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Caught in their Web

for The Brooklyn Paper

In today’s big money art market, artists, dealers and gallery owners from around the world are often in constant contact.

But now, thanks to the ingenuity of two creative minds in DUMBO, even small-time artists are able to share ideas with far off friends — and all without leaving their studios.

The new art-centered social networking site, Brooklynartproject.com is a sophisticated — and free — site that allows artists to create profiles, upload images and videos of their work, create “project rooms” with other members and bounce ideas off peers in the far corners of the world.

The site is the brainchild of brothers Anthony and James Cospito, owners of the Web consulting firm Strut. Beginning in March, the Cospitos, who had been experimenting with fresh ideas for social networking, began working on a site for other Brooklyn-based creative types.

“We realized we were spending all this time figuring out communication solutions for other people,” said James. “Why not apply that to artists?”

Bringing together their professional background with their mutual interest in art — Anthony is a photographer and James is an illustrator, sculptor and painter — the brothers took the Brooklyn Art Project from conception to launch in little over one month.

“We launched in April and people started to sign up right away. It’s really interesting to see the community start to blossom,” said James.

Advertising only on Craigslist, the Project grew steadily thanks to word of mouth. At this point the site has 600 members and has notched about 136,000 page views.

“It amazes me how quickly it spreads, and I think that says something about the nature of art,” said James. “People want to be collaborative and be in a community where they can be inspired. As an artist, there are a lot of times when you are isolated and a big question is how do you break out of that?”

Getting feedback is a key part of the site for most users. “I’ve been really impressed with the quality of art and value members have for comments,” said Kate Brenner, a Williamsburg artist who counts herself as one of the site’s first members. “It’s a refined networking site with an actual purpose. Hopefully it will remain that and not just become Myspace for hipsters.”

Revenue for the site will come from ads, but the bigger plan is to eventually act as representation for the artists, with the site taking a percentage of sales.

Even so, the brothers are careful not to move too fast or risk exploiting their community of artists.

“We really want to be on the side of the artist,” said Anthony. “And if that means we need to grow a little bit slower because of it, we’re all for that.”

A fall gallery exhibition showcasing members’ art in DUMBO is in the works. That local presence is integral to the long-term goal of world domination.

“With so many amazing art colleges around here, the excitement and talent coming out of Brooklyn and the Web, it only makes sense to put those worlds together,” said Anthony. “Taking that experience off the screen and into their lives is how we’ll really make an impact.”

For information on Brooklyn Art Project, visit www.brooklynartproject.com.

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