A new service to give artists the opportunity to build a sustainable career in the arts has been founded in Dubai. Capsule Arts is aimed primarily at producing limited-edition prints of original pieces, which will allow locally based artists to attract new audiences. On a wider level, the service acts as an incubator for artists who are not quite ready to enter the high-end gallery scene.
After five years in the art business in Dubai, Rachael Brown and Deepa Bhatia felt there was something lacking at the lower end of the art market and came up with the concept of an online platform to sell limited-edition prints.
"We know this is not a new concept," says Brown, who used to work with Bhatia at the jamjar Gallery in Al Quoz. "But it is relatively new within this region. We are interested in incubating creativity and allowing artists to begin to build a sustainable career. The high-end galleries here do a fantastic job educating and opening up debate, but we felt that for a country's art scene to grow and flourish, there need to be opportunities at every level of the market."
The women joined forces in October last year and have since been visiting young or forthcoming artists in their studios all over the UAE and introducing them to the concept.
"It was at that point we realised just how many artists there are working here in their own studios, and also how many questions they have," says Brown. "There is a need for more open discussion on how to promote yourself, how to price your work and so we entered into a collaborative process."
As well as giving them a new outlet for their work, the women have also worked on putting them in touch with each other and creating an online network of support to help them extend their reach.
Creating a print involves working with a photographer who takes a high-quality image of the original and then, using a supplier, prints that image on archival paper with archival inks.
"We want to reproduce it in the best possible light and we go through a long proofing process with the artist and the supplier," says Bhatia. "It is also about developing that trust process between us and the artist so that they know we will produce a high-quality print," adds Brown.
Once it has been agreed how many prints will be made and in what size, they will enter the online gallery. The prices for the first collection, which features 19 artists and 80 artworks, range from Dh600 to Dh2,250.
"The platform is a proper e-commerce website and an artist will get a fee per piece that we sell. That is important because we want to give artists the opportunity to make money to sustain themselves," says Bhatia.
Although the website is up and running, the service is going through a soft-launch stage for the summer and there will be an official unveiling of the first collection in an exhibition on September 5 in the Al Quoz warehouse.
"All 80 prints will be shown then and it will be an open invite for anyone and everyone to come. We want to open the doors and to offer an affordable option to people like us who love the arts and also want the chance to be able to start their own collections."