January 24, 2021. We recently expanded our ratings of online art galleries. This article explains how we rated the sites we selected for our review.
If you know of a great service we missed, please Contact Us. Conversely, if you feel we rated a gallery unfairly in some area, please let us know.
We do not rate photo print-on-canvas services. There are dozens of sites that print family photos like Walmart Photo, CanvasPop, or Shutterfly. If you are looking for a review of this type of service, check PC Magazine’s “Best Online Photo Printing Services for 2020.”
Our goal is to find, evaluate, and rank the top e-commerce art sales platforms that provide quality art prints, particularly giclées and other limited editions of fine art and photography on canvas (framed or unframed). Although some services (like Artsy) sell only original art, we focused the majority of our reviews on online services that sell a large selection of digital works on canvas.
Most services we reviewed print and ship directly, but some like Etsy and Saatchi Art fulfill through the artist or the physical art gallery. We rank services on a scale of 1-25 since most reviews cluster results between 4.0 and 5.0 – making it difficult to truly differentiate services.
Below are our five ranking criteria: Print Options, Site Usability, Selection, Service, Return Policy, and Overall Score. Since there are five (5) review criteria each with a maximum score of 5, the top score available in our review is 25/25.
Services generally print to canvas in one or more sizes and thicknesses. Some also frame canvas and/or paper prints in a variety of colors and styles, such as metal or wood. The more options and styles that are available, the higher the score.
By selection, we are referring to the combined number of prints and original works that are available for sale. Our Selection ratings are:
- 1 = less than 50K works
- 2 = 50K to 100K
- 3 = 100K to 750K
- 4 = 750K to 1.5M
- 5 = over 1.5M
What good is a gallery if you can’t find what you want? We rate usability based on the ability to find a sample work of art. In our test, our sample search is for a 1.5” canvas southwest orange-red hued painting approximately 30” x 40” in portrait orientation.
Usability also includes zoom capability and ability to save a list of pending selections. The easier we can specify and get back “hits” from our sample search the higher the score.
Service is a broad and subjective categorization that is difficult to quantify in a fair and objective manner. For example, just a few unhappy customers and unfairly blackball a site with a few bad reviews. For this reason, we used a good third party service, TrustPilot for our service ratings.
You may need to return a print or original if it is damaged or if it does not really work in your location. A no questions asked return policy is best. Thirty to sixty days is ideal but anything less than 10 days is considered a poor policy. A no charge return shipping policy is best. The longer the return policy, especially for prints, with the least cost, for any reason, rates the highest score.
Returns of original art can be exempt from our ratings since they are frequently subject to policies dictated by the individual sellers, not the service. However a site gets a higher rating if they take responsibility for returns shipped from third parties.
Individual ratings for each service are shown here.
A separate review will be devoted to gallery owners and art professionals looking to find the best services to print and ship their works, since the criteria used to 1) buy art on the internet (price, quality, selection, service) and 2) sell art (commission paid, promotion options, color accuracy, etc.) are very different.