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Woodinville artist Tara Jennings uses the app Lonely Walls to connect with local businesses and display her work. Her artwork is currently located at Route 522 Taproom in Woodinville.

Woodinville resident Charles Doyon was staring at a blank wall, pondering ideas to use in a business case competition for his MBA, when a sudden thought grabbed his attention.

The idea eventually sprouted into Lonely Walls, a mobile app envisioned to connect local artists and businesses.

Doyon shared his idea for Lonely Walls a couple years ago during a program called Startup School. He said the program, organized by Y Combinator, provides lessons to future entrepreneurs from leaders in the technology industry. The vision was well received, he added.

“I've always been very interested in art,” Doyon said. “I was trying to find a way to combine both passions: my passion for art and my experience in software development.”

Many of Doyon’s close friends are a part of the artist community, which ultimately led him to pick up photography as a hobby when he moved to Washington in 2007, he noted. 

Doyon said he completed a certificate in photography from University of Washington during his time at Boeing as an engineer. He even pursued art full-time after growing confident in his skillset, he said.

“It was hard for me to make a living out of photography,” he said. “One of the challenges that I had was how do I sell my artwork?”

The same question became the framework for his app, he said, which launched on the Apple Store and Google Play in July 2021. He hopes to create conversations between local businesses and nearby artists who are looking to exhibit their artwork, he said. 

More than 38 artists from the Greater Seattle area have joined the network, Doyon noted. Several local venues created profiles as well, he added, ranging from wineries to hotels to coffee shops.

He said anyone can create a profile on the app regardless of previous art or exhibit experience. Artists must upload at least three pieces of work to start chatting with venues, he added.

Artists can explore possible venues on a map within the app, he said. If a certain location looks appealing, an artist can submit a request for conversation. It only takes a minute or so for venues to create a profile, he said. After that, owners or managers can start reaching out to potential artists, he noted.

“The quality of artwork that has been uploaded has surprised me,” he said. “Though we don't do any curation, the quality is often really high.” 

The app acts as a gateway to “artist-venue partnerships,” he said. Once an agreement is established, he said, the business can choose which piece(s) they want to show and select a timeframe for it to be displayed.

Businesses can require a commission between 0-25% to host an exhibit, Doyon said. Lonely Walls also collects a 10% commission on every piece sold through the app.

“The commission depends on the type of venue,” he said. “A hotel can ask for more commission than a coffee shop because it might have a luxurious, selective type of space.”

The app also caters to art collectors, Doyon said. Lonely Walls provides enthusiasts with one central location to browse local pieces available for purchase, he said. Collectors can also use the app’s map to tour artwork in person. 

Lonely Walls creates more foot traffic for businesses, he saidm while allowing artists increased visibility for their work.

A few exhibits have been booked using the app so far, he said. For example: Woodinville resident Tara Jennings partnered with Route 522 Taproom to show her art.

“The first time that we booked a show was probably the most exciting,” he said. “I enjoyed seeing it in action and working for an artist that's actually using the app.”

Through his connection with Jennings, Lonely Walls will partner with the Woodinville Arts Alliance for the winter art walk on Dec. 3. He said the goal is to have all the participating artists use the platform to create a walking map for community members, as opposed to a paper map.

“It's all about the local community because in different areas you're going to see different kinds of artwork,” he said.

Doyon hails from Montreal and Quebec, Canada. He made his way to the Pacific Northwest about 12 years ago to work as a mechanical engineer, he said. He changed career paths to be a software consultant over 10 years ago. He and his wife moved to Woodinville about four years ago. 

To view more information about Lonely Walls, visit www.lonelywalls.art/?ref=producthunt.

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