rent musicalWhen I think of an artist community, the first thing that pops into my mind is a scene out of Rent. Alas, the art world, like many industries before it, is not immune to siren song of the internet and its low-cost, high-distribution temptations. is an online community of 580,247 artists. After a strong showing at the prestigious Art Basel show in Miami Beach, unveiled $1.5 million in backing to expand its platform to all types of creatives.

On, artists create online profiles and portfolio that can be easily shared. The network connects artists to each other, as well as to friends and art lovers from all over the world. It gives creators a channel to gain more exposure, earn grants, access exhibition opportunities, and reach potential buyers.

As the large and growing user base demonstrates, artists are hungry for new ways to put their work in front of an engaged audience. Furthermore, they are [literally] hungry for ways to make money off their work, which is why partners with organizations like i-D Magazine, the Times Square Alliance, and SCOPE Art show. was founded under the name ArtistsWanted in 2008 by a group of Brooklyn (where else?) artists that wanted to find, support, and expose artistic talent without going through the difficult-to-penetrate New York art scene. As someone who has spent some time in the aforementioned art scene, I understand this pain point. Gallery curators, art journal/magazine publishers, and their like can be a tough and often inaccessible crowd.

CEO William Etundi has impressive art credentials, including previous experience serving as Art Director for Saatchi & Saatchi. He and his cofounder Jason Goodman, who leads a multi-disciplinary workspace and education center, wanted to create an online space that served the needs of their community rather than The Man (or advertisers).

The team is now 14 strong and based in Queens. With this seed funding from Founder Collective, OATV, SV Angel, NYC Seed and Joshua Stylman, it will be able to encompass photography, fashion, and music, as well as fine art.

I am all about tools to help artists create and gain exposure, but if this means fewer gallery openings with free wine and cheese, I may take issue.