If you’re a normal human being like me, chances are you can’t draw like this:

ArtCorgi Color Comic Commission by Blacksmiley

ArtCorgi bridges the gap by providing an art commisioning platform where customers can connect with artists to create unique gifts for friends, family, and themselves.  In turn the artists get exposure and fair pay.

I found out about ArtCorgi on the 500 Startups Portfolio.  Since art commisioning is a unique niche, I was interested.  After reaching out, I got in contact with Simone Collins, co-founder of ArtCorgi.  She was able to connect me with her husband and co-founder, Malcom Collins:

How did you come up with the idea for ArtCorgi?

I proposed to the co-founder of ArtCorgi, Simone, on reddit using a series of commissioned art pieces. The proposal was a hit with the online community. We were already running a company that was designed to help people make money doing what they loved online and the interest everyone showed in this commissioned art made us realize we could pivot it into the art commission space.


How important do you think a formal university education is in this day in age?  Do you have a degree that you applied to ArtCorgi?

People hate thinking and a university degree provides them with an easy way to quickly categorize people they meet. Our degrees are invaluable to us not because of what we learned, but because of the doors they open. A degree from a name brand, top tier university like Stanford and Cambridge has increased in its utility significantly while the value of degrees from less prestigious universities has declined. That said, there are always alternate ways to get the same rubber stamp. For example, getting a job at Google or creating a successful company without outside investment will also make it easy for people to categorize you as “successful,” “smart,” and/or “desirable,” without having to really think about you.


How does ArtCorgi separate itself from a platform like Fiverr that offers services similar to yours? 

Fiverr is focused on extremely low cost commissions (with five dollar pieces being the mean). When we started ArtCorgi, we wanted to ensure artists were getting a fair price for their work, but strove to offer prices low enough to make the process of commissioning high quality, original art available everyone— not just those in the world’s top 1% income bracket. All of the other major commissioning marketplaces of the time were either focused on the $8 and below range or the $1K-$100K range. We have come to become the dominant marketplace in the $40-$600 range, which we think is a fair middle ground.


Many customers use your ArtCorgi for special occasions, like weddings or gifts.  How does ArtCorgi generate consistent revenues?

It doesn’t.


How do you ensure that artists create works that satisfy the customer?

If a customer submits a quality dispute after receiving a finished piece with which he or she is dissatisfied, a council of other ArtCorgi artists votes on whether that final piece does or does not adequately depict his/her subject(s), the style, level of quality, or level of detail presented in the commission sample that customer selected. If they agree the artist did not satisfy these criteria, the customer is refunded. Because artists want to keep customers on the platform, but also understand what it is like to be an artist dealing with a difficult client, they are incentivized to be fair.


500 Startups invested in you!  How was your experience with them?

Really positive! We both consider our experience there as a hugely valuable part of our education. I can’t imagine being a tech entrepreneur without some experience at a good accelerator program.


What is your method of marketing ArtCorgi?

We did anything we thought might work— from online ads on pretty much every platform you can imagine to PR outreach, walking through SF with a giant corgi, speaking at anime conventions, and creating viral images on reddit. Attached is one of my favorite:

ArtCorgi Commision Picture - StartupHound

To finish, do you have any tips for young entrepreneurs?

If I could do it all again with everything I know now, I would not go into traditional tech entrepreneurship. There are far more opportunities in normal boring entrepreneurship (what used to be called starting a small business). For example, a first time entrepreneur would be better served starting and selling a company putting Christmas lights up than she would be building an app.


If you want to see more of ArtCorgi you can:

Place an order on their website.

Check out their Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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