If you’ve ever wanted to get a perfect picture to accompany your new bedroom interior, or fell in love with a piece of art you spotted on holiday, then you’ll know that buying artwork can be an expensive hobby. If you want to commission your own, bespoke piece, then things get pricier very quickly. That’s where a new company is hoping to make a difference.
The Commissioned, a US-Singapore startup, is bidding to make commissioning personalized artwork easier and cheaper than ever before.
Sure, you can get art commissioned already, but there are two major challenges. One: finding the right artist. Two: finding the right price.
While there are some services in the commission-on-demand space, few cater to mainstream, affordable tastes. Deviant Art covers, well, deviant art, while sites like Ugallery display existing works with a feature that allows for individual commissions.
As the name suggests, The Commissioned is all about new commissions.
The company’s website showcases artists’ portfolios, letting visitors — and prospective customers — find a style that matches with their taste and aspiration for an artwork. Right now, it claims to house over 200 artists from across more than 35 countries. If and when you find an artist that fits your billing, you can get in touch — via The Commissioned’s website — to pitch the artwork that you’d like, get a price and more.
Things can get a little tricky here, though. It’s far harder for most of us to think up the kind of art that we’d like to see hung on our walls — or, at least, it’s easier to fall in love with a painting, sketch or sculpture that already exists.
Because few of us have the vision for a finished art piece, artists on The Commissioned can work with abstract ideas or thoughts. For example, they can take meaningful words, photos, or any other information that inspires a potential piece.
Australia-based blogger Karen Cheng was a test case for the new company. Having found an artist whose style she loved — Brazilian abstract artist Deusa Blumke — Cheng provided photos from a recent trip with her husband and son for a potential piece.
Blumke mocked up a draft proposal for the work and, once Cheung had approved, she produced a full piece for her.
That’s the basis for how the process of commissioning art via The Commissioned goes. Each piece is then ‘exhibited’ on The Commissioned’s website — which helps raise awareness of the service, and provides further inspiration for other customers.
Deusa Blumke’s piece for blogger Karen Cheng
Co-founder and CEO Melvin Yuan told TechCrunch that the company is aiming to change the status quo of art, and make it easier for customers to find and buy pieces that have real meaning to them.
The idea for the site came to Yuan when he was stumbled on an independent artist while taking a vacation on a remote island in Indonesia. The Singaporean previously founded indoor location service YFind, and found himself entertaining new startup ideas after completing a mandatory year long stint with Ruckus Wireless after the U.S.-based firm acquired YFind.
“I’ve always struggled to find the perfect art piece. On hindsight, it’s because I’ve always wanted art that’s personal and meaningful, but I never gave a second thought to commissioning an art piece,” Yuan said in a statement. “A commissioned art piece is always the perfect piece, and we now make that available to everyone.”
Yuan with a piece he commissioned via his company’s site
The Commissioned raised an undisclosed angel round this year which Yuan told TechCrunch is in the “few hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars” range. Its angel backers include Scott Anthony, Managing Partner at Innosight Ventures, which invested in YFind, and Tim Draper. Draper, a legendary investor in his own right, commissioned portraits of his wife and granddaughter from The Commissioned, Yuan said.
Anthony, another investor who has used the service to get a painting, believes it has growth potential.
“Markets that don’t exist can’t be accurately forecasted. One of the most powerful things about The Commissioned is it blows apart barriers that historically made commissioned art only accessible to a narrow part of the population. History shows this kind of strategy can create massive growth,” he said.