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Delivering Artwork With Military Precision
What happens when four military veterans come together to create an alternative to inflated art gallery prices and an intimidating art-buying process?
An earlier version of this story appeared on Chase for Business.
JD Kameen wanted to give his wife a one-year anniversary gift she would never forget. In the process, he also gave an unforgettable gift to people around the world.
Kameen was hoping to turn a photo from their recent trip to Paris into an original painting, but he didn't know where to start. He visited several local art galleries in Pensacola, and found the whole process intimidating. “I felt out of place shopping in an expensive gallery. I didn't know a lot about oil versus watercolor versus acrylic," Kameen recalls. So, he went where he was a lot more comfortable—social media.
He reached out to several artists directly on Instagram and found one in Seoul, South Korea, who was the perfect fit. Kameen sent his image through Instagram, the artist painted it on canvas and shipped it in time for his anniversary. Kameen was blown away by the quality of the work and the entire process. He knew others would be as well. That's when another idea came to him…and this one was also a real masterpiece.
Reinventing Art in the 21st Century
With the help of three of his closest Naval Academy friends, Kameen created Paintru. For the first time, individuals looking for original artwork of their pets, loved ones, wedding or really anything could find an artist from anywhere in the world to bring their memories to life. Paintru puts hand-painted, gallery-quality artwork within reach for a whole new audience. Now these veterans and others they've enlisted are serving their country in a whole new way.
Customers go to the Paintru site and provide some basic information about the medium, size and type of painting they're looking for. Then they upload their image and wait to be connected with an artist who will transform their photo into a work of art. Before the paint dries, the artist emails a photo of the piece to the customer for any final edits before it's shipped.
From a customer's perspective, the process couldn't be simpler. However, on the back end, it's actually quite sophisticated, thanks to complex algorithms created by the Paintru team. It's these filters that help pair each project with the perfect artist.
“One of the things we were not willing to compromise on was the quality of the artwork itself. It had to be authentic in whatever medium the individual wanted," says Kameen.
Each month, Paintru features a new artist, giving them exposure to nearly half a million followers. When asked if there's a danger in giving customers direct access to these artists, Kameen smiles and says, “If an artist is getting work outside of Paintru, that is incredible for us. That's all we can ask for."
Today, Paintru has 470,000 Instagram followers, features 2,000 artists on its page and can ship 10,000 framed paintings a month, all with only nine Paintru employees. So how does the team do it? The only way they know how—using military logistics.
A Mission to Succeed
As a 100 percent veteran-owned and operated company, Paintru applies the precision, focus and attention to detail that its employees learned in their military careers. “We run it really similar to a Marine logistics unit," Kameen says. “At any given time, we have framed artwork all over the world, which is good for veterans because we have a lot of logistics experience. But it's a lot of long nights."
That focus on logistics extends beyond Paintru's customer service. When it came time to choose a financial partner, they looked for one that could be an interface between the civilian world and the military.
“We went to the local Chase bank, told them we were veterans, and they couldn't have been more gracious," remembers Kameen. “Chase for Business treated us as respectful customers first, veterans next, and then business partners."
Today, more than ever, art is continuing to bring people together, and Paintru is helping to engineer the process by connecting the world, one brushstroke at a time.