A quiet room with white walls and ambient lighting, the visions of an artist who has put their life and soul in to the work surrounding you; attending an art exhibition is a heady and emotional affair. Beyond language and backgrounds, art is something that it is evocative and accessible by it’s very nature, or it ought to be. While everybody has their preferences when it comes to art - traditional, modern or something else altogether- there will always be artists and works that are appealing to someone.
A living breathing element of the Indian life, art comes alive every day in the nation - from the dilapidated warehouses in an old port town of Kerala to the streets of a tiny village in Punjab. While there are art galleries and exhibitions opening up every day, the number of people who attend them are not great and the best way to bring about change in any sector is to make information accessible and to tap into the preferences that people have and offer the options that will best suit their interests.
For Nivedita Poddar, the founder of the art and technology start up Art Fervour, art was not her initial path and did her undergraduate degree in business. Even though she attended business school, she found ways to rebel against the norm. Enamored with visual arts from a young age, she dabbled in photography and attended a summer art program and a short course in New York. This finally lead her to her true calling when she decided to do her masters in Modern and Contemporary art at Christie’s in London.
Returning to her home town from a city like London that was saturated with art, it was surprising for Nivedita that the consumption of art is not common place in India and this thought lead to the development of her start up. She felt a sort of disconnect from the thriving art culture on moving back to India and this lead her to start the Instagram page Art Fervour. On the page, she shared her personal accounts of the art and artists she interacted with, after moving to Kolkata. This page soon became a visual discovery platform, and then an Art Tech Startup whose website acts as an online aggregator for art recommendations. Unlike many of the platforms available online, the start-up is driven by the motive to help people discover art exhibitions and artists of note and not for purchasing art.
The initial idea behind the platform was to interact with every user via surveys and present them with a custom list of events to attend. However, in their capacity as a smaller company, they soon realized that it was not an easy task. The team of developers, art researchers, curators, designers and marketers put their ideas together and come up with a way to gamify the process as a personality quiz. The quiz is quick and easy and the results are presented with an interesting write up explaining the result, appealing illustrations and a curated list of exhibitions to attend. They also use the data to put together a weekly art guide that recommends exhibitions, events and artists that the users might like. “I wish something like this was around when I was getting interested in art but didn’t know where to start. You know what they say – create what you wish to see in the world.” Nivedita noted.
The website has been well received with the thousands of people who have taken the quiz and love the recommendations they were offered. But the people behind Art Fervour is constantly brain storming to come up with more ways to keep their users engaged. This includes attempts at making the platform even more personalised to suit preferences that people may have. They are currently available in seven cities around the nation and hope to add more to the list, and to expand internationally. The website also features informative artist interviews and art related articles. They have recently partnered with Serendipity Arts Foundation, one of the biggest art foundations in India and have more collaborations in the pipeline.
As her dream of making art fun and accessible for everyone starts to become a reality, Nivedita said, “Courtesy of having gone to business school and art school, I have a wildly different set of friends. This has helped me see how people, who are not art students, collectors or professionals in the art industry, are alienated from art. That’s such a pity because art can enrich our lives immensely if we allow it to. My hope with Art Fervour is to make art as accessible and mainstream as possible for everyone, not just art aficionados.”
If you are looking to attend art events in your city, learn more about art or just want to take a fun personality quiz, Art Fervour just might be what you are looking for.
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