Art is a beautiful gift that plays more of a role in society than we realize. Without it, we wouldn't have books, movies, architecture, paintings and more. However, this doesn't make the business a simple one – just consider the "starving artist" cliché.
Though artists might be intimidated by the industry, it's not impossible to get off the ground as an art-based company. Businesses like these eight successful startups keep art alive and inspire fellow artists to do what they love.
If you're an art enthusiast but don't have the time or money to travel to various museums, consider using Artsy, an online resource for art and museums. Artsy is a platform that features popular galleries, museum collections, foundations, artist estates, art fairs and benefit auctions in one place, according to their website. Their mission is to "make all the world's art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection." Keeping art alive and appreciated, especially in an increasingly digital world, is important to the industry's success.
Raaja Nemani and Aaron Firestein met and became friends while traveling through Argentina. Firestein drew a design on a pair of plain canvas sneakers for Nemani, who soon found his shoes were a popular conversation starter throughout his travels. This inspired the pair to start Bucketfeet, a company that sells canvas sneakers in a variety of styles that feature original art by more than 40,000 creators from 120 countries around the world. These artists cover every medium, from graphic design and graffiti to photography and painting, and anyone can submit their artwork for consideration by the Bucketfeet committee. [See Related Story: Business Ideas for Artists]
Based in New York, ImageThink makes art functional in the office and the classroom. The ImageThink graphic-recording team creates illustrations based on keynote speeches, presentations, strategy sessions and more to help audiences visualize and better remember the information they see. ImageThink team members create these illustrations live during the meeting or event to accompany the presentation. The business also offers its services for creating animated videos and infographics.
Have you ever posted a photo on Instagram that's so beautiful it could be a painting? With Instapainting, you can transform that digitally captured sunset or portrait into a real-life work of art. You can order either a mixed-media painting (the artist will print your image onto a cotton canvas and then hand-paint over at least 90 percent of the image with oil paints) or a 100 percent hand-painted painting (the artist will start from a blank canvas and paint the entire picture by hand with oil paints) based on your photo. Throughout the process, you can view all the progress and changes made, and talk directly with the artist. You'll have a finished product delivered to you from Instapainting within about three weeks.
With JuicyCanvas, anyone can customize art, turning it into canvas prints, shirts, phone cases, tote bags, throw pillows and greeting cards. Juicy Canvas allows customers to select a medium and an original design, and then "remix" the piece into a custom product by altering colors, rotating and cropping the image and adding text. Artists can submit their work to be used on the site, and customers can easily search through the available designs by style and country of origin.
Ever wish you could have the works of your favorite artists at your fingertips? Meural offers that accessibility with a digital library of precious works of art, displayable in a "digital canvas" frame. Meural renders each image as lifelike and textured as a real painting, down to the last brushstroke, the site says. The canvas comes in a wooden frame. With a range of art collections from the Romantics to the Renaissance to Contemporary art and classic photography, there are more than 20,000 pieces (and the option to upload your own images) to bring a little culture to your home, office or art space. The website ensures it's easy to upload, curate and schedule images to display in your frame.
Art can transform a bare room into a gallery. With Tekuma, a Boston-area startup, anyone looking to enhance their interior design can choose from artwork by independent artists to decorate their home. They just snap a photo of their space and let the curators find content to match. Not only does this allow homeowners to display beautiful decor, it also promotes and rewards the artists.
Are you fickle about your home or office decor? TurningArt is an art-rental subscription service that allows you to select new art to feature in your home or office as often as you like, for a monthly fee. As a subscriber, you can search through thousands of pieces to find what you want, and the pieces are delivered to you at no extra cost. Your first order will come in a frame, and when you're ready for a new masterpiece, all you have to do is slide the old artwork out of the frame, send it back to TurningArt, and put the new order in. If you fall in love with a piece, you can purchase it through TurningArt as well.
Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl and Brittney Morgan.