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Monday, February 9, 2015

It's a Zoo Out There on the Internet, and Ziibra Wants Artists to Show Their Stripes

Posted By on Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 12:10 PM

click to enlarge Katie Nealon of Folding Bones Press in Santa Rosa, featured on ZIIBRA
  • Katie Nealon of Folding Bones Press in Santa Rosa, featured on ZIIBRA

For the 21st century artist, the internet cuts many ways: behemoths like Amazon have cut into bookstore profits, actors who make it big are often subject to harassment, and closer to home, money generated by internet entrepreneurs has made San Francisco unaffordable for many creative types. Bay Area artists would undoubtedly have their reasons not to see another startup founder as a fast friend. 

But, here's some good news for artists: There's a guy out there who says he's on your side. His name is Omri Mor, and he's the Founder & CEO at ZIIBRA, an online marketplace where artists can create extensive profiles and attract enthusiasts through subscriptions to their work. The Seattle-based company is part Etsy and part crowd-funding site,  like Kickstarter, and aims to create a whole new way for artists to show off their works and make money online. 

Mor, a native of Tel Aviv and a longtime fan of arts, crafts, and music, envisions his company to be a place where fans of the arts can connect with those who create. The existing online marketplaces weren't giving artists enough tools to build a good profile and figure out who their customers were, Mor explains. And they weren't telling the artists' stories to the customers well enough. "I want ZIIBRA to be more than just a platform, but also a resource," he says. "There's a huge emphasis on telling the story of the artist."

Creating and maintaining a website is tough (no surprise to anyone who's tried it) — so Mor and his team aim to help artists and makers build their web presence through ZIIBRA. Short of being the artist's own URL, the profiles include almost everything else: biography, photos of work, videos, and subscription levels ranging from copies of work to live skype hangouts. "Sometimes it's hard to show your creative process," says Mor. Knowing this, his team offers instruction on how to film the profile videos and even provides help to those who can't afford cameras. 

Painters, collage artists, musicians, winemakers, herbalists, and potters are among the creators who call ZIIBRA home. Featured writers and artists from San Francisco include Broke-Ass Stuart and Press, a ridiculously cool book and design store in the Mission (if you haven't been, go). ZIIBRA also works with Oakstop, a community art space in Oakland, and the site also sponsors West Coast Craft Fair, a craft and design show — it's taking place at Fort Mason in June.

While ZIIBRA's largest artists communities are based in-and-around Seattle and San Francisco, Mor is already reaching out to Portland and Los Angeles, and plans to expand to New York by June. In a few years, he hopes to have an app and an international artist base. "I want it to be the equivalent of farm-to-table," he says. "But we call it studio-to-home."

Is there anything ZIIBRA doesn't do? Actually, yes. Mor had to politely turn away a seller of diapers who tried to create a profile on the site. "That was an odd case," he says. So start building your fanbase now — unless that was you trying to get creative with the nappies. 
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Sarah Stodder

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