Have a blank wall above your mantle—or your office lobby–crying out for the perfect piece of original art? But what if you’re just not sure about taking the art plunge?

Pittsburgh startup Easely has a sensible solution. Set up an account and browse their selection of more than 1000 pieces of original artwork. Once you find one that you like, rent a copy for a few weeks and see how it fits.

“We’re calling it the Netflix for art,” says Ashwin Muthiah, CEO.

Muthiah and his partner Harris Gani, CTO, both photographers who met in high school, hit on the idea as a way to connect art lovers of lesser means with original art and artists. The startup was among those that presented at the AlphaLab Demo Day this month.

“The problem with the art space is that it’s often inaccessible unless you’re exceedingly wealthy,” says Muthiah.

Here’s how it works. Easely partners with artists to create stretched canvas prints of their original artwork, which are available for rent. The rental-based subscription model allows buyers to peruse and select a print for $10 to $25 and try it in the space. If you love it, you can buy the original–if you can afford it–or buy the print. If it’s not for you, return it and try again.

Easely’ has a catalogue of more than 1000 works of all sizes and media—watercolors, photography and digital media—by artists from all over the world. Some of the artists are up-and-coming, others are well established. The going price for original pieces ranges from $300 to $18,000.

“It’s a pretty solid deal for artists,” says Muthiah of the exposure the deal offers them. “It doesn’t require a lot of effort on their part and they reap the benefits. On the buyers side, the longer you keep a painting, the more you earn as a discount (toward the) purchase.”

When an original work is purchased, the final deal is struck between the artist and the buyer; Easely takes a 25% commission. Others have tried to make headway in the renting artwork space, but the price point due to insurance proved cost prohibitive, he says.

The Easely system benefits everyone.

 

 

 

 

 




About The Author

Contributing Editor

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.

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