How Artists Are Redefining the Brand Collaboration Game

Photo: Andras Szanto

Photo: Andras Szanto

On October 26, Culture™ was honored to host a special panel discussion and workshop at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in NYC. Nearly 200 festival attendees participated in our sold-out sessions, and heard candid insights from artist Shantell Martin, NEW INC director Julia Kaganskiy, and WeTransfer president Damian Bradfield. Full video documentation will be available soon.

1 - Shantell Martin spoke passionately about the boxes artists are often restricted by, and a lack of resources for independent creatives to learn business tactics and entrepreneurship. “As much space as we give artists, we are also really good at putting them in boxes, limiting their ability to work with a vast range of mediums and concepts... A lot of the reason that we do not see artists as business people and a lot of the reason we do not equip them to succeed is that we still have this very romanticized view of an artist.”

2 - When asked how WeTransfer measures the success of its artist collaborations, Damian Bradfield said that as a data-driven company, metrics are important - and that the company is always thrilled when traffic from WeTransfer users crashes the site of a featured artist. “We measure uploads, downloads, time on site, as does everyone. But our key indicator of success is trust. How likely are people to recommend us to a friend?”

3 - Julia Kaganskiy described how NEW INC artists in residence are real problem-solvers proposing game changing apps and business proposals that push beyond the traditional expectations placed on visual artists. On the emergence of the creative entrepreneur, “People have a hard time categorizing these folks. They’re working in ways that might be commercial on one hand but also have a side of their practice which is noncommercial and focused on R&D, critical inquiry, and exploration.”

4 - In a hands-on workshop, groups from diverse backgrounds modeled a hypothetical brand-artist collaboration and took on the roles of the brand, the artist, and the public. Shared findings include: a brand’s long-range commitment to cultural projects was crucial, and the public is increasingly skeptical of collaborations that feel “repetitive, skin-deep, or spectacle driven”.