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New Startup Connects Art Buyers with Independent Artists

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman New Startup Connects Art Buyers with Independent ArtistsPhoto via PatronArt's Facebook page.
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PatronArt, a new Columbus-based startup, was created to connect art lovers and buyers with independent artists in order to purchase original art and commissions.

The platform is out to attack the $3.7 billion art market, and solve online art commissioning by connecting individuals with the right artists who can create original pieces with their vision in mind.

PatronArt’s founder, Shao Xun Loke, is a recent Ohio State graduate and an art lover himself. He says he has always had an interest in the independent art scene and the hustle it takes to work and survive in this realm.

“I respect their struggle,” he says, “but also saw a way to help them get their work out there and to give the general public a chance to connect and resonate with their work.”

Shao began working on PatronArt about a year ago. He says connecting with the local startup community happened organically, as he was out recuiting and educating himself on the process. He utilized organizations like the Columbus Web Group, IxDA, Rev1 Ventures, the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center and the Columbus Idea Foundry, where PatronArt’s office is based.

“It’s an amazing location for makers and innovators that also regularly holds classes and provides us the opportunity to work in a beautiful space surrounded by skilled and driven professionals,” he says.

With easy access to “big city” resources and organizations, and a flourishing underground arts scene, Shao says Columbus is a great city to start a business venture in. He mentions being able to attend art events regularly when he started reaching out to Columbus’ art community, speaking with artists and organizations in order to understand how to better help artists thrive.

“Columbus has been really great for us. The only issue has been that the nature of agencies and contractors here are usually geared towards supporting large industries rather than disrupting them and innovating new solutions,” Shao says. “That said, we have been very lucky in finding a talented team of people who truly believe in our mission of connecting people with the world of art.”

Erik Bjørnard is the marketing advisor for PatronArt, and says it’s exciting to see Shao attacking the independent art market. Bjørnard has helped establish multiple startups built around creators in other cities, but he says meeting and working with Shao is a testament to the growing startup community in Columbus.

“These types of spontaneous [connections] didn’t really seem possible even five years ago, but now Columbus has achieved a nice density of startup talent,” he says.

PatronArt’s all-local team includes Bjørnard, Bill Condo, CIO of Columbus Idea Foundry and founder of HustleWorks; Ralph Walters professional artist and head of the Art and Artists of the 614; Edward Stull, one of the original UX strategists at Art.com; and Max Heckel, formerly of Print Syndicate and Crowdentials.

Currently, PatronArt connects artists and buyers across the country, and eventually will support international commissions as well. They have recently begun accepting applications from artists, and have received thousands across the U.S., which is a good sign.

“We are still in our early stages,” Shao says, “but I believe we are poised to create a forward-thinking, vibrant, and supportive ecosystem for artists and art lovers.”

For more information, visit patronart.com.

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