ArtSites Updates

(posted on 19 Feb 2023)

We have updated the look of the administration system.  The functionality hasn't changed at all, but we have adjusted the look to work better on more modern computers and mobile devices.

Some of you may have recently gotten a "This Connection Is Not Private" or similar message when trying to reach your ArtSites website.  This should only be happening to people using fairly old computers that haven't been updated to use the latest software.

Here is what is happening:

Your connection to most websites now is protected with what is known as a certificate.  This certificate assures your web browser that you have reached the website that is shown in your web browser's address bar (URL bar) and that all communications between you and that website are not visible to anyone else and cannot be modified.

These certificates have an expiry date that is designed to force both ends of the connection (website and web browser) to be updated from time to time and to make sure that they are not using communications technology that is no longer secure.

All websites get their certificates from a certificate authority and have to renew them from time to time to make sure that they are not using an expired certificate.  Until a few years ago, this process was complicated, time-consuming and fairly expensive.  So most websites didn't use certificates.  

For an artist's website, it really wasn't all that important.  In most cases, there is no need to keep any information hidden as would be the case for a bank.  A few years ago, Google decided that all websites should use secure connections.  The main advantage was that visitors to your website could not be spied upon by intermediaries on the internet such as governments and ISP, etc.  Those same intermediaries also could not change or inject information into the content.  Some ISPs were known to inject ads into the websites that their customers viewed.  So now it is an expectation that all websites use secure connections and any websites that don't do this will end up being labelled as "insecure" or "not private".

At around the same time as Google was trying to force all websites to use secure connections, a non-profit was formed, called Let's Encrypt, whose goal was to streamline the process of adding and managing certificates for websites.  This was a great solution to any website hosting provider such as ArtSites that allowed them to automate the process of creating and updating certificates for the websites that they managed.  ArtSites quickly adopted this technology as did most of the other services that allowed people to easily create websites.

Back to what has changed to cause some visitors to some websites to see websites as "insecure" or "not private".  A certificate does not stand by itself.  There is what is called a "certificate chain of trust".  A certificate from one website is trusted because it is digitally signed by another certificate.  That certificate is trusted because it is signed by yet another certificate.  This goes on until you reach a "root certificate".  Those root certificate are embedded in either your web browser or in your operating system and get updated in various ways.

Let's Encrypt had 2 root certificates.  One of their own and one from a third party certificate authority.  That third part's root certificate was already well established in operating systems and web browsers so the certificates that Let's Encrypt created could also be trusted by most computers and devices on the internet.  At the beginning of the day on October 1, 2021, that third party root certificate expired and only the Let's Encrypt root certificate was valid.  Any computer or device that does not include Let's Encrypt root certificate will no longer consider certificates from Let's Encrypt (i.e. those that ArtSites uses) as valid.

This change affects approximately 265 million websites.

The most adversely affected devices are Mac computers running older versions of OS X.  In fact any version of Mac OS before 10.12.1 which was released approximately 5 years ago.  So if you are using a Mac with one of these older versions (code names: El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, Lion, Snow Leopard, Leopard, Tiger, etc) it's likely that you won't be able to easily access any of these websites.  OS X 12.1 supports all Macs made since mid 2010 and some iMacs and MacBooks from late 2009.  So those machines can and should be upgraded.

Other devices that are affected:

  • Older iPhones or iPads that are using iOS 9 or lower.  Anyone with an iPhone 5 or higher can upgrade to at least iOS 10 and so should not be affected.
  • Extremely old Android devices using versions less than 2.3.6.
  • Extremely old Windows computer using Windows XP without the SP3 patch (all Windows XP systems should have the SP3 patch).

What should you do?

For ArtSites artists, we can make some adjustments to your website so you can access it without requiring the certificate.  Contact us and we will do that for you.  We won't do this for all ArtSites websites automatically because it might cause other issues for those that have relatively up to date software.

If you can upgrade your operating systems or to a newer version, I strongly suggest that you do so.  Ideally you should be using the latest version of any operating system to keep your whole computer secure and protected from malware, viruses and potentially being "hacked".

If you have a computer that is so old that it cannot be upgraded (for Macs, greater than about 11 years old, for Windows computers, greater than about 15 years old) this might be a time to consider something new, or even just "newer".

(posted on 13 Jan 2018)

Over the last little while we have been working a new layout for ArtSites websites. We have called it "Filmstrip" because one of the it's primary characteristics is the use of horizontal navigation of images as if they were all being viewed on a 35mm filmstrip. This layout tries to maximize image sizes on the screen, regardless of the device being viewed on. We have tried to reduce the non-image elements of the website as much as possible, mainly by the use of a "hamburger" icon to provide access to a menu and keeping the header elements as compact as we could.

This layout is still in what we would call an Experimental stage. We have made it available for our Artists to use on their own websites but be warned that there may be some small changed to it's layout and features over the next few weeks or even months. If you would just like to see a working example of this new layout, you can have a look at this sample website:

Please let us know if you see any issues with the website or have any suggestions. We are particularly interested in what people think of alignment, spacing and colour of elements on the website.

Last month we released a new feature that changed the way that an ArtSites Artist's website handles contact request and artwork inquiries.  We have had a number of questions about this feature, most notably, "Why did we have to change the way that these notifications were handled at all?"

First of all, I wish that we didn't have to make the change that we did but we were forced into this change.  The old system had problems that were making it harder for us to reach artists with contact requests or other updates.  Let me describe what was happening.

In the old system, when some filled in the contact form, we would send a notification to the artist that included the message provided by the visitor.  If that visitor provided an email address, we used an email trick that allowed our artist to "just reply" to the message for that reply to get to the visitor.  Unfortunately, this trick did not work with some email programs, Outlook the most common, and the email would come to us instead.  We would then have to tell the artist about the problem with their email program.  

All in all, this process worked quite well for most artists.  Unfortunately, there were increasing problems for us.  The email that we sent to the artist was officially from ArtSites.  When a visitor left a "spammy" message, we would catch it most of the time but occasionally they got through.  Often the artist would mark these email messages as spam as they would any other email message that contains spam.  There is a subtle but important problem with this.  When they mark the message as spam, what they really wanted to indicate was that the visitor providing information on their website was a spammer but email systems identified ArtSites as a spammer.  This would cause several problems.  For the artist, it would prevent new contact messages that came from ArtSites from getting through to them.  Their email programs would automatically put our messages in their spam folders.  Having our email marked as spam also made it harder for us to get email messages to others as well because marking an email message as spam reports the sender (ArtSites) as a spammer to many different email systems.  This is a great way to deal with real spam but in our case, it was working against our legitimate email.

So we had to find a way to stop ArtSites being identified as a spammer.  The easiest way would be too completely remove the contact form and just have an email address for people to contact our artists directly.  That way we would not be involved in the email process.  That would create a hurdle keeping visitors from contacting ArtSites artists and we really wanted to avoid that.  To make sure we maintained an easy way for a visitor to initiate contact

with the artist, we decided to store the messages on our system and only send out notices that a message existed.  That way the artist could go to their website and see the message before deciding if it involved spam.  If they wanted to mark it as spam, they could do so there.  It also gave us more opportunities to identify spammers and automatically mark them as spam. This process helps us fight spam and avoid being identified as a spammer.  Unfortunately, this is more of an effort to the artist which is unfortunate.  Also, our "Reply" mechanism is not ideal and doesn't work for all artist.  But at least the message does get to the artist and they can find a way to respond accordingly.

If you look carefully at our Contact Request notification message that we send you, there are instructions on how to find these messages.  Unfortunately, there is not a "Messages" tab in the administration but you can find this under your "Contact" tab.

Messaging is definitely a work-in-process.  We are going to be reorganizing the administration system soon and as a part of that Messages will be much easier to find and work with.

So if you have any feedback on the way that the new messaging system works, please let us know so we can incorporate that feedback into future updates.


(posted on 15 Nov 2017)


We have created a new area in the ArtSites Administration system for managing incoming messages from the Contact and Inquiry pages of your website. Instead of emailing the messages directly to you, these messages will be put into a new Messages section of your website where you can view the messages in your Admin Panel.  Over time, we will migrate other messaging into this system, as well.

We have made this change for a number of reasons.  It has become increasingly hard to reach some of the artists due to spam filtering and changes of email. Now, you will always be able to see your incoming messages from your Admin Panel on your website. That said, please note we will still send you a notification of new messages via email.

You can find your Messages page by going to the Contact page in your Admin Panel and clicking on the Inquiries and Contact Requests link just below the Manage Contact Information Page title.

Our new Messaging system displays 4 kinds of messages:

  New Messages

This will show messages that haven't been marked as Archived, Spam or Deleted. This is where you can look for messages associated with notices you've received via email. 

You can review the messages and when you are done with them, mark them as Archived.  That way, the New Messages section will only show you messages you haven't dealt with yet.

Each message displays the Name and email address (if provided) of the sender as well as the text of the message. If the message is more than a single line long, only the first line is displayed but if you click on that line, the whole message will be displayed.  Clicking on   reply or the commenter's email address will attempt to open your email program so that you can reply to the message. If this feature hasn't been set up in your web browser you will likely just get an error message.

  Archived Messages

If you click on the Archive icon  , your message will be put on this list. It is just a way to keep your messages out of the New Messages list. But, you can still access them at a later time if you want to look at or review them. You can always click on the Unarchive icon if you would like to move the message back into the New Messages list.

  Spam Messages

If you click on the Spam icon   on a message in the New Messages list, it will be put into the Spam Messages list. Not only will it be removed from your New Messages list but will notify us of the spam message so we can take action to suppress the spammer across our network of artists. At times, we will identify a message as spam before you get a chance to see it in your New Messages list. So, some messages may automatically end up in your Spam Messages list.

Not all potential spam will end up in the Spam Messages list. For years, we have been blocking spammers so that most spammers either cannot get access to your website at all or are not allowed to send to your website. In the process of sending a message, the behavior of the sender provides us foolproof evidence that the message is spam is and we will put it in the Spam Messages list. In the past, those messages were just discarded. When we mark a message as spam, we are pretty sure that it's spam so you can safely ignore this section but if you are curious about what spammers might be attempting to send you, have a look.

  Deleted Messages

We are not sure that this list of messages is even needed but we know that some people really like to delete messages at some point. We may at some point turn deleting messages into an irreversible deletion from our database.

Currently, all messages will stay in our database indefinitely. At some point we make start purging Spam and Delete messages after some period of time, e.g., maybe after they are more than a month old.

This is a new system and it represents a significant change in how we handle communications between an artist and their visitors.

It is possible that you do not have any messages to view yet so to test this new feature, go to your public Contact page and send yourself a message, then go back into the Messages view and see what it looks like.

As always, we'd love to hear your feedback on how the system works for you! And, if you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to let us know!

(posted on 1 Nov 2017)

We're delighted to announce that there is now a new Colour Scheme entry called “Custom”.  

When you go to the Layout tab in your Admin Panel and "Custom" is chosen under "Colour Scheme", a button appears to the right (where the preview normally appears). When you click on that button, you will go to a new page where you can edit the colour scheme colours directly!

Now, go and have fun creating new and interesting colour schemes that truly complement your artwork! :-)

And, as always, if you have any issues or problems, simply let us know!

(posted on 27 Jun 2017)

Over the past few weeks, several of our artists have received "purchase inquiries" to buy a few pieces of artwork.

Fortunately, our artists have asked us for our thoughts and we've been very quick to let them know that these were, unfortunately, art scams. :-(

Here are a few recent "Names of Shame" to watch out for:

  • Donald Cook (
  • Vanit Chirathivat
  • Quinn Sunny
  • Thomas Scovel
  • Anita Turner (sometimes "anitturner")
  • Will Bullas
  • Beverly Nicholas
  • Dr. Oswald Dornelly
  • Dennis Morgan
  • Senior Collins

So, how do we know these are scams?

Here are a few "red flags" that seem to be used in most of these "inquiries":

  • Overseas Buyers
  • Purchase of Multiple Items
  • Complex Payment Schemes and/or Overpayments by Cheque
  • Use of a Their Own Shipping Agent or Mover
  • Buying for a Spouse or Relative

In our previous article, Red Flags When Doing Business Online, we discuss many of the above points in more detail.

And, if you want more art scam information, here are a few nice articles/resources:

As you will see, while sender's name(s) and email addresses often change, the general format seems to remain the same.

Another tip:

  • If you use Statcounter, you can compare the time of the email with the time of a view/hit on your contact page. Often, you'll see what actual country the scammers are from (usually, not the one mentioned in the email ;-).

Our hope is that once you know the key "elements" of an art scam, it'll be much easier for you to recognize one when you see it! ;-)

As always, we simply want to make sure you don't get scammed!

And, we'll do our best to keep you informed!

Please be cautious and feel free to ask us if you ever have any concerns! :-)

(posted on 11 May 2017)

History of Top Level Domain Names (TLDs)

Available domain name extensions (like .com, .net, .info, .ca, .uk, etc -- known in the industry as top level domains or TLDs) have grown considerably over the last few years. In the early years of the Internet, we had .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .mil and the various two letter extensions like .ca, .us, .uk, .fr, etc. Then in 2001, .info and .biz, .museum were launched followed by a few others like .coop, .name and .pro in 2002.

Every few years after that, a few more extensions became available. In 2012, the domain name system was opened up for anyone with the technical competency and money ($185,000 to apply) to create just about any extension (TLD) that they wanted.

As of February 2017, there were over 1,500 domain name extensions and more are coming online every month.

We haven't really encouraged artists to adopt many of these new domain name extensions because most "average" people are only familiar with a handful of them.

What's the Best Domain Name to Have?

In the past, our recommendation has been to try to get your brand, generally your name, as a .com, e.g. When is not available, we'll usually suggest using your country extension (.ca for Canada, .us for USA, etc) and if that's not available, you may consider

If your name is not available with any of the above domain name extensions, we'll recommend creating variations by adding words to your domain name, e.g. or, etc.

The New .ART Domain Names

Just this week, a new domain name extension has become available: .ART! Obviously, this is a great new option for our artists. So, if or your preferred domain name has been taken, YourName.Art might be a good alternative!

Fortunately, we can now register and setup .ART domain names for you and all our artists! :-)

Adding a Second Domain Name to Your Website

You might ask, "I already have a domain name for my website, should and how might I make use of a .art domain name?"

Many of our artists have multiple domain names associated with their website. They will have a "primary" domain name and one or more "secondary" domain names. The secondary domain name(s) automatically redirect to the primary one. For example, if you had as your primary domain name and YourName.Art as your secondary, when someone types YourName.Art into a web browser address bar, they would actually end up on (FYI - browsers always convert domain names and their extensions to lower case). As a result, you might put YourName.Art on your business cards or provide it in your email communications or as the official link to your website. And, in the end, your visitors still end up on (By the way, this also works with www. on the front of all domain names.)

Already Have

If you already have, you may want to shorten it to just YourName.Art. We can register YourName.Art and make it the primary domain for your website. This means now becomes the secondary domain for your website.

Transitioning from Your Existing Domain Name to .ART Domain Names

To transition from your existing domain name to another is similar to the process above. Any links on the Internet to your existing website will still work but we will setup an "automatic redirection" to your new domain name, e.g. YourName.Art. Because this happens automatically, you don't have to tell everyone that you're changing your domain name, they will simply find out over time when they land on your website with your new domain name.

In general, when switching to a new domain name, we suggest keeping your old domain name active as a secondary domain name for at least a year. That will give most of your visitors time to get used to the new domain name. And, if you don't mind the extra cost of keeping a secondary domain name, we suggest keeping the old domain name for much longer.

Prices for an Additional .ART Domain Name

New .ART domain name extensions are slightly more expensive than the basic domain name extensions. So, we will be charging $20/year for these as secondary domains for our artists.

If you have had a hard time getting your preferred domain name for your website, you may want to consider adding or transitioning to a .ART domain name.

As always, we simply want to keep you updated on the latest web developments!

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

(posted on 27 Apr 2017)

(Photo credit Montreal artist Renee Othot)

We love hearing about all your successes!

For instance, we were so pleased when Kat O'Brien decided to share with us her experience at this year's Slow Art Day in Champlain, NY.

Here's what Kat had to say about the event:

On April 8 - International Slow Art Day was hosted in about 200 venues worldwide.
Kat O'Brien was the Featured Artist with an exhibition of 8 ceramic sculptures at the Champlain Meeting House, hosted by Village Trustee Janet McFetridge, Champlain, NY. The format of the event: all participants agree to spend at least 5 minutes looking at each of 5 artworks, then discuss their experiences of viewing art s-l-o-w-l-y at a reception in the Meeting House

This first art event ever hosted by the Village of Champlain met with lively and focused discussions of the artworks and this surprising experience, shared by 35 people in attendance (with many active participants from Montreal and northeastern NY. It is a very interesting time for this cross-border area!). Eager anticipation of the next art events that are taking priority in the next phase of the Village Waterfront Revitalization Project. Congratulations later followed for host Janet McFetridge's award in New York State's "Women of Distinction" program for her work in community enhancement.

(Photo credit Montreal artist Renee Othot)

My host, Village Trustee Janet McFetridge, started the Champlain Meeting House 2 years ago as a venue for such community events. She just received a New York State Distinguished Women's Award for her excellent work in community enhancement, which includes a commitment to art support as a basic element in the local Village Revitalization Project she directs.

Therefore, most of my work in the Champlain Meeting House exhibition is from my ongoing series, Village. The ceramic octagons are an extension of my long-standing art and meditation practice that explores interdependence: illusions of solidity and emptiness, luminosity and darkness, permanence and impermanence.

Thank you to Kat for sharing this wonderful account with us!

Have you ever participated in Slow Art Day?

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