‘Art’ is an evocative, emotive, subjective word. Debates have raged for centuries about what deserves to be called that: it may be up to the beholder to define beauty, but art doesn’t have to be beautiful. It must stimulate an emotional response; make you feel something.
The boundaries between art and design are likewise open to some interpretation. In many cases, it’s simplistic to pigeonhole the former as raw, individualist creative expression and the latter as a rational, problem-solving response to a commercial brief. The lines can blur.
Over the past decade, a raft of new domains became available to creative individuals and businesses as industry-specific alternatives to over-saturated ‘old domain’ staples such as .com and .org. These include .studio, .agency, .music – and as of 2017, .art.
“I believe that, as artists, we don’t put ourselves in boxes – others do,” explains Shantell Martin, who describes herself on her website ShantellMartin.art as a visual artist, intuitive philosopher, cultural facilitator, teacher, choreographer, songwriter, performer, and more.
“It’s our job to break those boxes down,” she continues. “Creativity is about being creative. We shouldn’t put up barriers or hurdles or restrict people from performing within certain spaces or genres.”
HELP BRANDS EMBRACE THEIR ARTISTIC SIDE
With an impressive list of prestigious solo shows under her belt, Martin has collaborated with leading brands such as Puma, Nike, Tiffany & Co and the North Face. “I’m an individual artist on a path,” she adds. “The types of projects, mediums and industries that I explore might be different, but that doesn’t mean I’m changing myself – just that my interests are meeting me where I’m at.”
Brands are also embracing the powerful associations of the word ‘art’ for special projects outside their presence in other domain zones. For five years from 2016-2021, for instance, Absolut.art was home to Absolut’s initiative to democratise access to contemporary art – connecting hundreds of talented artists with passionate young collectors around the globe.
Porsche.art plays host to the Art of Dreams – a global series of art and design experiences that began in October 2021 with Remember Your Dreams, a striking sculpture by French artist Cyril Lancelin that immerses viewers in an optimistic world of colour. Initially installed in Paris, the project then moved to Singapore as part of Singapore Art Week. The next collaboration, in Milan, will be revealed in June.
And Kickstarter Arts can be found at Kickstarter.art, bringing together a global community of creators and supporters of the arts and empowering them to make bold ideas a reality. According to Kickstarter, over 75,000 artistic projects have raised almost $300 million so far across the fields of art, dance, photography, and theatre.
JOIN THE GLOBAL ARTISTIC COMMUNITY
From immersive experiences in physical spaces, to gallery installations, to conceptual explorations with standalone cultural value, it’s not uncommon for creative agencies to overlap into the fine art space as part of their commercial practice. And identifying as part of the artistic community can lend an extra layer of credibility to those projects.
Multi-disciplinary freedom is one reason Shantell Martin identifies as an artist. A recent project involved choreographing a performance with the Boston Ballet – her first attempt at this. “It showed me I could challenge myself in a completely different discipline,” she recalls.
“I describe my practice as a foundation of the line,” adds Martin. “That can be built with any form – drawings, code, fashion, installations, dance, whatever else I may be curious about. Connected to all this are my philosophies of self, identity, and freedom of creation.”
Founded in 2021, Assembly is a hybrid agency spanning photography, mixed media, video, and sound. It operates as gallery, an agency, and a creative studio supporting an innovative roster of visual artists who have collaborated with brands such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, BBC, Nike Lab, and Vogue on a diverse range of projects and campaigns.
A recent initiative is Assembly Curated, a dedicated platform and community for photographers producing NFT art. According to co-founder Shane Lavalette, it was a conscious move to position the agency as part of the art world. “We needed something clean and simple,” he says. “We specialise in contemporary photography, but work with artists who practice in the context of fine art. Setting up our online presence at Assembly.art was another way to reiterate this.”
UNLEASH THE ARTIST IN YOU
Already embraced by many of the world’s most iconic art institutions, galleries, and festivals – such as Louvre.art, LACMA.art, Ars.Electronica.art and Berlinale.art – .art domains can be a powerful statement of intent and expression of creative identity.
“Art is a vastly broad and generic term which can encompass everything creative,” suggests Aretha Campbell, founder of Ace Advisory – a bespoke contemporary art advisory and creative consultancy with clients including Soho House, Hiscox, the Hospital Club, and Glastonbury Music Festival.
Since founding her first gallery and studio space in south London in her early 20s, Campbell has accumulated over two decades of experience in the international contemporary art world, including luxury brand partnerships with acclaimed artists. “As I work across many different sectors of the art world, having a .art domain defines my business and what I do from the get-go,” she explains.
Part of this is a statement of individual identity, giving clients a steer on what to expect from a collaboration: “An artist can be set a brief, but they will always put their own stamp on the project regardless of the client,” Campbell concludes. “That’s what makes it art.”