic images are the biggest consumers of online time and a sure way to lose an audience too impatient to wait for slow downloading. However, David has developed his own scanning techniques, which are a well-kept secret.

    "I use a combination of equipment and software that compresses images up to 30 percent tighter than the average compression rate, which means artwork appears faster, sharper and brighter than is possible on typical websites," he explained. "Keeping the viewer engaged in this graphically rich site increases the potential for sales. The artists have done their part - my role is to provide the most high-tech and fastest viewing site available."

    Art sales have totaled between $8,000 and $10,000, and are destined to rise as the concept catches on. Roz Beatty was thrilled when her painting sold to a collector in Switzerland, a sale she agrees might never have happened through conventional channels. Other artists, like Doug Desmond, have been discovered and commissioned to create other art by visitors to the website.

    Sales are not made directly on the website. LeftCoastArt serves as a contact point, a mediator and a place where interest is generated.

    "We act as agents and give all the necessary phone and e-mail support to bring the artist and buyer together," they said. "Our returns to artists are higher than conventional outlets because our website maintenance costs are so low."

    Recently, David and Kathy have added a companion site to LeftCoastArt, creating an online magazine dedicated to upscale living that focuses on art, food, wine, fashion and entertainment. Left Coast Art magazine complements the art gallery with interesting artist profiles as well as an events calendar that includes many art openings. Links from magazine articles and graphics move the viewer back and forth between the two sites, and if an artist has his or her own website, links will be provided to those, as well.

    The entire site at LeftCoastArt, the art gallery and magazine, is a sumptuous feast for the eyes. You'll find outstanding art beautifully displayed, an exceptionally tasteful layout plus interesting and entertaining articles.

    If you've landed on this page directly from a search engine and you're wondering where you are, you can find out by linking back to