CoCo Gallery: Where Art Gets Personal

by Abby Montanez

We all know the debate about what’s considered “good” art. Some people say it has to be expensive, or maybe it’s something super rare and hard to track down. Others base the value of a painting off a feeling. I admittedly shop for art at my local craft store so I’m not at liberty to say who’s right and who’s wrong. But once you’ve decided to incorporate artwork into your home, finding a painting that embodies your vision is another story.

As it turns out, sourcing art does not come naturally to a lot of us. Aside from identifying if something speaks you, there are other, more technical factors to consider including choosing the right size, medium or price range. Not to mention the intimidation factor that goes along with buying art. An easier route would be to commission something custom, and that’s exactly what prompted Hoboken resident Vani Krishnamurthy to start CoCo Gallery.

One part commision and one part collaboration, CoCo Gallery is an online network that pairs people—everyone from regular folk like you and I to interior designers—with artists to create one-of-a-kind pieces that are uniquely inspired. Krishnamurthy set out to fulfill two separate needs when she started CoCo Gallery back in 2015, the first of which was making art more accessible to middle of the market people who were looking to purchase pieces that were meaningful and made sense within their space. 

coco gallery

Clients who find themselves turning to CoCo Gallery are often in search of something more personal—maybe it’s a gift for someone special, a painting of a vacation home or family pet. Krishnamurthy believes that more people would buy art if it was something they could feel connected to, not necessarily because it’s the work of the next big artist. On the other hand, CoCo Gallery can provide ease and guidance to those less experienced with buying art.

In terms of determining what kind of artwork suits your home, where it’s going to go, or if you’re someone who just has no idea where to start, Krishnamurthy’s word of advice is to recognize that art can change the entire mood of a home. A great jumping off point into personalized art is to think about what’s meaningful to you. “Color can be personal. Anything that has a lot to do with you, your space or your life,” Krishnamurthy said. You’ll value your investment by how much joy it brings you each day more than if you bought it for any other reason.

Interior designers, she explained, tend to think of spaces differently according to their plans. Interior designers might look for an abstract painting that goes along with their design concept of a room—something of a certain size or that matches their color palette. On the other hand, if they don’t have a lot of experience working with artists, CoCo Gallery can be that middle man to help guide them in the right direction.

coco galleryThe process is not unlike a matchmaking service and begins with clients first filling out a brief form with information pertaining to what they’re looking for—things like subject matter, size, time frame and cost—the latter of which can range from $300 or over $5,000, the deciding factor ultimately being a matter of how the artist prices his or her work, scale, detail and what materials are being used.

The client will then be contacted by a CoCo Consultant whose job it is to better understand their vision and curate a portfolio of three to five artists for them to choose from. A CoCo Consultant is a trained expert in the art field, perhaps someone who’s worked in galleries before, and they’re available to help brainstorm (or hand-hold) whether you feel the need to include them as part of every conversation or email exchange. Up until this point in the process, everything comes at no cost and if a client doesn’t like any of the portfolio choices they’re presented with, they can request more recommendations from Coco Gallery’s network of over 250 artists.

Krishnamurthy also offers in-home consultations for clients local to the area. “Those are for a charge, not for free,” she explained, “but we literally come in with blue tape and help people measure how big a work of art should be on a wall or figure out where it should be placed and what they should be thinking about in terms of a commission. We’ll do as many or as few rooms as they want.”

The next step is working up a contract that appeases both parties, artist and client, without compromising creativity. This will ensure that the client ends up with a piece that’s personal to them and works within their space while the artist feels they have the freedom they need to create. Once the non-negotiables are agreed upon, the artist will send over a sketch to which the client can provide feedback. The final commission is then shipped and delivered in about four to six weeks.

Through both her personal and professional experiences, Krishnamurthy saw the problems associated with having a sustainable career as an artist. So the second need she set out to fulfill was in support of the artist community. Before getting an MBA from Harvard Business School and working for Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group, Krishnamurthy got her start as a professional dancer and studied temple art and architecture in India. Today, she’s found her niche with CoCo Gallery as the bridge between both her personal and professional careers and more importantly, the artist and their audience.

“There are scores of artists willing to collaborate but they don’t have time to deal with and figure out the logistics. They’re looking for commissions and for someone to handle all the stuff they don’t want to handle,” Krishnamurthy told me. A commission through CoCo Gallery guarantees the artist a sale at the end and eliminates the uncertainty that a project they’ve been working on may or may not be profitable. 

While some artists can be unsure of how to connect with clients and buyers equally as wary of commissions and whether or not they’ll be satisfied, CoCo Gallery’s platform fosters the fragile relationship between artist and muse. That way, you can view art as a means of expression and turn your most personal moments into memorable pieces of art.

About the Author/s

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Abby is The Digest's Managing Editor. She spends her time looking at dogs on Instagram and eating her way around Jersey City.

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