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Exclusive – Meeting the developers of new start-up Artik

Artik offers creatives a way to provide one another with honest, concise feedback on their work. We spoke to founders Allegra and Hadi about the business and their ambitions to redefine modern art communities.

If you’re a young artist trying to make a name for yourself you may want to check out Artik, a new start-up that’s developing a brand-new feedback-based experience via your smartphone.

First established in 2018, Artik is an app that allows users to post images of their own, original artwork and receive anonymous feedback from others. You can swipe through different pieces, respond with a paragraph of information, and even set up a closed group to get properly stuck in and collaborate with friends or colleagues.

Artik offers real time updates and stats on the types of comments your work is receiving, and you can adjust and adapt your own creative methods in accordance with easily understandable data.

If all this sounds unique it’s because it is. With an impressive UI and a refined, stylistic brand, it’s hard not to wonder what could be possible in the future, especially so early on in the company’s life.

We sat down with its founders Hadi and Allegra over Zoom to chat all things art, creating a more democratic industry, and striving to allow better and open communication between peers. You’ll be up and running on Artik in no time – with a ton of new people and feedback to wrap your head around.

Photo by: Nathalie Samen

How did the idea for Artik come about?

For both Hadi and Allegra, inspiration for Artik came from similar experiences within the art industry both during university and as postgraduates. Hadi remembers how crucial community discussion was in developing his skills while studying to be a painter full time.

‘I went to RISD in the United States. One common thing across every major, whether it be painting or architectural design, was a weekly get together where we’d spend a full day critiquing each other’s work.’ These regular examinations and studies helped him to explore new ideas and progress as a creative, a tool that he found was only really available whilst at RISD.

‘Once I graduated I moved to LA where I had my own studio. It was very different. At university I had a shared space surrounded by my painting peers and there were all these great conversations happening, but in LA I was working alone and my work started to plateau very obviously and quite quickly.’

This sudden drop off in communal feedback and honest critique motivated Hadi to create a new platform that encouraged honest artistic chat. To that end, Allegra notes that the main drive behind the app is to give creatives a feeling of ‘community’ and ‘helping one another grow’, preserving and maintaining the productive connections usually only found in formal, academic settings.

Photo by: Nathalie Samen

These discussion groups don’t have to be local or based on one campus, either. The beauty of an app like this is its potential to be international and open to anyone. Allegra says that a big goal for the project is to ‘create a new space where all can have access to global feedback simultaneously.’

‘It’s an opportunity to democratize art as a platform and increase feedback for everyone, especially those who typically have less access to new ideas and audiences.’ A big focus is on intergenerational communication and, ultimately, exposure to different perspectives and surprising comments that you’d otherwise miss.

‘We want artists to fall back on this platform whenever they have doubt or need a second opinion. It’s a place where creatives from different industries can cross paths.’

Photo by: Nathalie Samen

Building an app from the ground up

Of course, it’s all well and good coming up with these ideas, but how do you even begin to go about creating an app like Artik? More importantly, what UI and UX features do you put in place to encourage people to jump on board?

It doesn’t take long to gauge how Artik works. After a five minute mess around I was able to easily understand how to give my opinions, set up a group, and post my own content should I want to.

The main explore screen features a carousel that’s not entirely unsimilar to dating app swiping, with a toggle bar to show whether you ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ a work, and you can jump into a communal chat pretty quickly.

Hadi says that it’s always been about clarity from day one. ‘From the very beginning we wanted to make sure that feedback is as useful and clear as possible. An artist can post an image of their work in any medium and they’re able to select or create up to eight criteria they deem important and relevant.’

Live updates and closed group discussions have also been implemented into the latest build, allowing users to give critiques and comments to varying degrees of depth. ‘We’ve included a new feature for private groups that can include friends, peers, classmates, if you’re more into that. We were thinking about students in particular.’

Photo by: Nathalie Samen

You’ve probably noted just how sleek and stylish Artik looks too, despite being a fairly new project with a small team. Hadi explains just how crucial the visual feel has been in making the app.

‘The experience we’ve created is tailored towards artists, so the design was always going to be really important. It had to look good to satisfy those kinds of people. We wanted it to remain fun and approachable, while also being informative and clear. We had a lot of trial and error before we reached the current design that embodies all these values.’

Most of this testing and experimentation is being done by Hadi, Allegra, and one other school friend. With a team of only three, Allegra says one of the biggest challenges has been ‘learning how to create a company from scratch’ and understanding new things outside of her areas of expertise.

‘I studied Art History at school and had no idea about most of what goes into building an app. Each day we tackle different tasks. Some are intuitive, some you learn as you go along – each experience is worthwhile regardless of failures.’

Hadi adds that it’s ‘important to learn how to do things as efficiently and quickly as possible’ and remembers how university professors would tell students to ‘build a chair without knowing how to do it.’

Sometimes just getting stuck in and involved is the best way to learn – such is the case with Artik.

Photo by: Nathalie Samen

Making an impact on Gen Z and young creatives

I was eager to learn more about how Artik could directly help Gen Zers in need of exposure, and how the app could support young artists who are unsure of which direction to take their work.

Allegra mentions how younger creatives are more open to virtual spaces, a trend that has only magnified with the last year of lockdowns and pandemic social distancing. ‘Social media is playing a big role, not only with your online presence and portfolio but also in terms of access to information, collaboration, flexibility, and we’re hoping to add a reliable source of feedback outside of the schooling system.’

Hadi also hopes that Artik can speed up the creative process. ‘Constant communication means you’re more in tune with other interpretations of your work, and creative practices can develop at a quicker rate than right now.’ Faster feedback means more easily adaptable work, fresh ideas, and a key advantage in a competitive market.

The industry is notorious for its inaccessibility and finding a way to show your work to new people can be a near impossible task.

Allegra recalls that during her time at college in New York she organised ‘a lot of shows that were basically exhibition pop up opportunities.’ Seeing how popular these were ‘proved how young artists were really eager to showcase their stuff, and it’s one of the main hurdles they’re facing today.’

Artik should help many young artists connect and network in new ways, creating a more even playing field for those looking to get a foot through the door.

Photo by: Nathalie Samen

The future of Artik

In terms of future plans, Hadi and Allegra are looking ahead to improve how users can deliver feedback on art inside the app.

Hadi says they’d like to ‘expand the ways in which people can receive comments so that they can choose a method that suits them best.’ He’s also keen to get experts from a variety of fields onto Artik, providing resources and knowledge from the top of the academic ladder. Expert advice is always welcome and hearing it from the best would be an invaluable resource.

Allegra mentions putting together ‘new exhibitions and curating shows in the real world’ via Artik’s brand, but that’ll have to be a ways off when the pandemic calms down and we’re all allowed back into our local galleries.

For now, attention is on improving and refining the Artik experience, which plans to stay within the creative arts but is open to change in the future. ‘We want to develop it in a direction that suits users best so that they can get the most out of it. The fun thing is that we’re already starting to see a few people within private groups posting images of things that have nothing to do with the creative practice.’

It seems the sky is the limit for Artik. Perhaps it could be used for other fields outside of just original artwork – interior decoration, make up styles, anything is possible. So long as you’re open to critique, Artik could be the stepping stone to getting you that next connection or new idea, and is all about advancing you along your individual creative journey.

For more information on Artik and its founders you can visit the official website here and download the app on the App Store.


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