Hand-woven baskets, beaten metal ware, jewellery, bags, home décor, handmade soaps and art are just some of the things you’d find on Engrave – ‘The Maker’s Market.’ We’ve been talking about understanding the process of creating a marketplace for creators in our series Digital Bazaars so we had to delve into Engrave to know how their market brings in a compelling mix of products to cater to different aesthetic sensibilities.
Above: Left – Calligraphy Art by Sudeep Gandhi; Right – Heritage Canvas Tote Bag by Urban Desi
When Nimish Adani founded Engrave, he wanted to ensure that makers focus on what they truly love – creating. Digital bazaars like Engrave act as well-planned gateways between the art lover and the artisan. “Traditionally, small makers travelled from exhibition to exhibition to retail their goods. We make the process easier and take care of cataloging, marketing, sales and logistics,” Nimish said, talking about how Engrave is contributing to making art and craft accessible to connoisseurs.
One of the main concerns for art lovers is that buying online loses its charm as the ability to access an artisan’s story as a part of the process of acquiring art is absent. However, telling stories of makers is at the core of Engrave’s vision and is made possible by the little notes, and a photograph of the products and their makers, on every page.
The ability to be a part of a large network of people interested in art and crafts is a crucial aspect of digital bazaars. While this is a great way to seek out interesting makers, it has also been a successful way to find new projects for artisans. For a carpenter in Ahmedabad earning Rs.25000 a month, being a part of Engrave has now ensured a steady income of over 2 lakhs a month with a larger workshop.
An important part of the process of the growth of digital bazaars is the space they provide for makers to interact with various people while also acting as a readymade portfolio of work. Talking about one of the makers, Nimish said, “A calligraphy artist who was promoted on our website was asked to design the logo for the BRICS Summit, 2016. We started less than a year ago and we hope to continue impacting many more makers.”
With so many digital bazaars to choose from, it becomes important for makers and buyers to understand what is being offered. While different bazaars approach marketing differently, Engrave makes it about the story. “Creating awareness for our makers and their products is a challenge. Because people look online for an iPhone, but not necessarily an exquisitely crafted handbag,” Nimish expressed. Apart from contests and social media presence, an active blog series Meet the Maker narrates tales by the makers of products bought and loved on the website.
However, recognising the significance of experiencing art and crafts in person for many buyers, Engrave has played a huge role in curating and being present at many flea markets and pop-up stall. From curating the NH7 Weekender Music Festivals at Shillong, Kolkata, Delhi, Pune and Bangalore in 2015 to having a pop-up flea market at Idea Cellular’s corporate office, they’ve tried to ease communication between the art lover and the artisan.
Nimish hopes to continue bringing makers to buyers, and buyers to products they can add to their homes. From art prints to home décor, dokra to madhubani, engraving stories in products that find new homes, Engrave hopes to continue being India’s Maker’s Market.
Online bazaars are fringing an entirely new approach to the business of monetising art, making it easier for illustrators, graphic designers, typographers and artists of all kinds to quit 9 to 9 jobs to set up their own workspace.