At the center of every great brand, there must be art.
If a brand seeks to participate in culture and be endeared to an audience, it has to meet culture where it is today. An association with creativity used to be a nice to have, an occasional indulgence … but now, due to the speed of and access to information, not only have our collective taste levels elevated, but we’re also more adept at finding heuristics that help us separate the signal from the noise.
Art is the most potent mechanism that helps us communicate the complexity of being human, and it’s now become imperative to recognize that, if a brand has any hope of getting through to us.
It’s no longer enough just to inform, or just to strike an emotional chord — brands must truly be patrons of art and advocates for creativity.
And it starts with art.
Art serves to stimulate thought, shift perspectives, analyze, explain, and evoke emotions. It stands as a uniquely human experience, functioning as the primary medium for reflecting, transmitting, shaping, and commenting on culture.
Art is the most quantifiable way that we define culture.
And since we’ve moved beyond logical, need-based collective consciousness, and — seemingly as an analogue — many have moved past traditional advertising, it’s clear that the way for brands to inject themselves into culture today is through the work of and identification with artists. First through referencing, then commissioning, and — as of the past decade — collaborating full-scale with artists.
As the lines between art and traditional commerce blur, ‘artist collaborations’ have become the weapon of choice for brands, but it appears as though some brands are going further, inching closer to granting artists greater creative control.
Notable examples* of this phenomena* are already being implemented. Artists moving further upstream in the creative process enables them to do more than merely execute; they infuse each step with heightened creativity and intention.
Artists and creators in today’s world have a unique superpower, invaluable to brands: the ability to bridge the gap between high and low culture, fashion, music, and commerce. This cross-pollination, inherent to the way modern artists move is what helps brands transform their commerce into culture.
Art has always been inextricably linked to commerce and has informed and shaped culture. As the movement of culture accelerates, the power seems to be swinging further in the right direction — that is, into the hands of the creators, thinkers, and instigators. By moving artists further upstream in their process, brands can infuse thoughtfulness and humanity into every touchpoint, authentically and deeply ingraining themselves in culture.
Artwork by Nicholas Law.