I met the founders of The Artful Project when I was at Clerkenwell Design Week last month and was immediately struck by what a good idea it was - and also what a great Indie of the Week they'd make. Set up by a creative husband and wife team, with years of experience in the design/photographic/creative industries, The Artful Project is a gallery that wants you to come in. It's the antithesis of the snooty, off-putting, we don't really want your custom and you probably can't afford it anyway art gallery vibe. And it's online only, so you don't even have to face the terrifying person with the asymmetrical haircut.
The idea is to democratise the process [very now] and turn us all into art collectors by making it affordable. I like the sound of that and after a scroll through the galleries I was pleasantly surprised. Lately I've been wondering what the future is for proper photography now we've all got smart phones and Instagram's moody filters in our pockets, but actually there is a difference. And when it's done well a photograph really can make you stop and want to look again.
Who are you? Joshua Blackburn, co-founder of The Artful Project, a new online art gallery.
Where can we find you? theartfulproject.com
Describe your website in five words: “The new home of affordable art” (Please forgive that extra word…)
What makes you different? We sell extraordinary art at an ordinary price. The real difference, however, is our mission to challenge the traditional gallery formula and inspire a new generation of art buying by making great work accessible and affordable to everyone.
How do you decide what makes the cut? If it’s exciting, original, evocative, thoughtful, bold and impeccably well crafted, it makes the cut.
What were you doing before you did this? I ran a design agency called Provokateur for ten years and Rachel, our co-Founder and Head Curator, was the Creative Director of a large photography agency.
If you were starting again what advice would you give yourself? Erm… not have a new baby at the same time as launching a business.
What are you most proud of? In terms of Artful, it would be launching a business with such a stunning collection of original work that immediately got people talking. And doing this while dealing with a newborn baby (see above).
Do you have a favourite thing in the store right now? It depends who you ask! Josh loves pretty much everything by Frank Herholdt – whose work is truly one of a kind. Rachel loves James French’s Boats (as do most people) and Jump #01.
What's hot for 2014? Extending the collection to include illustration, graphic design, letterpress and screenprints. It’s going to get exciting.
'Indie of the week' celebrates the best independent stores around. These places sell interesting and varied collections of design-related things you don't see everywhere else. They may support young or local designers or be great at finding unique things from around the world. By thinking a little more creatively about what they stock they are fighting the bland homogenisation of so much of the high street. And since I'm down with the realities of modern life, online only stores count too, because a beautiful and easy to use website is just as delightful an encounter in cyberspace.
Do you you have a favourite store? I'd love to hear from you.