Now, Lisa is channelling her passion for the arts into TheUpsideSpace, which officially launched in December last year.
TheUpsideSpace features artistic expressions from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East on its curator-led digital art platform. It was launched on 8th December 2022. The platform aims to create a new ecosystem for art through which artists can bring their work to a global arena.
Born to a Bengali father and a Polish mother, Lisa Ray, the Co-founder of TheUpsideSpace, believes that all of her experiences – the good, the bad, the challenging and the triumphant, helped build who she is today. The key to living your best life is to understand, accept and embody who you are and remove any residual shame which is a result of conditioning and societal perceptions.
“Getting diagnosed with cancer was the greatest way of activating your purpose in life,” she said. It allowed all the unnecessary scaffolding in life to fall away and brought in a lot more clarity and alignment to the purpose Lisa’s purpose.
The courage to start TheUpsideSpace
Lisa has seen both the digital and pre-digital worlds. She uses this knowledge in her venture and considers it advantageous. Even though she is not a tech expert, Lisa believes that she and Ayesha Khan, the Co-founder TheUpsideSpace are great art tech founders because they are from the bridge generation between two eras. “We are able to step back from the tech and understand our purpose in what we are doing. We are not chasing the tech, we are enabling it. We are allowing the tech to enable us and achieve our particular mission and the purpose behind TheUpsideSpace.”
“I have a great clarity in what I want to put out to the world, and TheUpsideSpace is a manifestation of both myself and Ayesha’s vision.” TheUpsideSpace is a way of addressing the pre-existing issues in the art ecosystem and a way to bring to reality the duo’s dream to build a new art ecosystem. “Within this diagram, the tech becomes the enabler, not, the hero of the story,” she added.
Inspiration in Life
It was not a particular individual that inspired and motivated the entrepreneur. During her most darkest and challenging periods, it was the meditation and therapies which she followed throughout her life that helped her. She said: “Rather than an individual, I would say that these great traditions are what supported me and what I turned to during difficult times.”
She added to it by saying: “What I also turn to in my darkest moments is creative arts.” Lisa, who has been a collector for many years, believes that art’s ability which helped her in her darkest moments is exactly the reason why it is fundamental to human existence. She believes that “All forms of human expression are a way of cutting through our differences and bringing us back to the core of what is important.”
The birth of TheUpsideSpace
The UpsideSpace came out of the desire to see the untapped geographies in a global platform where artists can earn an income through an extension of pre-existing art practice. The platform tries to dissolve the geography and give the population easy access to art.
The journey started when Lisa and Ayesha discovered their mutual passion for art. The latter came up with the idea to use technology to bring the duo’s ideas to life. The vision was to connect the diaspora to the art of their homeland, in a meaningful way and help them discover the contemporary art practices in their country.
Apart from presenting and selling art while ensuring artists are supported, a core value of UpsideSpace is to educate. The founders are aware of the need to help people navigate the world of NFT art and understand its true value. “I think as pioneers of this space, we are very cognizant that there is a responsibility on our shoulders to build a very equitable ecosystem, to build trust, to build confidence in an audience and to be very stringently aligned with good values and good business propositions.”
The name TheUpsideSpace is inspired by the quote ‘I’ll see you on the upside.’ Lisa believes that the word upside conveys nothing but positive connotations and that by creating a new art economy and addressing some of the inbuilt flaws in the art world as it is now, the platform is building an upside to that.
The creative process behind TheUpsideSpace
One of the needs of the NFT art space is curation, “We are taking some of what we feel are valuable practices in the traditional art world into a Web3 enterprise.” In a traditional gallery, the curator is a storyteller who creates a story and spotlights extraordinary artists who might otherwise go unnoticed. Therefore, curators are essential for the working of TheUpsideSpace.
The UpsideSpace team has a variety of curators. Lisa very proudly shared how they spotlighted South-East Asian and South Asian art in the Middle East. “These are the regions we are from, that we believe in, that have so much to contribute to global art conversation, but are largely overlooked instead.” “We do not need validation, but at the same time we have to help ourselves, and that is part of our mission.”
Working behind TheUpsideSpace is a group of people who are very passionate towards art and creating a space for artists. “We care about each and every person in our ecosystem. Putting their best foot forward, and very thoughtfully and mindfully creating something unique and elevated and something that collector can cherish and would leave a real impact in this journey of creating a new ecosystem.”
The senior artists who have joined the platform are Seema Kholi, an experimental multi-disciplinary artist, along with Ranbir Kaleka, a renowned artist whose work has increasingly animated two-dimensional canvases within experimental film narrative sequences and Waswo X. Waswo, who is known for two decades of collaborative art-making with Indian artists.
Lisa said: “We as a platform are grateful for them joining us. In joining us, they help emerging artists as well. All of our artists our incredible, and there are so many great stories. That is what we are. We are also a storytelling platform that connects people to their stories.”
A message to women
In answer to how to stop second-guessing, Lisa said: “You have to get to know yourself” She added,
“When something is a calling when it is a passion, it will keep coming back. You have to put one foot in front of the other, and start walking that path.”
Her advice is to remember that we are not in control of most things and things might go out of the plan, but they might open something unique. Lisa highly recommends meditation practices to control and limit their thoughts. She concludes by saying: “Just do it. Just build something beautiful and worthwhile that makes your heart sing. Go for it, fail fast and succeed in the long term.”