Homegrown Business: Canadian Online Art Gallery, ArtMatch

Rishi Midha directs the Toronto branch of ArtMatch and oversees marketing and communications for the gallery. He is also heavily involved in artist research, curation, and working with clients. In a 2-person company, you end up doing a bit of everything! ArtMatch is an online gallery filled with exclusively original works that make it easy for its clients to find, support and acquire local art.


What is your business called and what does it do?

We are ArtMatch, a curated online art gallery + art consultancy representing Canadian visual artists at the community level. We make it easy for clients to discover, support, and acquire quality local art.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

Vandy, the founder of ArtMatch, has almost twenty years of experience as an interior designer and has also spent several years as a full-time artist. As an artist, she understood the challenge independent artists face in marketing their work in an increasingly competitive digital landscape while maintaining creative output. In the interior design space, Vandy witnessed too many clients with beautiful spaces, and who could afford original art, but treated it as an afterthought and often ended up with mass-produced prints from HomeSense or similar. There is too much great art in the world for this to be happening!

She also knew art buyers who wanted to support local artists but found the community art fairs diluted in quality, while the nicer galleries often showcased international artists and/or felt inaccessible to less experienced collectors.
Hence, she founded ArtMatch Online Gallery in 2015 – well before the online rush of the pandemic – as a platform to facilitate connections between Calgary artists and buyers seeking quality artwork from their community. Since then, ArtMatch has expanded to Toronto, and we hope to establish branches in other major Canadian cities.

Who is your clientele?

Art lovers of any age and demographic are invited to explore the collection. Most of our clients are in their 30s to 50s, as the cost of original art can be prohibitive for younger folks. But we believe our catalogue is diverse and appeals to a wide audience.

Currently, we represent artists from Southern Alberta and Southern Ontario, therefore most of our clients are in these regions. But we ship all over Canada. We also work with designers and developers, providing art solutions for commercial spaces.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

We take a commission of painting sales. This commission supports 2 full-time employees and all the promotion, curation, maintenance of the platform, art shows, etc. Because of the smaller overhead associated with an online platform (as opposed to a physical gallery), our commission is ~20% lower than the average traditional gallery. The artist keeps a much larger share.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

Q: How could anyone possibly be comfortable buying large, expensive, original art online – shouldn’t art be experienced in person, in a physical gallery?

A: You should ABSOLUTELY visit physical galleries and experience art in person because there is nothing that compares – we’ll be the first to say it. The online thing is just another outlet available to get more eyes on the art. We do everything we can to make the browsing experience enjoyable, and without space limitations, there is more art
to browse and filter through. Our services and policies help take the uncertainty out of the decision to purchase online, such as consultations, digital mock-ups, in-home trials, and a flexible return policy.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

Best: Of course, we can’t name just one. Receiving install shots of the art in spaces and hearing from clients who are THRILLED, even months or years later, about the piece hanging on their walls. Also, when the clients meet the artist whose work they acquired and know we are helping form these local connections.

Worst: At the risk of sounding snobby… after spending so much time with dedicated artists and experiencing their wonderful art, it stings to walk into a beautiful space with carefully selected décor and find a bland, overused print hanging on the wall in a showcase position.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

Courtesy of @ArtReviewPower100

Where in Toronto can we find you? What are your social media channels?

We are primarily online: ArtMatch Online Gallery, Current Toronto Artist Representation and Instagram.

If you follow our newsletter or socials, you’ll hear announcements for in-person art shows we host around the city, along with other art-related updates.

You can find Rishi roaming around Toronto (usually the west end, where he lives), exploring galleries or staring at his laptop at i deal coffee & wine bar.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

i deal coffee and wine bar: a west-end Toronto coffee shop which does everything right.