In The Spotlight: Mariam Maqsood Hassan

Pakistan Today Paperazzi - Bahaar Article

What first drew you to the arts?

My love for art has been there from the beginning and my surroundings definitely helped develop that talent. My family is incredibly large, loving and artistically inclined. My father is an avid art collector and is proud of his enviously ever-growing collection in my parent’s beautiful home in Dubai. Our extended family is deeply rooted in the Pakistani art and culture scene. 

What is your background in the arts?

With my first exhibition at the age of 9, I was exposed to the art world very early on. I then went on to pursue art seriously at school and further education. In 2010, I graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Art, Distinction in Dissertation from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

Soon after graduation I moved to Dubai to work with The Third Line gallery as Communications Manager. In 2013, I relocated to London and began work as Gallery Manager at Edge of Arabia.

At the end of 2015 I took the plunge and launched Bahaar, an online sales platform for contemporary emerging art from South Asia and the Middle East. 

How confident are you about the e-commerce environment for being a promising outlet for artists to reach their audience?

E-commerce has changed how hundreds of markets work and I do not expect art to be an outlier. It has dramatically grown the size and breadth of the potential customer base and enables smaller companies like Bahaar to enter the field faster. In addition to saving on high cost of retail floor space, it reduces the stress of staffing and holding expensive inventory. It also provides the option to offer 24 hour shopping at no additional cost. 

Bahaar aims to establish an accessible online market place for young collectors and emerging artists to suit the lives of millennialism that require everything at ones fingertips. Gone are the days of sales via art patrons, long-winded exhibition previews and shows. At Bahaar we pride ourselves in empowering the artist and encouraging the young collector to buy art. Bahaar reaches collectors via social media, newsletter subscriptions and regular personalized inventories. 

Where did you derive your inspiration from to create Bahaar? What is your vision for Bahaar?

After hosting a number of successful exhibitions and events, locally and internationally, it became clear to me that the traditional gallery model was not serving the interests of the budding artist-collector relationship. Bahaar aims to bridge this gap by connecting emerging artists from South Asia and the Middle East with young collectors globally. Our motto: “From the Artists heart to the Collectors home.”

In the Spotlight: Paperazzi, 2016, Art Bahaar

Do you work solo or is there a team supporting the portal of Bahaar?

We are a small team looking to grow soon! To put it simply, I am the only constant so far. I work with freelancers and a shipping & logistics team.

How has the response been to the concept of Bahaar so far?

Bahaar was officially launched in November 2015. It has not even been a year and we are already so excited about how much we have achieved. The response from Artists, Collectors, Friends and Family has been incredibly positive and has given proof to our concept. 

Our target audience is young collectors looking to explore the market and get some guidance on their purchases, as galleries today are intimidating for the average young collector. At Bahaar we get access to works by young emerging talent that big commercial galleries and institutions have not yet tapped in to.

What are the upcoming plans for Bahaar? 

Our website is currently under construction and has a lot of special features we are working on. We also have some exciting ideas for pop-ups in London and collaborations across the globe in the works but cannot reveal much more right now. Follow us for more info and updates…

www.artbahaar.com Instagram: @artbahaar  

Have you seen hesitation or enthusiasm from artists so far? 

Only enthusiasm so far! Our model works in favor of the artist because we have non-exclusive contracts that give artists the mobility to consign their work elsewhere too, but of course we pride ourselves in guiding them in the right direction. In addition, our honest and loyal program that gives the artist exposure to an international collector base encourages the young talent we work with further.

What has been the proudest and most fulfilling moment in your career to date?

I feel most proud when young collectors really start valuing their art and treat it as a long-term investment. It is particularly heart-warming to see young couples saving up to buy art for their homes and first time collectors coming back for more and more.

My proudest moment was in the early days when Bahaar first sold an artwork to a person who found Bahaar on Instagram (and not through personal connections). It just goes to show the power of social media!

What is one question that nobody asks you but you wish they did?

The idea behind the brand and logo.

In case you’re interested in knowing, we decided on the name Bahaar because we wanted an Urdu word which would be easy to pronounce in English but also had the same meaning in a few other Middle Eastern languages. ‘Bahaar’ means spring in 5 languages; Urdu, Farsi, Turkish, Kurdish and Azerbaijani. It resonated well because of our support for young emerging artists, seedlings who will bloom like flowers in Spring. ‘Bahaar’ also means spice in Arabic, which evokes the feeling of liveliness, excitement, eastern values and a red-hot emotion that we wish to awaken in the passionate collector’s heart.
The logo incorporates a beautiful ‘bey’ under the ‘B’ which brings the whole idea being eastern values and focus on South Asian and Middle Eastern art together. 

What advice would you give to a younger you?

YOLO 

Are there any upcoming projects we should be excited for?

Some cool pop ups and collaborations to come soon. Sign up to our mailing list at info@artbahaar.com for more info