Like most of us, I have an aesthetic appreciation for art but lack the natural talent to create anything better than a lopsided stick figure or distorted smiley face. But thanks to Tel Aviv-based startup Dreame, I was able to produce my very own piece of art with the help of a professional artist.

Founded in 2014, Dreame is a platform that connects people with artists from around the world to commission the artwork of their dreams — literally and figuratively. With Dreame, all you need to make an original, personalized piece of art is your imagination, dreams, stories, memories or whatever it is that inspires you.

“What interests me about art is the story behind it,” says Dreame founder and CEO Sharonna Karni Cohen. “So I thought, why not enable everybody to be the storyteller behind the art rather than just the artists themselves. Storytelling is something that has existed since the beginning of time and will always exist. Dreame allows all of us to be visual storytellers through visual projects.”

A Dreame client in San Francisco asked Ursula Hart to illustrate this story: “Characters were me and the rest of the humans on this planet. We were located in the valley somewhere. We were walking around at night, and then all of a sudden Google projected the stars in the sky, their names, their meaning, and other space calculations in the sky so that the planet could better understand math, science, and space. It was after dark, and the sky was glowing with information. We were feeling smart and in awe that something could project that far into the sky.” Photo courtesy of Dreame
A Dreame client in San Francisco asked Ursula Hart to illustrate this story: “Characters were me and the rest of the humans on this planet. We were located in the valley somewhere. We were walking around at night, and then all of a sudden Google projected the stars in the sky, their names, their meaning, and other space calculations in the sky so that the planet could better understand math, science, and space. It was after dark, and the sky was glowing with information. We were feeling smart and in awe that something could project that far into the sky.” Photo courtesy of Dreame

 Dreame boasts a network of 500 artists across 60 countries and empowers you, the art commissioner, to control the creative direction of your artwork by providing your artist with photos, videos, your Instagram account or simply a written description of your vision.

When it came to creating my Dreame, I wanted to tell the story of how my cunningly clever cat Jikiki followed me from the streets of Tel Aviv into my home and became my world. I already tell this story ad nauseam to anyone willing to listen. Now, I’d be able to show it through visual art.

I found the hardest part of the Dreame process was choosing among the many talented artists. After looking through dozens of portfolios, I decided to co-create with Michal Perlman-Sluk, an Israeli artist whose use of pencil sketching and muted colors gave me a sense of hominess and calm. Next, I simply shared a few photos of Jakiki and myself and told the story of how she entered my life.

“One night on my way home from the gym, I decided to feed a nearby colony of cats,” I wrote. “So, I bought a large bag of cat food, which they finished within minutes. Then, on my way back home, Jakiki suddenly appeared — like a fruit that fell from a tree.”

I continued to detail the story, submitted it on the Dreame platform and, within 10 days, I received an email with the digital version of my artwork attached. I had never been more excited to open a JPG file.

The author used Dreame to co-create this work with artist Michal Perlman-Sluk. Photo: courtesy
The author used Dreame to co-create this work with artist Michal Perlman-Sluk. Photo: courtesy

What I saw delighted me: A playful illustration of Jakiki and me hanging out in a tree — perhaps the same one I said she “fell from.” I was blown away by my artist’s interpretation and the idea that I had commissioned a piece of art.

“The commissioning of art has existed since the 10th century, as far back as I can see evidence, and that was exclusively for rich people and was usually a portrait,” explains Kari Cohen. “But Dreame democratizes the commissioning process by making it affordable to anyone.”

 A Dreame client in London asked Tel Aviv artist Eitan Marks to illustrate this story: “A guy is leaving work en-route to see his sick father in hospital when his car is stolen with his wallet & phone. He doesn’t make it to the hospital and his father dies. He writes a letter to the local newspaper to the thief stating “you stole my last goodbye.” Photo courtesy of Dreame
A Dreame client in London asked Tel Aviv artist Eitan Marks to illustrate this story: “A guy is leaving work en-route to see his sick father in hospital when his car is stolen with his wallet & phone. He doesn’t make it to the hospital and his father dies. He writes a letter to the local newspaper to the thief stating “you stole my last goodbye.” Photo courtesy of Dreame

The cost of commissioning the digital artwork itself ranges from $20 to $250 depending on the artists’ experience and time they invest in the piece. Commissioners can also choose to reproduce their Dreame artwork on a range of products such as phone covers, bedding, yoga mats and more, costing between $25 and $150.

As for the business model, Dreame takes varied commissions from the product manufacturers and a fixed 20 percent commission from the artists’ earnings. The company employs two, has already raised $200,000, and is now in the process of raising a further $2 million. It is already profitable, according to Cohen.

Competitors are slim in the field. Cohen mentions Prisma, a mobile app that turns photographs into art, but adds that it’s limited to photographs only, and does not have the same commissioning process.  Rather than working with individual artists, it uses artificial intelligence to turn photos into ‘art’.

Toronto artist Irina Golina-Sagatelian made this for a Tel Aviv client. Photo courtesy of Dreame
Toronto artist Irina Golina-Sagatelian made this for a Tel Aviv client. Photo courtesy of Dreame

To visualize the future of Dreame, Karni Cohen commissioned her 2016 goals into a piece of artwork that she had printed on her phone case.

“Five years from now, we want to expand beyond art,” Karni Cohen says. “We want you to commission music and jewelry and fashion and any goods you can dream up. The idea is that you can be involved in creating something so you can say, ‘This is mine, here’s my name on the label; I co-created this.’”

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