ArtStation is the primary online community for digital artists aiming to enter the entertainment industry.
Much of the site can be used for free, and it's worth having a free account if you want to work in the entertainment industries.
You might be looking at ArtStation's membership subscriptions and wondering if they'd help you move forward in your careers.
ArtStation offers 2 different subscriptions - Plus:
Artstation Plus offers a portfolio site and professional online courses for the very competitive price of $10 per month - alternative platforms cost roughly $32 to $46 per month, by my estimates. If you need courses and a portfolio, this is hard to beat.
Artstation also offers the Pro subscription.
Artstation Pro costs $15 per month and will help you grow an audience and sell on ArtStation. If you aren't already building an audience and selling art on ArtStation, the Pro subscription won't make much of an impact on your career yet - but the Plus subscription might!
If you want to see how I've come to these conclusions, read on!
What are ArtStation's premium subscriptions?
ArtStation has 2 premium subscriptions - Plus and Pro.
If you use Artstation for free, without a subscription, you get:
- A user profile page
- A basic, clean portfolio website
- You can sell prints through the print store for a custom profit markup
- You can sell digital products on the ArtStation marketplace for a $.30 + 15% fee
Artstation gives you quite a lot of functionality for free - nearly everything a new artist would need to begin sharing their work online.
ArtStation Plus - $10 USD per month ($6.99 per month if billed annually)
In addition to the above, ArtStation Plus gives you access to:
- Full access to the ArtStation Learning courses
- More control over your portfolio website, such as using your own domain name and more customization options
- You can upload 4K images and video to your gallery
- You can have your own blog
- You can password protect pages on your portfolio website
- You get priority support
- Lastly, you get a nifty badge next to your username!
The main offer of Artstation Plus is a more professional-looking portfolio website and access to the courses - great for artists serious about improving their art, and getting commissions and freelance.
ArtStation Pro - $15 USD per month ($9.95 per month if billed annually)
On top of everything from Plus, Pro lets you:
- You can view advanced analytics for your profile and portfolio website
- You get a search result boost, putting all Pro members at the top of searches
- All ads on Artstation are hidden
- You can create discounts and coupons for your prints and digital products
- You get 5% better profit on prints, and 10% better profit on digital products
Artstation Pro is for artists who are building their business on Artstation - growing an audience, selling prints and digital goods - or actively working artists willing to pay extra to be found easier on ArtStation by employers.
Is ArtStation Plus worth it?
The first draw of Artstation Plus is ArtStation Learning.
ArtStation Learning is a library of video courses by professionals in the entertainment industries - mostly 2D and 3D artists in the videogames and film industries.
All of the courses are made by experts in their specific field, so there is no question that they're packed full of knowledge.
With a Plus subscription, you get unlimited access to the whole library and can watch any of the courses whenever you want.
There's currently a limited number of courses, but Artstation adds new courses to the library regularly.
I would say that the closest alternatives to ArtStation Learning are Schoolism and Skillshare - both are online learning platforms with a large library of art tutorials for a monthly subscription.
Here's how ArtStation learning compares to Schoolism and Skillshare:
- ArtStation learning costs $10 per month - the courses are generally 1 to 2 hours long but some go up to 8 hours, and they are made high level professionals in the entertainment industries
- Schoolism costs $30 per month - they have a smaller selection of courses that are usually longer at multiple hours. They are made by the most highly regarded artists in the entertainment industries, and their courses are exclusive to Schoolism and can't be found anywhere else.
- Skillshare costs $19 per month - it's courses are generally 1 to 2 hours, the skill level of the teachers ranges from amateur to professional and the courses can be found on other platforms. However, their course library is huge.
I would personally say that Schoolism offers the best courses from the bunch, but if it's a bit too expensive then ArtStation Learning is very high quality for the price.
ArtStation Plus also offers more control over how your ArtStation-hosted portfolio website looks, and lets you use your own domain name for it.
To host a similar portfolio, I would use something like Wix or Squarespace - which would cost $16 per month on Squarespace, and $13 per month on Wix.
Both Squarespace and Wix give you more control over the design and functionality of your site, but also require more work from you.
ArtStation Plus is only $10 for courses and a decent portfolio - getting access to a similar portfolio and online courses costs around $32 to $46 in total per month.
If you have the money for a professional portfolio and online courses, ArtStation is offering one of the best deals around.
If money is tight, then the free Artstation portfolio site and just learning from free Youtube and Twitch channels is a good alternative.
Is ArtStation Pro worth it?
Artstation Pro is for artists who are building a business on ArtStation, whether that's income from your audience and personal projects, or trying to nail a studio job.
For building your ArtStation following, Pro gives you access to analytics so you can work out which pieces of art bring the most traffic and followers to your account.
And to help you get work from employers, if you have a Pro subscription your profile will appear at the top of searches done on the website.
But for those who are already selling on ArtStation, users with Pro will get 10% better profit on selling digital products, and 5% better profit on prints.
Selling Digital Products on ArtStation
When selling digital products on ArtStation, Free and Plus members get 70% of the price if it's sold via the marketplace, and 85% of the price if they send the buyer to the product themselves.
Pro members get 80% and 95% of the price respectively, a 10% increase in profit for digital products.
Gumroad is the biggest alternative for selling digital products,
Free users get 81.5% of the price with a $0.30 fee per sale if it's sold through the marketplace, and an extra 10% cut if they send the buyer to the product themselves.
For a $10 per month premium subscription to Gumroad you can increase profit to 86.5% with a $0.30 fee per sale if sold on the marketplace, plus 10% extra if you send the buyer yourself.
Selling digital products on ArtStation with a Pro subscription is slightly less profitable than selling on competitor platforms like Gumroad, unless you are selling products for a few dollars or less.
Selling Prints on ArtStation
As well as digital products, you can also sell art posters, art prints, canvas prints and HD metal prints on Artstation.
The way ArtStation calculates the earnings for prints is the same as most print on demand services: Base Price + Artist Margin = Retail Price.
Base price is what covers fees of actually creating the print and sending it away. The Artist Margin is what you earn - ArtStation's minimum required markup is 10%. Artstation Pro members make an additional 5% of the base price.
For example, a 12"x16" print sold on ArtStation has a base price of $15. With a markup of 20%, the final price of the print is $18. Without ArtStation Pro your profit would be $3 - with Pro your profit is an additional 75 cents, so $3.75.
Comparing this to major print on demand platforms:
On Redbubble a 12"x16" print with a 20% markup is priced at roughly $20.50, of which your profit is $3.50.
On Inprnt you get 50% of the sale price, so if you were to price a 12"x16" print at $18, you'd get a decent profit of $9.
When selling prints on ArtStation, the profit margins are competitive with most Print on Demand companies and a Pro subscription increases them a bit, but some platforms like Inprnt still offer a much better margin.
However, being able to sell your prints on ArtStation itself instead of having to send your followers to a different platform means it's less work for your followers to buy a print from you, and would probably result in more print sales.
Both ArtStation subscriptions are designed to provide what you need at the current stage in your art career.
Each of their solutions isn't as good as using a dedicated platform - Schoolism has industry leading teachers, a portfolio on Squarespace or Wix is more flexible than an ArtStation Portfolio, and selling digital products on gumroad and prints on Inprnt will give you better profit margins.
But ArtStation has managed to put everything on one platform for a very competitive price.