Businesses are finally realising the power of setting creative talent free to ultimately achieve the best marketing results. Gemma O’Brien is a major player. The artist and designer, who specialises in lettering, illustration, and typography, is helping to bridge the gap between the corporate and creative worlds, splitting her time between advertising commissions, gallery shows, speaking engagements, and hosting workshops around globe.
CMO.com recently spoke to O’Brien in the lead-up to Adobe Symposium 2016, in Sydney on July 26. (Click here to register for the event.)
CMO.com: What will be the theme of your Symposium presentation?
O’Brien: I will tell the story of my path to becoming a typographic artist in the digital age and discuss the themes of creativity and marketing: how to balance the authenticity of craft with the needs of commercial brand partnerships.
CMO.com: Why is this theme relevant to marketers now?
O’Brien: It’s impossible to ignore technology and the rise of digital. We’re more connected than ever before, and you can share your story, brand, or idea with a wide audience in limitless ways. However, technology needs culture to be truly effective. The biggest challenge for marketers is to find ways to fuse technology with people to create meaningful experiences.
CMO.com: How has digital technology affected your business?
O’Brien: As an artist and designer, I spend most of my time in my studio in solitude. However, I do have producers and agents, from the Jacky Winter Group in Australia and Levine/Leavitt in the Americas, who manage a lot of the business side of my projects, such as budgets, timelines, and legal contracts.
The traditional role of the commercial agent and illustrator is changing, and this is something I will talk about at Symposium. So much of an illustrator’s, artist’s, or designer’s work is changing. You’re not just creating a piece of finished art anymore. You also have the opportunity to become a brand influencer, generate social content, and incorporate the “behind-the-scenes” process into the final deliverables.
Artists, themselves, have become brands, and the ways you can shape a marketing brand story are quite different to those of big business.
CMO.com: How does your approach to art offer significant opportunities for marketers?
O’Brien: My work allows businesses to view their marketing approach in a different way. Over the past four years, I have noticed my social audience grow and want to connect with my story and personal development as an artist and designer.
Brands have reached out to collaborate based on experiments or personal projects that start small, then take on a life of their own after being shared on social media. We are living in a time where audiences really know when they are being advertised to, so the challenge is to find ways to make content genuinely interesting or meaningful for them.
One serious challenge is the speed at which things are changing. Different platforms come and go so fast; it’s more important than ever to ensure your product or service is the real deal.
CMO.com: How can marketers stay ahead of the rapidly changing digital business landscape?
O’Brien: The best way is to be nimble and adaptable and to focus on ensuring that your product is the best it can be.
CMO.com: What’s your greatest challenge in this digital age?
O’Brien: For me, personally, the biggest challenge is maintaining the mystery, vision, and integrity of an artist while being business-savvy enough to have the adaptability, drive, and foresight needed to create meaningful content and experiences for the commercial market.