A 19-year-old Mehedi Hasan Ashik had always been drawn to colours, designs, patterns and nature. He spent a lot of time in his earlier years doodling on his notebooks. This keen interest in creative art deepened over time, and Mehedi began to nurture this skill.
He learned to draw and paint and then started to participate in different art programmes. And joined an art club at his cadet college, where he held an art exhibition marking the start of his journey into the artistic world.
However, a sombre reality of the art world did not escape the artist.
It is difficult to sell artwork and that too at the fair price set by the artist. "I think many artists lose their way after taking the plunge with their dream because of a lack of competence and connectivity and remain in the corner," Mehedi explained.
As an artist, Mehedi always had issues selling his work, which prompted him to wonder why there is a lack of a one-stop marketplace for artwork in Bangladesh.
With this in mind, in January 2021, he launched Paintbeat Art - an online-based one-stop arts and crafts marketplace - with 14 core team members.
"Our purpose is to empower the artist so that they can forge their own identity and live with dignity," said Mehedi.
The artists' rights
"I worked on that concept for hours after hours a day. I created a Facebook group of artists, made an artists' database travelling across Bangladesh, researched social business models, and spent several hours every day developing that website.
Gradually, completed all the preparations, including trade licences, tax IDs, international payment gateways. And finally, I have created Paintbeatart," said Mehedi.
Mehedi believes that once the artist has completed his or her work, the most difficult task that the artist faces is determining a fair price for the finished product.
On Painhtbeat Art, "The artist has the full right to determine the price of their product. We have a supervising team who assess whether the price is inconsistent with similar types of products available on other art-based platforms.
If the price seems to be irrational, then the artist is asked to change it," explained Mehedi.
So how does it exactly work? "We take care of the interests of both consumers and sellers. From the total price, at least 80% will belong to the owner of the artistic work which may also vary from product to product," Mehedi further explained.
Moreover, they also undertake customised work and are currently receiving good feedback from both consumers and artists.
Standing out in the crowd
"I have been a part of this platform since the beginning. I am an artist who has faced numerous challenges while selling my craftworks, such as a lack of connection with clients and so on. I felt the need for a one-stop marketplace for all art aficionados.
When I found out that my dream coincided with Paintbeat, I joined them," said Tazin Hossain Anni, who is an artist and serves as the head of Public Relations.
"I have also built up my own handcrafted jewellery shop using this platform, and I'm getting a lot of positive feedback from clients. This platform has made my job easy," she added.
The online platform is impressive in that it not only assists you in selling your artworks but also provides additional services that act as a tonic for removing dilemmas in promoting your artistic work. Customers can discover painting, calligraphy, craft, photography, digital art, earthen products, sketch, bookmarks, etc.
Rashedul Hasan recently bought a hyper-realistic sketch for his sister through the Paintbeat. "Oh my god! were her exact words, when she opened the hyper-realistic sketch with her husband. She couldn't hold her tears of happiness and remained speechless for some time. I am thankful to them," said Rashedul.
The history, tradition, and culture of a nation are embodied in arts and crafts. Demand for artwork has always been on the rise around the world, but there are few options to sell our artwork in the global marketplace, according to Mehedi.
Paintbeat's international payment gateway method enables creative work to reach foreign countries, regardless of geographical location. For instance, Miyako Otanabe, a Japanese citizen, recently purchased a rickshaw painting through this platform.
"We've set a target to extend our service and spread the local arts and crafts to the eight major territorial countries. I believe if we achieve this target, then no one can stop our artworks and artists from gaining world recognition and at the same time, it will work as a source of great inspiration for them. My friends who are abroad are also working with me to that end," said Mehedi.
Moreover, the platform also provides additional support such as SEO content writing, live support, customer handling, payment, doorstep delivery, etc. that will help save the time of the artist in dealing with the sale of their work, and they can invest that time in other productive work.
Mujib 100 contest idea and beyond
Paintbeat participated in the "Mujib 100 contest idea" in the business category and was selected as one of the top 100 ideas at Bangabandhu International Convention Centre in December 2021.
Moreover, their idea was presented at IC4IR 2021 and has been featured in a special magazine published on "Fourth Industrial Revolution." Paintbeat also has been selected for the next round of 'Accelerating Asia', cohort 6.'
"More than 6,000 artists and craftsmen are connected with us along with more than 500 happy customers, which is a significant achievement for me.
I feel content when I see 500+ marginalised women selling handicrafts on Paintbeatart. I felt happy when I spoke about Paintbeatart at the Mujib-100 Idea Contest. At Accelerating Asia, I felt the adrenaline rush," said Mehedi.
Last but not least, Paintbeat's responsibility is not limited to just selling and promoting products but also intends to uproot unemployment from our economy and empower marginalised women through this platform, according to Mehedi.
"'Liberty for Artists' is a project we initiated for marginalised women. Under this project, we provide arts and crafts materials (cotton, needle, colour, fabrics, cloth, etc.) to them. Then, from product photography to enlisting it to the marketplace and selling, we give them support. Though we initiated this at a small scale, we hope to expand this in near future," said Mehedi.
The team has funded Paintbeat on their own and have not faced a financial crisis yet. Mehedi completed his higher secondary from Mirzapur Cadet and is currently enrolled at Tokyo International University, where he is studying Digital Business and Innovation.
Finally, do you desire to be recognised as an artist? In that case, Paintbeat Art can be a fantastic way to realise your dream.