Muse: An Uplifting Platform For Student Artists


Sophomores and co-founders of Muse, Anki Suri and Avery Brundige, saw a lack of recognition for the talent and creativity of student artwork on campus outside of Little Hall. They noticed few options for student artists and creatives to access a local art market consisting of Village of Hamilton residents and Colgate students . So, as Brundige explains, she and Suri sought to give these students a jumping-off point to showcase their variety of skills and build a network with a student-run online marketplace. 

“We really wanted to help budding artists get their foot in the door and start building a network for their creative endeavors starting here at Colgate,” Brundige explains.

Muse has already been operating through word of mouth to organize commissions for work such as t-shirt designs for other student organizations as they continue to add premade student art pieces to their website. Their website features various student artists and their portfolios. 

To work with Muse, students fill out an artist submission form with details for their art profile and a bio so that potential clients can browse through website profiles to gain an understanding of the different artistic or craftsmanship styles. Then, clients can submit a request for a commission or purchase of a premade piece. The request is sent to the Muse team which passes the request along to the artist. Suri emphasizes that an important part of the process is that it is centered around the artist. The artist prices their work, decides if they want to work on a project with a client and the project design is done to fit their needs and timeline. If the artist and client agree on the terms of a commissioned piece, the client would pay Muse which would in turn pay the artist. Muse functions as an “artist matchmaking network,” a phrase coined by Suri. 

Muse seeks to benefit both student artists in addition to the greater Colgate community. Muse gives students hands-on experience in creating commissions, accessing opportunities in the art marketplace, and building a network of other community artists. Through these components, Muse serves as an uplifting project, as described by Suri. 

“[Muse] is a platform that uplifts work in a way that isn’t like getting an A in your studio art class. It uplifts student art voices outside of the classroom.”

Both Brundige and Suri have experience with graphic design and digital art, skills that have helped them found Muse and that they have been able to showcase through the Muse platform and collaborations it inspires. 

The local aspect of Muse that eliminates shipping fees as well as its accessibility to the community sets it apart from other major online platforms that student organizations would otherwise use for artistic resources like t-shirt designs. These advantages of Muse, in addition to the support it provides for student artists and creatives, make it an incredibly unique Thought Into Action (TIA) venture. 

The TIA Incubator has been an invaluable resource for the Muse team in launching the organization. As an official TIA venture, the Muse team attends monthly workshops with alumni mentors in the finance and business field that have experience with entrepreneurship. Following the initial large group masterclass, each venture breaks off into small groups with their personal mentors. Muse’s mentor is Colgate alumni Yuni Sameshima, who graduated in 2013. Sameshima was a part of one of the first cohorts of the TIA Incubator and has continued his Colgate venture, Chicory, after graduation where it has become a very successful company. As Suri expresses, the TIA Incubator helped make Muse a reality while serving as a priceless resource for Suri’s future career. 

“I really feel like everyone should take advantage of this opportunity…the mentorship and lessons I have learned about running a business and also the resiliency I have learned about knowing your worth as someone capable of starting something not just on campus but in every community…makes me so grateful for the opportunity to work with the TIA incubator.”

Muse has expanded their team recently to include sophomore Danielle Silverman and first-year Jaeryung Park. Muse also hopes to expand to a physical marketplace and gallery in the future in the town of Hamilton, ideally in the Hub, which is located on Utica Street. Brundige provides insight into the positive response Muse has already received as a new organization:

“We are definitely in the beginning stages, but we’ve already had some amazing feedback from artists and clients. I think people have been receptive to Muse because the overall goal is just to build a creative network within Colgate.” 

Sophomore artist Leia Francis attests to Brundige’s statement about the wonderful feedback Muse has gotten from student artists. 

“I’m so grateful to be a part of Muse because it is a completely unique opportunity to connect with other artists and share my art with the Colgate community. Being surrounded by such creative and talented people inspires me to try new things with my art and makes me feel so supported.” 

Muse is young, but it looks to make an impact on the Colgate arts community. With exciting things in store, Muse looks to continue its mission of uplifting, connecting, and supporting the creativity and talent of student artists.