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The idea is simple: artists send images of their work in high resolution. A distribution center prints and ships issues directly to consumers, in a variety of sizes, on materials ranging from canvas and wall-mounted acrylic panels to yoga mats and tank tops. AI-based statistical analysis tracks your potential buyers; a marketing calendar maps out your social media strategy. The glasses sales rep showed me a summary of an artist’s annual income: more than $80,000. If I signed up in the next few hours, he said—for $1,699 upfront for the basic Bronze membership level, plus $50 a month for the online store—they would build my site for me. And I would start, supposedly, collecting money.

Art Storefronts debuted in 2013. It now has 14,000 members. Nick Friend, the company’s chief executive and founder, graduated from USC’s Marshall School of Business. He developed the idea for art showcases after opening a company that makes paper and canvas for fine art.

As the Art Storefronts website says: “Selling art? Marketing is all that matters.”

From the moment I handed over my contact information, I sustained its hard sell: emails and texts taking up one of the few ever-shrinking spaces in its latest limited promotion. Other emails promised more visits with satisfied Art Storefronts customers.

“I’ve noticed now so many ads, these videos, you know: Artists, I can help you make $500,000 and blah, blah, blah. And that’s always the promise,” said Karen Hutton, an accomplished landscape and travel photographer. She sells multiples through a website Art Storefronts, but that’s just one part of a successful career. “I have a vision of what I want my business to be,” she told me. “Their business education doesn’t align with that. And that’s okay because it aligns with other people.”

Ideally, says a testosterone-filled 2017 Art Storefronts podcast episode (removed from its website in recent weeks), potential members are encouraged to go through what they call the “Does My Art Suck?” Test selling your art, offline, to a stranger.

A friend told me that 20% of new members have never sold art before. The art showcases also seemed ready to accept my money — one marketing email said my art had “randomly caught” the eye of a representative. But I hadn’t shown anyone anything.