There Really Isn’t A Professional Social Network For Artists and Their Portfolios… Yet

Believe it or not, there are still voids left on the internet. For every niche-fulfilling service that caters to the whims of, say, obsessive insect collectors or Lionel Richie superfans, there are still gaps that leave certain demographics — like the myriad artists and businesses that require their talents — out in the cold. Luckily, Ardist, a social network designed for the arts community, aptly fills this curiously empty space.

The network is simple enough in its premise and execution but is underscored with careful forethought and immense potential. Ardist is set up for access by three different types of users — Creatives, Fans and Businesses — and is well-designed for stimulating direct interaction and job creation. It accomplishes this by targeting the areas that matter most to its demographic and laying out the infrastructure necessary to cater to them. Users can create portfolios to share with prospective clients and view those of others, apply for online jobs, search for the right artist for their business’ needs and interact with one another in either a professional or social capacity.

And it all comes off very well because, rather than just create a blank slate, Ardist wisely chooses to streamline all of its content into uniform (read: easy-to-navigate) pages and profiles. Hiring, applying and just searching out other artists is made simple through the design template and the feature set is comprehensive without being bogged down by any extra fat. From this one resource users are able to perform any number of essential functions, finding the right connections to further their careers and meeting specific goals that the wide reach of an online arts community is able to provide.

The fact that the recently launched network (which is still in its Beta stage) seems like a perfect fit for the needs of today’s artists is no accident. Eric Barry, CEO of Ardist, knows what the market requires because he’s been in the same position as his users. Following graduation, Barry found that he ” . . . no longer had the resources that a community environment like college had to offer,” and, like almost every other starving artist, went to work for an ad agency in order to maintain a creative outlet while still being able to pay the bills. The problem, however, is that agencies are notorious in skimming the majority of project profits off the top. “If you listen to creatives and businesses they’ll tell you the same thing: advertising and design agencies charge clients too much and they don’t pay their employees enough.” This fundamental, corporate failure coupled with Barry’s desire to ” . . .  not only find, but vet creative talent online . . .” to inspire Ardist.

And now, after much work, the site has launched and will sink or swim based on user response. While it’s impossible to predict what the future will hold for Ardist, it is easy to see that Barry has hit on something that merits attention. By foregoing the traditional structure of brick-and-mortar agencies, Ardist is offering up a new way of putting businesses, artists and fans in touch with one another. An embrace of the web’s potential for connecting disparate groups, harnessing the power of appropriately directed fandom and levelling the playing field (those who have money to offer and those that want to make money really are treated the same on a design level) make Ardist an extremely interesting platform.

The fact that the network offers up the ability for all types of creatives to interface directly with potential clients is noteworthy as well. There is a distinct shortage of opportunities for creatives to find decent work at fair rates as well a lack of avenues for savvy businesses to save money while taking advantage of direct communication with their hires. Bypassing exorbiant agency rates and dodgy web listings currently available to both parties can makes an enormous difference for everyone involved and is definitely the key feature of Ardist’s approach.