SFU student becomes an ally for artists

The team of four art admirers collaborated to put together the site.

This week, an SFU business student launched ArtsAlly, an online portal that allows art lovers and creators to buy and sell local art.

Michelle Martin, Beedie School of Business student and the founder of ArtsAlly, hopes that the portal will help Vancouverites make connections, support local artists, and build the local community as well as the local economy.

Through family and friends, Martin witnessed the struggle for artists to sell their art, as well as the competition artists face from department stores that sell cheap, generic, manufactured art. This struggle inspired her to find a more efficient way for artists to connect with a wider community.

“Vancouver has the highest per-capita number of artists in Canada. It is really rich with artistic talent. The challenge is that there are more artists than buyers,” explained Martin.

The online portal puts local art at the fingertips of local art consumers. With ArtsAlly, Martin says Vancouverites will be able to discover local art from their electronic devices, and order that art to their home or office as either a rental or a purchase.

The portal, which already features hundreds of art pieces, does not favour one particular type of art, rather, the pieces featured on the website are chosen based on the quality of the artist’s work.

Nevertheless, Martin acknowledged a regional focus: “Being hyper-local is core to our identity and our group. Artists who capture places we know and are familiar with — such as Stanley Park, North Vancouver, East Vancouver, or the city at night — are things that resonate with me personally and with most buyers as well.”

Even though the art featured on the portal is at the forefront of the initiative, Martin is also keen on building relationships with the artists. She told The Peak that she has a particular interest in working with artists “who take their craft seriously and see their art as a career.”

Martin explained that ArtsAlly is an important new service to the community because it bridges connections between artists, the business market, and art buyers and renters. Vancouver is a progressive city and has a large art culture that has the ability to thrive. Martin hopes ArtsAlly will provide artists with an easy, accessible way to allow their art to do just that.

In the end, Martin acknowledged the creative potential of Vancouverites, reflecting on Emily Carr University’s newest campaign slogan, “Creativity is our greatest natural resource.” She stated, “BC has always been looking at resources and the sustainability of the community. ArtsAlly has the ability to bridge worlds and challenge relationships. My hope is that ArtsAlly will be a part in moving that vision forward, of creativity being our greatest natural resource.”

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