Calgary is bustling with local artists, but it can often be tough for them to connect with potential buyers. Vandy Midha, founder of ArtMatch, says her company is helping buyers bridge that gap.
Midha suggests one reason for the gap between local artists and potential buyers is while buyers want to have art in their homes, they don’t consider local art as a possibility.
“Many people don't even think about owning original art,” she says. “Because they just don't think they can afford it.”
Midha, an artist herself, started the Calgary-based business, ArtMatch, in March 2014 because she realized just how hard it is for already established artists to sell their work.
“I had struggles with selling art because I did apply at many galleries and got turned down,” she says. “Because galleries do actually have a very small percentage of artists that they accept ... they only add one to two new ones each year and they put a lot of time, money and effort to represent these artists really well.”
Unable to secure a place at local galleries, Midha turned to selling her work at art shows. There, she found even though there were plenty of opportunities to sell her art, buyers still weren’t taking the plunge.
“I found that many people came to these local shows and wanted local art, but it was difficult for people to commit to buying a piece of art without being sure that this artist is established and good and they don't know what would it look like in their home,” she says.
“They want to buy it but they can't, because they have to commit at a show.”
Billie Parsley, one of Midha’s clients who bought two pieces using ArtMatch last fall, also acknowledges the difficulty of making the decision to buy at an art show.
“It was just so overwhelming,” Parsley says about her previous experiences looking for art. “Because there’s so much and everything is like, ‘Oh, will this look good’ or ‘Will that look good?’ It was a bit daunting,” says Parsley.
Midha understands making a commitment that involves a lot of money is not easy.
“To drop $1,000 at an art show without being sure that you're getting quality, not being sure that this piece will work in your home, is not an easy thing to do,” she says.
But Midha has many ways of making that difficult decision for potential art buyers a lot easier.
“To drop $1,000 at an art show without being sure that you're getting quality, not being sure that this piece will work in your home, is not an easy thing to do.” -Midha
Through one-on-one meetings and examining her clients’ homes and offices, Midha uses her background and expertise as an interior designer and artist to suggest a piece of original local art to her client. The client then has a 48-hour trial period to see if the piece is right for them.
Parsley really appreciates Midha’s unique trial period as part of ArtMatch’s process. “Being able to actually see something in its space is very helpful. And then having no pressure if we didn’t like it, was very helpful,” she says.
Parsley also explains that being able to trial one particular piece in her home helped her and her husband realize very quickly the piece wasn’t right for them.
Midha sees the trial period as an easier way for her clients to make a commitment to a piece of art. “It's a very easy and comfortable way for people to commit to something that's a big purchase, and it's a very emotional purchase,” she says.
Midha also says that one challenge she is facing is that many of her clients don't realize that local original art is an option.
Pat Neden, an artist who started selling her work through Midha in 2016, explains a lack of exposure for herself and other local artists is one of the main reasons why Calgarians don’t know about local art.
“[Calgarians'] knowledge of art in the city is limited because we have limited exposure in this city. The city doesn't have enough exposure of arts, especially local artists,” says Neden.
Neden thinks that Midha’s work is an important addition to Calgary’s art community and it will mean great growth and exposure of the arts.“[ArtMatch] will only help broaden the knowledge of the arts in this city,” she says.
After helping nearly 40 clients find the perfect piece of art, Midha’s message remains a simple yet important one.
“I just want people to be aware that I’m an option between HomeSense and galleries where original art is affordable and reachable for anybody.”
- By Bill Atwood