In today’s competitive market, businesses and organizations constantly seek innovative ways to stand out, lure new audiences, and leave a lasting impression on their customers — and one powerful way to do this is through custom art.
Custom art is much more than just a pretty picture. It offers a way to infuse creativity, uniqueness, and exclusivity into commercial spaces like retail stores, hotels, offices, residences, and more. It’s also an instrumental tool businesses can use to amplify their brand, establish a distinctive visual identity, foster an inviting atmosphere, and cultivate a sense of belonging among employees and customers.
With so much to gain, there are best practices to ensure custom art gives your brand the most benefit. Read on to discover what custom art can do for you, including examples of how successful businesses have deployed this essential tool and how you can get started on commissioning the piece you’ve been dreaming of.
What is Custom Art?
Custom art refers to artwork specifically created or tailored to suit a specific space, brand, or vision. Unlike mass-produced art, custom art offers a personalized expression that aligns with the client’s objectives and needs. It also allows clients to collaborate in the creative process, working closely with the artist to bring their vision to life.
Whether it’s an original painting, sculpture, mural, or installation, the finished work reflects the client’s aesthetic preferences and the artist’s creativity, resulting in a piece that encapsulates the spirit of the business.
The Power of Custom Art in Commercial Spaces
From keeping customers (and employees!) positively engaged to telling brand stories that go far beyond words, custom art offers myriad benefits to businesses and organizations like:
- An opportunity to create memorable experiences: In this era of online shopping and digital services, brick-and-mortar stores must do more to provide customers with an immersive and unique experience. Custom art offers distinctive visual experiences that engage customers and stimulate their senses. By integrating bespoke artwork into retail spaces, businesses can create an ambiance that fosters emotional connections, encourages exploration, and makes customers linger.
- A more robust way to reflect brand identity: Every business has a unique mission, vision, and values. These must be effectively communicated to help brands stand out and be successful in a crowded marketplace. Custom art provides an unparalleled opportunity to express a brand’s story visually. By carefully selecting or commissioning artwork and artists who align with the brand’s values, commercial spaces create a cohesive narrative that resonates with customers on a deeper level. This integration enhances brand recognition, fosters loyalty, and creates a distinct identity in customers’ minds that will keep them returning.
- A clever way to foster creativity and innovation: Custom art plays a significant role in creating inspiring workspaces that stimulate imagination and boost productivity. By integrating artwork into offices, meeting rooms, and common areas, organizations can spark creativity, encourage collaboration, and create a welcoming environment. Investing in employee well-being is the right thing to do and boasts enormous business benefits.
- An opportunity to support local artists and community: By collaborating with artists, businesses contribute to the cultural fabric of their community and gain access to authentic and meaningful artwork — and that fosters stronger connections with customers.
How to commission custom art
Custom art can draw inspiration from various styles, themes, and mediums. As you can imagine, a high degree of customization is possible with custom art — but there are still best practices to ensure you get the most brand benefit.
Working with an artist on a custom art project involves collaboration, communication, and mutual understanding. The artist and client work together to define the vision, discuss concepts, provide feedback, and ensure that the final artwork meets the client’s expectations. Through this collaborative process, the artist’s creative expertise emerges with the client’s vision, resulting in a one-of-a-kind artwork that reflects the client’s unique identity while creating a distinct atmosphere in the designed space.
When it comes to finding artists for your custom art project, there are several avenues you can explore:
- Art Fairs and Exhibitions. These events showcase many artists and their work. They provide an opportunity to see various styles and meet artists in person.
- Art Galleries. Many artists collaborate with galleries to display their work. Gallery professionals can give you insights into the artists’ backgrounds and other projects they’ve undertaken.
- Online Platforms. Websites like Artrepreneur, Saatchi Art, and Behance feature a broad range of artists, including those who undertake commissioned works. Social media platforms like Instagram also host a vibrant community of artists.
- Art Schools and Universities. These institutions are hotbeds of talent. They often host exhibitions where you can see the work of students and recent graduates.
- Artist Residencies and Open Studios. These provide a glimpse into artists’ creative process and an opportunity to engage with them directly.
Working with Art Consultants
While ideal for some, the traditional approaches above may not be for everyone. Between the time-consuming nature of finding the right artist and having the knowledge to negotiate the project fairly, there’s admittedly a barrier to entry when it comes to commissioning work.
But as always, there are tools that you can lean on — and one option is to leave the custom art process to professional art consultants.
An art consultant can be an invaluable asset in your journey of commissioning artwork for your business. These professionals are well-versed in the art and have established relationships with diverse, trustworthy artists.
Art consultants offer several key benefits:
- Expert Guidance: They provide expert advice on selecting the right artist, navigating the commission process, and ensuring that the final work aligns with your brand’s narrative and aesthetic.
- Broad Network: Art consultants have connections to various artists across different styles and mediums. They can introduce you to artists who may not be on your radar but are ideally suited for your project.
- Budget Management: They can help you establish and manage your budget, ensuring you get the most value from your investment.
- Logistical Support: Art consultants can handle the logistics of the commission process, from contract negotiation to installation, allowing you to focus on your business.
Remember, while an art consultant can significantly streamline the process, choosing one who understands your vision and has experience in corporate art commissions is essential.
Prepping for your Custom Art Project
Whether working directly with artists or through a consultant, there are a few things that you should consider before you start the process:
Communicating your brand.
Before commissioning custom art, businesses must communicate to the artist or art consultant their brand values, mission, vision, and what sets them apart from competitors. Understanding the target audience is also crucial: art should appeal to the customers or clients interacting with the space.
An excellent way to communicate your brand’s identity is to create a brief that the artist or consultant can reference. It should include details about what you want, like colors, size, and style, but also communicate your desired abstract and emotional qualities. What feelings or reactions do you want? What aspects of your brand do you want? A brief helps artists to understand your needs, so the more detailed it is, the better.
You should also provide brand materials like logos, color palettes, typography, and any existing guidelines, which can help the artist to understand your brand’s aesthetic and visual identity. Sharing examples of past marketing campaigns, your website design, and even your product design can provide further insight.
Consider the Physical Space
What are the architectural elements of the space, and what types of artwork might work best? If you go the art consultant route, they can help determine this, but you should still have some ideas before starting your discussions.
Large-scale murals or sculptures can make a bold statement in a spacious lobby or outdoor area, while a series of more minor works might be better suited for hallways or meeting rooms. The chosen artwork should enhance the atmosphere you want to create, whether calm, relaxing, vibrant, energetic, or sophisticated and luxurious.
Your brand identity will also impact this decision. A tech startup may want to use modern or abstract art that reflects its forward-thinking and innovative ethos. On the other hand, a business that prides itself on its heritage and traditions might prefer more classical or realist artworks.
The use of color also plays a significant role in setting the mood and tone of your space. Vibrant, bold colors can invigorate and stimulate creativity, making them an excellent choice for brainstorming rooms. In contrast, neutral or cool colors can be calming, making them suitable for healthcare facilities or spas.
Establishing a budget
Budgeting is a crucial part of the planning process. The budget will depend on various factors such as the size, medium, and complexity of the artwork, the reputation and experience of the artist, and the materials and time required to complete the project.
Establishing a budget is also dramatically different depending on whether you use an art consultant or work directly with the artist.
Direct Artist Commission
When working directly with the artist, it’ll be up to you to research art costs for the type of work you’re interested in. The medium (sculpture, mural, painting, etc.), size, and complexity will significantly influence the cost. Larger or more intricate pieces generally demand higher prices, as well.
You’ll also need to consider framing, transportation, installation, insurance, or any potential future restoration or maintenance. Prices are also influenced by factors like the artist’s reputation, experience, and the complexity and size of the commission.
Art Consultant Commission
On the other hand, art consultants can guide you through the entire budgeting process by leveraging their market knowledge, expertise, and network of artists. They can develop a budget, negotiate contracts and costs, manage the project, and handle logistics like delivery and installation.
On the bright side, art consultants can significantly reduce the time and effort when determining the budget. However, that extra freedom comes with additional costs.
Remember that while the budget is essential, the artwork’s value to your business is paramount. The right custom art piece can enhance your brand image, improve customer perception, and boost employee productivity and satisfaction. Therefore, consider the immediate financial outlay, potential long-term benefits, and ROI.
Ultimately, whether you work directly with an artist or hire an art consultant depends on your specific needs, budget, and the time you are willing to dedicate to the process. Both paths can lead to a successful outcome — a piece of custom art that powerfully embodies your brand’s unique identity.
Success Stories of Custom Art for Businesses
A tangible example of the impact of custom art can be seen in the collaboration between ATP.art, a division of Artrepreneur, and Neiman Marcus, who has commissioned work for 32 of their retail stores. This initiative, a part of their “Leading with Love” campaign, leveraged the talents of local artists to create bespoke murals that reflect the stories and identities of Nieman Marcus customers, providing a welcoming environment for various audiences.
For instance, Tony Whlgn, a Michigan-based artist, created a 700-square-foot mural for the Neiman Marcus store in Troy, Michigan. Renee Janovsky, Market General Manager, Neiman Marcus Troy & St. Louis, commented on the project:
“The motifs in Tony’s work and the colors he utilizes evoke a joyful feeling similar to those we strive to provide our customers each time they step into our store. His vision for this exclusive mural illustrates our mission of ‘Leading with Love’ as it tells the story of two people falling in love and connecting with one another. At Neiman Marcus, we lead with love through the relationships we develop with our associates, customers, and communities alike.”
Whlgn also loved the project:
“Leading with love allows me to show up in this world as my full self, which means I do what I love and love what I do. Being from Detroit, the Motor City, is a major component in keeping my drive to innovate as a person and an artist. This piece is an example of how letting love lead will always result in progressive connection – to yourself, your community, or even a new love.”
In the Neiman Marcus St. Louis Store, Nicaraguan-American artist Quinn Antonio Briceño rendered “Todos Somos St. Louis,” a larger-than-life homage to the city’s multiculturalism, natural beauty, and music culture replete with cotton candy skies, dogwood trees, and a brass band.
For Briceño, the opportunity to complete the mural allowed him to celebrate the passion and pride he feels for his community:
“Like many people who are from bi-cultural families, I feel like I have a foot in both cultures, but don’t fully belong to either,” he said. “My art, in a way, is a method of exploring and celebrating the missing pieces of my identity as a Nicaraguan American. While I typically focus on my Nicaraguan side, this mural celebrates my American side – particularly the St. Louis side.”
These examples illustrate the transformative power of custom art, showcasing how businesses can leverage it to create an immersive, engaging experience for their customers, establish a distinctive brand identity, and support the local arts community.
Custom art allows businesses to go beyond generic and mass-produced decorations by supporting working artists while allowing clients to showcase their individuality, creativity, and brand personality. Whether it’s an eye-catching mural in a retail store or a thought-provoking sculpture in a hotel lobby, custom art adds an element of exclusivity, enhances the ambiance, and contributes to a memorable and immersive experience for customers, guests, and employees.