Published - Artketing and Chinese artists

Collaborations between international brands and artists have been going on at least since the 1930s, when Ferragamo asked the futurist painter Lucio Venna to create its first advertising campaign. In 2008, Christian Dior was one of the first to collaborate with contemporary Chinese artists, inviting 22 of them to respond to the fashion brand’s heritage. The result, shown at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, created a sensation both in fashion and art circles.

But hiring an artist to design a limited-edition series of a company’s products is a more recent development. Gauthier Boche, strategy director at FutureBrand Paris, calls the new trend “artketing,” intertwining branding and art for a limited edition of a product. The best example is probably the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Takashi Murakami, who has been designing new bags and other accessories since 2003. “Art is an incredible way to reconnect with contemporary emotions, issues, and imagery, and this is why an artist’s view can be crucial for brands, and especially for luxury brands,” says Boche.

Indeed, many companies are keen to connect with Chinese consumers—especially since they’ve proven instrumental in keeping luxury marques afloat during the recession. When Comme des Garçons moved its store to a new venue in Hong Kong late last year, it asked one of China’s most controversial artists, Ai Weiwei, to design a special-edition T shirt. In May, Ferragamo unveiled its collaboration with political pop artist Xue Song to create a limited-edition line of bags, leather goods, and a T shirt decorated with two fierce tigers.  The benefits of such artketing are clear for Chinese artists: it helps widen their appeal, especially among consumers with the financial means to buy expensive works.  Whether art will benefit more broadly remains to be seen. Read the whole story in NEWSWEEK