Art Anywhere brightens Montreal offices and inspires creativity with local artists' work
Art Anywhere (www.artanywhere.com) founder Raymond Luk started buying art a few years ago, not as an investment, but because he liked it. "I started filling up my house with art from people I knew, partly because I was intimidate to go into a gallery," he says. "It got me thinking about how come more people don’t connect with local artists in this way."
While galleries and formal art education and criticism create a strong foundation for artists and their work to survive and thrive, they also create a perception that art exists in its own world with its own vocabulary and ways of thinking. In truth, much exists as a reflection of a wider world; Art Anywhere breaks down the intimidation factor. "I’ve always believed in democratizing art," says Luk, who has a BFA in music from McGill. "What I care about is that it resonates with me."
Luk hired Julian Haber, who has an artistic as well as a business background, as CEO. In fact, one of the first pieces Luk bought was one of Haber’s photographs. As founder of Flow Ventures, a start-up incubator that helps promising tech-oriented entrepreneurs build their businesses, Luk saw Art Anywhere as a business opportunity whose time had come and as a way to get art onto walls, where it would be appreciated by enthusiastic new patrons and artists could make some money in the process.
Art Anywhere began online six months ago with local creators submitting their work to a web-based gallery that businesses could browse. But Luk and Haber realized that for people to really connect with the works, they need the real thing right in front of them. So they created PopUp! Galleries, where, for a $99 administrative fee, pieces are installed for a few months in once-drab office spaces.
Artists apply to show in whatever spaces they wish and sell what they want to sell (Art Anywhere receives a 25 percent commission fee – lower than most galleries), and businesses become the curators of their own collection.
"We didn’t want to start a non-profit," explains Luk. "There’s one metric that matters here: How much money can we make for artists? How can we help them make an honest living?" Luk and Haber help artists set prices for their work and talk to businesses about how to bring inspiring art to their work spaces. "For me it makes sense that art is inside a business – you’ve got a lot of creative people and often boring design and empty walls, and an audience who might not go to galleries. Art and business are both creative. We’re trying to match two things together to create something beautiful."