October 9, 2014
Art – in its purest form – is an expression of beauty: reinterpretations of the world, of life, and of human imagination. But, whether through an innate inability to produce something “artistic” or the financial means to acquire great artistic works, there are accessibility limits that prevent many people from improving their surrounding aesthetics. Especially for those of us at the beginning of our careers and appreciate good art, buying gallery-quality art simply isn’t in our budget, so we’re often left looking at barren apartment walls or some over-purchased reproduction from IKEA. New startup Easely is helping to increase accessibility to great art for those who, you know, like pretty pictures and stuff.
“Our whole goal for Easely is to make art more accessible,” said Easely cofounder Ashwin Muthiah. “We want to provide people with the high-quality art experience without having to pay a high price for it.”
Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Easely was founded by Muthiah and long-time friend Harris Gani. For the two – who both happen to be amateur photographers – they saw an opportunity in a market that had a high level of interest but not necessarily the same level of participation. On the consumer side, the two realized that many people out there show an interest in the art world – like attending art gallery openings and touring art museums – but saw very little actual consumption due to limited buying power.
“People enjoy the art world, but art is too expensive and intimidating,” said Muthiah. “What we’re trying to offer is a Netflix for art – to make acquiring art faster, easier, and more feasible.”
Through Easely, people can, well, easily choose pieces of original, gallery-quality art from curated artists and either decide to rent them or buy them. Users have the option of browsing art on their own, using a guided browse feature which recommends pieces based on a user’s selection of favorite pieces, or taking a 2-minute art preference quiz and work with one of Easely’s curators to choose help find the right piece of art. Rental prices start at $19.99 a month per piece and depends on the size of the piece (sizes start at 12″ x 12″ and go up to 30″ x 30″). Each rental piece comes as a ready-to-hang stretch canvas with hardwire already attached, and even comes with a hammer and nail so it’s ready to hang once it arrives at your door. Through Easely, prints can be swapped at any time (with free shipping both ways). And, the best part? Each dollar spent towards renting art through the service goes towards purchase of a piece if and when you decide to buy it.
For artists, Easely offers a great platform for them to get their work out to a wider audience. In order to sell work on Easely, artists must submit an application through the company with samples of their work, or curators from the Easely team actually go out and find the most talented artists who are looking to feature their prints.
Easely recently switched to this Netflix-type model after learning that people were more willing to trial certain pieces of art at lower costs. Originally, the company’s model had users trial a print for up to 30 days, after which they’d have to pay full price for the piece. The company is currently working on adding new features, including the ability to preview what a certain piece will look like in your room/space.
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