Emerging Entrepreneurs

A gallery that’s putting Indian art in the global limelight

Sangeetha Chengappa | Updated on September 17, 2018

PM Shruti, Co-Founder, The Art Loka.com, and Soshan Soma, Co-Founder, The Art Loka   -  SOMASHEKAR G R N

The Art Loka promotes and publicises the works of Indian artists

Techies and childhood friends Soshan Soma and Shruthi Muniyapla quit their jobs at Softvent Services and Infosys to start ‘The Art Loka,’ an online art gallery that aims to catapult Indian art and artists into international limelight.

“India, which has a rich heritage of art and culture, owns less than 0.5 per cent of the global art market that is worth €43 billion. We want to contribute to capture at least 10 per cent of the global art market in the next five years by working towards becoming one of the top art galleries that promotes Indian art and artists,” says Shruthi, Co-Founder, The Art Loka.

The duo faced a daunting task, especially, as they had little domain expertise. It took them almost a year to get a grip on the intricacies of the esoteric world of Indian art, after which they began showcasing paintings, portraits, sculptures and indigenous toys on TheArtLoka.com.

“When several concerted attempts to sell art online failed miserably, we realised we were in over our heads,” recalls Soshan Soma, co-founder, The Art Loka. The duo went back to the drawing board and decided to target architects, interior designers, builders and developers; a plan that clicked big time, as evident from the orders that started flowing in.


Institutional business

“Builders and developers, architects and interior designers are constantly in search of works of art but face their own challenges such as finding the right artist for the right job, time management and process-driven execution. That’s where we step in,” asserts Soshan. “We guarantee original works of art from genuine artists around the country, as we have spent hours with these artists in their hometowns, studying their natural inclination, style and progress over the years,” he says. In addition to providing customised works of art, the start-up promises quality and ensures on-time delivery.

The Art Loka showcases over 1,000 works of 80 plus artists from Karnataka, Kolkata, Delhi and Kerala on its website, which is a discovery site for customers.

“When customers contact us after browsing our website, we mail them our catalogue along with details about the artist and his portfolio of works. On receiving orders, we package and ship it to them,” says Soshan. The bootstrapped start-up makes a commission on every piece of art that is sold which is not deducted from the price quoted by the artist, but is over and above that.

Since mid-2017, order volumes have increased to touch ₹10 lakh a month for portraits, paintings, sculptures and wall painting services from corporates such as RMZ Corp, Prestige Group, Infosys, Morph Interior, Accenture, SM Electronics, Think Tanc.

Emerging talent showcase

The Art Loka recently partnered with Hyatt Centric MG Road to organise a week-long ‘Namma KarnARTaka’ an art show and workshop. “This is an attempt to address the problems faced by artists who have to shell out a minimum of ₹1 lakh per week to put up a decent art exhibition. No gallery is willing to showcase works of upcoming and unknown artists except for Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath and Venkatappa Art Gallery, which charge ₹1,000 a day for their space. But, it is so heavily sold out that artists need to book the space one year in advance,” says Soshan. The Art Loka bore the cost of exhibiting the works of artists from North Karnataka and Mysuru.

“The water colouring, sketching, knife painting and wine bottle decoupage workshops conducted by locally celebrated artists received a good turnout. We will organise many more such events in future,” says Shruthi. The start-up sold six of the 53 paintings showcased, hitting a milestone of selling the most expensive painting in the exhibition for ₹1,34,000 by Chandranath Acharya, on day one. Last year, the duo took an old house in Vijayanagar, Bengaluru on rent and converted it into an Art hub, with one floor dedicated to promoting the works of emerging artists and the other floor for regular art classes. “Over 60 kids and 25 adults attend our classes every month. The youngest is five years old and the oldest is 75,” says Soshan.

Soshan says “we will soon add an additional revenue stream to our business with art rentals to corporates, with rentals starting from ₹150 a month. This will contribute to enhancing awareness of multiple works of art and artists, as well as, paving the way to corporates appreciating and buying original pieces of art.”

Published on September 17, 2018

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