In today’s digital landscape, the demand for engaging, quality content is palpable. Channels like Instagram and YouTube are home to an abundance of creatives showcasing their work, often to very sizeable audiences.
For brands, the opportunity to collaborate with these artists is an attractive one—and a relationship best entered into with careful consideration. For both parties, authenticity and a sense of purpose is key for building and maintaining trust with an audience, so having a shared set of values and keeping an open mind is a good place to start.
Georgia Hill, an illustrator and muralist from Sydney, has worked with global heavyweights including Nike, Google, and Adidas. She describes her approach to collaboration as working “consciously” with brands.
“A brand has its own goal—a product to sell or something they want to talk about,” Hill told CMO.com. “In every collaboration you are going to give up a portion of control … but the results can still be really incredible.”
BMW: Supporting Artists Since 1975
The BMW Car Art Project is one of the most successful and longest-enduring partnerships between brands and creatives. Running for more than 40 years, the project is a collection of 19 cars, each featuring a unique design created by a different artist. In the latest installment, BMW collaborated with a Chinese artist for the first time—Caro Fei, who specialises in multimedia art.
Broadly speaking, Fei’s work is a reflection on the speed of change in China, on tradition and future. It’s an ethos that resonates with BMW and the brand’s direction, particularly in the technological evolution of its vehicles.
The collaboration also marked the first-ever digital BMW artwork. It involved a video displaying a time-travelling spiritual practitioner and colored light particles above the BMW M6 GT3 black race car that were created using augmented reality.
“We are not only active in shaping the future of mobility, but also in developing strong social connections with China through cultural engagement initiatives,” said Olaf Kastner, president and CEO of BMW Group, China, in a statement. “China is undergoing huge and rapid developments, especially in the digital landscape. The 18th BMW Art Car pays tribute to the flourishing changes in the Chinese society.”
Art Of The Brand
In a different kind of collaboration, luxury brands have joined forces with art galleries to create exhibitions showcasing different pieces of art that are either fashion items, such as handbags with artistic designs, or artwork that was inspired by the brand, including installations, drawing, and pictures.
For example, in 2016 luxury brand Bottega Veneta hosted an exhibition called “Art of Collaboration” at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), in Beijing. The exhibit featured photographs of different items from the brand’s collections over the years.
Having brand-sponsored exhibitions has helped brands such as Bottega Veneta reach new customer demographics that they could not engage through retail alone.
“[They] work best when there is a true connection between the exhibition and the brand’s history, values, and marketing strategy,” said UCCA director Phil Tinari, in an interview with Jing Daily. “If these things are aligned, it becomes possible to find very interesting ways of working together that, rather than dilute the exhibition content, allow us to share it with a larger audience than we might simply working on our own.”
Room To Grow
When immersive artist Estella Tse was hired by Adobe as an artist researcher in residence, it was a mutually beneficial relationship that gave both parties the opportunity to experiment, explore, and evolve their creativity–particularly with regard to augmented reality as a creative form. (CMO.com is owned by Adobe)
An immersive artist, Tse embodies the concept of innovation, one of Adobe’s core values, with both parties looking to break boundaries in their work through technology.
“I like the ways that I do the work that I do, so I think about what exists and what I can do if I follow the rules within what exists,” she told CMO.com. “But then I go a little bit further. What if we expand it and take it out of what’s comfortable and do something beyond that?”
During her residency with Adobe, Tse created a work for the Festival of the Impossible, held at San Francisco’s Minnesota Street Project galleries. The installation, with its white walls decorated in blue writing and symbols, appeared quite simple to the naked eye, but it was brought to life when viewed through an iPad equipped with AR technology. Then viewers were able to see an augmented red and yellow phoenix rising to interrupt the peace of the room.
As for advice for other creatives, Tse said to bear in mind that organisations don’t always know exactly what they want to create when they begin working with an artist, but they usually have a value in mind. The process of teasing out that objective requires some emotional investment.
“It’s kind of like making a film. They might say, ‘I have a story. I want you to create a feeling. Then I pull from that a little bit more,” she explained. “I think about all the different experiences and emotions I’ve gone through, and I put a little piece of myself in there within that process.”