Meet Lorenzo Campanis, CEO of Artlimes

Today, we're introducing Artlimes, a new online art marketplace built on Reaction's open source platform. Artlimes enables artists in more than 21 countries to sell their one-of-a-kind pieces to a broad audience of buyers, collectors, and dealers. Buyers may purchase custom framing, insurance, tracking, and more, all on the same platform. We sat down with Lorenzo Campanis, Artlimes' CEO and founder, to talk more about his background, his contributions to Reaction, and his vision for both the art world and tech scene.

Tell me a little about yourself, both personally and professionally. What inspired you to launch Artlimes?

I’ve been an artist since 1996. In that time, I have done big commissions for companies such as L’Oreal, organized shows and auctions around Europe, and shown work at art festivals. Art was always my passion. I’ve been involved in the art industry recreationally, but tech is what I’ve been doing for a long time professionally.

I’ve worked and lived in London for the past 13 years, although I did work in New York for a couple of years. I made my way back to London, where I started a digital agency with a partner in Soho Square, building applications for banks, large corporations, and prestigious clients. Four years ago, I started thinking about combining tech and art, my profession and my hobby, to make art available to everyone, with lower commission fees, and to help artists show their work. There is plenty of competition in the world of art marketplaces, so I spent a lot of time thinking about the best platform and approach. I wanted to build something for the niche market, so we can solve the problem of sending expensive artwork online, while also helping emerging artists promote and distribute their artwork online. That’s what inspired me to start Artlimes.

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What are some of the services you offer both artists and buyers?

At Artlimes, we are looking to satisfy galleries, art dealers, and any sort of buyer in the most functional way. We want to offer art provenance as a service, provide shipping insurance, and just work together on providing an optimal offline experience. We aren’t here to replace the gallery—we’re here to enhance it. For instance, we plan on building augmented reality features, as well as other capabilities, within a native Android and iOS application.

As for the artist, creating art is obviously expensive. By working together with high-quality print suppliers, we are looking to make art more available to everybody, while also helping sellers make more revenue. We just want sellers to feel motivated to make art, which is why we are also partnering with major suppliers for discounts on materials through our platform.

Who are some of your artists?

Right now, we have a few dedicated sellers, just to make sure the platform is set to handle everything. I’m in Athens, Greece right now as we speak, where a few of our artists are based. There are a few more in Paris, London, across Europe, and even a few from the States.

Tell us more about Artlimes’ vision around personalization.

All my life, I’ve been interested in technology as it is perceived within a screen. All my projects since university have been based around that concept, from my Masters in 3D animation to building Flash games with artists from DC and Marvel comics. With the death of Flash, things changed. That’s when I started wondering, “How can you recreate the Flash experience in a browser?” The answer was JavaScript.

At the time, there wasn’t a strong enough computer to build this vision. Now, the technology is advanced enough to support 3D environments on the browser, which led me to my next question, “How can we display art and let people perceive it fully through their screen, as if they were in a gallery?” We wanted to explore this gap between the offline space of the gallery and the online experience of the buyer, seller, collector, or a user looking to experience art without directly being in the space. What we want to do here is take the whole experience to the next level.

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How did you come across Reaction? What was it about the platform that appealed to you?

Last May, exactly one year ago, I found Reaction through Google. I was looking for an ecommerce solution that supported Node.js. When Flash died, the people who were smart enough to leave Flash and stick with JavaScript had the chance to experiment with technologies like Node. Knowing the technology from the inside, and having worked with Node for years, I knew that it was the next big thing. It’s reactive, light, and it’s a nice isomorphic application, front to back.

I found a few articles, and Reaction was mentioned as the upcoming platform for the next generation. I just loved it from the first time I tried it. However, there were some things missing at the time, so I thought we’d take on the challenge with a strong team of a programmers and designers, now known as Artlimes.

The Artlimes team helped build out our Marketplace functionality, right?

With Marketplace, we felt it was important to contribute everything from the beginning. It was the #1 thing missing across the globe—there was no Node.js-based Marketplace platform anywhere, or anything that remotely satisfied these requirements. I thought Reaction had covered most of the feature gaps, but at the time, it could only run a single-tenant shop. Given my team’s experience, we thought it was very feasible within our timeframe to realize the Marketplace capabilities within the Reaction framework. We didn’t know much Meteor at the time, but we did know JavaScript very well, so we took on the challenge, and now here we are.

Tell us about your open source contributions.

We love open source. Always have. Why not? If somebody makes a platform with an open source framework, why not give it a shot and contribute?

My background is with Drupal (and I know that the founder of Drupal is on Reaction’s Board of Advisors). I have been a Drupal fan for many years now, since 2008. It is a major platform in London, and many other private companies use Drupal as their #1 framework. The flexibility that Drupal had is something I could visualize within Reaction.

How has your experience been working with the Reaction platform?

Reaction already covered many gaps that were common with the WordPress and Drupal frameworks, eg. guest login, social sharing, etc. The platform has done a great job with covering all the basics—functions made simple for a programmer, with user experience built on top of that. I don’t think there’s any other platform like Reaction right now—one that does everything.

What I saw in Reaction was this: the time spent on user experience was massive. Huge. I had never come across a platform that had spent so much time in satisfying their users. It might look small for people who are not tech-savvy, but for someone who understands technology, it stands out. User experience is key behind programming and development these days. As programmers, we need to think about how to develop solutions for the best user experience, not for a browser.

What’s one thing you’re especially excited about regarding the state of JavaScript?

The advanced features that we are after are mostly around online 3D capabilities. How can we bring heavy-weight JS online and make it lightweight for the client? This is our next big challenge, so we’re aiming to bring libraries like three.js and D3.js on Artlimes for visualizing art as a product experience.

What’s next?

At Artlimes, we are looking to implement machine learning and automation in the next few months. We want to let the user know what they really want to know, while skipping the unnecessary stuff. We are also looking to implement predictive analytics in the next 6 months as well. Speaking with Aaron (Reaction CTO and co-founder), it looks like we’re very much on the same page with that.

Since Aaron told me about cross-selling, it just opened my mind. I don’t think that’ s ever been done before. The simplest solution would be to open up a shop in Etsy, open up a shop in Artlimes, and have all your products from Etsy on Artlimes. That will be the next big thing for us—all the users who use other platforms are welcome and accommodated on our platform, and vice versa.

One last question! How did you come up with the name ‘Artlimes’?

There’s an editor for coders called Sublime, as well as a band called Sublime. Limes are all around us. When I realized this, I thought, “Well, that’s great. It just so happens to be my favorite color.”

To me, artworks are prosperous like fruit. So, Artlimes is a fruitful platform, for fruitful relationships, and hopefully, everybody can gain from every new colourful fruit that comes out.

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To learn more about Artlimes, check out the full press release.

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