And then my entire view got blocked by some large wheel of fortune.
At that point, as with those email begging popups, I lose all attention, realize I have better stuff to do and click away.
Fun Fact that helped us break-through with most of the artists can choose their pricing, we don't ask them to stick to certain pricing, hence artists don't feel boxed. My biggest take-away has been to never let their (artists) creative spirits cause of a certain economics of the business. We are still learning, and will know more as we progress.
MADE IN USA BY AMERICAN ARTISTS
We display the country location of every artist profile on our site and heavily try to promote our US base.
If you actually go through the purchase funnel it also gets re-iterated (you are prompted to choose where you want your artists from).
As for Instapainting, when ordering and requesting an artist directly, our fee is 26%, unless the artist quotes lower than our base pricing in which case our fee is the difference.
We have artists from India too!
We put you in direct contact with the artist and you can view your artwork through our website and collaborate directly
It looks like this is an MVP setup on shopify and is exactly how it should be started to test the waters. There's no reason not to start simply because Instapainting, etsy, or countless other sites exist already, but it does mean the grind is going to be long and hard (I've just been slowly iterating since 2014 and unbeknownst to me there were dozens of incumbents even back then) and unlikely to be VC-backed in this space. I've seen many come and go as most upstarts in this space find the revenue and profits unimpressive—this is honestly the biggest reason why most fail.
Getting press is generally hard because the idea isn't technically new, and people don't like to write about it as-is as it's too commercial.
SEO should be the main focus, as any such sites that don't rank on Google will quickly find ad-driven user acquisition costs to drive down the already thin margins too much.
I would also be prepared and iterate and implement a more robust tech based platform off this initial traction as quickly as possible. I honestly don't think there's much room in the space in the future for plain middlemen in this space between Instapainting and Etsy being available that enable direct artist participation. We look like we just forward orders over to artists but artists are basically running the show now on Instapainting, and we just try to surface the best performing ones.
I didn't read this post as an advertisement - if anything, I was surprised by the humbleness of their post, which made clear that they were not the first with this idea, and that they take a very reasonable percentage.
As an amateur painter myself it's nice to see this equitable approach which also leaves room for each artist to maintain an individual style. Well done!
I'm curious, does the purchase transfer the copyright to the buyer? Or does it remain with the artist?
If I want to buy a painting, I'm looking for technique, style, color usage, materials usage, ability to craft a message and convey a mood. The individual artist and their story matters to me. A facsimile of a digital photo is probably not what I'm looking for.
I've got some work i've been wanting to commission, but i'm not sure on where best to find an artist
I should say I have nothing against the premise of the business - if it provides livelihood to traditional craftspeople (or just talented artists of any kind) more power to you.
However, you are not making it easy for me to believe that you have the artist's best interests in mind. Let me count the reasons why:
1. Not a single individual artist or craftsperson is mentioned anywhere on the site. I don't know about you, but when I hear the term "artist," I think of an individual with a specific way of looking at the world. Absolutely every Indian artist and craftsperson I know has a desire to see their individuality recognized. You claim to be sourcing artists but you don't recognize their personhood anywhere. That's rather strange don't you think? It's possible that during the portraiture itself a bond is established between the representer and the representee but that's not the case on your site. It's an easily added feature if you're serious.
[EDIT] - as another commenter pointed out, there's a byline for each artist so what I said above is flawed. I still think you would be better off highlighting the artist's vision in more detail. For example, did artist X make the portrait in style Y - Suprio for Ballpoint Magic for example? If so, why aren't the portraits signed? Why choose to anonymize them at every stage? Otherwise it looks as if you are choosing to stroke the vanity of a western/affluent Indian audience.
2. Every Indian state and linguistic community has artistic traditions. Madhubani is different from Company painting is different from Mughal paintings. None of these traditions are even mentioned. In fact, there's no evidence that any Indian aesthetic tradition matters at all. Instead, what you have are generic categories - "the vision lure" - without connection to artistic traditions of any culture.
3. Then there's the origin story - "the idea was hatched when so and so were sipping coffee and discussing the works of Raja Ravi Verma in the historical city of Udaipur." At the very least that suggests an intimate connection between Raja Ravi Varma and Udaipur, especially if you aren't Indian. Except that RRV lived out his life in Kerala, far away from Udaipur and from a very different artistic and cultural milieu. If you had started the story with Tantric paintings  that are still produced anonymously in Rajasthan (just like your artists) I would have taken notice.
Suppose I went to a cafe in Stockholm, discussed the "da Vinci code" with a friend and decided to start a business in Italian greeting cards made for cut rates by unknown artists in Neapolitan neighborhoods (in between assignments for the 'ndrangheta, if you want to add some mystery to the whole process)- in what way would that be beneficial to European art?
We don’t sell traditional Indian paintings, so don’t know why should we mention the connection at all between traditional Indian arts and our paintings just because the company and artists are from India.
I have a feeling art prices (particularly contemporary art) are inflated in part due to their being Veblen goods (high prices make it attractive), or otherwise a vehicle for value retention like diamonds and gold; see price differences between forgeries and the real thing.
And of course, we all know Adolf Hitler was rejected for art school and took a different job instead, and the world might be a better place if this service existed back then.
> I’m not sure there’s anything intrinsically bad about this kind of service
These services of course provide some value: they are easy to find/stumble on, they free customers of excessive choice, allowing them to not be actively interested in art and collapsing everything to simple "choose your style" option, they free customers of direct communications with artists, they arbitrage prices between different geographical markets.
On the other hand, these services compete with traditional artists, they devalue regular artworks in the minds of common potential customers AND further reinforce the thinning of the line between art and prints one buys in a furniture store.
That being said I think your belief somehow these comments shouldn't be used to promote competitors—at the expense of hiding potentially relevant comments from the community—is misguided. Ultimately HN, and even Show HN, are here to serve the interests of the community first—not the poster. I personally always appreciate when reading "launch HN" when someone summarizes the competitive landscape because this information helps me, the community member, and so that HN doesn't simply become a PR channel for every startup. It would make sense if this were an actual advertisement (say, on Facebook) that you'd get rid of comments mentioning competitors, but this isn't an ad platform, and I think mentioning competitors contributes to the discussion around what is being launched. Comments and discussion should benefit the community first, and not the poster of the story.
Your response to this particular thread made it seem like you were somehow connected to the OP and if one didn't read the link properly and distinguish it, might just seem like the OP is linking to their product's version of CNN powered paintings.
However having said that, it does feel like you are hijacking this thread. You have linked to your own website multiple times, advertised your own competing Indian artist services, and you are even answering questions that were posed to the OP. That, in my opinion, is a step too far. Your thoughts on "Community First" come across as a tad hypocritical as you seem to be doing plenty of PR for your own service. This may have not been your intention but that is what it is coming across as.
Yes I did answer a question technically posed to Koonchi, though they also directly mentioned Instapainting in the comment. In other areas I replied when Instapainting was mentioned and/or to clarify some outdated facts such as that there are also Indian artists on our platform that compete with Koonchi (someone implied we only had Chinese artists).
I'm not saying that HN shouldn't be used for PR, or promoting your own business (in fact it should be and is what show HN is for), but this channel isn't a PR channel exclusively for a single startup.
As for this direct thread, it doesn't seem like Koonchi provides deep-learning powered photo to painting services, which is something we do provide and why I felt it was relevant to the discussion of the commenter.
I can see why it looks like hijacking, especially the wording of some of the other commenters (who are unaffiliated with me or Instapainting) that commented and inserted "ads" for Instapainting well before I even woke up in the day. But I tried to only add to what was already there, because I'm also running a business after all.
As you may have noted already I've posted about Instapainting on HN many times before as well, and have always gotten other competitors mentioning their businesses in the comments, and I have never nor would ever question them on why they are "advertising" their businesses on my thread—because it's not actually "my" thread. I hope that offers a perspective window into why I responded or joined the discussion. I've been doing this for about 5 years now and also part of the HN community since pre-2011. It would just feel a bit odd for me to stay silent when a near identical business launches and for me to not offer any feedback.
It’s a gimmick but often the results are not bad. Plus a lot of people always ask for an “instant preview” and this is the best we can currently do.
I was thinking the same thing, I wonder if it's a combination. Like maybe they do have people hand drawing things and they are using that to train a NN of some kind so eventually it's all CG images.
If this is a means to monetize their skill so they can survive, it's understandable they would jump on it.
I'm a writer. Similar problem. I earn money working for a service where I get paid relatively little to write the kinds of website content that gets decried on HN as having ruined the internet. HN members expect high quality content on the front page on a regular basis and also uses ad blockers, posts ways to get around pay walls, etc.
Some of my original content occasionally hits the front page of HN. In January, I had a piece get 60k page views and 300+ comments. It didn't make me one thing dime. It took me about two weeks to write it.
I haven't done a follow up piece on the parenting site in question. Instead, I'm writing more stuff for pay that HN members decry as ruining the internet.
The world gets what it is willing to pay for. And then it says ugly things about people taking the money, like artists should prefer starvation to doing this thing we will pay them for when the reality is most of them can't find another way to pay their bills.
It's just a meaningless intrusion of random jpgs into the lives of the people who make them.
It's not like commissioned painting is a new thing, and it yielded some masterpieces. Bringing it to a broader audience can be beneficial for artists themselves.
I remember seeing an interview of an African artist who was telling the journalist that before she gained some fame in her country she was living in quite a precarious financial situation. I think there's definitely some merit to such a service if it might help some artists in similar situations, as by solidifying a source of income, they could then devote themselves to paint things they really want to paint.
We need to forget for a moment that artists today cannot match the old masters. But what they still have in common (with the artists of a few hundred years ago) is that when they make art, they are interpreting something in the world. This interpretation is personal, and it involves insight into the thing that's being represented. Painting from a photograph is, broadly speaking, imitation, not interpretation (although plenty of serious artists use photos as a tool for documenting a scene).
Michelangelo, as you probably know, had a lot of discretion in how he posed and represented the figures in his paintings. He wasn't just taking a predetermined image and rendering it in a personal style. Because of the extent to which he could use his own discernment in deciding how to represent the subjects of the painting, he could express his own attitude to the subject (which was universal, at least in terms of his world) in a meaningful way.
Basically, the idea of a mail-order JPG->painting scheme seems completely dumb to me, because there is nothing special about physical paintings per se. They're only special when an artist is given a chance to make them special by using their own creative judgment and knowledge of the subject they are depicting. If that's not an option, a photo is perfectly good.
Nobody seems to have bothered to write a critique of Instapainting, presumably because all this is common knowledge.
In the past, patrons were generally well-known or well-established in a way that would have made them meaningful to the artist before the work even began.
On the other hand, maybe "random overseas person" actually is meaningful as a category, if not as an individual.
It's hard to think about.
EDIT: It would be interesting to learn how the artists feel about this type of work after a few years of pursuing it.
Sounds like a win-win to me.
This is sophomoric funny only if you read it in Roman script.