We have the brand we are, the brands we love and of course there are those brands that no matter what they do will always face some kind push back due to their history or current business practices.
But as we look back through history there are those artists who seemed ahead of the curve in building their own brand. They defined a clear vision and style that would forever mark them down for greatness as they now grace the walls of museums or are licensed over and over again by various products and brands looking to harness the equity from the art as well as the artists profile.
Picasso once said “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
Every creative has influences that have sparked a passion or had that soul-like connection when seeing a catalogue of work from someone, whether that is in a museum or on a creative platform like Behance. Something just resonates and you are lost in the craft, skill and beauty of that person’s work. It drives us forward to create better things and that competitive spirit in the world of art is no different to any other creative industry. But the world has not always been so connected and our ability to see different ideas was limited to how far we could travel.
So looking back at the great artists I often ask myself whether they were just creating a signature style that came from raw talent or did they truly understand the world of branding before the term was coined?
Like any great brand you do not need to see the logo on the packaging or advertising campaign to know which brand it belongs to. So strong is the entire brand voice that you instinctively know which brand you are experiencing.
So when looking at artists throughout history you can clearly see from a small detail of the painting which artist created it. We don’t need to see the signature to know who the creator was on each piece. So if you were to define artists in brand terms that we use today how would you describe them? I asked some of the art historians in Bridgeman Images to define each artist’s work in a few words that encapsulated their work and here are the results:
Paul Klee: vivid colours (polychromatic), childlike trait, and expressionist, experimental, highly aesthetic
Botticelli: Delicate, Detailed, Ethereal, Fantastical, Serene.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti: beauty, sensuality, medieval revivalism and mythological subject.
Egon Schiele: Erotic, Ruthless, Expressive, Contradictory, Provocative, poetic.
Caravaggio: unflinching realism, raw emotion, unmistakable chiaroscuro; led a bad boy lifestyle which gained him rockstar notoriety.
Michelangelo: Classical, Statuesque, Solid, Focused on the human form, Intense muscularity.
Lucian Freud: Visceral use of paint and brush stroke, Unsettling gaze of the sitter, Uncomfortable voyeurism, Gets under the skin, Honest portrayal of beauty in the human form.
When it comes to crafting an artistic logo, few could compete with Dürer who seemed to be ahead of his time in building in a graphic awareness for his signature logo in every piece of his work. Anyone who has crafted any artwork for a brand will see the thought the artist has put into the placement on every piece.
So with this in mind which artist could you define in five words or which ones are the artists that influenced you in your career?
By Alan Firmin, Chief Marketing Officer, Bridgeman Images