Fancy Schmancy Art, Shipped Right to Your Front Door

September 3, 2015

6:00 pm

Everybody has that one friend they walk through life with, your best bud. These are the people who help you move when nobody else will, they sit up for hours with you getting drunk and talking about life, and they’re the people who would lie down on a grenade for you.

Regardless of where and how you meet these friends, there’s usually a moment when the two of you get together and talk about or starting a company. For a lot of us, that’s all we ever do though: talk about it.

For Stewart Christensen and Chris Levy, two friends who had gone to school together for Landscape Architecture, they didn’t only talk about it. In fact, they worked together at multiple startups, even going so far as to found a wall graphics company during their time in school where they made large format vinyl graphics.

However, when they graduated in 2010 the economy was in shambles, and like many of us who graduated around the same time they were desperately seeking employment. As you might imagine, landscape architecture wasn’t quite a priority for a lot of people, so they decided to double down on their tech prowess and get involved in the Downtown Vegas ecosystem.

When Zappos was in the process of moving into Downtown Las Vegas, Christensen and Levy were working with LaunchUp. Not long after, they were both hired, the first hires in fact, at Walls 360.

“The bottom line is that we’ve been doing this stuff together for a long time,” says Christensen.

So, when Levy approached Christensen with the idea to start an art subscription service, they knew it was more than a possibility and could in fact become a reality. After all, they had years of experience in startup culture.

Further, their company Art Crate would seek to eliminate the pain points surrounding purchasing art. It can be overwhelming and expensive, but the majority of people still want their homes to, as Christensen says, look like a magazine.

“It’s pricey to get into it, and there’s a lot out there for people to choose from,” explains Christensen. “We were looking at Trunk Club and Club W thinking: what if people could tell us about themselves, their décor, and their likes before we send them something?”

The system they’ve built is incredibly simple from the user perspective: you pick your artistic taste and style and then the art shows up in your mail. On the back end, Art Crate has personal curators that will email you samples of the prints they’ve hand-selected for you, which you can review before they’re shipped.

“What’s interesting is we recognize our product isn’t a necessity. It’s a luxury product. If it’s not a perfect fit you’re dead in the water because nobody really needs it,” says Christensen.

To make sure they stay ahead of the curve, the Art Crate crew has been listening to as much user feedback as possible. It’s yielded some insightful upgrades to the platform, like offering framing options before prints are shipped so users can hang the prints directly out of the box.

As they move forward the team actually isn’t hunting any kind of funding though, opting rather to bootstrap and take their time with the service. As Christensen tells me, a lot of people recoil at that notion, but at the same time bootstrapping lets him and Levy create the business they want.

“We’re interested in building a business that we both envision and are happy with. If we’re pulling in $20k a month as a business we’d be happy,” says Christensen.

Admittedly, I admire their desire to have fun with Art Crate over everything else. After all, what’s the point of being your own boss if you can’t enjoy it? Check out some of their Instagram posts, they’re amazing:

If you're looking for that quiet little corner… I think we found it.

A photo posted by Art Crate Co. (@art_crate) on

Gallery wall works so nice with those patterned pillows.

A photo posted by Art Crate Co. (@art_crate) on

Image Credit: Art Crate Instagram page

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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America's Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He's the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he's off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing...or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach. Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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