Startup finds unusual exhibition spaces for Vancouver artists

Do you have your artwork hiding somewhere in the dark recesses of your dorm room? Well, it’s time for your masterpiece to be front and centre at a unique location, thanks to a new startup by an SFU entrepreneur.

Alex Dorandish, an SFU communications student, has created Folion, a service that seeks out unconventional exhibition sites for artists to display their artwork. The aim is to maximize artist exposure.

For Dorandish, the idea was the result of personal frustration over being rejected from a lot of Vancouver’s conventional galleries.

His big break came when Beau Photo, a Vancouver business, sponsored one of his artwork productions, and the now-defunct Sugar Studios in Gastown displayed it for a day. To promote his exhibition, Dorandish used social media to encourage people to come and view his artwork.

By repeating this process, Dorandish managed to gain greater exposure, even succeeding in getting his work selected for couple of exhibitions in Vienna and Paris.

“It was heartwarming to see people asking me about my work,” he said in an interview with The Peak.

For Dorandish, this experience revealed the problem of making a name for oneself as an artist in Vancouver. “Something is different in North American art exhibition that makes it so difficult to break into,” he said. “It leaves artists exhausted and [. . .] heartbroken over the number of rejections.”

This is further complicated by the proliferation of art on the Internet. “I don’t want the art to be just a digital file,” explained Dorandish. “I want everyone in our community, especially the next generation to see, in public, out there, and understand the world through art. Wouldn’t that be a better world?”

Channeling his struggles as an artist, he decided to create a platform to help artists display their art in locations other than just galleries: Folion. The online service invites local artists to create a profile where they can showcase their artwork with the intention of getting it noticed by the community. Gallery owners can peruse the site to find unknown talent and potentially begin partnerships with the artists.

Dorandish has also made the service free for SFU students to use, indefinitely.

After kickstarting his initiative, Dorandish eventually expanded his team to include four other partners.

Twelve months later, the team has turned their idea and their passion for art and exhibition to a platform that can be used by artists, art lovers, and everyone in the community.

Currently, Dorandish is looking for 10 artists to showcase their art for a temporary exhibition, with Folion set to launch online on February 15.