A young curator is designing a new art movement in India through eight-month-old-venture Art&Found
This announcement is sponsored by Tissot
“I didn’t go to art school. I can’t draw. I can’t sketch. I can’t paint. I get a complex when I see works of illustrators and artists. My name is Aditya and I am the Founder of Art&Found – a curated platform for invite-only artists to sell their work.”
This candid and creative introduction by Aditya Mehta matches the ethos of the body of work that Art&Found is known for. A winner of Tissot’s Signature Innovators Club challenge, Art&Found is a curated online platform for limited edition and original works of art.
“I think in the creative industry, you’re either a creator or a curator. Since I was not a great creator or an artist, becoming a curator was the next choice. I knew I had an eye for good design and talent – both of which are essential to a curator’s role. I didn’t necessarily have talent but I have perseverance, which helped me build Art&Found.”
The art of empowering artists
“To inspire, to be inspired. To admire, to be admired” – this statement sums up Art&Found’s mission. The platform caters to both artists and art lovers alike. It enables artists to showcase, share and sell their work, and also makes it easy and affordable for first-time art buyers as well as avid collectors to purchase original and limited editions.
“Art needs community, an inter-mingling of minds, craft and soul. We are that space. We are online for urban India. This is the ethos of Art&Found,” explains Aditya, the 31-year-old founder.
What started off as a small project two years ago to bring together the emerging artists community in India has gradually grown global, with the platform showcasing beautiful artworks by emerging Indian artists from around the world. Art&Found went live in mid-March this year.
“We’re a community of designers, illustrators, typographers, photographers, painters and doodlers who have come together to sustain and celebrate artistic value. Our aim is to empower the artist community,” says the founder.
The drawing board days of Art&Found
As a Senior Art Director in Ogilvy, Aditya says he had the opportunity to work closely with some of the most talented artists. This gave him a perspective into a disorganised artist community that deserved better value. “Something had to be done for an industry that deserved more. I started Art&Found to bring out the artists hidden in our agencies, design houses or even working as freelancers in their homes,” explains Aditya.
He adds, “The other reason I took the leap was also because I felt I wasn’t being challenged enough as a person and knew that I was capable of much more. Somehow, starting up seemed like the right thing to do. Being an entrepreneur really tests you. And that’s exactly what I needed. Putting my own savings into an idea was a huge deal but I knew I wanted to buy this experience.”
Aditya says that being a sole founder has its own challenges, since the odds are most often stacked against you, but it worked to his advantage. “It brought out the best in me. One of the toughest areas for me was to get artists to sign up to sell their artworks. Interestingly, it was also one of the most satisfying processes – shortlisting and curating the best works to go on the platform,” he recalls.
The last eight months since the launch have been equally satisfying and gruelling, says Aditya, who now leads a six-member team. “What lies ahead is uncertain, yet exciting as we prepare to become the most respected and fastest growing Indian art marketplace for a new generation of art buyers. Art&Found has seen success in its early stage in the form of validation, traction and impact,” he says. The startup has already raised a seed investment round of USD 110,000.
The venture came up with an innovative approach to an existing idea in a cluttered market. The founder says, “We made our product better, different and aspirational – it is an ongoing process. We make buying art easy and affordable for a new generation of art collectors. And we make sure that our artists are happy.”
With a focus on retaining value and consistency in doing what they do, the team aims to keep on building something fresh and disruptive. “For me, success is the measure of the positive impact I have made on others with what I have built,” says the young curator.
The difference is in the detailing
‘Art that represents our time. Art that is graphic, bold, punchy. And emotive. That tells a story and leaves a memory’ – this is how the platform prefers to define art.
Art&Found makes original graphic art available in the form of prints, framed prints, canvases and framed canvases. Artists have full control over the pricing of their own art as well as the copyrights. The platform takes a small commission on every sale to earn revenue.
“We started off by addressing the industry pain points to build on something that is innovative and aspirational. Being an invite-only platform, we know artists personally and work closely with them to curate their best work. Transparency is an important part of our culture. On Art&Found, an artist gets a dashboard where they can manage their artworks, track their sales, and use promotional tools, amongst other useful features. We also provide them an offline space to exhibit their work and interact with art lovers,” explains Aditya.
At the moment, Art&Found works with close to 200 artists, each of whom have anything from 3-15 works exhibited on the platform. Prices start at Rs 1,100 and go up to Rs 19,500. Some of their partner artists include well-known names from the contemporary Indian art scene such as Malay Bargali, Shweta Malhotra, The Big Eyed Collagist, Aniruddh Mehta, Dangercat, and deadtheduck, among others.
Aditya believes there is immense homegrown talent in India: “If we want to increase the value and appreciation of art, we have to start with what we have.” He aspires to make Art&Found a global art, lifestyle and experience brand from India.
Speaking about their growth enablers, Aditya says that the three main factors are the model itself, word-of-mouth and social media. “Convenience is at the core of online retail for consumers. The way we can price the art online makes it an inexpensive experience and less intimidating. This has caught the attention of a lot of people who are either art lovers or hunting for affordable art.”
He says that the online art segment is small but rapidly growing. The art market in India is pegged at $200 million. The demand for art online has risen substantially and expected to grow at a rate of at least 25 per cent per annum.
As part of their growth plans, Art&Found is introducing a new product line and expanding into international markets. There will also be more on-ground activity in the form of events and shows. “It is a good time for art, an industry that has otherwise been underappreciated and undervalued. We’re seeing this rapid change. Initiatives like local art projects and flea markets are constantly exposing art to a wider audience. What this is doing is building intrinsic value and respect which will convert into high monetary value. Art in India will receive the value it deserves. And I think we’ll be there very soon, if not already,” Aditya reiterates.
Innovation in art and a winning proposition
“Art is the purest form of expression for the social, cultural and political landscapes of our times. In our own way, we at Art&Found are preserving the art of our times and plan to do so for a long time. Every time someone buys an artwork, an Indian artist gets rewarded fairly and the owner builds his/her own little art collection. I think as artists, curators and collectors, we can each make a difference in building, growing and sustaining the importance of art in our culture,” summarises Aditya.
So what’s the role of innovation in art, we ask Aditya.
“Innovation is at the core of creativity. Creating original art is an innovative process.” He goes on to quote Scott Belsky, Founder of Behance, who said, ‘Art, without distribution and discovery, moves nobody. Our role is to use technology to make art accessible to art lovers.’
Winning the third round of Tissot’s Signature Innovators Club challenge, has brought on a celebratory mood at Art&Found. Aditya says, “Winning the challenge has given a small startup from Mumbai trying to make a dent in the global online art industry, validation and recognition. I’m humbled and thankful. I wish all the best to entrepreneurs who stand to win this prestigious initiative in the future. The world needs more innovators. Here’s to timekeepers and storytellers!”