Encinitas couple launches art company

Paintru founder JD Kadeem immortalized his dog Mr. Hudson in one of his company's works.
(Courtesy )

Inspired by the art scene in downtown Pensacola, Florida, J.D. Kameen felt inspired to take on the business model in the art world that often prices high quality works outside the price range of many would-be aficionados.

Now residents of Encinitas, Kameen and his wife, Liza, were part of a team that launched Paintru, which allows customers to submit their own images that artists take and convert into custom art with oil, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic or color pencil.

Prices range from $179 to $679, depending on factors such as medium, size and framing. In the first month, he said the company has reached nearly $9,000 in sales from about 30 orders.

After moving from Pensacola, where Kameen, a U.S. Marine, was stationed for nearly three years, he and Liza began exploring the art world in Encinitas and downtown San Diego. For the last year and a half, he’s been based in Camp Pendleton, and currently serves as a communications and strategy officer.

In addition to providing custom artwork, Paintru also features the work of artists from all over the world on its social media, providing an alternative for artists to the traditional and expensive process of finding or renting a venue to display their work. Kameen said he sees long-term potential in that strategy.

“If we can showcase these people’s work, we can bring art into the 21st century,” he said.

Artists can submit their works to the Paintru Instagram, which has been active for more than three years and is now approaching 500,000 followers. It’s been a large part of the company’s expanding reach, and displays the works of artists from countries including France, Russia, Iran and throughout the U.S. A little more than half of the account’s audience is from the U.S., leaving a sizable international viewership.

Kameen, who has no business or art experience, said his passion for social media has been one of his favorite parts of the business.

“I love social media, I’m obsessed with it,” he said. “I love stuff like this where you can reach a large amount of people.”

The company’s long-term goals include continuing to partner with artists around the world and setting up an international marketplace that helps more artists attain a higher level of exposure and makes their work accessible and affordable to a wider audience.

“It’s really exciting because no one else is doing something like this, and Encinitas is the perfect place to start,” he said.

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