From Buenos Aires to Start-Up Chile and now based in New York, JuicyCanvas has had quite the trajectory. And now, the artwork platform founded by husband-and-wife team Artur Maklyarevsky and Deb Brugiati is entirely customizable, or as they call it, remixable.
But let’s back up a bit. Built in Latin America and based in the United States, JuicyCanvas takes an artist’s finished artwork and unlocks it for further personalization and experimentation. It has curated work from over 200 artists, all of which can be reshaped, resized and adjusted by users to create a completely customized product. Currently, only stretched canvases are available, but the startup is in the process of expanding its product line to include phone cases, t-shirts and fine-art prints now.
Though JuicyCanvas has been around for a while, much of its platform remains a work in progress – as well as the products it offers. In light of this, the startup has launched a Indiegogo campaign to continue its development, completing its platform, improving experience and offering items like totes, sweatshirts and more.
Juicy Canvas co-founder Deb Brugiati told us more about the platform, filling us in on the artist curating process and the company’s Latin American roots.
Emily Stewart: A lot of the work you’ve done on this project has taken place in Latin America, in Buenos Aires and with Start-Up Chile. What brought you to the region?
Deb Brugiati: I am a Buenos Aires native and met Artur when he came to check out Argentina to find new developers for his first startup. He never left! He just fell in love with the city and the art scene here. After a couple of years working on tech projects together, we started brainstorming this new idea, and we built the beta with the help of some amazing local developers. Then we got into the Start-Up Chile accelerator program and launched JuicyCanvas in Santiago. The project was entirely brainstormed, created, developed and launched in Latin America.
ES: What do you think a presence in Latin America has brought to the company? What were the challenges you faced here that you may not have had to deal with elsewhere?
DB: Launching in Latin America has allowed us to tap into an incredible creative culture and pool of connections. We’ve worked with the amazing artist community that I was already in touch with in Buenos Aires, my group of artist friends and, also, the artists that I worked with or interviewed when I was running a magazine out of the city. We needed a place to take our time and focus on the product, and Latin America was offering talented and affordable developers, a relaxed work environment, and most important, our favorite drink, mate!
ES: Could you explain a bit about how the platform works, specifically with respect to artists?
DB: We’ve spent the first months getting in touch with artists, pitching the idea and investing hours online looking for new talent. That was fun. The first invites we sent were tough to sell because we didn’t have a demo or anything to show them, it was just text: “For the first time ever, people will touch your art and make their own version.” We got a hundreds of nos.
We kept insisting, trying to communicate the JuicyCanvas concept better, and we got some big names on board who liked our crazy idea. After that and the launch of the beta, it was easier. Right now we are receiving submissions every day, but I still like to spend my nights on Instagram or blogs searching for new artists.
ES: Where does quality fall into all of this? Is it a concern?
DB: It’s all about quality for us. We are pretty obsessive about everything. We want to have the best quality of artwork and printing results, the best user experience, and a ninja customer service. There is a lot to improve, but offering a low-quality stretched canvas or t-shirt is such a turn off, we couldn’t be in this business if our products or service weren’t the best.
ES: How about copyright?
DB: We get this question a lot. It’s our utmost goal to protect artists’ rights while also enabling their work to reach more people, but in a more profound and provocative way. With every sale of a remixed work, the artist gets a fixed royalty fee. Like every product bought in the world, our customers only have the right of ownership to their physical product. They can’t use it for any commercial purposes, although they can share it via social networks (with full attribution). With our upcoming Remixer platform, where anyone can create remixed products that they can share and sell to their friends, those “remixers” would receive Juicy credits too. All our artists sign a contract when they join our platform, so we have their full authorization.
ES: What’s your main market right now? Where are most of your customers?
DB: In the States right now, because our printing partner is located there. With the Indiegogo campaign, we are offering worldwide shipping for the first time, so we hope we get a lot of customers and remixers from Latin America and all over the planet.
ES: Are you looking at Latin America as a market?
DB: Absolutely. These are our roots, and every time I get a submission from an Argentine, Colombian or Brazilian artist, or receive an email of support from Chile or Venezuela, that just makes my day. We plan to go global with the Juicy vision as soon as we have the means.