The following case study documents a startup whose mission is to help amateur artists improve their work and become connected to a larger community. In particular, we wanted to focus on the rising trend of amateur artists who post their work online.

So, what's the buzz about this group?

According to research done by digital art collection company Artsy...

  1. The online art market has grown from $1.57 billion in 2013, to $2.62 billion in 2014, to $3.27 billion in 2015. If growth continues at this rate, the online art market will be worth around $9.58 billion by 2020.
  2. Online art market buyers are likely to return, with 92% saying they would buy the same amount of work (or more) in the next 12 months.
  3. Online marketplaces are eclipsing online auctions as the favored method of purchasing art.


Our first priority was to interview as many different types of artists as we could. We were looking to find patterns, gain insights and then develop a set of design principles to go forward.

Throughout the course of our conversations, we noticed four recurring pain points amongst our users.

  1. Digital "likes" and vague positivity dominate online conversation with art but provide nothing meaningful to the artist
  2. Feedback tends to be too focused on content or form
  3. It is easy to get lost amongst the millions of art pieces uploaded daily unless you're very talented
  4. Art school is very expensive, leaving many aspiring artists on their own

PERSONA: The Amateur Artist


The user flow below depicts a high-level summary of how a user would engage with the platform.


After a few weeks of research, we came to our key insight:
Artists need a platform for their art that promises them exposure and structured feedback from a community of fellow art enthusiasts.

We used three design principles to guide us in our product development.

  1. Reward good behavior
  2. Structure the feedback giving process
  3. Make community the backbone of the platform

1. Reward good behavior

While playing our platform, users earn points by answering questions, earning streaks, and receiving upvotes on their answers from other users. These points allow users to purchase prints of art and/or promote the exposure of one's own artwork (if they have any) on the platform.

Artists no longer have to worry about their work being buried. If they become top contributors, they are guaranteed to have the exposure they need and will receive the feedback they deserve.

2. Structure the feedback giving process

During our research, we spoke with Stanford art professors about the best practices for critiquing art. According to our research, art criticism is responding to, interpreting meaning, and making critical judgments about specific works of art. This sort of art criticism is not only immensely helpful for the artists themselves, but it also starts a dialogue for other people to engage with the art in new ways.

Art critique can be divided into four distinct categories.

1. Description -- pure description of the object without value judgments, analysis, or interpretation.
What do you see?

2. Analysis -- determining what the features suggest and deciding why the artist used such features to convey specific ideas.
How did the artist do it?

3. Interpretation -- establishing the broader context for this type of art
Why did the artist create it and what does it mean?

4. Judgment -- giving the piece a rank in relation to other works and considering its originality
Is it a good artwork?

For our platform, we wanted to ensure that the game cycled through the different types of art critique. Artists should walk away with a robust and wholesome understanding of how people experienced their art.

Follow along

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