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Art and Advertising

Art and advertising tend to be seen as opposites, with the former being free, full of expression and completely separate from the commercial world, whereas the latter is seen as anything but. Surprisingly, however, the two can often become intrinsically linked with many artists embracing the tactics and mass media of advertising and advertisers employing art world strategies as well as the skills of artists themselves.

A pioneer in the field of closing the gap between art and commerce was pop artist Andy Warhol. Right at the beginning of his career Warhol created print advertising for clients and later on starred in TV adverts for TDK videocassettes in Japan.

He was one of the first to recognise the increased importance of branding and the growing cult of celebrity, choosing to explore relationships between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertising in his now famous screen prints and videos.

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The surrealist artist Salvador Dali was also very aware of the power of advertising and often used it to promote himself and his work. During the 60’s and 70’s he took part in several TV commercials to promote a variety of products from cars, and airline companies to medicines, chocolate or liquors. He worked for brands such as Braniff International, Iberia, Nissan, Chocolat Lanvin, Alka Seltzer, Osborne and in 1969 even designed the now famous logo for Spanish confectioners, Chupa Chups.

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As time goes on, artists continue to build on the relationship between art and advertising. From Gilbert and George being commissioned as the first artists to design Becks beer bottles in 1987, to Damien Hirst collaborating with skateboard brand Supreme in 2009.

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Apart from this type of collaboration between artist and brands, advertising has for a long time harvested and repurposed pieces from the art world in branded campaigns – from Da Vinci being used to sell Pizza to Magritte being used to sell blenders.

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Art may not always be advertising and advertising never truly art, but the lines between the two are often blurred with neither needing to be mutually exclusive. Both artists and advertisers are people interested in culture and the world they live in – reflecting these experiences in their creations.