Floating Canvas Company, a Mumbai-based startup, is changing the rules of the art market by offering specially curated paintings, illustrations and photographs by emerging artists on rent, at prices as low as Rs 90 a month, writes Bhumika Popli.
Art is no longer the prerogative of the rich. If you don’t have deep pockets, you can still find plenty of affordable options in the art market. And if buying paintings is out of bounds for you, there’s always the option of renting them.
An online website, Floating Canvas Company, has begun renting out works by emerging artists at affordable prices across cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore among others. Their subscription-based model allows one to rent artworks for as low as Rs 90 a month. The company’s catalogue includes paintings, prints and illustrations, which can all be booked at the click of a button.
“The reason for doing this is that no one really minds surrounding themselves with art but given its price, it can be bought only by a select few,” says Aagam Mehta, co-founder, Floating Canvas Company. “Through this model, we want to make art accessible to everyone. Our subscription model is very simple, as there is no ownership involved. There is a possibility that someone might outgrow the artwork they have at their home; it could be that the person’s taste has evolved, but he is stuck with the work he once bought. Through our subscription model, however, he can explore different options by various artists.”
The subscription range varies from Rs 90 per month and goes up to Rs 8,000 per month. The pricing depends upon the artwork itself, its size, the period for which it is being rented out, and also the kind of frame the customer chooses. The subscription period can vary from one to three years.
As of now the Floating Canvas Company is working with Indian artists only, and ships to 10 cities across the country. Mehta says, “Our website lists the works of many contemporary artists who are doing good work. The whole idea is to support the Indian art scene. There is no conversation happening around art in India as such. It is only restricted to galleries. Through this initiative, we want to support artists in the Indian art scenario, and help them become a household name. Here, we are trying to break the first hurdle of price through subscription. To buy a piece of art you have to pay a lot of money. Here you have to pay just a few hundred.”
The artworks listed on the website of the company are chosen by an anonymous group of curators. Mehta says, “We reach out to the artists who we think can go on our platform. They share their work with us and we share those with our curatorial team and then after discussions, we take the final call on the artworks. We ensure that the works are tightly curated, because that is one of our strengths.”
Floating Canvas Company’s co-founder, Rahul Singh Yadav, is an artist himself. He clearly understands the challenges and predicaments of a creative life. “It is important that artists get their due,” says Yadav. “We take a certain commission on every art piece. But we make sure that the artists cover their cost first; only then do we make the money. The model is devised in such a way that whatever artist created, we recover the cost first, and after that, they keep on making royalty on each art piece. Artists themselves love this model. As of now, any online portal which sells artworks will give 20% to 40% commission to artists, but we give 60%-80% commission on every artwork.”
A Mumbai-based subscriber of the Floating Canvas Company, Dony Benedict has found the concept of renting artworks very useful. He says, “I found the plan quite good. I have taken the subscription of three years and have rented illustrations and mixed-media photography. I also like the model because the website tells me the story of the artist—what his ideas are, where he is coming from. In the past, I have bought posters from different online websites but you don’t really connect to the artist in that model, because you don’t really know them. Renting artworks is ideal for me because I am not sure for how long I’ll be in one city. On top of that, the established names have very high prices, which don’t work for me.”