Watch your back, Richard Estes. A photo and, at right, the resulting Pixelist painting.
Make 2014 the year that your Instagram masterworks break free of their pixellated prisons and start a new life as…photorealist oil paintings! That’s the transformative promise of Pixelist. The startup offers handmade oil paintings of any image you can capture or create, with “commissions” starting at $150. How? A bunch of willing and able Chinese painters sourced by founder Will Freeman, an Emory grad now based in Hong Kong. He made time to answer a few questions about the burgeoning business.
How did you get the idea to start Pixelist?
Pixelist came from a love of all things custom and creative. We’ve spent years designing our own clothes, shoes, furniture, and art and hunting for the best craftspeople to bring them to life. So we were naturally attracted to the idea of harnessing the popularity of Instagram to revive commissioned painting.
That part really describes me and my years in China and Hong Kong. But my business partner, Conor Colwell, originally came up with the idea. Conor and I used to work together and would always bat around startup ideas on our lunch break. I took him to visit one of China’s “art villages” in Shenzhen and he was hugely impressed by the painting quality. Conor has always been into Instagram, so he thought it would be a great way to immortalize photos people already loved. I loved the idea because I was already deeply into getting things custom made.