What if we’d tell you that there’s a new platform available for creatives and photographers, that is not based on LIKES and ALGORITHMS. Where any creative from the Photography and Fashion industry can freely share their art and portfolio, be that something trendy and popular, or a more experimental, conceptual, avant-garde type of project. A platform focusing specifically on creatives, meant to help them CONNECT with each other, share their work and get discovered.
All of this wrapped in a gorgeous, non cluttered, minimalistic design, without any ads and large corporations competing for your attention. Sounds utopian, right? Wrong.
This platform exists! It’s called Artstel, and you’re about to find out a lot more, since we’ve interviewed the creative mastermind behind it – Andrew Baygulov.
Disclaimer: there is a high chance that you’ll feel a strong urge to sign up and check out this platform after reading this. Not only because of the mesmerizing design, but also because of the idea behind it. Oh yeah, it’s also absolutely free!
Andrew, can you share a bit about your background?
I’ve worked in design for about 10 years. Since 2013, I’ve been a Creative Director for brands like Google, Adobe and PayPal. Personally, I always wanted to be part of something that makes an impact on people’s lives, and design lets me do that. I love being part of the creative process and the challenge of making complicated products simple to use.
How did the idea of creating Artstel come to be?
There’s really no other platform like this. It’s very difficult for creatives to connect and collaborate on their own terms. Ultimately, this inspired us to build a platform that could speak to this creative gap. Our platform helps people share their work in a very straightforward way.
Who is the team behind it?
We’re a small creative team of designers, photographers, developers and creatives in fashion and editing. Because we all work in the creative industry, we have a really good understanding of our audience and the challenges they face. This attention has helped us focus on our mission throughout the design and build process.
Tell us more about its design.
The design is minimal and easy to navigate, which is why many people love Artstel. In order to create a great experience for both creatives and clients, there are zero non-essential features. Our main goal was to make the search feature advanced enough to be helpful, yet simple enough to use. This is at the core of what we’re trying to solve.
Who should use Artstel?
Artstel is for creatives in photography and fashion. For example, we have categories for photographers, art directors, models, hair and fashion stylists, makeup artists, etc. We want creatives to feel comfortable showing their best work—no matter what that looks like. Not just the kind of work that gets “liked” on social media. We’re very interested in supporting a lot of aesthetic diversity.
What are the benefits and how should a user use the app to get maximum value from it?
The benefit of an Artstel account is getting access to creatives in your area in seconds. It’s like a search engine to find top talent for your project, no matter what you’re making or where you’re making it. It also provides exposure, a place to share work and a community of people that are constantly inspiring one another.
In a nutshell, Artstel is like the highlights of your online portfolio, where you can share a handful of images that best describe your style and aesthetics. We encourage users to keep their portfolios updated with their best and most recent work. This lets brands and clients find creatives that are working and growing. I think the creative life depends on constant practice, it helps you stay relevant. We want this to inspire everyone to keep creating and keep collaborating.
How many users are currently using Artstel?
Right now we have close to 5000 monthly users.
Is it easy to register? Are there any requirements?
Registering is easy and takes five minutes. You can create an account through the mobile app or simply sign up on www.artstel.co. Our team vets each user so we just ask for a link to your online portfolio along with six images of your best work. The approval process helps us maintain a standard of quality, and keep the platform free of fake accounts.
Where do you see Artstel in 3 years?
We have big plans for Artstel. Now that we’ve launched the app and the website, we’ll work to improve the platform and introduce some exciting new features. Our vision is to create a place where the work can speak for itself. Where talented creative people can find community, not because of an algorithm, but because the work is good.
What Artstel clients say:
Since there are around 5000 monthly users using Artstel already, we needed to know what they think about this platform, and whether they’ve found it helpful, thought it just launched a few months ago:
“I found out about Artstel on Instagram – specifically from @elliebaygulov’s profile. I originally discovered her work and followed because we both shoot for a stock photography agency called Stocksy!
I’ve been using the app for a few months. I’ve found inspiration in the beautifully curated feed, and I’m excited to use the app to connect with models and other photographers, especially when traveling to places I may not know any and want to create some shoots! I also love the model release built into the app – will make the workflow of shooting for Stocksy much easier!”
“I stumbled upon Artstel, because I was looking for other alternatives to meeting creatives. I also was really drawn to the aesthetic and minimalism that the app and creatives encompassed. It’s a fresh, modern way to build a team of collaborators!
I’ve been using the app for about 7 months!
Artstel is extremely helpful to my business! Being on the go and hopping around to different countries, it’s hard to connect with creatives in a quick and easy way. I used to do a lot of digging when it came to finding models, muah, etc and even create folders on Instagram months before I traveled to a place. It’s cut out all that useless time digging around and given me time back to focus on other things!”
“I received an invitation to join via email I believe, a few months ago.
I haven’t seen any direct links to helping my business just yet; however, I personally enjoy browsing the app as it is much more curated with a select group of industry individuals as opposed to sifting through other mass photo apps. Long term, I hope to be connected with creative individuals producing commercial photoshoots and/or editorials on the app.”
Thibault De Schepper
“I discovered Artstel through Instagram. Friends were sharing their profiles/usernames on their feed. I’ve been using it for about 5 months now, not on a regular basis, as I am not glued to my phone, but I enjoy using it and discovering the work of like minded people.
Since I am based in Europe, I guess it will take some more time for it to help me as a photographer, but what I really enjoy about the app is that people just share their work, not for likes or love, but for the sake of sharing it. On other apps, everything has to be cool and likable to be shared, on Artstel you share it just because you created it, without any pressure or fear of it not being your top post of the month. It’s a whole new way of sharing, or maybe it’s just getting back to basics?”
Indeed, isn’t it just getting back to basics? Shouldn’t the idea of connecting the world and freely sharing your work, ideas and important life moments be the mission statement and goal of any existing social media platform? Why do we allow “likes, love and social media approval” dictate what art should look like? While you take the time to process these important questions, we invite you to sign up to Artstel and see how it can benefit your work, life or just stir up and inspire your future creative work.