From vision to visibility: how this IT engineer found his true passion by creating a digital platform for artists
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 515 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Curated by MayinArt, the exhibition Discover the Undiscovered wrapped up in Singapore this week (see Part I of our coverage here). It showcased contemporary Indian and Indonesian art.
With permission from MayinArt, PhotoSparks reproduces works by the following artists: Humera Ali, Shan Re, Romicon Revola, Abhijit Paul, Soumya Kishor Chakraborty, At Sitompul, M ihsan, Agus Putu Suyadnya, I Made Sutarjaya, and Adha Widhayansyah.
Founded by Krish Datta and Avik Bandyopadhyay, Singapore-based MayinArt is a platform to showcase Indian and Southeast Asian art. The artworks are priced from a few hundred dollars up to around $3,000.
Avik joins us in this three-part interview on the vision, journey, achievements, and plans ahead for his art platform and community.
YourStory [YS]: What was the vision behind founding MayinArt, and how is it being fulfilled?
Avik Bandyopadhyay [AB]: It all started in the interiors of Indonesia. There we found that talented artists from the rural areas were creating beautiful art. We relished the richness and creativity of their art and culture but realised that they had limited resources to market their work or communicate globally as their native language, Bahasa Indonesia, was the only language they could speak.
This was what triggered the creation of MayinArt - a curated online platform for art. We then included Indian art from Bengal and Karnataka.
We also realised that art was being bought by a very limited number of buyers. Sometimes a very small group of buyers were chasing an even smaller group of master artists for the sake of investment. We realised that the scope of art should be broadened, it should be appreciated and enjoyed rather than stored and possessed.
With this objective, MayinArt started on its journey to uncover quality and genuine art from dedicated and creative artists coming out of the most interior and remote areas and bringing to light amazing pieces of art to art aficionados around the world. We aim to gratify seasoned art collectors, established art lovers as well as nascent art patrons.
We aim to democratise art. Our objective is to remove the impediments to accessibility and purchase of exclusive artworks by providing a safe and uncritical environment to explore art, offering rational pricing, providing access to advisory services and other interactive opportunities.
We believe MayinArt will help artists find a wider and more sustainable mode of survival and appreciation by creating more awareness and more buyers for their creations.
YS: What is your 'backstory'? Where did you grow up, study and work – and how did you get the idea for MayinArt?
AB: Born and brought up in Kolkata, I am a Bengali boy at heart and in spirit! The city has nurtured me into being a versatile being – with interests spanning martial arts, sports, arts and music.
I am a Black Belt in Karate and have advanced skills in ten-pin bowling and nine-ball pool, winning many of the neighbourhood and local competitions in my earlier years. I am also a keyboard player and a right arm fast bowler in cricket.
I come from the IT industry. I was working at Tech Mahindra from their Pune HQ, being part of their contract management and commercials team.
A strong loving background - of family, friends and home - truly empowers you to move forward with whatever decisions you take, boldly and fearlessly.
YS: How did you get the 'aha' or 'ouch' moment for MayinArt?
AB: During our travels across south-east Asia we realised that although technology had modified many facets of our lives and was redefining social fabric today, the few things technology could not touch and what remained truly timeless was creativity, art and the mindset of artists.
We realised that everyone in some form or the other appreciated art. We also realised that many so called common people like us wanted to possess and learn about art but either did not have the means or sometimes the affordability to own pieces of creative art.
Similarly, we realised that in most cases the commercial success of an artist or the value of an artwork had little to do with the quality or creativity of the artist – but more to do with their luck, association, marketing, and timing of events.
The biggest realisation was the fact that there were so many artists in India and Indonesia with creative talent inherited through thousands of years of cultural blending – but who did not get an opportunity to taste any success, simply because they could not showcase their work.
This was the trigger behind creating MayinArt. We thought that we could create a platform and help bring this creativity out into the open, give an opportunity to customers to taste these creative works, get a fair appreciation for the creators, and make a transparent forum while keeping alive the art forms, the creativity and talent.
YS: What’s been your progress so far in terms of enrollment, participation, audience reach, and sales?
AB: Currently we have 140 artists with more than 2,000 artworks on our platform with new artists being added every month. The artists are mainly from India, Indonesia, Singapore and UAE.
Over the last two years, MayinArt has sold over 100 artworks across the US, UK, Canada, Philippines, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, Indonesia, India, and Singapore.
We still run this as a non-profit initiative as none of the investors or founders or core team draws any salary. The idea is to popularise art and make it more sustainable for the artists.
In Part III of this interview, Avik shares his insights on trends in the art field and recommendations for artists and audiences.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to explore your creative core?