20×200: democratizing art

Founder Collective has already made a number of investments. Some are listed on the Founder Collective companies page and some aren’t yet. I thought it might be interesting to explain the rationale behind our investments from time to time.

One recent investment we made is in a website called 20×200 (“20 by 200″). I first became a fan of the site when I read about an artist who created a New Yorker magazine cover with the iPhone app Brushes. I thought it was so cool that I bought one of the artist’s prints on 20×200. Only later on did I meet the founder – Jen Bekman – and learn that there might be an investment opportunity.

1211_artworkimage

Apple I (from 20×200)

As with all early-stage investments, the main reason we invested is that we really love the founding team.  Most of Founder Collective’s investments are seed investments so the founding team is pretty much all we have on which to base our decision.  20×200 was unusual insofar as they already had a successful, sustainable business and just needed capital to accelerate their growth.

True Ventures (the lead investor in 20×200) eloquently characterized the company’s vision as the “the democratization of art.”  Here’s what that means to me.  Today, the art market is highly polarized. At one end, there are Manhattan socialites going to fancy openings and multimillionaires bidding at exclusive auctions. At the other end, there are generic landscapes, portraits, dogs playing poker, etc. purchased at, say, Walmart or Art.com mostly just to fill up wall space.  20×200 envisions creating a vast middle market, where anyone with an interest and a reasonable budget can become an art collector.  Since 20×200 splits revenues 50-50 with the artist, it also strives to create a new way for artists to get funded that doesn’t involve groveling to Upper East Side socialites.

Anyways, if you are interested, 20×200 prints make great gifts. Here are some of my favorite prints, and here’s a Hunch topic “20×200 art” to help you choose one.

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