I'm always striving to bring creators front and center in this column. I want originators to have the platform that advertising has owned. I want creators, designers, and inventors to be the ones, not in the shadows, but in the showcase. And not only that, I want to highlight the founders who are bringing it, with new platforms that will help make this happen. Point in case: Absolut Art, and the source, CEO Nahema Mehta.
But First: A History Lesson on Vodka
Art is in Absolut's DNA. In 1986, Andy Warhol became enamored of the Swedish brand's apothecary-inspired bottle, declaring: "I love the design. I want to do something with it." Absolut asked the artist to design an image of the bottle; the resulting "Absolut Warhol" advertising campaign was a smashing success. The company asked Warhol to suggest other artists, resulting in a proud legacy and connection with art that most don't even know exists.
30-Years In the Making
Over the thirty years since then, some six hundred more artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Dr. Lakra, and Hank Willis Thomas, have all joined the Absolut family. Did I mention this is Absolut, as in Absolut vodka? Side note: Consumer testing on the specific shape and design of the Absolut bottle, before it released, came back so negative they thought none of the bottles would even sell.
One Source, Another Bragging Right
When I did a little more research into Absolut's mission and philosophy, I wasn't surprised to see that their vodka production is dedicated to quality and respecting the world they serve. Their 'One Source' philosophy means that every drop of water and every seed of wheat comes from one water source, one village and one community. No, this isn't an ad for Absolut. But it definitely is a bump for a business doing the right things when so many choose not to.
Bringing Art and Collecting Mainstream
Absolut Art is on a mission to make art as easy to consume as music. Mehta explained to me the issues and reasons behind why art isn't mainstream and easy to consume.
No access. For so many, a once-monthly art gallery opening is not a realistic buying plan. Not only that, how does the buyer know if that showing is the art they will connect with? Or if the artwork they fall in love with will be available, or how much it costs, or how the buying process works. No access, or minimized access also leads to the next barrier to entry, which is intimidation.
Intimidation. Something about art makes people uncomfortable, when it comes to collecting. The best clothes, the best furniture, but there was a mystery around art, a language they felt they didn't know, and these confident, cultured people seemed to be on unsteady ground.
Removing the uncertainty. That lack of certainty prevents art lovers from actually making the buy, which is where we really see art fall off the radar.
When Was the Last Time You Took Artwork Home?
When was the last time you saw a piece, loved it so much, knew how to purchase it, and took it home? Most people are introduced to an artist or an "art world" and that is how they buy, or learn the process. This kind of obscure process is what they are attempting to correct, a mission I can really stand behind. Having a mother who is a fine artist, and being in design myself, allows me a backdoor view of this process for plenty of artists, and it certainly is ripe for innovation.
Perks Absolut Art Currently Offers
After reviewing their service, I wanted to point out a few of the perks I noticed, as opposed to more old school styles of purchasing art. These perks are important because, ultimately, it helps connect more artists and creators to more consumers, something you know I am passionate about.
Purchases ship out within 48-hours of ordering.
If for any reason you don't love your purchase, you can return it, free of charge.
They are dedicated to the artists. They share the profits with the artists, 50-50.
They avoid plastic packaging, opting for recyclable cardboard instead.
Last but not least, your artwork will arrive housed in a German-designed, UV-protected, museum-quality frame, handpicked by the artists and the curators. Bonus: the frames are magnetic, which means you can change things up.
Collapsing Artistic Borders
The separation we see between artists and consumers has undoubtedly lent to the "starving artist" persona that's become so popular. It shouldn't be so difficult to find art you love and hang it in your home... and thanks to Mehta and Absolut Art, that's finally changing. As she so wisely points out, 2019 is a year for more intention, and to purposefully invest in things we care about.