Drawdeck is a new e-commerce platform that sells artworks at affordable prices to enthusiasts in Dubai. Chanelle Tourish speaks to the company’s founders Alex Dunn and David Hammond to find out more.
While nothing beats the experience of walking into an art gallery and purchasing authentic, original artworks, there is something to be said for the rise of online galleries. Art lovers and novices can discover new artists and buy creative pieces from around the world, which they may not usually have access to in Dubai, and all at the click of a mouse.
Drawdeck, an online community based on the fundamental skill of drawing, allows users to organise, share, critique and discover unique illustrations and other forms of the art. The Drawdeck Marketplace went live last year and offers framed prints and original works from a number of international artists at reasonable prices. ‘For an art collector starting out, Drawdeck is good for just buying an artwork because you like it as opposed to buying it for the artist’s name,’ says David Hammond, founder of the service.
By creating their ‘Deck’ users can share works instantly with non-members and promote themselves over the web. The initiative aims to make authentic, affordable art accessible to a wider audience, offering consumers more choice without compromising on quality. ‘There is a lack of unique artworks in Dubai that are affordable. The purpose of Drawdeck is to make those pieces accessible to the MENA region,’ says co-founder Alex Dunn. ‘We have talented artists all over the world contributing works to the site and we feel we are creating something really special.’
The website aims to redefine the experience of buying and selling art by making it easy, convenient and welcoming for both the consumers and the artists. In essence, art meets social media to create an engaging, enthusiastic and creative community. ‘Artists can create their own profile and upload their pieces, organising them into projects and even using the site as a potential portfolio. They can apply to the marketplace and sell their works through us. We take care of the printing, framing and delivery. We just review the pieces to make sure they are the artists’ own. We also headhunt creatives from around the world and invite them to be part of the project,’ says Dunn.
Hammond adds: ‘It can be a great way to start a collection. You might go to Ikea and buy a canvas and throw it away after two years, but this is just a really affordable way of getting to know unique artists. We want to inspire people to find genuine, hand-crafted items to fall in love with, hang on their walls or even purchase as a gift for someone special.’
Drawdeck initially focused on local talent when it launched, but the site has since expanded globally and includes international users from the UK, Europe, US, Australia and Asia, with the purpose of bringing artistic diversity to the region. The artworks are divided into various categories and styles ranging from illustrations, comics, nature, fashion and more. Prices can range from as little as US$15 (Dhs55) for small prints to US$40 (Dhs146) for larger ones.
The recent launch of the affordable 50/Collection aims to supply consumers with unique pieces at low costs. ‘It’s a great way for enthusiasts to start building a portfolio or add to an existing one, with rare limited-edition pieces selling for reasonable prices,’ Hammond says. Iraq-born, London-raised artist Myne (best-known for his trademark ‘cloud’, which he incorporates into his work under the project ‘Myneandyours’) has created an exclusive piece – ‘We Bleed As One’ – of which only 50 prints have been created and signed by the artist for the first 50/Collection. Each print costs Dhs1,500 and Dhs1,900 for a framed version.
The online platform has also expanded to cover fashion and homeware items. ‘We take the content that artists create and print it on everything from tote bags to T-shirts, duvet covers and canvas shoes – anything that people want things printed on, basically,’ says Dunn. ‘It just makes everything you have more unique instead of buying a generic brand that everyone already owns.’ The company also operates a blog
and a jobs board, which aims to connect artists, illustrators and members of the creative industries to potential employers.
With its solid ethos of making the art world accessible to ordinary folk, Drawdeck is a progressive portal that is only likely to grow in popularity.
Sign up for free to create a Drawdeck account at www.drawdeck.com.