If you’re an artist looking to woo online buyers for your work, showing your art in the perfect showroom photo can be a challenge. Now, there’s Canvy to help.
Launched in 2020, the Danish browser-based app makes it easy for canvas and poster artists to create a website and stage their wall art virtually. Simply create an account, choose a subscription plan (free or paid, with monthly and yearly payment options for the latter), upload and “frame” your artwork, and pick a mock-up room in which to place it. It’s even possible to tweak the showroom wall and furniture colors to enhance your art. Then, just add your artworks and all relevant information—title, price, dimensions, medium, creation date, etc.—and, in just a few clicks, Canvy’s website creator turns it into an online portfolio website for your art.
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Canvy’s dual showroom-editor and site-creator capabilities set it apart from other such apps. So do its origin story and guiding ethos. Canvy cofounder and creative lead Tobias Tex Waaentz first got into the world of digital simulations in 2014, when he created a customizable Photoshop file that would allow web designers to display their builds on-screen in “rooms.” During his initial photo shoot of various electronic devices, Waaentz snapped some photos of the wall posters in his apartment and made those customizable in the template, almost as an afterthought.
After he sold the files on CreativeMarket.com, they gained traction. But, to his shock, a huge percentage of downloaders were most interested in the wall art placeholders.
“People started asking me, ‘Hey, can you add another frame in a different size? Can you add a gold frame, or maybe a silver frame?’” Waaentz remembers. “And other people were asking if it was compatible with apps like Illustrator, because they didn’t use Photoshop.”
Waaentz soon realized he’d stumbled across an untapped community of canvas artists who had similar, if not even more specialized simulation needs than digital designers. He could relate: Waaentz went to art school for eight years before teaching himself to code and going into web development.
He teamed up with his old colleague, Morten Christensen, to create an online version that would work in a browser, without the need for Photoshop or any other advanced photo apps. They eventually created Mockup Editor, an online version of his Photoshop file, leading the way to what Canvy is today.
“We realized we were trying too hard to service everyone, and we needed to focus on one audience. We chose artists,” Waaentz says. “It was very natural to go in that direction.”
At Canvy, being artist-oriented is more than just a buzzword. Every time you reach out to Canvy support with a query, a member of Canvy’s seven-person team will answer you directly. Waaentz says he treasures the connections the team has been able to make with customers.
“We put a lot of emphasis on having a conversation with people, rather than checking off boxes,” he says. “Even old customers who talk to support once a year chat with us about gallery shows or the magazines that have published their work.”
Waaentz knows that not all artists are tech-savvy or have access to state-of-the-art tools. For them, Canvy’s hyper-streamlined showcase creator can forge a conduit to whole new audiences. Waaentz cites one customer who uploads his work from rural Nigeria with a hotspot and an old phone; even with limited technological resources, he’s been able to use Canvy to cultivate an international audience for his art.
“When some people can’t get online with their art, the world misses out. I like the approach of Instagram—where it doesn’t take too much commitment and you can get online easily—but we are tailoring to artists specifically,” Waaentz says.
Similarly, Canvy’s free membership option offers artists a great service. Nonpaying Canvy members get access to its website creator (albeit with a canvy.com suffix in the URL) and 13 non-watermarked model rooms. They’ll even have access to the total room library, as long as they’re willing go along with a Canvy watermark.
That library, by the way, is growing exponentially with 450 art room mockups to choose from. Waaentz and a colleague work tirelessly to create five new mock-up showrooms per week, which involves photoshopping furniture and rooms, programming in color gradients so objects and walls can be recolored, and, of course, being able to add wall art in a variety of frames and sizes.
Why so many rooms? Waaentz says the breadth of options is inspired by user feedback, as is every public-facing aspect of Canvy. “We’re still getting a lot of requests from our members to do different rooms or different styles,” he says. The team also knows how important it is to avoid redundancy in a portfolio.
“If someone is following you on Instagram and they see the same room again and again, they’ll start to notice—and the whole thing about mock-ups is that you’re not supposed to notice them,” Waaentz says. “I feel that mock-ups are the introduction to the artwork. When you see a photo of a living room with a beautiful piece of art in it, you know instantly that the art is physical, and you begin to imagine it on your wall. The mock-up provides context.”
Canvy provides context to your art so people feel at home with it and gain interest in buying it. Online buyers get to experience your work in a curated setting designed by you.
So, with 260 new simulations added a year, does Canvy have plans to slow down anytime soon? Nope, says Waaentz.
“Personally, I want to have a goal of 10,000 rooms—something so large that you open our website and just get overwhelmed … ,” he says with a grin. “Ideally, you’d almost never see two artists with the same room.”
Follow Canvy on Instagram at canvyapp.