artvenueThis past Christmas I discovered (and purchased) some gorgeous art on display on the wall of a sandwich shop. Earlier this week I saw a friend share a snapped photo of a piece of art she saw on the walls of Berry Line that she was “absolutely in love with” and “just had to have.”

To date relationships between venues and local artists have been one-offs. Usually the owner is passionate about art and understands the visibility his venue can provide to potential buyers of said art (not to mention the visual delight it extends to his customers). And we’re now seeing some restaurants, like the uber popular Berry Line, that consider these pieces of local art as part of their brand. A new Boston startup is on a mission to more formally connect these local venues and local artists: meet ArtVenue.

ArtVenue is co-founded by Dan Vidal (formerly at BzzAgent), Casey Rankin and Jesse Rankin (both co-founders of daily-deal aggregator, DealGator). Their mission is to spread art throughout communities by making it easier for artists, venues, and art enthusiasts to connect with one another.

“There currently aren’t a lot of spaces available for shows, and galleries are very selective. Artists want to focus on being creative, but if they want to get their art out there, they often have to walk into businesses and try and sell them on a show, which can be an intimidating prospect,” Vidal shared with us.

ArtVenue artThat’s where ArtVenue comes in. The team plans to recruit area businesses and artists to be part of their network, allowing artists to create profiles and upload their work. In doing so, ArtVenue facilitates the connection between the two, allowing them to arrange shows and even provide them with technology so purchases can be made with ease on the buyers side.

“It’s similar to an online dating service,” explained Vidal. “When art lovers at a show see a work they want, they can buy it instantly with their smart phone using the QR code or URL on its placard.”

Inspiration for ArtVenue came from Vidal’s personal experience attempting to purchase a work of art he saw at a local bar. The ArtVenue team shared,

“The bar staff told Dan he had to go through the artist, so he sent an email on the spot from his smart phone with an offer. He didn’t get a response until a month later, when the artist finally emailed back, saying that the painting has already been sold. … This made it clear that there was an opportunity to setup a system that could help artists with the business side of things.”

How is ArtVenue onboarding these venues and artists? To get the platform off the ground, they’re out in the community working with businesses and artists (schools, community groups, supply stores). On Monday they released a “How ArtVenue Works” video (see below) which is already stirring up excitement with initial venues and artists.

As for business model, ArtVenue charges a small monthly fee to artists who want to use the service to book shows and promote and sell their art. The company also collects a commission on any piece of artwork sold through their platform — already the typical model, whereby a gallery can take a commission upwards of 50%. “We’ll give artists a much better deal,” the team told us. ”When a work is sold, we’ll give a share to the venue showing the work and take a small percentage, with most of the money going to the artist.”

The team has been working on ArtVenue for just a month, clearly making considerable progress in just that short amount of time. They have entered MassChallenge in hopes of winning grant money and calling One Marina Park home, and have also been accepted into Dogpatch Labs startup space and community. The trio plans to roll out their beta program soon to onboard artists, and then plans to start organizing shows with the business community.

As for where the company would like to be by the end of 2011, “Our goal is to be in full-swing in Boston, booking lots of shows and spreading art to lots of new places.  We’ll have a full suite of tools to help with the business side of being an artist, and have a mobile app for art lovers to make it easy for them to find and purchase original art.”

Know a local artist or venue that would be darling to ArtVenue? Check out the great video intro below, and encourage them to reach out to this new startup just getting off the ground here in Boston:

How ArtVenue Works from ArtVenue on Vimeo.